Widen your lens
I hope you enjoyed last week’s edition. I wanted to give you a sneak peak into the divine realm because I believe it will properly help set the tone as we begin to look at the creation event. More specifically, the creation of Earth. My desire is for you to see that there was a lot more going on in the beginning than commonly thought. The Bible doesn’t hide this information either. In fact, it’s in plain sight. But because the creation event is often taught through a narrative that over-indexes on humanity, many people miss the full setup. And I can understand why since we’re created beings living in a natural world. The lens we use to see life is very narrow as its easier for us to relate with the material world. Anything else takes a bit of mental effort. Let me illustrate this for you.
One of the things my family loves to do is read the Bible together.
Don’t get the wrong picture here. We don’t read it together as a family nearly enough. My wife and I have several kids so our home is bananas! Sorry to obliterate any picture perfect family-time Bible session images you may have just curated in your mind. 🤪
The last time we all looked at the creation event, I asked my kids about the light God used to split the darkness; its origin. At this point in our study we had ran through all six days but I wanted to see what picture had been painted in their minds. They yelled out things from the material world as expected. The sun, the moon and stars! They were bewildered as I said no to each answer. I asked them to go back and read Genesis 1:3-5 again more carefully and then tell me where the light to split darkness came from.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. - Genesis 1:3-5 (ESV)
A light bulb came on for them. They realized they’d been leaning on the presupposition that since there was light, the origin must be something we’re familiar with — the sun, the moon or the stars. After all, God created those things too. But now they recognized they completely missed the verses, injecting what they know from our material, natural world into the creation story. Genesis tells us that light originated with God and that the concept of night, day, morning and evening existed before we received the sun, moon and stars. In fact, before the Earth was formed. This was all hiding in plain sight. The thing is, I also used to believe like them well into adulthood. I had never looked closely at the text; reading at warp speed and viewing creation through my very narrow, material world lens. And if this is new to you too, don’t worry. You’re not alone. A lot of Jesus loving adults think night and day are based on the existence of the celestial bodies God created. But we see that God is actually the source of light on day one, which means we don’t really need the sun, moon or stars to have light. What, or who we do need, is God. Just look at scripture. It tell us eternity will not be lit up by the sun. It will be set bright by God Himself.
23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. - Revelation 21:23 (ESV)
How will this work? I have absolutely no idea. And it’s hard to fathom due to how the material world currently works. But there’s one thing I do know. It will be incredible.
Wide angle lens. That’s what we want to use when looking at the creation event. This is the best way to view the Bible as a whole so we don’t miss anything. Shedding our own pre-existing ideas concerning the creation event, let’s keep moving shall we?
More than just rocks
There are two ways to view God’s engagement with creation. One of them consists of God being no more than a watchmaker. Creating all the little parts and pieces of the universe, winding everything up and then setting it into motion while He takes a step back. The other, is more like a gardener. One who creates all aspects of their thriving environment to inhabit life, but then also nurtures it by being involved daily. The latter illustration is the proper way to view God. We see this is in Hebrews as it relates to God the Son - Christ - the heir of all things.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. - Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)
God upholds the entire universe by His power alone. And scripture paints a picture of duality in nature. A commingling if you will, between the material realm and God’s divine realm. The universe doesn’t exist outside of the reach of God. It’s common in our day to attempt to separate the two; God’s supernatural realm from the earthly realm. And while I’ve used this language as well, and completely understand the attempt of drawing distinctions, the reality is, these realms are joined together. They are inseparable yet different.
Now, I believe that originally these two realms were more tightly coupled before The Fall. Why? Because the Eden account makes this obvious. For one, God - a supernatural spirit - forms man from dust and supernaturally breathes His life into him. Two, when God created Eden, He plants a garden in it (Genesis 2:8). See, God’s a gardener! This garden holds the tree of life (Genesis 3:22). Life comes from God Himself so therefore life itself is supernatural. God is life. Adam and the tree of life are the results of continuous, supernatural power running through them. With out it they die.
The garden also contains the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Neither the tree of life, nor the tree of the knowledge of good and evil can originate through naturalism (nature). Put another way, naturalism can’t be the arbiter of life as nature couldn’t bring itself into existence. It also isn’t concerned with good and evil which speaks to morality; a concept that presupposes an objective moral law giver who must be without moral failures. A perfect judge. Such a being can only be God. In short, what we see in the creation account are perfect executions of divine, supernatural acts. Not natural ones. To beat a dead horse once again, we know this by using rational thinking as the natural world could not have created itself.
If we keep going we can see this commingling of realms a bit more. We see the entrance of another divine being within the garden which is Satan. We will touch on this a bit more in future editions. But for now know that Satan was a divine being who had a full access pass to the garden. Furthermore, we know that God and Adam had a close relationship. They walked and talked together. After Adam and Eve fell they heard God walking in the garden and hid themselves (Genesis 3:8). God confronts them (and Satan) face to face and they have a conversation. It was really more like a finger pointing session but you get my drift.
After Adam and Eve were kicked out, God established a cherubim with a flaming sword that spun in every direction to guard the tree of life. No more entry into Eden. Last I checked cherubims are divine, supernatural creatures.
At no point in leading up to The Fall does scripture communicate a disconnect between God and His creation - the watchmaker concept. But there was a time before The Fall that the Earth’s realm, and God’s divine realm, were more interconnected than today. While it is true that our relationship with Him is marred and the earth is corrupt, all of creation is still being sustained by God’s divine power (Hebrews 1:3). This is precisely why we can pray to Him directly and He hears our prayers. All of God’s creation is connected, but yet different based on realms. And as a testament to God’s grace and mercy, He didn’t decide to abandon the universe despite Adam’s rebellion and the corruption of His Earth. He still upholds it with all of its imperfections.
I believe you and I should marvel at this. Our creator - God - isn’t the type to give up on His work when things start falling apart. And He could have. He had every right to do so. Yet here we all are sustained by His divine power.
There’s a realm you and I can’t fully see. But make no mistake it’s there. Scripture states that we can clearly perceive it.
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. - Romans 1:20 (ESV)
The entire existence of the universe has God’s divine power running through it. I want to be clear though. What I’m not saying, is God is nature and nature is God. I’m not talking about pantheism. The Bible clearly shows God created nature - the natural - by His supernatural power. What I am saying, is that His divine power is the mechanism that sustains all of creation. And without it nothing exists. So when you think about all of creation be sure to marvel in what God is currently doing, and not just what He did during the creation event. Our God is still working. And lastly, know that our God isn’t a distant watchmaker. He is a gardener that is very much involved with His creation as we’ll continue to see.