Creation is Good (4)
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the LORD. Psalm 96.11, 12
All nature sings
The Greek philosopher Pythagoras (570-500 BC) expressed the idea that the cosmos is filled with music, music so sublime as to be inaudible to the human ear. The “music of the spheres,” as he referred to it, captured what Pythagoras, that quintessential mathematician, and the discoverer of musical intervals, regarded as the harmony that exists everywhere throughout creation.
He was only echoing what the psalmist understood and celebrated as well.
Hymnist Maltbie Davenport Babcock (d. 1901) lay hold on Pythagoras’ idea to express the Biblical view that the creation everywhere refracts in glorious harmonies the divine presence and glory in his hymn, This Is My Father’s World:
This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.
Biblical revelation, pagan philosophy, scientific observation, mathematical reflection, and simple common sense lead to the same conclusion: Harmony exists throughout the creation, and harmony is a good thing.
The harmony of creation is perhaps most readily observable in the various ecosystems of the earth. An ecosystem is defined as “a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment” (Oxford English Dictionary). Ecosystems are many and varied, including deserts, coral reefs, the frozen tundra, and your nearest local pond or woods. In an ecosystem, the various life forms interact with one another and their natural environment, enhancing and contributing to one another to create a vibrant community, replete with beauty and flourishing with resources of various kinds.
That ecosystems are good and necessary has become common knowledge in our day, and many organizations exist to promote the care of ecosystems and their life forms. One important effort in the mode of Rev. Babcock is the work of Nate Simon and Blue Heron Ministries in Angola, Indiana.
Nate and his staff and teams of volunteers are dedicated to serving the Lord and their local communities by working to ensure that the various ecosystems in their area remain healthy and are able to thrive. They undertake various efforts throughout the year to clean-up the environment, conduct controlled burns to reduce pests and invasive species, catalog and inventory local flora and fauna, replant native flora, and educate themselves and their neighbors on properly appreciating and caring for the Lord’s creation. Blue Heron’s stated purpose is to “build communities where creation is kept and to keep creation so that community may be restored.”
In other words, to learn, observe, enjoy, and maintain the harmony God has built into His creation.
Bearing witness to God’s harmony
Human beings are made in the image of God, and God exists in harmony within Himself. There is thus a notion or sense of harmony in the soul of every human being, and that notion of harmony resonates with the harmony of creation. The harmony in our souls is troubled when the harmony of creation is in jeopardy, and we are moved to take action to restore the harmony in creation and with it, the harmony in our souls.
Here in the Champlain Valley, Vermont, much concern is being expressed for the overall health of the ecosystems around and within Lake Champlain, or as the native Abenaki call it, Bitawbagok (“Lake in the Middle”).Everyone recognizes the importance of maintaining the harmony of all components of this system, and where damage or depletion is evident, various groups collaborate to redress the imbalance and restore the harmony inherent in Bitawbagok’screation song.
Harmony exists when all the components of an ecosystem are mutually enhancing and edifying. Think of the yard or garden of your home. Here is an excellent opportunity for Christians to strike a chord of harmony in the human soul by making our yards and gardens as harmonious as we can, keeping our grass neatly trimmed, our bushes pruned, leaves raked, beds weeded, and gardens well-groomed. God assigned Adam and Eve the task of maintaining the good harmony of the garden in Eden, because He understood the importance of harmony for the health, not only of creation, but of the human soul.
By studying and understanding the way creation sings its harmonies of praise to God, we can participate in this aspect of goodness, exercising dominion wherever we can in God’s creation, so that the goodness of the Lord comes to light in the land of the living.
1. How would you explain the idea of harmony? Is it something that you just know it when you see or hear it? Or can you be more specific?
2. How does the “green movement” of recent decades bear witness to the importance of maintaining the harmony of creation’s song? Is this something Christians should be concerned about as well?
3. What specific aspects of creation are part of your stewardship and calling from the Lord? How do you work to make these as harmonious as possible?
Next steps – Preparation: Take a hard look at your part of the creation – your yard or landscaping or even your neighborhood and community. Can you see any areas of disharmony? What can you do to bring more harmony to the creation?
T. M. Moore
What are you doing at 8:18 am? If you’re with Bruce Van Patter, you’re observing the goodness of God in your immediate surroundings. Take a look at Bruce’s column, and let your world come alive with goodness (click here).
Our Mission Partners Outreach can help you follow God’s call to share the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom with the people in your Personal Mission Field. The training and materials are free, and the program is available in two formats, and can be used in your Bible study group or Sunday school class. Watch this brief video (click here), and download the informational flyer to learn more.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.