I went on vacation with my husband and son to the Island of Hawai’i (also called The Big Island) in November of 2022. The youngest and largest island of Hawaii is home to four volcanoes, including two that make the World’s Most Famous list. Our vacation would not have been complete without a visit to at least one of them. One afternoon, guided by a park ranger, we joined a group of tourists in the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park to hike to the viewing point of the crater of Kilauea, an active volcano.

Who Created Volcanoes?

The ranger stopped at various spots along the way to point out interesting flora and fauna and to explain the history of volcanic eruptions. Her eloquent presentation was peppered with stories about Hawai’i’s deity of volcanoes, Pele. We heard several versions of how she came to make Hawai’i her home, including one where Pele found her way to Hawaii after being expelled by her father for trying to seduce her sister’s husband. Natives revere their goddess, believing she possesses powers to both create and destroy. The ranger implored us to be respectful of her when we visited the volcanoes because all volcanic activity is attributed to her.

Tales about a goddess of fire and volcanoes added color to a monologue on geology and history but I had a feeling the stories about Pele were not just about entertaining folklore. The anecdotes invoked awe and respect from tourists. Pele’s stories are also mentioned on several tourism websites about The Big Island.

At the end of the hike, when our group finally reached the destination, we held our breath at the sight of the gigantic crater. Jets of steam rose from black rocks and cracks of the crater, reminding us that the volcano was alive. I felt small and powerless, as my eyes scanned the enormous size of the volcano. At the same time, I was in awe of the beauty of the volcano and its potential to cause destruction.

Did I think of Pele when I gazed at the beauty and magnificence of a large volcano? Absolutely not. My heart overflowed with admiration and praise for my God who created the volcano and everything in this world.

I respect people’s beliefs in Pele and other gods, but I wondered, instead of singing Pele’s praises, what if the ranger had acknowledged that the volcanoes were the handiwork of an awesome and powerful God, Creator of the universe? How would the tourists have reacted to her presentation? Some of them might have laughed at her or taken offense. Because the idea of a Creator God is increasingly becoming an unpopular opinion, especially in the West. Even if many believe that a divine being created the world, they do not consider the importance and implications of their belief.

The belief that God is the Creator is fundamental to our faith as Christians. It undergirds our worldview and determines how we relate to God and the world.

First Things First

The first thing the Bible reveals to us about God is that He is the Creator, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1). Scripture begins with the creation account, explaining and emphasizing that everything in the world has its origins in God. The One True Living God made both the inanimate mountains and fluttering butterflies, tiny ants and giant sequoias, and fearsome volcanoes and magnificent icebergs. His works are rich in diversity and beauty.

In the Old Testament, the people of God had no doubt that God created the world. He was unlike the gods of other nations because He was the Creator, the One True Living God, and He was their God. The God who had initiated and entered into a covenant with the nation of Israel was sovereign over all kingdoms of the earth, over all people, and over all creation.

Listen to me, Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together.

Isaiah 48:12-13

For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth”

Isaiah 54:5

This belief influenced their perception of themselves in relation to God and played an important role in their approach to crisis. During times of trouble, this truth gave them confidence to put their trust in God to deliver them.

Relevance to Israel in the Old Testament

When Hezekiah was king of Judah, Sennacherib, the ruler of Assyria, threatened to attack Jerusalem, after capturing all the fortified cities of Judah. He taunted Hezekiah’s confidence in the Lord, boasting of his conquests of other countries and kingdoms. Assyria was a major superpower while Judah was a small, insignificant nation. How could Israel resist Assyria? When Hezekiah read Sennacherib’s threatening letter, he went to the temple and prayed:

 Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.

2 Kings 19:15-19

The Lord honored Hezekiah’s prayer and fought on behalf of His people, “That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!” 2 Kings 19:35.

It was not just during times of crisis that the Israelites needed to remember to their Lord as the God of heaven and earth. When they sinned by worshipping false gods and creating idols, the prophets reminded them that they were rebelling against their Maker, the all-powerful and all-knowing Architect of the world. They were created to worship only Yahweh.

Relevance to New Covenant Believers

The doctrine of creation is relevant to our lives today, as new covenant believers, in more ways than we think.

Fuels our worship

Creation reveals certain attributes of God, giving us a glimpse of His character and capabilities. A beautiful painting or a good book causes us to admire and appreciate the hands responsible for the art. In the same way, when we marvel at the beautiful colors of a macaw or enjoy the scent of a rose, we can praise God and glorify Him by declaring His attributes. Creation’s beauty and power directs our attention toward God in worship.

Wayne Grudem puts it well in Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, “…the incredible size of the universe and the amazing complexity of every created thing will, if our hearts are right, draw us continually to worship and praise him for his greatness.”

Strengthens our trust

Contemplating the mighty and marvelous works of God can encourage us to put our trust in Him, especially during times of great suffering. When we find ourselves in a tough situation, we can cry out to God like Hezekiah, believing that our Creator is in control of everything and that He alone can help or save us.

Keeps us humble and grateful

Viewing God as the Creator also brings into focus our own frailty as human beings created by God, causing us to humble ourselves before Him and surrender ourselves to Him. Gregg Allison, author of 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith, states, “The reality of creation prompts us to understand our place and role in God’s design and to depend on and give thanks to him as our Creator.”

Truths to Consider

Here are some biblical truths that emerge from the doctrine of creation:

  1. God created everything that exists out of nothing – This truth is referred to as the doctrine of creation ex-nihilo. God did not take something that already existed and improvise it. He did not use raw materials to create the world. God brought everything into existence through His creative power.
  2. God created the world by the power of His Word and His Spirit (Psalm 33:9, John 1:1-3) – Our God is so powerful that He spoke the world into existence. Through His Spirit, He fashioned the universe.
  3. God created the world for His glory (Psalm 19:1) – God did not need anything from the world He fashioned. He created the world to demonstrate His goodness and greatness, among other attributes.
  4. God is sovereign over and sustains His creation (Matthew 6:26 & 28, Hebrew 1:1-3) – God did not leave creation to its own devices. He is deeply involved in caring and providing for His creation, sustaining and supervising everything by His power, might, and wisdom.
  5. God’s creation is good. His works are great! (Psalm 92:5, Genesis 1:31) – After each day of the six-day creation account in Genesis, God saw His work as good. We too must view creation as good and enjoy it. It’s also important to also bear in mind that creation is tainted by sin because of the Fall. The Bible foretells both the destruction of the earth in the last days and the renewal of all creation in the form of a new heaven and a new earth.
  6. Our Creator alone is worthy of worship as God – We cannot revere and worship any other gods or idols made by man because they are not true gods. Only our Creator is the One True Living God.
  7. Our Creator is supreme; He’s unlike any of His creatures or creation – We cannot bow down to the sun, moon, or stars in worship because they were created by God and are dependent on their Creator. Nothing in creation is equal to God in any respect. We must be able to clearly see the distinction between the Creator and His creatures or creation. All God’s creatures perish but God is immortal and eternal.

Application

It is helpful to dig deeper and reflect on the truth of creation because it not only deepens our worship of God and strengthens our faith in Him, but also sharpens our radar against false teaching. We must be armed with the truth especially because the doctrine of creation is under attack. We must also teach our children the truth so they can stand up against wrong teaching that can permeate school textbooks and classrooms.

Consider these questions to help you apply the doctrine of creation to your life:

  1. What is your first response when you encounter something breathtaking or awe-inspiring in nature?
  2. How can contemplating the works of God as the Creator encourage you today?
  3. How can viewing yourself as a child of the God who made the universe affect the way you pray?

7-Day Challenge

I’ve designed a 7-day challenge to help you intentionally spend some time every day for a week observing God’s creation. I hope these simple activities help you fix your eyes on the characteristics of God displayed in nature and inspire you to worship Him.

  1. Have your quiet time outdoors.
  2. Meditate on one or more of the “nature” Psalms – Psalm 8, 19:1-6, 65, 104, and 148.
  3. Sketch or paint one thing you find beautiful in nature. It could be something as simple as a flower. Below your artwork, write a Bible verse that affirms God as Creator.
  4. Research facts about your pet or any animal you like. Write a letter to God telling Him which fact fascinates you the most.
  5. As you go about your day, observe nature through one of your senses. If you chose touch, for example, take note of the different textures in creation. Journal your observations and write a prayer praising God.
  6. Make a list of attributes of God you perceive through His creation. Circle the one that is most meaningful to you.
  7. Watch a documentary on nature with your family and say a prayer of worship together after you watch it.

Notes/Comments

I’ve not covered everything about creation in this devotion so this is not an exhaustive study. I’ve only chosen some key points that I thought would be relevant to my audience.

I’ve also not addressed topics on which people hold diverse opinions, such as, Young Earth vs Old Earth. I feel these issues distract from the main aim of my devotion, which is to keep us focused on how this truth affects our faith and lifestyle.

In our next devotion, I will address the belief that human beings are created in the image of God.

References

The Wonderful Works of God, Herman Bavnick.

50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith, Gregg Allison.

Systematic Theology, Wayne Gurdem.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin.

Class lectures of my professors at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Kyle Claunch and Dr. Gregg Allison.

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