2.3 God Created All Things: God as Creator
The fact that we have been created by God means that life and existence around us has a purpose. Job was told that the very fact he had been created by God and his breath was in God’s hand meant that his apparently inexplicable trials had indeed come from God and had a purpose (Job 12:10). If He created us in the first place, then we can expect that His hand will continue to mould our lives through trials in an ongoing, creative way.
Respect For God's Word And His Creation
Because of the work of God as creator and the power of the Word that formed it all, we should likewise stand in awe of Him and recognize the power of His word (Ps. 33:6-9). Ps. 147:15-19 draws a parallel between the way God sends out His word to give snow like wool, and then again to melt it; and the way that this very same word works in our lives: " He sendeth out His word, and melteth them...He sheweth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel" . The word we have in our Bibles has the same creative power as the word through which the world was created and exists even now. Because we are created in God's image, the structure of our very bodies is an imperative to give ourselves totally to His cause (Mt. 22:19-21). Whatever bears God's image- i.e. our very bodies- must be given to Him. " It is he that hath made us, and [therefore] we are his" (Ps. 100:3 RV). We must be His in practice because He is our creator. So it is not that we merely believe in creation rather than evolution; more than this, such belief in creation must elicit a life given over to that creator. God as creator created man in His own image; and therefore we shouldn't curse men (James 3:9). By reason of the image they bear, we are to act to all men as we would to God Himself; we are not to treat some men as we would animals, who are not in the image of God. Because we are made in God's image, we should therefore not kill other humans (Gen. 9:6). James says the same, in essence, in teaching that because we are in God's image, we shouldn't curse others. To curse a man is to kill him. That's the point of James' allusion to Genesis and to God as creator. Quite simply, respect for the person of others is inculcated by sustained reflection on the way that they too are created in God's image.
Joy And Praise
Ps. 92 is a psalm of joy for the Sabbath (note that the titles of the Psalms are inspired- at least two of them are cited as inspired scripture in the NT). The Sabbath was ordained in order that man might think back on the reality of creation; and this most essential core reality should be an endless source of joy for us, if we believe it: " For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thine hands" (Ps. 92:4), just as the Angels shouted for joy at creation. David’s motivation for praise was simply because God has created him: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). Even in the cycle of death, which is part of the ongoing creation and renewal of the planet, there is something to praise. Thus David praised God because of the way that He takes away the breath of animals and they die, and then renews His creation; as “the Lord rejoices in his works” of creation, so David joins Him in a sublime fellowship of Creator and creature (Ps. 104:29-31) which flowed out of a basic belief in God as creator.
The fact that God Himself created us, as His sheep, “and not we ourselves” (a comment applicable, in essence, to theories of evolution and genetic engineering)… should lead us to ecstatic singing of praise before Him (Ps. 100:3). Likewise Ps. 96:2,5, and so many other examples, invite us to enthusiastically praise God, simply because “the Lord made the heavens”. God as creator results in joy and praise amongst those of His creation who recognize Him as creator.
With the Babylonian army besieging Jerusalem and every reason to be depressed, Jeremiah exalts in the creation record and has this as the basis for his faith that Yahweh's power is far from limited (Jer. 32:17). God's reply to this prayer is to repeat that yes, " I am the God of all flesh, is anything too hard for me?" ; His creative power is to be seen as the basis for Israel's Hope (Jer. 32:36-44). Likewise He taught Job the futility of having such metaphysical doubts about Him, of the joy there is all around us in creation regardless of our personal suffering…through an exposition of His power as creator. All this is why the disciples were inspired to faith that their prayers for deliverance would be answered by the recollection of the fact that God has created all things and therefore nothing is too hard for Him (Acts 4:24 RV). David begged for personal deliverance inspired by the thought: “Forsake not the works of thine own hands”, i.e. his body and those of his people (Ps. 138:8). Ps. 146:5-9 outlines God's creative power at the start of things, and on this basis the Psalmist appeals to Israel to be considerate to the poor and those on the margins in society. Why? Because we here on this planet were and are the marginal compared to the God who lives so far away, physically and in all other ways. And yet He created us, and sustains us His creation. The wonder of this should lead us to seek out those whom we would otherwise overlook. God as creator has empowered the marginal by giving and sustaining our lives, and so should we do. Just because the Father gives His sun and rain to all without discrimination, we likewise should love our enemies (Mt. 5:43-45). This is the imperative of creation.
Watch Our Behaviour
Ps. 94:8,9 tells the fools to be wise and watch their behaviour, because " He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see?" . Reflection on the fact that God truly is our personal designer and creator will lead to an awareness that He therefore sees and knows all things. These first principles powerfully link up, to exhort us to live life and speak our words knowing we are in the very presence of our creator. And remember that it was reflection upon the extent and nature of God's creative power which lead to Job's repentance; it isn't something we can passively reflect upon. Just because " Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: [therefore] give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments" (Ps. 119:73). David realized that because he had been made in God's physical image he had a duty to desire to be spiritually reformed in His moral image; and thus he sought strength to be obedient to God's will.
Prov. 26:10 makes a link between God as creator, and God as judge: “The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors”. The very fact that God formed us means that we are accountable to His judgment. We can never, not for a nanosecond, avoid or opt out of the fact that we were created by God. And therefore and thereby, we are responsible to Him as our judge.
It is often forgotten that work is a consequence of creation, not the fall. It is intended by God as a means to partnership with Him and self-fulfillment as He intended. This is what is so wrong with the spirit of laziness which has been inculcated by the Western world. There is almost an ambition to obtain as much time as possible for 'leisure' and relaxation. Labour in whatever form was intended by God from creation.
Perceiving The Value Of Persons
Only those who believe that we were created by God and have the possibility of eternal redemption can truly perceive the value of persons. Only they can grasp the worth of human beings, that we are not mere animals, but there is a wonder to human life which inspires us to seek to save humans through the preaching of the Gospel. John Stott has powerfully commented: " When human beings are devalued, everything in society goes sour. Women and children are despised; the sick are regarded as a nuisance, and the elderly as a burden; ethnic minorities are discriminated against; capitalism displays its ugliest face; labour is exploited in the mines and factories; criminals are brutalized in prison; opposition opinions are stifled; Belsen is invented by the extreme right and Gulag by the extreme left; unbelievers are left to die in their lostness; there is no freedom, dignity, or carefree joy; human life seems not worth living, because it is scarcely human any longer. But when human beings are valued, because of their intrinsic worth, everything changes: women and children are honored; the sick are cared for and the elderly allowed to live and die with dignity; dissidents are listened to; prisoners rehabilitated, and minorities protected; workers are given a fair wage, decent working conditions, and a measure of participation in the enterprise; and the gospel is taken to the ends of the earth. Why? Because people matter, because every man, woman, and child has significance as a human person made in the image of God" .
And this is the essence of the teaching of Jer. 38:16: “As the Lord liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death”. The fact God as creator created us is quite rightly used by Zedekiah as a reason to be truthful; and yet it also means that we should not take the life which God has given to another person. The whole of Job 31 records Job’s response to those who assumed he must have sinned, seeing he was suffering so much. His response was that he would not have disregarded the needs of even his most humble servant, because “Did not he that made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?” (Job 31:13-15). The very fact that God created us means that we ought to respect each other and be sensitive to each other. And in the end, there is a link between God as creator and God as judge; because He created us, we are responsible to Him. Thus: “The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors” (Prov. 26:10).
Jer. 51:15-19 describes at length God's power in creation, and how this therefore makes all idols mere vanity. The God of Jacob " is not like them; for he is the former of all things" . If we really believe that God is creator, then we will not worship the things create by man, i.e. human idols, but God alone. Jeremiah earlier mocks those who say to an idol " Thou hast brought me forth" (Jer. 2:27). The implication is that there can be no idolatry for those who believe they were created by Israel's God.
If we truly realize that we are made in God’s image, then we will not worship any idol: “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God [i.e. in His image], we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17:29). Thinking this through, is the implication not that humanity alone is made in God’s image; nothing else is His image. Yet idolatry, in all its forms and guises throughout history, is based around the supposition that those idols are in fact an image of God and as such demand worship. God has revealed Himself through people, not through things which they have created.
Because Yahweh God was Israel’s creator, therefore He ought to have been their King (Is. 43:15). If we really believe His creative authority over us, then He will rule in every aspect of our lives.
Because it is by God’s will that we are created, because He is from everlasting to everlasting, because God is creator, we cast our crowns of ‘reward’ before His throne in a sense of unworthiness (Rev. 4:10,11), just as David in Ps. 8 had the overawing sense of ‘Who am I…?’ when he reflected upon God’s creation.
Not Being Materialistic
Passages like Is. 37:19 almost define God by reason of His being uncreate. Whatever is created, is not God. And it follows that if we think that we have truly created anything, or that we are anything that God didn’t create, then we are in fact playing God. Understanding God as creator, in its true, deep and thought-through sense, leads to an understanding of grace. That all we have, are, were, shall ever be, is purely His gift. Likewise, to take for ourselves what is God’s is to play God. Materialism and selfishness are in this sense playing God. This was Achan’s sin- to take what was devoted to God for himself. And this was why he is described as having ‘stolen’. But from whom? From God (Josh. 6:18; 7:11). The fact God owns everything means that there can be no distinction between what is ours and what is God’s. To think like that is to steal from Him. And hence the power and force of Mal. 3:8: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me”. Have we robbed God in this way, especially in our attitudes and perceptions?
The simple fact we are created by God means that we are responsible to God in some sense, and therefore liable to His judgment. The stretched out hand of God is used as a figure both for His judgment of man (Is. 31:3) and also for His creation of man (Is. 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 51:13). The knowledge that we are created by Him makes us responsible to His judgment, and we have to look at our bodies, our lives which He has created … and act accordingly.