Insuppressible Truth: The Glory of Creation
The Bible teaches that God has created all things. His purpose is ultimately to display His glory and majesty. Thus, creation is “good” and “very good” in Genesis 1 because God made and ordered the creation. He is pleased with His handiwork.
The glory of creation is a shining forth of God’s glory. In making all things, God has shown us something of His character, power, and majesty. The job of the creation is ultimately “declarative.” It tells us something about God. From this conception, we get the term “natural revelation.”
One classic text concerning the glory of creation is Psalm 19.
Psa. 19:1-2 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
When you look up into the sky on a darkened night and you see the beauty of the stars radiating, we are reminded of glory of God. The stars have a beauty and glory precisely because God made them, God has a beauty and glory, and the purpose of making them was to show us about himself. He has made the stars like a choir in the sky (Ps. 89:5) pouring out speech and knowledge of God. This is, of course, poetic language. The sky is a speaker:
Psa. 19:3-4a There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
The sun, moon, and stars tell us things about the character of God. So we see God’s justice in the sky.
Psa. 50:6 The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah
Psa. 97:6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
Part of creation’s glory is that it makes plain to us the knowledge of God:
Rom. 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
Rom. 1:20 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.
One attribute of God that we see in the creation is God’s steadfast love, his hesed. In the Bible, the word conveys the concept of love but also covenant faithfulness. It entails keeping promises of loyalty. God’s hesed is one of His great attributes. The earth everywhere displays this steadfast love:
Psa. 33:5-6 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
In the days of Jeremiah, God had to assure His people that despite their coming exile, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the cutting off throne of David, God would still keep His covenant. So to remind them of this, He pointed to the sun and the moon. Just as God faithfully causes the sun and moon to rise, so God would faithfully keep His promise to David.
Jer. 33:19-26 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: “Thus says the LORD: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me.”
The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: “Have you not observed that these people are saying, ‘The LORD has rejected the two clans that he chose’? Thus they have despised my people so that they are no longer a nation in their sight. Thus says the LORD: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.”
God’s relationship with the day and night is described as a covenant. You never worry that the sun won’t come up tomorrow. The glory of creation is such that it is fixed, the order continues. But why? Because God continues. He upholds the creation by the Word of His mighty power (Heb. 1:3b). So, just as the times and seasons are faithful in coming according to schedule because God is displaying His faithfulness and covenant keeping power, so the Israelites can trust God as the one who keeps His promises. So too, we can trust that God, in Jesus Christ, has fulfilled and will fulfill these promises to us. Just how faithful is God? Well, how regular have the day and night been for thousands of generations? That is how faithful God is.
The glory of creation is a reflected glory. Creation has glory, purpose, and value because God has granted it. Like a mirror creation display the glory of God because that is the end for which God intended it. Does our reflection on the creation, its beauty, its order, and its wonder cause us to meditate on the God who made it that way?
Tim Bertolet is a graduate of Lancaster Bible College and Westminster Theological Seminary. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is an ordained pastor in the Bible Fellowship Church, currently serving as pastor of Faith Bible Fellowship Church in York, Pa. He is a husband and father of four daughters. You can follow him on Twitter @tim_bertolet.