Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Crown of God’s Creation

Creation Day Six from Emmanuel

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day. (Genesis 1:24-31)

On the sixth day of creation God created animals and man. One might be tempted to say that on the sixth day God just created all kinds of creatures, but that is not how the Holy Scriptures tell what happened. It is true that man is certainly a creature created by God, but there is something very special about the creation of man that distinguishes us from everything else that God created.

When God had made nearly everything in the universe and had come to the last part of His creation He said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness….” So God created man in His image. This is special because God did not do this for anything else in creation. Man is the “crown of God’s creation” because God made people in His image. What does it mean that man is made in God’s image? It means that Adam and Eve were made holy, like God. They were made immortal because death only came after the fall into sin as a punishment for their disobedience. The image of God is also seen in verse 26 in the passage above where God gave Adam and Eve the authority to rule over the earth and all other creatures just as God has authority over us and ultimate authority over all things.

We should also see that it wasn’t for Adam and Eve’s sake that God made them in His image. Yes, God loved them dearly, but He also knew that they would rebel against Him, reject Him, become His enemies, and face His wrath and condemnation. Instead, it was for the sake of Jesus that God made man to be the crown of creation. Even before anything was made, God knew that He would need to become incarnate as a man to redeem his beloved, but rebellious people. Saint Peter wrote, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:18-21) This shows us that God had planned to save us before the creation of the world. It was for the sake of His beloved Son (Jesus) that God made people the crown of creation, though because of Jesus, God did this for our benefit and eternal joy.

Saint Paul also said much the same thing when he wrote “For he chose us in (Christ) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:4-8) Here again we see that it was according to God’s plan of salvation from eternity that He created us in His image, but it was for the sake of Christ, who redeemed us that we might be “adopted as His sons”. Strictly speaking, Jesus is the crown of God’s creation, but because of Jesus, we have been redeemed through His blood, forgiven of our sins, and adopted into God’s family so that through faith in Jesus we can share in the glories of His eternal inheritance.

There is so much in the creation account that I can only begin to describe the importance of it in this short essay. It is important to note that the creation account in chapter one of Genesis is not the only information we have on the creation of people. Genesis chapter two gives a more detailed account of what God did when He created Adam and Eve. Some people try to discredit the Biblical account of creation by saying that the stories in chapter one and chapter two are different stories, but that is stretching the text too far. It is very clear that the account in chapter one is a general summary of God creating man, and then chapter two gives more details about the creation of man on day six. There is nothing in chapter two that contradicts chapter one, it only expands on the details.

We see in the creation of man that God also created marriage. Eve is described as Adam’s “wife” just as soon as she is formed out of Adam’s rib and given life. Here is the answer to all who would redefine marriage as something other than the lifelong union of one man and one woman. When God created people He also created marriage and blessed this union and commanded them to be fruitful. We also see that the woman is not a lesser being to be dominated, but a true partner, as Adam declares that this woman who was formed out of his rib is “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23)

Nevertheless, there is still a hierarchy in the order of creation of the husband and the wife. The wife is to submit to the husband as the husband is to submit to God, but this doesn’t mean that the woman is the man’s servant or property. After sin came into the world man started getting some strange notions about the roles of husband and wife and twisted around God’s good institution. However, people who take seriously the Genesis account of creation have throughout history have had a higher view of marriage, and women in those cultures have enjoyed greater protections and stability than those cultures which either put women down to the level of servant or property, or those which raise women up to a level of superiority over men.

In the New Testament Jesus acknowledges the sanctity of marriage when He was asked a question about divorce in Matthew 19:1-9. Jesus references the creation to show what God intended and says that marriage is “what God has joined together” so that no one should separate those united in marriage. Saint Paul also gives a bold endorsement of marriage in Ephesians 5:21-33 even though he remained celibate in his life. Even though Paul’s words have been twisted throughout history he gives a beautiful picture of marriage where the wife submits to the husband, and the husband loves his wife and submits to God. If you read Paul’s words carefully as written you see that he does not give the husband the authority to dominate his wife, but requires him to give his life for his wife as Christ gave His life for the church (all believers). So if the husband loves his wife enough to die for her, then he will not dominate her, but will care for her as he ought.

We see God with us in the account of creation in that He not only made all things for our benefit, and made us in His image, but also in what God did for us when we rebelled against Him and became His enemies through our disobedience. God could have destroyed all people for their sin. He maybe should have, but out of love for us creatures God came to earth Himself as one of us. Jesus came to keep God’s law, which we are unable to do, and also to endure the punishment for sin as our substitute so that we are freed from that threat of punishment. This is what Jesus did out of love for God’s disobedient creatures.

The Seven Days of Creation
In the Beginning
The Orderly Creation
Distinctions in Creation
The Center of the Universe
Designed by God
The Crown of God’s Creation
A Sabbath Day Rest

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