Tag Archives: God the Creator

“He gives rain on the earth” by John Piper

“‘God does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth.’ (Job 5:8-10) In Job’s mind rain really is one of the great, unsearchable wonders that God does. So when I read this a few weeks ago, I resolved not to treat it as meaningless pop musical lyrics. I decided to have a conversation with myself (which is what I mean by meditation).

Is rain a great and unsearchable wonder wrought by God? Picture yourself as a farmer in the Near East, far from any lake or stream. A few wells keep the family and animals supplied with water. But if the crops are to grow and the family is to be fed from month to month, water has to come from another source on the fields. From where?

Well, the sky. The sky? Water will come out of the clear blue sky? Well, not exactly. Water will have to be carried in the sky from the Mediterranean Sea over several hundred miles, and then be poured out on the fields from the sky. Carried? How much does it weigh? Well, if one inch of rain falls on one square mile of farmland during the night, that would be 2,323,200 cubic feet of water, which is 17,377,536 gallons, which is 144,735,360 pounds of water.

That’s heavy. So how does it get up in the sky and stay up there if it’s so heavy? Well, it gets up there by evaporation. Really? That’s a nice word. What’s it mean? It means that the water stops being water for a while so it can go up and not down. I see. Then how does it get down? Well, condensation happens. What’s that? The water starts becoming water again by gathering around little dust particles between .00001 and .0001 centimeters wide. That’s small.

What about the salt? Salt? Yes, the Mediterranean Sea is saltwater. That would kill the crops. What about the salt? Well, the salt has to be taken out. Oh. So the sky picks up millions of pounds of water from the sea, takes out the salt, carries the water (or whatever it is, when it is not water) for three hundred miles, and then dumps it (now turned into water again) on the farm?

Well, it doesn’t dump it. If it dumped millions of pounds of water on the farm, the wheat would be crushed. So the sky dribbles the millions of pounds of water down in little drops. And they have to be big enough to fall for one mile or so without evaporating, and small enough to keep from crushing the wheat stalks.

How do all these microscopic specks of water that weigh millions of pounds get heavy enough to fall (if that’s the way to ask the question)? Well, it’s called coalescence. What’s that? It means the specks of water start bumping into each other and join up and get bigger, and when they are big enough, they fall.

Just like that? Well, not exactly, because they would just bounce off each other instead of joining up if there were no electric field present. What? Never mind. Take my word for it.

I think, instead, I will just take Job’s word for it.”

–John Piper, Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2005), 24–26.

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“The riddles of God” by G.K. Chesterton

“In dealing with the arrogant asserter of doubt, the right method is to tell him to go on doubting, to doubt a little more, to doubt every day newer and wilder things in the universe, until at last, by some strange enlightenment, he may begin to doubt himself.

This, I say, is the first fact touching the speech (i.e. Job 38-42); the fine inspiration by which God comes in at the end, not to answer riddles, but to propound them. The other great fact which, taken together with this one, makes the world work religious instead of merely philosophical, is that other great surprise which makes Job suddenly satisfied with the mere presentation of something impenetrable.

Verbally speaking the enigmas of Jehovah seem darker and more desolate than the enigmas of Job; yet Job was comfortless before the speech of Jehovah and is comforted after it. He has been told nothing, but feels the terrible and tingling atmosphere of something which is too good to be told.

The refusal of God to explain His design is itself a burning hint of His design. The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”

–G.K. Chesterton, “The Book of Job,” in On Lying in Bed and Other Essays, Ed. Alberto Manguel (Calgary: Bayeux Arts, 2000), 176.

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“A freshness of vision” by John Piper

“One of the tragedies of growing up is that we get used to things. It has its good side of course, since irritations may cease to be irritations.

But there is immense loss when we get used to the redness of the rising sun,

and the roundness of the moon,

and the whiteness of the snow,

the wetness of rain,

the blueness of the sky,

the buzzing of bumble bees,

the stitching of crickets,

the invisibility of wind,

the unconscious constancy of heart and diaphragm,

the weirdness of noses and ears,

the number of the grains of sand on a thousand beaches,

the never-ceasing crash crash crash of countless waves,

and ten million kingly-clad flowers flourishing and withering in woods and mountain valleys where no one sees but God.

I invite you, with Clyde Kilby, to seek a ‘freshness of vision,’ to look, as though it were the first time, not at the empty product of accumulated millennia of aimless evolutionary accidents (which no child ever dreamed of), but at the personal handiwork of an infinitely strong, creative, and exuberant Artist who made the earth and the sea and everything in them.

I invite you to believe (like the children believe) ‘that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course you shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the Architect who calls Himself Alpha and Omega’ (note 11, resolution 10).”

–John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God (Portland, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1991), 95-96.

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“God’s excellent gifts” by John Calvin

“Whenever we come upon these matters in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts.

If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God.

For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn and reproach the Spirit himself. What then? Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity?

Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those men were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably?

Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labor to our benefit? What shall we say of all the mathematical sciences? Shall we consider them the ravings of madmen?

No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how pre-eminent they are. But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God?

Let us be ashamed of such ingratitude, into which not even the pagan poets fell, for they confessed that the gods had invented philosophy, laws, and all useful arts.

Those men whom Scripture calls ‘natural men’ (1 Cor. 2:14) were, indeed, sharp and penetrating in their investigation of inferior things.

Let us, accordingly, learn by their example how many gifts the Lord left to human nature even after it was despoiled of its true good.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John T. McNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles; vol. 1; The Library of Christian Classics; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 2.2.15: pp. 273–275.

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“The world finds its goal in His glory” by Herman Bavinck

“God is the sole, unique, and absolute cause of all that exists. He has created all things by His word and Spirit (Gen. 1:2–3; Ps. 33:6; 104:29–30; 148:5; Job 26:13; 33:4; Isa. 40:13; 48:13; Zech. 12:1; John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2; etc.).

There was no substance or principle of any kind to oppose Him; no material to tie Him down; no force to circumscribe His freedom. He speaks and things spring into being (Gen. 1:3; Ps. 33:9; Rom. 4:17). He is the unrestricted owner of heaven and earth (Gen. 14:19, 22; Ps. 24:1–2; 89:11; 95:4–5).

There are no limits to His power; He does all He sees fit to do (Isa. 14:24, 27; 46:10; 55:10–11; Ps. 115:3; 135:6). “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6; Heb. 11:3).

The world is the product of His will (Ps. 33:6; Rev. 4:11); it is the revelation of His perfections (Prov. 8:22f.; Job 28:23f.; Ps. 104:1; 136:5f.; Jer. 10:12) and finds its goal in His glory (Isa. 43:16ff.; Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6).

This teaching of creation, which occupies a preeminent and pivotal place in Scripture, is not, however, presented as a philosophical explanation of the problem of existence. Most certainly it also offers an answer to the question of the origin of all things.

Yet its significance is first and foremost religious and ethical. No right relation to God is conceivable apart from this basis; it positions us in the proper relation to God (Exod. 20:11; Deut. 10:12–14; 2 Kings 19:15; Neh. 9:6).

It is therefore of eminent practical value, serving to bring out the greatness, the omnipotence, the majesty, and the goodness, wisdom, and love of God (Ps. 19; Job 37; Isa. 40).

The teaching of creation therefore strengthens people’s faith, confirms their trust in God, and is a source of consolation in their suffering (Ps. 33:6f.; 65:5ff.; 89:11; 121:2; 134:3; Isa. 37:16; 40:28f.; 42:5; etc.).

It inspires praise and thanksgiving (Ps. 136:3ff.; 148:5; Rev. 14:7).

It induces humility and meekness and makes people sense their smallness and insignificance before God (Job 38:4f.; Isa. 29:16; 45:9; Jer. 18:6; Rom. 9:20).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, vol. 2, Ed. John Bolt, and trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 407–408.

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“He made us” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“What is it that I love in loving You? Not physical beauty, nor the splendor of time, nor the radiance of the light, so pleasant to our eyes, nor the sweet melodies of songs of all kinds, nor the flagrant smell of flowers, and ointments, and spices, nor manna and honey, nor limbs pleasant to the embraces of the flesh. I do not love these things when I love my God.

And yet I love a certain kind of light, sound, fragrance, food, and embrace in loving my God; for He is the light, sound, fragrance, food, and embrace of my inner man. There, a light shines upon my soul which no place can contain, and a sound is heard which time cannot snatch away. There breathes a fragrance which no breeze can disperse, a food which no eating can diminish, and an embrace which no fullness of satisfaction can dissolve. This is what I love, when I love my God.

And what is He? I asked the earth; and it answered, ‘I am not He.’ And everything on earth made the same confession. I asked the sea and the deeps, and the creeping things that lived, and they replied, ‘We are not your God. Seek higher than we.’ I asked the breezy air; and the universal atmosphere with its inhabitants answered, ‘I am not God.’ I asked the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars: ‘Neither,’ they said, ‘are we the God whom you seek.’

And I answered all these things which crowd about the door of my flesh, ‘You have told me concerning my God that you are not He. Tell me something positive about Him!’ And with a loud voice they exclaimed: ‘He made us.’”

–Aurelius Augustine, Confessions, X.vi. Trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Penguin, 1961), 212.

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“The brighter glories and beauties of the Creator of all” by Jonathan Edwards

“We admire at the beauty of creation, at the beautiful order of it, at the glory of the sun, moon, and stars. The sun appears very bright and glorious. So beautiful doth it appear that many nations take it to be the supreme god, and worship it accordingly, but we have much more reason from the beauty of the sun to admire at the invisible glory of that God whose fingers have formed it…

The beauty of trees, plants, and flowers, with which God has bespangled the face of the earth, is delightful. The beautiful frame of the body of man, especially in its perfection, is astonishing. The beauty of the moon and stars is wonderful. The beauty of the highest heavens is transcendent. The excellency of angels and the saints in light is very glorious. But it is all deformity and darkness in comparison of the brighter glories and beauties of the Creator of all, for ‘behold even to the moon, and it shineth not’ (Job 25:5).

That is, think of the excellency of God and the moon will not seem to shine to you, God’s excellency so much outshines it. And the stars are not pure in His sight, and so we know that at the great day when God appears, the sun shall be turned into darkness, shall hide his face as if he were ashamed to see himself so much outshined. And the very angels, they hide their faces before Him. The highest heavens are not clean in His sight.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “God’s Excellencies” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10, Sermons and Discourses 1720-1723. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 420-1.

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