The Israelites understood that they were the creation of him who had created all things. God had taken their ancestor Abraham out of Mesopotamia and had led him to the land of Canaan, where centuries later his descendants settled and became a new nation, informed by his life-giving word. Although this was a different kind of creation from the creation of heaven and earth, it still involved initiation and formation, weaving together bones and tissues in the womb of every mother, and breathing into the embryo the breath of life.
Yahweh was God by virtue of having created the world. Everything in heaven and on earth owed its existence to him. The New Testament understanding was the same, with the additional revelation that it was through Jesus Christ that he had created all things. But in the 19th century the Church began to abandon this understanding and ceased to understand who God was. In some quarters it became customary to talk about Providence rather than God, and eventually God and Nature became indistinguishable.
Let us not fool ourselves. If the world is the product of atoms ordering themselves through time, and if atoms themselves produce consciousness, the wise men of this world have some basis for arguing that God does not exist, for then his existence explains nothing. Some theologians try to save the biblical testimony by arguing that evolution and creation amount to the same thing. Heaven and earth were created over billions of years, and creation is therefore still going on today. However, Genesis says that the creation of the world was finished already ‘in the beginning’, and scientists themselves never speak of ‘creation’ when describing natural processes. Unlike most theologians, scientists know what the word means.
Like those torn between following Yahweh and following Baal (I Ki 18:21), we profess belief in the Creator from one corner of our lips and belief in Nature from the other. Part of our brain tells us that man has a spirit, while another part tells us that spirit is just a property of matter. Since man has the last word on such matters, we read Scripture in a different way from the way Jesus himself read it. Scripture may appear to present the Creation as fact, but we persuade ourselves that the truth is ‘spiritual’ rather than literal.
It might be supposed that creation is affirmed only at the beginning of the Bible, after which it fades from view. The purpose of this Appendix is to correct that idea. The creation of heaven and earth and/or man is referred to in 16 of the 36 books of the Old Testament and in 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament. Jesus himself affirms it. Are we really prepared to say – one day it will be to his face – that he was mistaken? References to God as father and creator of Israel, of which there are also many, are omitted.
Gen 6:6f, 13 – God determines to destroy what he has made
Gen 14:19 – getter of heaven and earth (‘get’ in the same sense as Gen 4:1, Deut 32:6)
Ex 4:11 – God is our maker now, not only in the beginning
Ex 20:11, 31:17 – the significance of the seventh day of the week
I Sam 2:8 – the metaphorical pillars of the earth express the idea that the original landmass was physically supported above discrete bodies of water
II Ki 19:15, Isa 37:16
II Chr 2:12 – Hiram recognised, even accepted, Israel’s belief that Yahweh made heaven and earth
Neh 9:6 – he made the heaven, the heaven of heaven with all its starry host, the earth and its animals, and the seas and their animals
Job 10:8-12 – God is intimately involved in the genesis of each individual (also 31:15, Ps 139:13-15, Eccl 11:5, Isa 49:5)
Job 26:10 – when God created light, half the earth was illuminated and half the earth not; the boundary between the two hemispheres was a circle (also Prov 8:27)
Job 38:4-40:15 – the works of God the Creator are wonderful; it is foolish to question him on the basis that we know better
Ps 8:3 – the heavens are ‘the work of his fingers’: God was distinct from what he created, and formed it in the same sense as a potter forms a pot; the pot cannot form itself
Ps 19:1 – the firmament is God’s handiwork and declares his glory
Ps 24:2 – Yahweh founded the earth (landmass) on the (subterranean) seas and (subterranean sources of) the rivers (cf. Ps 136:6)
Ps 33:6-9 – the heavens and everything in them were made by speaking them into existence; therefore everyone should fear him
Ps 74:12-17 – God’s has power over creation because he created it: therefore we cry to him for help
Ps 89:11f (and 47) – heaven and earth belong to God because he created them, the thought also behind e.g. Deut 10:14, I Chr 29:11.
Ps 94:9 – see on Ex 4:11 and Job 10:8-12
Ps 95:4-6 – his hands formed the depths of the earth and its heights; see on 8:3
Ps 100:3 – Yahweh made us, not we ourselves
Ps 104 – an entire hymn of praise to God the Creator
Ps 121:2 – Yahweh can actively help us, much as God actively made the world
Ps 148:5 – God created by his word of power (Ps 33, Jer 10:12)
Isa 40:26, 28
Isa 42:5 – God is the origin of spirit
Isa 44:24 – God the Creator also formed Israel, from the womb
Isa 45:12, 18 – God, not nature, created the earth, in order that man might live on it
Isa 51:13, 16 – “You have forgotten Yahweh, your Maker”
Isa 66:1f – re-affirmed in Acts 7:50
Jer 10:10-12, 16 – see on Isa 44:24
Jer 32:17 – God being the Creator, nothing is too hard for him
Jer 51:15, 19
Jon 1:9 – what it means to be a Hebrew
Zech 12:1 – cf. Isa 42:5
Mal 2:10 – Creator of all mankind, Father of Israel, one God
Matt 19:4, Mark 10:6 – “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” Jesus expects us to accept what Scripture says.
Mark 13:19 – “tribulation such as has not been the like since the beginning of creation” (even in the beginning there were people capable of experiencing tribulation)
Luke 11:50 (Heb 9:26) – “the blood of all the prophets shed from the foundation of the world”
John 1:3, 10
Acts 17:24-29 – God made the world, and human beings are his offspring
Rom 1:20 – his eternal power and divinity have been manifest to humanity since the creation
I Cor 11:9-12
I Tim 2:13
Heb 1:2 – he created the ages
Heb 1:10 – affirming Ps 102
Heb 4:3 – his works were finished (Gen 2:2) from the foundation of the world (thus ‘foundation of the world’ means the six days of creation)
Heb 11:3 – as Heb 1:2
I Pet 4:19
II Pet 3:4f