Friday, September 15

Natural Revelation

This photo is telling you something. If you don't hear the message from this smaller version, you can click on it for a larger view. Did you hear it?
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the sky displays his handiwork.
Day after day it speaks out;
night after night it reveals his greatness.
There is no actual speech or word,
nor is its voice literally heard.
Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth;
its words carry to the distant horizon. (Psalm 19:1-4a NET)
The photo has a message; and so does what you see, wherever you are, when you look out your window or up at the sky at night. The natural world declares God's glory because it is a display of his handiwork. You might call it God's art, because it's something beautiful created by him in order to communicate something. The created order, not only by it's overwhelming size, beauty, and complexity, but also by its continued existence in cycles of days, seasons, and years, expresses the greatness and glory of God. We can know that greatness and glory are aspects of God's character from the witness of the natural world.

But wait! There's more.
  • The created order tells us about God's ability.
    Oh, Lord God, you did indeed make heaven and earth by your mighty power and great strength. Nothing is too hard for you! (Jeremiah 32:17 NET)
    The vastness and complexity of the universe tells us that the one who created it has great power--power so extensive that this creator God can accomplish anything. You might call power like that omnipotence.

  • Having the sort of power that is able to create and sustain the universe puts God in a class of his own.
    You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, along with all their multitude of stars, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You impart life to them all, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. (Nehemiah 9:6 NET)
    The creation is evidence of the "otherness" of God. No one else is like him. That means that the natural world gives witness that there is only one God--the one who created everything.

  • So far, we've seen that creation reveals a God who is the only God there is--big, powerful, glorious, and distinct from anything or anyone else. But you can't take a walk outdoors without noticing something else (that is, if you are looking): the God who created the universe and sustains it is a good God--a God who is intimately (or personally) involved with his creation, who benevolently provides for the things he has made.
    All of your creatures wait for you
    to provide them with food on a regular basis.
    You give food to them and they receive it;
    you open your hand and they are filled with food. (Psalm 104:27-28 NET)

    He covers the sky with clouds,
    provides the earth with rain,
    and causes grass to grow on the hillsides.
    He gives food to the animals,
    and to the young ravens when they chirp. (Psalm 147:8-9 NET)

    Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. (Matthew 6:26 NET)

    . . .yet he did not leave himself without a witness by doing good, by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying you with food and your hearts with joy. (Acts 14:17 NET)

  • There's at least one more thing we know from the witness of the natural world: a God who has the characteristics that creation makes plain to humankind is a God who ought to be worshipped.
    . . .what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks. . . . (Romans 1:19-20 NET)
    We know a few things about God's characteristics from what we can see around us; we also know what is the right and proper response to that knowledge. That God is great and glorious and omnipotent and other means that we ought to worship him, and that he is a benevolent provider means that we ought to give him thanks. The natural world, then, tells us that we ought to respond to the creator God like this:
    You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
    since you created all things,
    and because of your will they existed and were created! (Revelation 4:11 NET)
See what you can get from one piece of art work, if you just pay attention!

Photo by oldest son.