THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE
THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE
"In the beginning God created heaven and earth." By the Word of His power He
called forth systems of suns and stars. "He spake: it came into being; He
commanded: there it stood" (Psa. 33: 9; comp. ver. 6).
i. The Origin of the Creation.
The general question why God created a world at all no one is able to answer.
As the absolute One, the "blessed God" (I Tim. 1: 11) He exists on His own
account, eternally suffices for Himself, and needs no other who should exist for
His sake. He is indeed love, and love by the necessity of its nature needs a
beloved, another ego, to which it can lovingly reach forth. But the Ego was
already eternally present in God. In the Son the Divine love enjoyed, without
beginning and without end, full unfolding and unceasing satisfaction: " Thou
hast loved me before the foundation of the world" (John 17: :4). Therefore the
only thing that can here be said is: God has created the world because He willed
to create it. Certainly indeed His will and His freedom are not uncontrolled
arbitrariness; so that the decision to create must have been formed on eternal
grounds within the Deity, but what these are God has not revealed to us, and
with this we must rest content (Rom. 11:33, 34). 1
ii. The Purpose of the Creation.
The question whereto God created the world is answered more plainly in the
(I) The revealing of the glory of God. Everything that God does has Himself
eternally as its goal; it comes to pass "for his name's sake" (Psa. 23: 3). for
Himself throughout (Eph. 5: 27), " to the praise of his glory " (Eph. 1: 6, 12,
14), so that " God may be all in all" (I Cor. 15: 28). For since God, by virtue
of His perfection, must always wish the highest, and since He Himself, by virtue
of His Deity, is the highest, He must always have that which is within His own
nature as the goal of His will. Therefore must His work be so ordered that it
may lead to Him and have its end in Him. Thus the purpose of the creation of the
world must consist in the unfolding, setting forth, and displaying of the glory
of God. Himself is its beginning, middle, and
1 Heb. 1: 2 declares that God appointed the Son to be heir of all things. The
next clause reads: "though whom also he made the worlds. " This "also" shows
that the appointment as heir was made before creation, which suggests that the
creation exists by the will of the Father for the glory of the Son. See also
John 3: 35. [Trans.]
ultimate objective, the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. (Rom.
11:36; Col. 1: 16; Heb. 1: 2).
(2) The revealing of the love of God. But this self-displaying plan of God
must be perfect, and therefore unfold itself in a double manner. Not only His
omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, but also His righteousness, love,
and truthfulness must be manifested.
The former can indeed be effected in the realm of space and matter, that is,
in the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms; but the latter demands the
creation of morally free personalities, and therefore a spiritual kingdom within
created beings. But just because holiness is the essential nature of God,
therefore in His world plan the higher purpose of the material must lie in the
moral realm, and the chief ground for the very creation of a world must be the
magnifying of the moral qualities of God as the Holy, Blessed, and Wise, by the
creation of morally free personalities. Only in them, namely, in the angels and
in mankind, can God perfectly display His glory in creation.
But the essence of such spiritual life, and the essence of all true morality
in general, is not only an outward, objective carrying out of law and a merely
legal freedom from sin and guilt, but a personal, organic participation in the
moral life of the Deity itself. For God, as the supreme lawgiver, has appointed
the moral ordering of the world according to His nature, and He is love, the
most perfect love (I John 4: 16). Therefore the moral appointment of free
creatures must also be an appointment to love, and the supreme final purpose of
world creation must consist in the self-unfolding and self-displaying of God as
the Perfect, Holy, and Loving One, in the establishment of a fellowship of life
and love between the Creator and the creature. But this means that God has
called the world into existence so as to be able to love it, and that it should
love Him in return. His goal evermore is to lead it to an eternal share in the
enjoyment of His holiness and love, and thereby to blessedness and glory (comp.
Rom. 8: 17).
The determined purpose of world creation being so high, it is no wonder that
the stamp of divinity lies also in especial manner on the Biblical account of
the creation. The six " days " clearly divide into two triplets, the members of
which correspond exactly to one another.
The first triplet contains the works of division (of the light from the
darkness, the upper waters from the lower, the dry land from the sea). The
second triplet contains the works of quickening and adorning, (sun, moon, and
stars; fishes and birds; land animals and man).
On the first day God created light; on the fourth day the light-bearing
stars: on the second day the air and the sea; on the fifth the birds in the air
and the fish in the sea: on the third the land and the plants, that is, the
lowest grade of earthly life; on the sixth day the animals and man, that is, the
highest grade of earthly life.
Thus the work of the six days bears unmistakably the stamp of the number
three, which so often in the Divine revelation is the symbol of the Godhead.
After it has, by three self-ascending creative impulses, attained a certain
height and resting point, it pauses, and then, returning to the starting point,
resumes, as it were beginning afresh, so as again by a threefold ascent to reach
its summit. The creating of light is the first beginning: the creating of the
light-bearers the second beginning. Thus this double tri-unity becomes a deep
symbolic prophecy in numbers concerning the origin, character, and goal of the
earth-system in general. All is from Him, through Him, and unto Him. In all He
will magnify Himself.
iii. The Greatness of Creation.
I. The Host of Stars. The horizon of the Bible is immeasurable and universal.
God's Word speaks not only of the earth and of time, but above all of heaven and
eternity, and it describes the world above as a multiplicity of heavenly
spheres. "The heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee" (I Kings 8:
27)1. Far from seeing in this small earth "the world," constituting the
mathematical centre and chief point of the entire creation, to the Bible the
nations are but as a " drop in a bucket," as a "grain of sand" which remains in
the scales (Isa. 40: 1,); and to it the islands are as "small dust," and the
whole of mankind as "grasshoppers" (Isa. 40: 22). Indeed, the whole globe is to
the Bible only a "footstool" to the heavenly throne (Matt. 5: 35; Acts 7: 49).
"The heaven is my throne, and the earth the footstool of my feet" (Isa. 66:1).
But no one would be so foolish as to imagine that the footstool to a throne is
the central point of a palace, or surpasses the throne in size or importance.
No, "all nations are as nothing before him" (Isa. 40: 17). " When I consider the
heaven, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast
prepared, what is man, that thou thinkest upon him, and the son of the earth
that thou regardest him?" (Psa. 8: 3, 4).
The size of our own earth surpasses indeed all thought. All that man has
built on the whole world, ships, cities, and villages, taken together, would not
occupy 300 cubic miles; Professor Bettex, indeed, reckons only 98 cubic miles.
But the earth contains more than 260,000 millions of such cubic miles!
1 The Hebrew word for heaven stands always in the plural (ha-schamayim),
where the ending "im" is the masculine plural, as also in cherubim and seraphim.
So also in Eph. 4:10 "all the heavens": and II Cor. 12: 2 "third heaven."
And yet it is itself but an astronomical atom among the whirling
constellations, only a tiny speck of dust among the ocean of suns of the
universe. In the glowing ball of the giant sun alone there is room for over one
and a quarter million (more exactly 1,297,000) such earths; and an express,
non-stop train, driven furiously, would need more than 169 years to reach the
sun, the distance being some 93 millions of miles.
But the sun itself is only one star among a mighty spherical shaped group of
400 stars; for since the arrangement of the nearer stars visible to the naked
eye "stands in no perceptible relationship to the Milky Way, all these stars
must form a great, nearly spherical group of stars, to which our sun belongs "
(Prof. Klein), and which, according to Professor Riem, consists of about 400
And here the distances are still more immeasurable. Light that a single
second travels seven times round the entire equator, requires fully four years
and three months to reach our nearest neighbour among the suns, the fixed star
Alpha Centauri (in the southern sky). For light travels at about 187,000 miles a
second, and the equator of the earth is between 24,000 and 25,000 miles in
length. And to star 61 in The Swan, our third nearest neighbour among the fixed
stars, the swiftest express train of the world would have to travel 60 millions
of years that is, 9.7 light years (Prof. Klein). And yet in comparison with the
starless abyss of space itself the stars in such a system of suns stand
extraordinarily near together.
Proof of this to the unastronomical night observer are the thickly-crowded,
diamond-like twinkling points of light in the constellation called the Pleiades,
not far from Orion, which forms a similar star-system to "ours." "The splendid
spectacle which the Pleiades present in a telescope is heightened when one knows
that these luminous stars, sparkling like diamonds against the dark background
of heaven, form a great star-system among
themselves. This is proved by the fact that all the stars of this system move
forward through space together, while at the same time all the individual
members move together around a centre of gravity common to them all." So that
the Pleiades not only seem to be a star-group, but are actually such a locally
interrelated group of fixed stars. How star upon star sparkles herel The
photographic plate, indeed, shows here 1,681 stars upon an area of the heaven
not larger than the disk of the moon, and in the further vicinity about 5,000
more (Klein). And the distances between these individual stars which to our
sight are contracted indeed to nothing, are actually thousands of millions upon
thousands of millions of miles. Yet this is only the beginning of universal
What, then, must be these distances which lie behind and between such groups
of star-islands, till we arrive finally at the actual chief ring of the spiral
Milky Way, which ravishes with its hundred-millionfold '"star-dust" the eye of
the inhabitant of the earth! And then follow, in further immeasurable distances,
yet other Milky Way systems, such as the Andromeda universe with its innumerable
suns, or even the unfathomable spiral nebula
H 156 in the constellation of the Great Lion, whose distance is estimated at
over 500,000 light years (G. Wolf).
Taken together all this shows that the stars are as thinly scattered in the
universe as if one should happen on earth on a single pinhead every 20 or 60
miles (Prof. Schwarzschild), or as if one should sprinkle one quart of water
over the whole surface of the earth, that is, over some 196,000,000 square miles
(Prof. Riem). Nor with all this must we forget, that these "waterdrops" and
"pinheads," of less than one twenty-fourth part of an inch in diameter, are
those glowing and fiery worlds with surfaces of millions upon millions of square
miles and a capacity which exceeds hundreds of thousands of millions of militons
of cubic miles by ten thousands of millions of millions.]
Upon the question how, in view of such vast proportions, our tiny earth,
though not as to matter or space, yet morally and in respect of salvation, can
be the centre ot the universe, we remark: "As a place Sedan is of no
significance, but because of the decisive battle of William I against Napoleon
III, it has become world-famed and a chief turning point in European history.
Thus it has attained a historical significance which stands in no proportion to
its geographical importance." World history often shows that places in which the
most mighty battles, of century-long significance, were decided, were in
themselves, as to situation and size, small and insignificant. See further pp.
But the totality of such vastness, embracing thc entire creation, is the
universal framework of the history of salvation. " The Lord has established his
throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all" (Psa. 103: 19). It is
only in connexion with the starry world that we become conscious of the extent
of the Divine counsel of salvation, and therefore let us set salvation's record
as found in the Bible against the 'daming golden background of its cosmic
super-history. Only then will its centre and focus, the cross of Golgotha, be
rightly esteemed; then the whole universe arches itself over the cross: "The
foot of the cross remains on earth, but its head reaches into the distances of
the starry world with their cosmic history," and overwhelmed we hearten to the
promise of the Lord: "Fear not, thou little flock:
1 Thus for example, the diameter of the sun is 868,750 rniles, its
superficial area over 2,334,000 millions of square miles, and its capacity over
351 billions of cubic miles.
for it is your Father's good pleasure to give to you the kingdom" (Luke 12:
32). "Lift up your eyes to the height and see: who has created these? He who
leads out their host by number, who calls them all by names . . . Jehovah, the
Lord of hosts is his name (Isa. 40: 26; 51: 15).
2. The Host of the Angels. Now to what end do these worlds exist in the
etherial space? Has God any pleasure in dead matter? Is He not the God of the
living? Can inanimate matter praise Him, the Lord of all life? (Psa. 30: 9). Or
is not rather the starry world of God everywhere filled with personal life?
In fact, if only our small earth, this speck of dust amidst the whirling suns
of the universe, carries organic life, "then in meaningless contrast to it there
stands millions of dead star-colossi. Then were the immense universe a limitless
extinct waste, in which only on this tiny earth, as a marvellous exception the
solitary flower of life blooms."1 Then the fiery splendour of the millions of
suns, which yet illuminate nothing, were only a vast meaningless and purposeless
firework in the dead universe," and all the stars and heavenly bodies were only
burning or burnt-out craters!
Quite otherwise speak the prophets and apostles of the Divine revelation. The
Word of God knows of thrones and lordships, of principalities and authorities
(Col. 1: 16), of sons of God and morning stars (Job 38: 7), of the host of the
high in the height (Isa. 24: 21), of cherubim and seraphim (Rev. 4: 6-8; Isa. 6:
2, 3) of archangels and angels (Jude 9: Rev. 5: 11; 12: 7). And all these it
describes by the same term, "host of heaven", as it uses for thc stars.2
From this viewing and naming of the two together we perceive a reference of a
more profound nature. For otherwise how could the "morning stars" sing together,
and at the same time shout for joy with the "sons of God"? (Job 38: 7). How
could the starry world of God worship the Creator? Will the dust praise Him?
Will it proclaim His truth? But '`Thou art the existmg one, Jehovah alone! Thou
hast made the heavens the heaven of heavens, and all their host, the earth and
all that is thereon . . . and thou makest these all living, and the host of the
heaven worships thee" (Neh. 9: 6). And how else could the psalmist, similarly,
in connexion with the angels, call upon the stars also to praise God?
1 And yet there are on the earth over 200,000 species of plants, with 300,000
species of fungi; and further, 80,000 species of beetles (Bettex), 200,000
species of butterflies (Prof. Dennert), and the total number of all species of
life is over two millions.
2 Thus in Deut. 4: 19; Isa. 34: 4; Jer. 8: 2 the term, describes the material
in Kings 22:19; Luke 2:13; Rev. 19:4, the angels. In other places it means
both at once (for example, Psa. 148: 1-6; Isa. 24: 2l-23; 40: 26; Job 38: 7).
Praise Jehovah from the heavens,
Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him all His angels,
Praise Him all His hosts!
Praise Him sun and moon,
Praise Him all ye stars of light! (Psa. 148: 1-3).
No, all this is more than mere poetic rhapsody. It proves that between angels
and stars there is not merely a figurative comparison, but an actual and real
connexion, although one whose details are still obscure to us.
Nevertheless this one thing we already perceive: that the angels, in
unnumbered hosts, sometimes individually (Acts 5: 19), sometimes in organized
bodies (Rev. 12:7; Col.1: 16), take part in the history of human salvation. In
this respect they are
(i). Observers of our walk (I Cor. 4: 9; Eph. 3: 10),
(ii). Messengers of our King (Luke 1:11; Matt. 1: 20; Dan. 9: 22; Rev. 1:1;
22: 6, 16; Heb. 2: 2).
(iii). Helpers in our distresses (Heb. 1: 14; Acts 12: 7; Dan. 3: 25, 28; 6:
22; II Kings 6: 17; Luke 22: 43).
(iv). Fighters for our final victory (Dan. 12:1; Rev. 12:7 - 9; 19: 11-14;
Dan. 10:13, 20).
(v). Guardians of the Divine world-order (Dan. 4: 13, 17, 23; I Cor. 11:10).
(vi). Executors of the Divine judgments (Isa. 37: 36; Acts 12: 23; Matt. 13:
30, 41; Rev. 14:19; 15: 1, 6,7)
(vii). Worshippers because of the Divine acts of redemption (Luke 2: 13, 14;
15: 10; I Pet. 1:12).
3. The Throne of God. And yet! All that is "visible is temporal", only "the
invisible is eternal" (II Cor. 4: 18). But the stars are visible and therefore
will pass away: "They all will wax old as doth a garment, and as a mantle wilt
thou roll them together" (Psa. 102: 26). The eternal world of God must therefore
be still higher, far above the stars, in the invisible, beyond all things
There is the throne of God, there the dwelling place of the angels, there the
heavenly Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all (Gal. 4: 26). Thither "above
all the heavens" was Christ exalted (Eph. 4: 10), and is now at the right hand
of the Father "become higher than the heavens" (Heb. 7: 26). There dwells the
All-Highest as the fountain of light for all worlds, and from Him streams out
all life throughout the creation (Acts 17: 25, 28).
The thought of such a supreme throne existing in the universe must readily be
acceptable to the reflecting mind. The whole universe is ruled by the law of
ascent. Truly God is present everywhere and interpenetrates with His life the
whole creation (Col. 1:17; Acts 17: 28). But this does not exclude that, above
1 Whence the word "angel" in Greek angelos, from angello, I dispatch, I sent.
all the fields of light, there is a special pinnacle of light where His glory
most perfectly displays itself. In even a stone there flashes a reflection of
the Divine thought; yet finer in a rose; still more arrestingly in the song of
the nightingale; more spiritual still in the human eye; and among mankind what
different stages there are between the humblest and neediest up to the finest of
the sons of men, in Whom dwells the fulness of the Godhead.
Thus also on earth there are wastes and deserts with no inhabitants;
inhospitable regions with but few; fruitful places with many; regions of beauty
and yet greater beauty with the greatest fulness of earthly life. So it is also
in the heavenly places; there are small and great stars, cold and hot, dark and
radiant; there are led and leading stars, planets, and suns, abysses of space
and families of suns: and so there is also above them all a central point of the
universe, a place of the most immediate presence of God, a dwelling of the most
concentrated glory-light, even the throne of God.1
But the light in which He dwells is superior to all things visible; it is
something other than the radiance of all suns and stars. It is not to be beheld
by earthly eyes; it is "unapproachable" (I Tim. 6: 16), far removed from all
things this side (II Cor. 12: 4. Only the angels in heaven can behold it (Matt.
18:10); only the spirits of the perfected in the eternal light (Matt. 5: 8; I
John 3: 2; Rev. 22: 4); only the pure and holly, even as He Himself is pure (I
John 3: 2, 3; Heb. 12: 14).
Therefore down here only figurative language can be used of things heavenly.
Even the term " above " as used of the Eternal is not to be understood in a
purely local sense (Psa. 139). It is the perceptible representation of the
"beyondness" of the Divine. It is the symbolical setting forth in terms of space
of the sublimity of the super-spatial. This is why the Bible figuratively
represents this "super" by "above," the spiritually superior through the spatial
term to be "higher," the "super' temporal and the "super" spatial by the
figurative "above" space. And because God, the Lord of the heaven, is at once
the most perfect and the All-highest, therefore the Bible seizes as its symbols
the most precious things of earth and speaks in a language of precious stones of
the throne of light of His glory.
The blue sapphire speaks of the heavenly nature (Ex. 24: 10; Ezek. 1: 26).
The crystal jasper of holiness and light (Rev. 4: 3; comp. 21: 11; 22: 1).
The green rainbow of emerald speaks of covenant faithfulness and renewal of
life' (Rev. 4: 3; Ezek. 1: 28).
1 Otherwise the ascension of Christ were only a becoming inviable, but not
ascent to heaven.
2 In very ancient times green was the emblem of life, as in Ur in Chaldea
But we bow down and worship Him, and say, in the concluding words of the
World Harmony of Copernicus (1618):-
Great is our God and great His power,
And of His wisdom there is no end.
Praise Him sun, moon, and planets,
In whose speech may a song of praise for ever resound:
Praise Him, ye heavenly harmonies,
And also ye, the witnesses and confirmers of Hts revealed truths;
And thou, my soul, sing the honour of the Lord throughout thy life. Amen.