Despite all the differences between the two creation stories in Genesis, which cannot be ignored, there are a couple of things I’d like to point out that bring both accounts together and that should serve to form our theology and shape the way we live today.
First — and I wrote about this Tuesday — the two radically different pictures of our God presented in the two accounts are significant in that they form our idea of our God as both transcendent and immanent. He’s above all else as perfectly holy and “wholly other.” But he’s also very near, very close, to his creation. He’s our compassionate Father. We must have those two views of God. And we must keep those two views in balance.
Another thing that we absolutely cannot miss in the creation stories is that God’s creation is good. It’s all good. Every bit of it. The Lord our God declares it good five times over the course of creation and then sums it up by saying it’s all “very good.” And how we view that fundamental goodness of creation shapes the way we live in and with creation.
I’m not a tree-hugger. I’m not a vegetarian. I would never spend hundreds of dollars on vet bills. And I’m not at all concerned about global warming. But I do know that as God’s children and part of his perfect design we’d better be in the business of taking care of his creation.
Some Christians go out of their way to tell us that God is going to destroy this earth with fire and so we really don’t need to worry about taking care of it. They say it’s arrogant to believe that we could have any impact at all on the future — good or bad — of God’s earth. So don’t worry about it. It doesn’t matter. Harmful emissions. Radiation. Litter. Destroying the forests. Polluting the seas. Who cares?
Wait a second.
God’s creation is good. Very good. And Scripture tells us in unambiguous terms that God’s work since the beginning of time right up until the present is focused on redeeming creation back to himself. All of creation. The earth groans. God’s redeeming it. He’s working to make it all perfect again. Someday it will be perfect again. Shouldn’t we be about our Father’s business? Everytime one of God’s children throws a candy wrapper out the window or pours his motor oil into the creek, he’s defiantly working against God’s plan.
I’m one of those who believes we may very well have jobs, or tasks, on the other side. Our service to God in Heaven, I think, may be in work he gives us to do. That’s another topic for another day. But we do know God’s instruction to man when he placed him on earth in the very beginning was to “work it and take care of it.” Why would that be different for us today?
Here’s the last thing. Notice there is nothing haphazard about God’s creation. He brings order out of chaos. He brings light out of darkness. He brings life out of the abyss. The chaos and waste, the “tohu and bohu,” (one of the few Hebrew phrases I know) of the empty and formless expanse produces goodness and perfection at the sound of the Father’s voice. And our same God who brought light and order out of chaos and darkness still does.
Whatever chaos and darkness you’re in right now is no match for the Creator of the universe. Disease, bankruptcy, issues with your children, divorce, depression — you name it. Our God still brings life out of the abyss. He’s never quit the creation business.
The word for create, “bara,” is only used of God in Scripture. It’s used in Isaiah when God’s children were in exile. God is said to be creating a new Israel out of nothing. The apostle Paul refers to God’s work in Christ as creating something new in us. All of creation is new when one puts on the Son in baptism.
God never stopped actively creating after the creation. And I wouldn’t put any limits on what he’s creating right now in your life and mine.