Friday, November 6, 2009

Meditations "on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam" - Why the world doesn't gasp


"Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing." Isaiah 40: 21-26
At some point in a future meditation I intend to explore the philosophical notion that God's infinitude may in some way render His immensity in relation to our smallness rather irrelevant - in the sense that size bears little relevance to a being who is infinite as to time and space (as if anyone can have any truly adequate understanding of the perspective of such a being). For now, however, I would like to linger for some time longer, with the immensity of God, partly because that is the most overwhelming impression left by the image above, but especially because God repeatedly dwells on it in Scripture. God has, ever since the days of creation, intended us to be awed and humbled by this very thing. Scripture never does instruct us to philosophize on the nature of infinity, per se; and we should not, as finite beings, limited in every direction, fool ourselves into thinking that we can have anything but the faintest comprehension of infinity. Big and small, on the other hand, are concepts we can understand full well. By describing Himself in terms of magnitude, God, using expressions with clear meaning for us, has given us a framework for understanding Him and our relationship to Him. By displaying a creation of seemingly infinite space, He gives us the barest glimpse of His own eternal nature. And, more eloquently than words ever could, the creation, pours forth the majesty of God.

"The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth, 
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat." Psalm 19:1-6

Creation is the testimony of God, proclaimed to all mankind, loud enough for all to hear. It is a vision given to man of the invisible God's eternal power and divine nature, bright and clear enough for all to see. If only we would look and listen, we would have at least the beginning of wisdom - we would have the fear the LORD in our hearts. But before I go exploring further, with open eyes, into the glory of God in the heavens, I feel the need to go slowly, to take time to consider one of the other great wonders of the world: why it is that all humanity is not at this very moment sighing a collective gasp of awe at the majesty of God stretching out over us everywhere we look and as far as the eye can see, and reaching down, permeating every cell of our being. From the seeming limitless expanse of the heavens, to the invisible universes of atoms that make up everything that is visible, everywhere we look we see the fingerprints of the Creator and the evidence of unimaginable wisdom, majesty and power.

The second great wonder of the world is that it does not ring forth with deafening praises to this almighty God. Why has creation not proven a testimony sufficient to elicit praise for God from all mankind? There are several answers I could give to this question but I'd like to focus on two which over-arch the rest; the glory of God, and the sin of man. Primarily, and strangely enough, the current lack of honor given to God is a temporary state which will ultimately serve to bring Him even greater glory throughout eternity. God has a plan to glorify Himself in ways which this created order alone will not suffice. But rather than begin there, I'll first address the secondary cause, the immediate hindrance to the proper worship of God in the world of men, sin.

God testifies in Scripture that creation should be sufficient to bring men to the worship of God and thanksgiving, that creation is a reliable revelation from God to man, which if regarded properly will lead us to honor Him and give Him thanks. There are many things about God which creation does not teach (more on that in a moment); but Scripture does reveal enough to leave us in awe of God's evident power and authority as Creator, to honor Him - and to be thankful to Him - which indeed we would be were it not for the sinful rebelliousness of our hearts.
"For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things." (Rom. 1:19-23)
This is God's commentary upon what happened in Eden. It is also His commentary on what has continued on throughout the ages in the hearts of all Adam's offspring. We all know and clearly perceive God through the revelation of creation, and we all react in the same way, by natural instinct, if you will, rejecting what we clearly see and trading away the truth of God for falsehood, the glory of God for lesser things. The testimony of God is that, "the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth." (Gen. 8:21) And,
"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God,'
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one." Ps. 14:1-3
And again,

"...For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

'None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good, not even one.'
'Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.'
'The venom of asps is under their lips.'
'Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.'
'Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.'
'There is no fear of God before their eyes.'  Rom. 3:9-18
Rather than fearing God, honoring Him, and seeking the wisdom He provides, we have chosen to look to ourselves and our own "wisdom". Instead of looking at His creation to learn of Him, we look at His works and by them seek to disprove His existence. In doing so, we've made ourselves fools. We've closed our eyes, squeezed them tight, to the truth and wisdom of the God of all creation, and now wander the earth stubbornly blind, yet haughty in our rejection of the light of God. We don't want this God. His power is too dreadful to think of, to contemplate. We don't want to think of Him, but even more so, we don't want to answer to Him. We want to be our own gods, and answer only to ourselves. We don't want His light, His wisdom to shine into our dark hearts. "And this is the judgment, that light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed." (Jn. 3:19-20)

So, because of our sin, the blessing and beauty of creation, instead of inspiring awe and lifting our hearts in adoration of God, has become a testimony which serves to condemn us. "Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, no knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed." (Rom. 2: 4-5) And this is the fate of all whose eyes remain tightly shut against the light of God, where ever He may be seen.

In my next post in this series, I intend to explore the ultimate reason that the testimony of creation, as overwhelming and magnificent as it is, has not proven sufficient to bring people to God.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Estelle Lobban writes: Thank you for SLOWING ME DOWN as you take us along this journey, Laurie. I have read your post out to Gordon - slowly. May we all have eyes wide open to God's light!

Laurie M. said...

If I'm at all capable of such a thing, I want to experience the wonder David did when he wrote his Psalms. I don't think I can do it unless I go slowly. Our world pulls our minds inward to keep us from seeing the great and mighty deeds of God...and the small ones too. I'm as guilty of this as the next person. I'm glad for your patience as I work my way through. Next time, by God's grace we'll discuss God's plan for redemption. I want to do all this before going forward to all the implications of God's majesty.

couragetotremble said...

Thanks for this.
I come up against this problem---of people appreciating and marvelling at the beauty of nature and the feats of man without glorifying the Creator---every working day and wonder and hope and wait that grace of God's Son rise and understanding dawn.
Some day, you must pick out the best of your work and publish them as a book. You are a very good writer.
Listen all, Laurie is my sister, and she takes after our Father's Son.