|Topical Bible Study||January 1956|
God and Creation—Article I
God, the Creator
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” —Genesis 1:1
THROUGHOUT all the centuries, the wise and the learned have endeavored to pry into the secrets of Creation and explain how the great universe came into existence—how out of nothing there came countless billions of worlds; myriads of forms of life—plant and animal—and why so much law and order is displayed in it all. Try as they may, however, human philosophers have not been able to produce an explanation so simple, yet so profound and full of meaning, as that contained in the ten words of our text—“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
The truthfulness of these words is more universally acknowledged today than ever before. Even the great Prof. Einstein, once an agnostic, confessed in the later years of his life that his increasing scientific knowledge had led him to the conviction that there is an intelligence displayed throughout the universe which he was glad to acknowledge and honor. Einstein, together with other great scientists, was unable to accept the crude conceptions of God handed down to a credulous world from the Dark Ages; but despite this handicap to belief, they came to see unmistakable evidence of supreme intelligence in what they formerly spoke of merely as the works of nature.
Yes, “There is a God—all nature speaks; through earth, and air, and seas, and skies.” Yes, ‘all nature’ does testify that there is a God, a supreme and intelligent Creator. The best commentary on this approach to an understanding of the great characteristics of God is the one found in the Book of Job, chapters 38 through 41. Job was a servant of God, the God who, in the beginning, created the heaven and the earth. Calamity came upon Job. He lost almost everything in life which contributes to happiness, including his health. His friends insisted that he was being punished for gross sins which he had secretly committed. Job denied this, yet was unable to understand why his God was allowing him to suffer.
This controversy between Job and his friends continues through many chapters of the book. Then, as the record states, “The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.” (Job 38:1-3) The long series of questions which God asks Job bring out the many points which, because human wisdom does not know the answer, should help even the most skeptical to realize the truthfulness of David’s words, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”—Ps. 14:1
“Where wast thou,” God asked Job, “when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the cornerstone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (vss. 4-7) Job was a wise man, with much experience. He knew that the construction of homes and other buildings required planning. Foundations had to be laid, and securely anchored. Evidently, also, he was accustomed to merry celebrations when the cornerstone of a new building was laid.
Yes, Job knew that everything made by man required planning and skill. Houses and cities—and in our day intricate machinery, television, jet planes, and other modern marvels—do not ‘just happen’. The earth, the home of all mankind, had been created without Job or other men having anything to do with it. He was not present when the foundations were laid. He had no part in the architectural design and measurements. Nevertheless, he knew it existed. This marvelous display of wisdom and design should help us to realize, as doubtless it did Job, that there must have been a Divine Architect and Builder with intelligence and power, far superior to Job’s.
Then the Lord reminded Job of some of the details connected with the creation of the earth. He asked, “Who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it, … and set bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?”—vss. 8-11
The marvels of the sea! Seldom do we think of the miracle-working power of God in connection with the ebb and flow of the oceans’ tides? Oh yes, we know how to ‘explain’ it. The tides, we say, are controlled largely by the gravitational ‘pull’ of the moon. But what does that mean? What is gravitation? Sir Isaac Newton discovered the laws of gravity, but who framed the laws and implemented them? There are times when heavy winds locally increase the height of the tides a few feet, and those living near the shore flee for their lives; but seldom do they realize that ordinarily they can dwell safely by the sea only because God has decreed, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed!”
Next Job was asked: “Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place?” (vs. 12) Job, seemingly, was rather a prominent man in his community, one who exercised considerable authority, but he had no control over the rising of the sun. “Nast thou commanded the morning since thy days?” No, of course not! Job knew that from the earliest days of his recollection the sun had risen and set without his having anything to do with it. He realized also that this was true of the generations before him. He knew that man at no time ever had any control over the movements of the sun, the moon, the stars, or the earth. This was far beyond the ability of man. This was the work of God!
“Have the gates of death been opened unto thee?” Job, “or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?” (vs. 17) Men and women of all ages have endeavored to peer beyond death, to know what lies beyond the grave. Apart from the revelation given to us in the Word of God, which assures us of a resurrection of the dead, no one has found the answer. Just as the mystery of Creation is explainable only in the light of the fact that there is a supreme, intelligent Creator, so the desire for life after death becomes a genuine hope only because the one who created life has promised to restore the dead to life. The several Biblical accounts of the awakening of various ones from death are therefore proofs of the existence of God, the God who created the heaven and the earth.
Here is another intriguing question: “Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, that thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof? Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?”—vss. 19-21
What is light, what is darkness? The light of day replaces the darkness of night; but where does the one go, when the other takes it place? God asked Job if he knew the dwelling place of light, just where it stayed while its place was occupied by darkness. A foolish question? By no means! With all our modern scientific knowledge, no one has yet been able to give an adequate definition of light, or of darkness. Like electricity, which we know exists, but cannot clearly define, so are light and darkness. But God knows, for he created them. It was God who said, “Let there be light: and there was light.”—Gen. 1:3
The Lord continued to question Job, asking him about a number of things described by unbelievers as the “works of nature,” things which, to those who believe in God, are frequently overlooked as proof of his existence. We quote, “Who bath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; to cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; to satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?”—vss. 25-29
The obvious answer to all these questions is that there must be a supreme, intelligent Creator who designed and created water, and who also planned the means by which it would reach the ground and give life to vegetation. Most of us have witnessed with pleasure the revival of plants, or of grass, when water is provided; but do we realize that these are miracles, made possible because all the elements involved were designed and made by God, who in the beginning, created the heaven and the earth?
And how marvelous is the arrangement by which the water created by God reaches the ‘dry places’. As we know, it is by the evaporation of the water of oceans and lakes, the moisture ascending to form clouds which are distributed over the land, and which, by changes of temperature in the air currents, are caused to release their refreshing waters in the form of rain and snow. Reaching the earth, the water finds its way back into the oceans and lakes to continue the cycle. Scientific instruments of today tell us how all this happens, but the real power, or forces, which contribute to make it possible are still unexplainable.
Shifting the focus of his questions from purely mundane things to heavenly bodies, God asked Job, “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?”—vss. 31-33
The implied lesson in these questions is more striking today than it was to Job. Job was a wise man for his time, but astronomical knowledge had not advanced to the degree now enjoyed. Calculations now made possible by powerful telescopes have revealed the minute accuracy of time and distances involved in the movement of the heavenly bodies, giving evidence that they are held in their course, and at constant speeds, by the power and design of a supreme intelligence unexplainable by man.
Without going into detail as to the particular references to Pleiades, Orion, Mazzaroth, and Arcturus, the main point of the lesson is that neither Job nor we can possibly change the course of a single planet, sun, or star. Nor do we understand the governing forces which control ‘the ordinances of heaven’, nor the manner in which their influences are felt in the earth. But God knows, for he created both the heaven and the earth, and designed their relationship to each other.
In God’s Image
One of the most difficult questions asked Job was, “Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?” (vs. 36) The lower animal creations are governed largely by what we call instinct. From the time of their birth they seem naturally to follow a certain pattern, and while many of them can be trained to obey somewhat the directives of their masters, there is no evidence that they really understand why. Certainly, as implied in the question asked Job, the lower animals do not possess a ‘heart’ knowledge, or appreciation of their existence, or of their course of action.
But with man it is different. He is able to reason, at least to a limited degree, from the known to the unknown. He knows that some things are right and other things are wrong. He has a conscience which is ‘pricked’ when he does wrong, and affords contentment and peace of mind when he does right. Man in his folly—that is, the ‘fool’ who says in his heart that ‘there is no God’—has advanced many fanciful theories concerning the alleged ascent of man from protoplasm to his present state. They have ‘explained’ what has brought about this and this change in the anatomy of animals, finally leading to the human species; but no one has ever attempted to answer the question put to Job, “Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts [of man), or who hath given understanding to the heart?”
There is only one answer to this question. It is God’s answer, recorded in his own inspired Word for our instruction and encouragement. It is found in the very first chapter of the Bible, verses 27 and 28. Here we are informed that man is as he is—superior to even the highest form of lower animals—capable of reasoning, of planning, of inventing, of knowing right from wrong, because he was created in the image of God. When the evolutionists find a reasonable, valid, provable explanation of how this difference between man and his alleged nearest of kin among the brute creation accidentally came about, they will be a little more worthy of being given a serious hearing than at present.
Animal Instincts Display Creative Wisdom
Throughout chapter 39 of the Book of Job, a number of questions are recorded, the answers to which must also be negative where human wisdom is concerned. These questions pertain to the marvelous instincts displayed by various animals and birds. The chapter begins with these questions: “Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? Canst thou number the months that they fulfill? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows. Their young ones are in good liking, they grow up with corn; they go forth, and return not unto them.”—vss. 1-4
Then the Lord called attention to the different characteristics of other animals: “Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? Whose house I have made the wilderness and the barren land his dwellings. He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver. The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing.”—vss. 5-8
Again: “Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn [wild ox] with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labor to him? Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed and gather it into thy barn?” (vss. 9-12) There are what we speak of as ‘domestic animals’, which with little effort can be trained to serve man. But here God called Job’s attention to other varieties, animals which are wild and refuse to submit to human training. The question is, who is responsible for these differences?
Neither Job nor we are wise enough to understand the creative processes which brought about this almost endless variety. There is a poem, which states that “only God can make a tree,” and this fact is even more striking when we consider the thousands of varieties of trees, plants, and flowers, as well as the great variety found in the animal kingdom. Only the Supreme, Intelligent Creator could produce this endless array of created things, with each one in its own wonderful way displaying the wisdom and power of its Creator. This is the God who, in the beginning, created the heaven and the earth!
As if Job would not yet realize how little he understood of the wisdom and power of the Creator, further questions were asked him. “Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?” the Lord inquired. (vs. 13) All birds have feathers and wings, but how vastly different they are. The peacock is noted for the beauty of its plumage, hence it is used here as a contrasting example. The ostrich, on the other hand, is rather plain in appearance. What made the difference between the two?—he fortuitousness of evolution? No indeed, it was the wisdom and power of the Creator which created the vast variety!
In most cases the birds and lower animals instinctively exercise great care over their young; the birds even watch over the eggs from which their offspring are hatched. If this maternal instinct of the lower creations was the product of evolution, reason tells us that there would be no exceptions, for the same influences would have governed the evolutionary processes of all. But there are exceptions, and in questioning Job, God called attention to one. Referring to the ostrich, the Lord said, “Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust [instead of sitting on them], and forgeteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers: her labor is in vain without fear; because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding. What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.”—vss. 14-18
Evolutionists would be at a loss to explain why the mother ostrich takes no interest in her young. God’s explanation alone reveals the reason for this paradox of nature, that explanation being that he ‘hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding’. But he did give the ostrich swiftness and strength so that ‘she scorneth the horse and his rider’. If we remove God from Creation, we would here have another unanswered question.
Instinct or Endowment?
In the closing verses of chapter 39, another convincing thought is brought to our attention. Job is asked, “Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. Her young ones also suck up blood; and where the slain are, there is she.”—vss. 26-30
In calling our attention to the habits of the hawk and the eagle, the Lord reminds us of the numberless peculiarities which exist in the life-habits of the animal kingdom. There are the migratory birds which move from north to south and from south to north, with the changing seasons. There are the swimming birds, and the singing birds; the screech owls and talking parrots; the gorgeously handsome birds, and the drab, colorless birds.
But why stop with the birds? The same variety exists among the land animals, among the trees and the flowers, and among the insects. There is only one thing common to them all, which is that they have life, either animate or inanimate. Unbelieving human wisdom, in its folly, contends that all these myriad forms of plant and animal life just happened to develop as they did; but no one has yet been able to explain how they live. The origin of life is unknown, apart from the explanation given to us in the Scriptures that, in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein!
Accepting this fact, as the many otherwise unanswerable questions asked Job impel us to do, then we know the answer to them all—that answer being that the infinite wisdom and almighty power of a personal God and Creator is responsible for awe-inspiring works of Creation which are so marvelously displayed in the heavens, on the earth, and in the sea.
In chapters 40 and 41 God reminded Job of certain great monsters of the land and of the sea such as “behemoth”—probably the elephant; “leviathan”—the whale, perhaps, or some other sea monster. Job was made to realize that here again are marvels of Creation which he could not explain, and at last he answered the Lord, saying, “I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.”—Job 42:2
Thus Job reached the point where he realized that the only answer to all the mysteries of Creation is that they are the work of an intelligent Creator. This was the answer also to the problem of suffering. How could he question the wisdom of the great Creator in permitting him to suffer for awhile? Surely the infinite wisdom displayed in all the Creative works of God was proof that God knew what was best for Job. Should we not all reach this conclusion, and especially so if we would understand the meaning of our existence, and be inspired with the hope in contemplating the eternal destiny which the Creator has designed for his human family?
“I know that thou canst do everything,” said Job to his God. If we know this, then we have a foundation of faith upon which we can build a true knowledge of God and of his all-wise and loving design in man’s Creation. If we believe that he can ‘do everything’, no explanation of his plans and purposes which he has given in his Word will be disbelieved; no instructions will go unheeded or disobeyed; and no promise he has made, regardless of how far-reaching, or, from the human standpoint, impossible of accomplishment, will be doubted.
The wisdom and power of God are wonderfully displayed in his creative works with which we are surrounded. However, had we no further revelation of God than these, we would have many reasons to wonder about his justice and love. These attributes of the Creator we will find revealed in his written Word as we become acquainted with his great plan of the ages for the recovery of his human creation from sin and death.