5. Creator of all things

Meditations in Hebrews 1: 5.  Creator of all things

Heb 1:2  in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things,  and through whom he made the universe.

It can only be by pure ignorance that anyone can say that all the religions of the world are the same. It can only be by pure ignorance that anyone can say that Jesus Christ is just another Hebrew prophet or teacher. These opening verses of Hebrews 1 – corroborated by other verses in the New Testament and elsewhere in the Bible – are staggering in their claims and they lift Jesus Christ higher than any other individual or any other claims for greatness than the world has seen before or elsewhere.

and through whom he made the universe.” What? Pardon? Jesus is part of the Creation process? But we’ve always just accepted the Genesis account that says, “In the beginning God….” and now we are saying Jesus created the world?

We suggested recently that probably John’s Gospel hadn’t been written yet which makes this all the more incredible revelation and yet it is obviously a revelation that God had shared, for John is shortly to write in his prologue to his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father.” (Jn 1:1-3,14) and the apostle Paul had probably already written of Jesus, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Col 1:15,16)

The J.B.Phillips version makes it even more clear; Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He existed before creation began, for it was through him that every thing was made, whether spiritual or material, seen or unseen. Through him, and for him, also, were created power and dominion, ownership and authority. In fact, every single thing was created through, and for him. He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation.”  This is amazing this threefold revelation from the writer to the  Hebrews, the apostle John and the apostle Paul who all say the same thing.

Yet it seems that the honour and glory for the Creation still remains with the Father for in the heavenly vision in Revelation 4 & 5 they sing before the Father, You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Rev 4:11) and when it comes to the Lamb (Jesus) the focus is on his work of redemption, not creation: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Rev 5:9), and yet at the end Father and Son are praised together: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Rev 5:13)

Scripture, it seems, is careful to give the Supreme honour to the Father who existed from before all else and yet, as the Colossians verses tell us, the Son existed before creation began or, as some other versions confusingly put it, “firstborn over all creation” (the emphasis being on the rights of a firstborn son as seen in Hebrew tradition). As we have already commented in a previous study, the early church fathers struggled with this and used the word ‘begotten’ of Jesus, meaning he came out of or was an expression of the Father but existing before time began.

A delightful picture of the Father and Son together working in Creation is given in Proverbs where Solomon (perhaps unwittingly) personified wisdom: “I was appointed from eternity from the beginning, before the world began….. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.  Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.”  (Prov 8:23,27-31) What a beautiful picture, especially those words in the last verse – delight, rejoicing, rejoicing, delighting. How wonderful.

And yet even that beautiful picture doesn’t seem to convey the full strength of what our three writers convey:  through whom he made the universe (Heb writer), without him nothing was made that has been made (John) and by him all things were created (Paul). There is a mystery here. When the Father, who is spirit, (Jn 4:24) expressed Himself in a separate entity (imagine the mind having a thought and that thought takes on a life of its own from the rest of the thoughts of that mind – a poor illustration but we are scrabbling for understanding aren’t we) called the Son, was the Son a channel through whom spirit could become material being? Unity of oneness, the godhead, who have unity of thinking, unity of purpose and unity of action, and yet exist as two expressions of the one, and it is through the second ‘expression’ that the material world comes. As we said, a mystery. Yet that is at the heart of these incredible claims about Jesus the Christ, that he is and was so one with the Father that he was truly part of the Creation process. Amazing! Worship the Lord for who He and he is.

Perhaps as a concluding aside, it is fascinating to note that Melchizedek was the first human to declare God as Creator: Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand,” (Gen 14:18-20) which was then picked up by Abram who (as Moses writing the account centuries later) identifies with the name that would later be given, “The I AM”: “Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.” (Gen 14:22) The ‘I AM’ of Old Testament revelation is Creator of all things, and His Son who (as John records) used the ‘I am’ formula so many times of himself, was one with Him in the Godhead who brought the world into being. Hallelujah!

35. God’s World

Meditations in Ecclesiastes : 35 :  God’s World

Eccles 3:14,15 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.

People sometimes decry the book of Ecclesiastes as being dry and yet the truth is that it is full of amazing truths. These truths are sometimes stated in simply sentences which appear very obvious but for the person who will take a little time meditating on them, they reveal immense depth. Take the starting sentence in verse 14: “I know that everything God does will endure for ever.” We live in a constantly changing world and things and people come and go and certainly don’t seem to endure for ever’, yet Solomon says that everything God does will endure or last for ever.

Now scientists and philosophers help us out here for they suggest that all the material and energy in existence remains constant, which fits perfectly here. God spoke and made matter, the matter that forms the universe and beyond, and it will continue, according to science in existence for ever. It may change its form but the general matter stays the same.  Anything that we do in the world is made from existing materials. If we construct cities, they are simply made from existing materials. We create nothing; we simply change the form of existing material. Genesis chapter 1 is the greatest statement of faith that exists. There was nothing – absolutely nothing – and then God spoke and there was now something and that something took on recognisable form. Our minds cannot cope with the concept of absolutely nothing and, even worse, we cannot possibly comprehend how something that is material came from absolutely nothing. But even when there was absolutely nothing (have you grasped the enormity of the concept yet?) there was still God, for He is eternal and has no beginning or end – and that we can’t cope with either!

So there is a finite amount of ‘material’ or ‘energy’ that comprises existence and nothing we can do can add to it or subtract from it. Solomon touched on this in chapter one when he spoke of the world going on and on and the rain and water cycle. Water is a good example of ‘material’ that changes and moves and changes and moves. So is the world a great machine that just keeps on going, that really doesn’t need God any longer, like Deists suggest? Well no, because the Bible shows that God intervenes in the affairs or running of His world, for it is His world and He can change it as He wishes because He alone has that power and ability. So if He wants to create some more ‘material’ He can do so, and it will remain in existence for ever or until He changes it. He can remove it from the total mass of existence if He wishes or He can simply change its form if he wishes (the changing of water into wine is a simple example).

The person who never thinks about these things carries on unmoved, but the person who stops and really considers these things is left in awe of God. If there is to be any meaning whatsoever in this world, it must be because there is an all-powerful Creator who designed and brought it into being with a purpose in mind. What seems so staggering is that, as the Bible indicates, the world appears to exist only because God created it and He created it for our benefit. It is the environment in which we exist and live and respond to Him. What is even more amazing is that we appear to be able to bring God pleasure. God doesn’t depend on us so He doesn’t need us, but nevertheless He gets pleasure from us and even more amazing, we can get pleasure from Him, even though we revere Him and hold Him in awe when we encounter Him.

Solomon is fixed on this incredible understanding of the world and so adds, Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before.” It’s this same sense that he had back in chapter 1 that life keeps on going and in one sense there is nothing new under the sun. The things humans do today have been done by others in the past. No, they haven’t tinkered in the Genome Project before but in terms of general behaviour, mankind repeats itself every generation. Moreover, it will keep repeating itself. One of my favourite quotes is, ‘the one thing history teaches us is that history teaches us nothing.’ Yes, we keep on making the same mistakes, we keep on learning the same lessons and so generation after generation does the same things.

But then he says something strange: and God will call the past to account.” It is like he is saying that God will ensure that what we have done in the past will have impact in the present. It’s the same thing that crops up again and again in the Bible in different forms: what we do has consequences! If we suck all the oil reserves dry and burn up all the oil, one day we’ll have to live without such a fuel. It is as simple as that. As we’ve seen above, God has given us a finite amount of ‘material’ to play with. If we use it up and change it into something else, we’ll no longer have it to play with for we cannot add to it. It’s one of the restrictions we live with which economists call the ‘economic problem’, the scarcity or limitation of resources, so economics is all about how we use our ‘scarce’ or ‘limited’ resources. This is the world we live in and we need to use it wisely.