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And God Said, And It Was So
Finding joy in creaturely limitation
“And God said… And it was so.” (Genesis 1:6–7, 9, 11, 14–15, 24)
As is the case today, so it was true in the ancient world that pagan creation myths begin with chaos. Whether we think of Marduk subjugating the Babylonian deities to create the sky and earth, or the Darwinian forces of natural selection working to bring order out of an inherently disordered universe, pagan thinking always begins with rivalry. The order we perceive throughout the cosmos, in other words, is not the result of sovereign and almighty wisdom, but rather the conclusion of a violent struggle between competing powers. And the strongest wins. “Might makes right,” to the unbelieving mind.
The Scriptures, however, turn this pattern on its head. In contrast to the fundamentally chaotic character of both ancient and modern pagan thought, the Bible presents God as He truly is: the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth. As the repeated phrase “And God said…And it was so” demonstrates with sterling clarity, the God of the Bible contends with no one for His seat on the throne of the universe. He simply speaks and reality is shaped according to His will:
“Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” (Ps. 33:8)
What this means is that God and His authoritative Word constitute the bedrock foundation of all reality. Though the world is comprised of many various creatures, structures, patterns, and relations, all of it is the way it is fundamentally because God has said so. Thus our duty as creatures is to joyfully receive the created order rather than rebel against it. We might wish that the sky was brown or that men could be women or that money could be had without being earned or that laziness and porn addiction lead to prosperity, but all of these things we wish in vain. Reality is untouched by our empty longing, and for the simple reason: “And God said…And it was so.”
Joy, then, is found when we learn to live within the creaturely limitations God has placed on our existence. And this we can only do through the gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s creation is good, after all (Gen. 1:31). We are not. We, therefore, are the ones who must be changed in order to suit the world, not the other way around.
Thankfully, this is the very thing God has promised to do in the new birth. Through the giving of His Son and the pouring out of His Spirit, God has begun a new creation in the hearts of His people that will not be eclipsed by sin or decay. He is making all things new, beginning with us: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
The call of the gospel, then, is as Bonhoeffer said: a call to come and die. But it is a death followed by resurrection. And for sinners who are engaged in a futile and frustrating war against reality, this is a marvellous hope indeed.
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