This study is based upon the New City Catechism.

Text

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

Exposition

Having seen how and why God created man (Question IV in the New City Catechism), we are now directed to consider God’s other acts of creation. Just as our knowledge of ourselves begins with God because He made us, our knowledge of other things He has created must begin with Him. God’s Word is the final arbiter of how we understand His creation. If there exists anything which He did not create, then conversation can drift to other sources for a first knowledge of said thing.

We first learn such things (i.e. anything which God did not create) are fanciful and do not exist. “Everything God made” (v.31a) is a category equivalent to “the heavens and the earth” (v.1), with special attention given to the six creative groups that follow (vv.2-30). If all things are created by God, then from God alone may we learn the truth of all things. Which is to say: you can find nothing in this universe which is not designed and created by God. Therefore, you can examine or enjoy nothing rightly and appropriately without understanding it as God intended. All the heavens and the earth find their beginning and design in God, which means the very fabric of the universe is a divine blueprint. Logic and laws of nature are not accidents, they are intentionally designed by God. Science, philosophy, mathematics, and other academic disciplines must submit themselves foremost to God’s Word and to prayer, for only in reference to God do we examine the universe in its proper context, and only from God does our true knowledge of anything come from.

As mentioned above, special attention is given in Genesis 1 to six creative groups, six days of creation. On day one God created light (vv.3-5). On day two God created the atmosphere around earth (vv.6-8). On day three God created land and seas upon the earth, and in the dry ground He created vegetation (vv.9-13). On day four God created the celestial bodies which give light and order (vv.14-19). On day five God created animals which swim and fly (vv.20-23). On day six God created animals which walk, and last of all man himself (vv.24-31). In everything the Christian’s eye falls upon – every drop of rain, every tree, every star, every bird – he sees the fingerprint of God. This divine fingerprint tells him “God defines this” and “God owns this.” “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers,” (Psalm 24:1-2). We have neither ability nor right to decide for ourselves what the universe is or is for.

In everything the Christian’s eye falls upon – every drop of rain, every tree, every star, every bird – he sees the fingerprint of God.

Secondly, we must read with all seriousness the end of our verse: “and behold, it was very good,” (Genesis 1:31b; cf. v.4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). The statement is not meaningless, for God is certainly willing to call evil, evil (e.g. 6:5). All God had made, before the Fall (3:1-7), was good. The universe was as God intended it to be. There have been some to suggest spiritual matters as more righteous than physical, but Genesis 1 rebukes such notions. The universe God made, composed of things seen and unseen, is well designed. Therefore, we have no reason to believe that physical matters are less pure than spiritual, nor should we look forward to a consummation of history where physical matters are done away with.

The goodness of the universe does not mean God had no intentions with its future, as though the immediate post-creation state was the most good and holy. For creation to be good does not necessitate or imply it was intended to remain exactly as it was. We notice explicit statements from God to the contrary. The animals of water and air were commanded to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth,” (1:22). God wanted the animals he had created to expand their populations into the corners of the world. Man was commanded likewise, though uniquely given dominion over all other creatures: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,” (v.28). Even before sin entered the world, man had an eschatology: multiplication and dominion. Not only was he to expand his populace across the face of the world (as the animals were to do), but he also was to subdue the earth as he went. This would require labor and work. Subduing the earth did not mean pillaging and ruining it, but rather subjecting it to his will and cultivating it. The earth would flourish under the dominion of man – fruition would spring from wildness. God curses man for sin not by assigning agricultural work, but by adding great struggle to such work (3:17-19). Eden was his first assignment, to work and keep it (2:15). Celestial bodies were designed for signs and for seasons, and for days and years (1:14). In his expansive dominion, man was to utilize such tools.[1] He was to expand the boarders of Eden unto the ends of the earth. This is the world God looked upon and beheld it as very good (1:31): a universe with an eschatology.[2]

Therefore, let us live in light of this eschatology. Adam failed to bring it about, but the second Adam, Christ, has and will fulfill that good work. Do not fall victim to pessimism, as though all things are spiraling out of control. Do not indulge yourself in escapism, as though the world should simply be forgotten and abandoned. Instead, let us be people of redemption, who acknowledge the great fall of Genesis 3 yet have full confidence in God’s ability to return His creation to goodness. We are Christians, which means we believe God is making all things new.


Question: What else did God create?
Answer: God created all things, and all his creation was very good.


[1] Man was also given the task of prophet. He was responsible for hearing, comprehending, repeating, and keeping the word God spoke to him concerning the trees of Eden (2:16). Eve did not exist at this time (vv.18-25), and so the only way Eve was to know of God’s command was through the faithful preaching of Adam. So man was to expand the boarders of Eden unto the ends of the earth, taking with him the order and word of God.

[2] Adam’s sin was not a lateral morphosis, in which we changed into something different than how God created us. Adams sin was rather a downward fall, in which we degraded ourselves in dishonor and disobedience. This means repentance is, among other things, a return to God’s design. The same is true for all other things God has created – which is, of course, all creation. The goal is a return to our source and Designer. We must be diligent to define our world by God’s Word.

2 thoughts on “The Creation of All Things (Catechism V)

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