Article of the week: Pleasing and praising God
23 January 2021
In the first of three articles, Major Howard Webber explores the Creation and the Fall
IN speaking of creation as ‘groaning’ (Romans 8:22), waiting ‘in eager expectation’ (v19) and being ‘subjected to frustration’ (v20), Paul was not the first Bible writer to attribute consciousness and emotion to creation. The psalmist spoke of the hills being ‘clothed with gladness’ (Psalm 65:12) and, describing the meadows covered with flocks and the valleys with corn, he said they ‘shout for joy and sing’ (v13). In Psalm 96:12 we read of the fields and everything in them being jubilant, with the trees of the forest singing with joy. Isaiah spoke of a future when mountains and hills would ‘burst into song’ and trees would ‘clap their hands’ (55:12).
Psalm 148 reveals the sun, moon and stars praising their creator, along with lightning, hail, snow, clouds, mountains, hills, trees, wild animals, cattle, small creatures and flying birds. In his wonderful hymn ‘All Creatures of Our God and King’ (SASB 2), Francis of Assisi took up this theme of all creation – not just living creatures, but flowers and fruits, wind and clouds, flowing water and fire – praising God.
Figurative language it may well be, but it is a clear demonstration of how all creation is subject to its creator. Isn’t true worship being what God created us to be and doing what he desires us to do? Our corporate and private acts of worship ought to be reflections of that. However impressive those acts might appear, what does God make of them when they are not a reflection of lives lived?
Through the person of Christ Jesus, God created all things in Heaven and
on the Earth, visible and invisible (see Colossians 1:16). Through Christ, God created the multitude of scientific laws such as those of physics, chemistry and biology, by which he holds everything together. We live in a finely tuned universe. Few of us are aware of just how finely balanced it is or who keeps it that way.
It was all created for Christ, and he is or ought to be its master. When God created the universe, ‘it was very good’ (Genesis 1:31). It was all as he desired it to be, but one thing, one creature was different. While every other creature had no choice other than to behave as it was created to behave, God gave one special creature a choice. Humankind could either submit to whatever God desired or not. Sadly, Adam and Eve, our first parents, chose not to. God only gave them one simple command, but they chose to disobey it. They did what they preferred rather than what he desired.
Disobedience is always indicative of a lack of faith. Neither Adam nor Eve believed God’s warning that they would die if they ate from ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (Genesis 2:17) or that God had their best interests at heart. Their wrong choice spoilt everything, condemning humankind to sin’s bondage.
Supermarkets used to have displays made from huge stacks of products, such as tins of baked beans. Should someone unwisely attempt to remove a tin from the bottom, the result wouldn’t just be a gap in the display – the whole lot would come tumbling down. The consequences of one small foolish act can be far greater than the perpetrator ever imagined or expected.
Our first parents’ foolishness and disobedience resulted in them losing their innocence, being banished from the Garden of Eden’s peace, provision and security and experiencing shame and separation from God. In addition, that tendency to sin – to have one’s own way, to be self-centred, to think one knows better than God – became part of our very nature. God made humankind ‘in his own image’ (Genesis 1:27) but, through disobedience, that image was damaged and distorted.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the consequences of sin stretched beyond the confines of humanity to the wider world. ‘Cursed is the ground because of you,’ God told Adam in Genesis 3:17.
One of the mysteries of life is that suffering as a result of sin is rarely ever confined to the one who committed it. Adam and Eve brought death and decay upon themselves and upon the world in which they lived. Thorns and thistles would now cause problems they hadn’t experienced before, in what became a new and often painful experience: a struggle to survive and feed themselves.
MAJOR WEBBER LIVES IN RETIREMENT IN BOURNEMOUTH
‘Longing for relief’