GOD MADE IT AND OWNS IT
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1).
The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is Mine and you are but aliens and My tenants (Lev. 25:23 NIV).
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein (Ps. 24:1).
The Word of God tells us that “God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). And according to the New Testament, the same Jesus who came into this world to rescue us from ourselves is the One who first made our world and everything that is in it.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him (Col. 1:15-16).
George MacDonald wrote, “If the world is God’s, every true man and woman ought to feel at home in it. Something is wrong if the calm of the summer night does not sink into the heart, for it embodies the peace of God. Something is wrong in the man to whom the sunrise is not a divine glory, for therein is embodied the truth, the simplicity, and the might of the Maker.” This 19th-century writer obviously believed and understood that we live and breathe in a world that shouts the reality of God from every piece of matter and every natural event.
Almost without question, the most significant difference between the worldview of the Bible and the beliefs of secular humanism is the Christian understanding that God made the earth and it belongs to Him. What comes of this belief is significant. When we are users and occupiers of property that belongs to someone else, we rightfully consider the interests of the owner as well as our own. In fact, as tenants and stewards, our own interests are secondary to that of the owner.
Our challenge in any use of the land, air, time, or life that belongs to God is to ask how we can use what He has made so that we will honor Him and find joy for ourselves. More than a hundred years ago, Adam Clarke saw the practical implications of God’s ownership when he wrote:
The works of the Lord are multitudinous and varied. They are so constructed as to show the most consummate wisdom in their design, and in the end for which they are formed. They are all God’s property, and should be used only in reference to the end for which they were created. All abuse and waste of God’s creatures are spoil and robbery on the property of the Creator (quoted by Spurgeon in The Treasury Of David, p.335).
“All abuse and waste of God’s creatures are spoil and robbery on the property of the Creator.” How that reality should awaken us to a fuller awareness of our high calling to care for what God cares for!
Those words take me back to my late twenties when, as a frustrated squirrel hunter one fall, I shot a porcupine high in a huge oak—merely because it was there and I had an unspent shotgun shell in my gun! Porcupines are common in Michigan’s north woods, and they are virtually unprotected by game laws because they are considered “nuisance animals,” like woodchucks, gophers, and chipmunks.
I believe that God, who notes the death of a common sparrow, watches over all that He has made. Now I realize that the shame I felt looking into the lifeless eyes of one of God’s creatures I had thoughtlessly wasted might have been a reflection of God’s own heart. But at the time, I passed it off as an unmanly emotion.
How can we celebrate the wonder of God in creation? By acknowledging that as the Creator’s landholders, we are to examine the Word of God and prayerfully consider how we are to occupy His territory and manage His works in a manner that glorifies Him.
GOD LOVES IT AND CARES FOR IT
The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made. . . . The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. . . . You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made (Ps. 145:9,13,16-17 NIV).
I have been surprised to discover how many times the psalmist declared that God has “love” and “compassion” for all the things He has created. Some of the Hebrew terms indicate that God cares for the creation in a similar way that a mother cares for the one she has given birth to.
To get a rich picture of God’s compassion and care for man, the animals, the plants, and the lifeless but dynamic forces of the earth, read Psalms 65, 104, 145, 147, and 148. While the Sermon on the Mount expressly states that God values man above the creatures (Mt. 6:25-34), the entire thrust of Scripture— from paradise lost in Genesis to paradise regained in Revelation—is that God treasures and takes pleasure not in man alone but in everything He created.
Itinerant preacher John Woolman, years before the American Revolution, expressed this in his diary after a long ocean voyage that resulted in the disregard and needless death of domesticated fowl:
I often remembered the Fountain of goodness, who gave being to all creatures, and whose love extends to caring for the sparrows. I believe where the love of God is verily perfected, and the true spirit of government watchfully attended to, a tenderness toward all creatures made subject to us will be experienced, and a care felt in us that we do not lessen that sweetness of life in the animal creation which the great Creator intends for them under our government.
Psalm 145:9 declares, “The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made” (NIV). In The Treasury Of David, Charles Haddon Spurgeon concludes, “The duty of kindness to animals may logically be argued from this verse. Should not the children of God be like their Father in kindness?” (p.379).
How can we celebrate the wonder of God in creation? By acknowledging God’s care and compassion for the entire creation and seeking to do all we can to demonstrate that care— especially by refraining from abusing what He loves and cares for.
GOD REVEALS HIMSELF THROUGH IT
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard (Ps. 19:1-3).
In Psalm 19, David reminds us that God speaks to us through two books. One book is the written Word of God (vv.7- 11). The other revelation is the masterpiece of creation, which eloquently reveals God to every person every day. All people in all times from the very beginning have been created by God with such an awareness. Those who do not hear God speaking through the natural world have deceived themselves. The apostle Paul spelled this out clearly in his letter to the Christians in Rome:
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Rom. 1:18-20).
A fascinating precedent for Paul’s argument that God reveals Himself through the natural world is found in the ancient tragedy and poetry of Job. As the drama of Job unfolds, we find him writhing in pain, misunderstood by his friends, and confused by his own inability to explain his plight. Job was hurt. He felt abandoned and betrayed by the God he had tried to serve. He was angry because he thought God was unfairly tormenting him and allowing his friends to think he was suffering for some terrible secret sin.
Finally, after lengthy, frustrated, and angry conversations between Job and his friends, God Himself spoke. From out of a violent whirlwind, the Creator captured Job’s attention and challenged him to take another look at the natural world. The Lord asked Job to consider ecology, the animals, and the patterns of weather and seasons He had made. God humbled and then comforted Job with a series of piercing questions that begin with:
Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding (Job 38:2-4).
In the middle of the questioning, God allowed Job to speak, but the devastated patriarch could only mutter, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth” (40:4).
The purpose of the Creator’s interrogation was for Job to understand from the world around Him that a God who is wise and powerful enough to have created the natural world is certainly great enough to know what He is doing in allowing Job’s suffering.
Humbled by what God had said through the natural world, Job confessed, “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (42:3).
Even when God is not speaking verbally, the study of the creation speaks with an eloquence that compels us to stand in silent wonder before the Creator: elements of basic matter that behave in ways unimagined, and clumps of galaxies so vast in number and expanse that even broad human categories like “light years” become almost meaningless. Smallness gets ever smaller, and bigness gets ever bigger. The attempt to bring it all into the scope of human understanding has done what it has always done: We either see God and worship Him in great awe and humility, or we “suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18) and wander in self-imposed blindness.
The view that creation is God’s “other book” is supported by classical theology, which includes the creation as the major component of what is called “general revelation.” It is the revelation that has been given to all people, in all times, and in all places. This refers to the natural world and its processes, or natural law—what Paul calls “the law written in their hearts” and revealed by the conscience (Rom. 2:15). It also includes human history—the record of God’s continuous sovereign will demonstrated in the affairs of people.
Truth is revealed to us not only in special revelation (the Bible) but also in general revelation (the creation). Christian educator Frank Gaebelein understood this well when he said, “All truth is God’s truth.”
The point that God reveals Himself to us through the natural world is captured in the hymn “I Sing The Mighty Power Of God” written by Isaac Watts:
I sing the mighty
power of God
That made the
That spread the
flowing seas abroad
And built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom
The sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full
at His command,
And all the stars obey.
I sing the goodness
of the Lord
That filled the earth
He formed the creatures
with His word
And then pronounced
Lord, how Thy wonders
Where’er I turn my eye:
If I survey the
ground I tread,
Or gaze upon the sky!
There’s not a plant
or flower below
But makes Thy
And clouds arise
and tempests blow
By order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows
life from Thee
Is ever in Thy care,
that man can be,
art present there.
How can we celebrate the wonder of God in creation? By observing the creation carefully and reverently to discover the countless ways it reveals God and His attributes to us.