And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. – Genesis 1:31 (ESV)
Did you ever watch “How’d They Do That?” It was a show that was originally broadcast back in the 1990’s, but you can still catch reruns of it. They have a film crew visit a factory and show how any number of products and machinery and what-have-you were invented, how they are manufactured and how they work. For someone who is admittedly mechanically declined, this is pretty fascinating stuff.
The subject of God as Creator is one that absolutely fascinates me. I’m a person with a creative bent, but God’s way of creating astounds me. In fact, human beings cannot create the way God does. I will argue that humans do possess the ability to truly create at all. We can invent. We can design. We can build. But creation is something altogether uniquely God.
God creates ex nihilo – out of nothing. Read Genesis 1 and you see the running motif: God spoke and it was. God spoke and it was. And it was good. (Makes sense when you consider that the tiniest subatomic particles of all matter are made up of waves much like sound waves.)
Try as we might, humans cannot pull this one off. We need material to build with, the piece together and make anything. We need ingredients that God created. When I paint a sunrise, I need a canvas, brushes, paints… all manufactured from base materials created by God. When God “paints” a sunrise, He creates the real thing. And, no matter how amazing my talents (and, trust me, my talent + painting ≠ amazing), I will never make anything that comes close to the wonder of God’s true creation.
God not only created all things. He sustains all His creation.
5 For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. 6 Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. 7 He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses. – Psalms 135:5-7 (ESV)
In the book of Job, we see the central character and his three friends going back and forth about Who God is and what He does and why. At one point, Job – lamenting the pain and sorrow inflicted upon him that he did not deserve – cries out, “Let the Almighty answer me!” (Job 31:35, ESV).
Which is exactly what God does:
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, 9 when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, 11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’? 12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, 13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? 14 It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment. 15 From the wicked their light is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken. 16 “Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? 17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? 18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. 19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, 20 that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? 21 You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great! 22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, 23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? 24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth? 25 “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, 26 to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man, 27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass? 28 “Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew? 29 From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven? 30 The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. 31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? 32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? 33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? 34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? 35 Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? 36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind? 37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, 38 when the dust runs into a mass and the clods stick fast together? 39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, 40 when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in their thicket? 41 Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food? – Job 38:4-41 (ESV)
There it is. Straight from the mouth of the Almighty Himself. Can you imagine how terrified Job must have felt receiving this dressing down from God? When the Lord begins with words like, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me” (Job 38:2-3, ESV), you know its not going to be fun.
But what God is saying is this: He is the Creator. He is the Sustainer. He is the Giver of all good things. We can take no credit for any of it. We weren’t even here yet. As Augustine observed, ” Let us therefore believe that God works constantly, so that all created things would perish, if his working were withdrawn.”