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The Purpose of Creation

Creation, not nature.

Law and Creation (3)

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.
Genesis 1.31

Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
You established the earth, and it abides.
They continue this day according to Your ordinances,
For all are Your servants. Psalm 119.89-91

Creation, not nature
We are looking at the teaching of God’s Law with respect to the creation and how we must use it. God, we remember, loves His world so much, that He sent His only Son to die for it so that it might be set free from its groaning in sin into the liberty of the sons and daughters of God (Jn. 3.16; Rom. 8.19-21).

The creation is not “nature”, common usage to the contrary notwithstanding. That is, creation is not a mass of “stuff” and “things”, naturally occurring and just waiting out there, without identity or purpose, for man to assign some meaning and place to it. This is the view of those who see creation as nature, the product of chance and time and not the handiwork of a loving Creator.

God made the cosmos and everything in it. It is His, and He made it to serve His good purposes. In His Law, as well as throughout His Word, He is careful to remind His people that we are called to be stewards of the creation so that it can fulfill its divinely appointed charge (cf. Gen. 1.26-28; Ps. 8). We may begin the process of rethinking our view of the world and everything in it by referring to what God has made as creation rather than as nature.

But we must be diligent to understand God’s purpose for His creation so that we may perform our stewardship of it by every available means, including, to the extent it is possible, through public policy.

The purpose of creation
The overall project of God is to glorify Himself, that is, to make His presence known so that His goodness, beauty, truth, and blessings reach to and bless all His creatures, and a circle is completed as praise and thanksgiving return to Him. In this design, the creation plays a large and important role.

God is continuously revealing Himself and His goodness in the things He has made (Ps. 19.1-4). He is determined not only that His glory should be revealed through His creation but that it should be known by us as well (Hab. 2.14; Prov. 25.2). All the creatures and things of creation are God’s “servants” toward that end. Human beings make proper use of the creation when we employ it to bless the world and for the glory and honor of God. From the beginning of the Law of God, He made it clear that man’s duty over the creation is to “work and guard” it (Gen. 2.15) so that it can continue to develop, flourish, and thus serve the purposes of God for good, as He originally intended (cf. Gen. 1, the many uses of the word, “good”, to describe God’s work).

The land of Canaan
That this was God’s intention in giving the land of Canaan to Israel is clear throughout His Law. The pagan peoples of the land had, by their idolatry and other wickedness, forfeited the right to enjoy the benefits of the creation (Lev. 20.22-26). They were to be ejected from the land God had promised to His people and replaced by Israel, so that the good provision of God could continue and abound, without being attributed or devoted to false deities and used for abominable practices.

God promised His people that He would cause the fields and skies and forests and hills to bring forth plentifully so that they might know His blessings (Deut. 28.1-14). When this happened, God warned His people, they must not fail to glorify Him by turning away from His Law. Only by continuing in obedience to the Law would justice and love obtain among them, and they would be a witness to the surrounding nations of the greatness of God, as we have seen. Israel’s faithfulness in using the creation for God’s glory and abiding in His justice and love would draw the nations to seek the Lord and to glorify Him (Mic. 4.1-8).

The creation is not ours, but God’s
Creation in all its parts fulfills its purpose as a servant of God when it is used in ways that bless men and honor God. Blessing comes in more than material ways, such as providing beauty, provoking wonder and worship, inspiring art and science, and granting insights to the divine being and will. Creation’s larger ends—man’s blessing and God’s glory—must be considered in all our use of the environment, from the way we maintain our own property to the various ways we love and honor creation, including through public policies that affect all human beings and all creation.

The creation is not ours, but God’s (Ps. 24.1; Ps. 50.12); its creatures are not our servants, but His. He determines its proper meaning and use as creation and not merely nature. Thus, we must be careful in all our use of the creation to approach it with the mind of Christ and use it for the purposes of God in blessing the world and glorifying the Creator. For then will creation’s bounty, beauty, and blessing increase and God the Creator be rightly acknowledged and praised.

For reflection
1. How can you see that the creation around you serves the purposes of God—to bless people and glorify Himself?

2. What can you do to improve your ability to use creation according to the “very good” purposes of God?

3. What might you expect to learn about God by paying more attention to the creation around you?

Next steps—Transformation: One way to awaken your soul to the glory of God in creation is to become more mindful of the ways creation serves you. Begin today to write down ways that creation brings blessing to your life. How does this help you to see the glory of God in His creation?

T. M. Moore

What is the place of the Law of God in the Christian’s life? Our book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, answers this question and shows us again why Jesus taught us that keeping the Law is an indispensable part of our calling in God’s Kingdom. Order your copy of The Ground for Christian Ethics by clicking here. To gain a better understanding of how the Law of God applies in daily life, order a copy of our book, A Kingdom Catechism, by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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