Has God Stopped Creating

Creationist belief recognizes not only an actual beginning but also a completion of God's terrestrial creative activity.

THE  FIRST  BOOK  of  the  Bible, Genesis,  is  literally  an  account  of  origins,  of  beginnings.  In it are chronicled both the  creation  of  the  world  and the course  of  history  that encompasses  the birth  of  the  race  of  people  whom  God chose  to  be  His  own  elect  representatives before  all nations.

The  inspired  narrative  is  introduced with  the  sublime  words  "In  the  beginning,"  followed  immediately  by  the transcendent  name  "God,"  the  divine title  of  the  sovereign  Majesty  of  the universe.  Then  follows  a  statement  of the  nature  of  the  grand  productive  activity  in  which  the  omnipotent  Deity "created the heaven and the earth."

These  ten matchless words  depict the whole  story  of  origins:  When? In  the beginning, before which there can be no prior computed time; Who? God,  other than whom there can be no greater; Did what? created,  brought  into  existence that  which  had  no  previous  tangible existence;  What  did  He  create? the heaven  and the earth, the magnitude  of which  achievement  surpasses  both  our comprehension  and  our  most  vivid imagination.

Verses  3  through  26  present  a  summary  description  of  the  creative  acts performed  during  the  first  six  days  of the  world's  history.  In  sequence  these were: introduction of light to the water- covered,  erstwhile  dark  and  cloud-en shrouded  earth  (see  Job  38:4,  9); establishment of  an  atmosphere,  a firmament-heaven  for  control  of  water in its liquid and vapor forms, and including  gases  for  the  later  respiration  requirements of living things; elevation of land  areas  to  establish  demarcation of  seas  and  watercourses;  and  creation of the first living things of earth plant life  to  clothe the land  and provide  food in  anticipation  of  the  needs  of  subsequent  animal  life;  letting  two  great lights  appear  "in the  firmament  ... to rule  over  the  day  and  over  the  night"; creation  of  animal  life  to  populate  the sea  and  the  atmosphere;  then  "God made  the  beast  of  the  earth  .  .  .  ,  and cattle .  .  ., and every thing that creepeth upon  the  earth." Last,  as  the  crowning act of Day Six,  "God created man in his own image .  ..; male and female created he  them.  And  God  blessed  them,  and God  said unto them,  .  .  .  Have dominion over  .  .  .  every living thing that moveth upon  the  earth"  (Gen.  1:17,  18,  25,  27, 28).

To better appreciate the part that the several  members  of  the  Godhead  acted in that creative work, we  first note that throughout  the  Genesis  account  the Hebrew word translated into English as "God"  is  the  plural  'Elohim.  The  corporate plurality of the Deity is likewise indicated in  verse  26,  which deals with the  creation  of  mankind,  "Let  us  make man in our image,  after  our likeness."

As  one  of  the  active  participants  in the  creative  work,  "the  Spirit  of  God moved  upon  the  face  of  the  waters" (verse  2).  That the  divine  member who subsequently  was  incarnated  as  Jesus Christ, the Son of  God  and Son of  man, was the immediate  agent in Creation is most  clearly  asserted  in  the  Epistle  to the Hebrews  (chap.  1:2);  in Paul's letter to  the Colossians  (chap.  1:13-17); in the revelation of Jesus Christ through John (Rev.  3:14, "the prime source of all God's creation" N.E.B.,  and  other  versions); and  in the  Gospel  of  John  (chap.  1:1-3, 14). Christ, the eternal Word, the divine Mouthpiece, was the one  who  spoke the energy-packed  creative  words.  The Psalmist  assures  us  that  "by  the  word of the Lord were the heavens made.  .  .  . For  he  spake,  and it was  done; he commanded, and it stood fast"  (Ps.  33:6-9).

With  this  thought  in  mind,  these words  in  the  first  chapter  of  Genesis take  on  renewed  meaning:  "And  God said,  Let there  be  light:  and there was light.  .  .  .  And God  said, Let there be  a firmament.  .  .  .  And it was  so.  ... And God  said,  Let  us  make  man.  .  .  ."No fewer than nine times it is recorded that "God  said."

In the  final  survey  of  all the work of those six days, He "saw every thing that he  had  made,  and,  behold,  it  was  very good."  Such  is  the  degree  of  perfection of  the  handiwork  of  God  the  Creator. Within the limits  of  our feeble humanity,  we  also  are  admonished to  "be  .  . . perfect, even as  your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). One out standing feature of that perfection, that perfectedness,  is  completing,  finishing, the tasks to which we  are assigned and dedicated.  "Since  on  the  seventh  day God  was  finished  with the work he  had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from  all  the  work  he  had  undertaken" (Gen.  2:2,  The  New  American  Bible).* The  New  English  Bible  reads:  "On the sixth day God completed all the work he had been doing,  and on the seventh day he ceased from all his work. God blessed the  seventh  day  and  made  it  holy,  be cause on that day he ceased from all the work  he  had  set  himself to  do"  (verses 2,  3).+  Several  other  translations  use either the word ceased or desisted in this context.

In common conversation we often em ploy the word  rest in the sense  of relaxation  or  of  recuperation  from  fatigue. However, the basic idea underlying this word  as  it  is  used  in  Genesis  2  is  to cease,  desist,  quit,  stop.  A  lawyer  rests his  case  upon  completion  of  presentation  of  pertinent  evidence  and  argument. A musician pauses at a  rest in the score.  A  police  officer  arrests or  halts  a wrongdoer.  So  when  God  accomplished, ended,  and completed the planned work of  creating this world, with its physical features  and  inhabitants,  He  rested, ceased,  desisted,  from  that  productive activity.

In like manner those who are loyal to their  Creator  are  commanded  to  "re member  the  Sabbath  day,"  to  "do  all" our  "work  in  six  days"  and  during the day  of  rest,  of  cessation  from  common labor, to  "do  good on the Sabbath days." It  is  significant  that the  Hebrew  word that is translated as  "rest" or "cease" is shabath,  perhaps  most  literally  meaning  to  "sabbatize."  That  primary  concept is emphasized in the words of Isaiah (chap.  58:13,  14, N.E.B.): "If you cease to tread  the  sabbath  underfoot,  and  keep my  holy day free  from your own  affairs .  .  .  ,  if  you  honor it by not plying your trade,  not  seeking your  own interest or tending  to  your  own  affairs,  then  you shall  find  your  joy  in the Lord." When we have fulfilled the divine command to work  during  the  first  six  days  and  in that time  do  all of  our  secular personal work,  we  shall  be  ready to  rest, to  stop and delight ourselves in the Lord.

Terrestrial  Creation  Is  Not  Now Going On

There  is  another  profound  lesson  revealed in the  relation  of  God's  creative work  to  His  resting,  or  cessation,  from that  activity.  One  widely  espoused  be lief  held  by  contemporary  philosophers and likewise by many churchmen is that creation  is  a  continuing,  unceasing process with no prospect that it ever will attain  completion.  In  the  view  of  such persons,  the  realm  of  nature  had  no actual  beginning its  origin  simply  is to  be  dated  from  an  epoch  at  which matter in some  undefined prior state or condition  began  to  be  transformed,  or to  change  itself  autogenuously  into forms comparable to those which we can now observe.  It is presumed that at such a  "beginning,"  that  which  was  started to  become  what is in accord with a universal  evolutionary  process  acting throughout the realm of  nature.

This has resulted in an unreconcilable difference  between  the  beliefs  of  creationists  and those of materialistic philosophers.  The  creationist  concept  is that the origin of the entire cosmos, and of the world in particular, was achieved completely  through  the  immediate agency  of  a  supernatural,  omnipotent Creator, who is  ever entirely independent  of  the  whole  material  realm  of  nature.  On  the  other  hand,  evolutionists postulate  that  the  present  order  of things,  both  physical  and  biological,  is the  result  of  inherent,  intrinsic  tendencies  displayed  by  primeval  matter, destitute of  any identifiable  source and operative through interminable time.

The  well-known  paleontologist  G.  G. Simpson  summarized it in these words: "Nothing in the  recorded history of life arises  de  novo.  All  is transformed  from what went  before.  .  .  .  The  problem  of order  is  that  of  uniformitarianism  or of  immanence in a  special guise.  It has certain  built-in  characteristics  that came  we  know  not  whence  or why  but that  are  determinable  and  have  not changed  during  the  course  of  recover able  history." —Evolution After Darwin (University of Chicago Press, 1960), vol. 1,  pp.  173,  174.

Christ-centered  creationist  belief  is more  realistic  than  that,  for  it  recognizes  not  only  an  actual  beginning but also  a  real  end,  a  completion  of  God's terrestrial creative  activity.  Confidence that  "his  work  was  finished  from  the time  he  created  the  world"  (Heb.  4:3, T.E.V.)$ at the close of Creation week, is a  firm  bulwark  against  many  of  the philosophical  delusions  now  current in the  world,  a  few  of  which  have  insinuated  themselves  into  the  thinking  of God-fearing  men  and  women.  Some  of these are particularly insidious because they  often  are  couched  in  apparently sound,  unimpeachable  language.  The subtlety  of  certain  naturalistic  philosophies is seldom  recognized.

It  must  always  be  remembered  that God  never  endowed  any  creature  with either major  or minor primary creative ability.  Such  power  lies  only  with  the omnipotent  Creator  Himself,  else  the creature  would  possess  the  prerogative of  its  Creator.  Reproductive  capability was  bestowed  by  Him  in  abundance upon all living things. Furthermore, organisms  were  endowed  with  varying degrees  of  capability  for  adaptation  to changes  in environment.  But on  no  account  must  these  capabilities  be  con fused  with  the  presumed  ability  of  a living  organism  to  change  its  form  or structure.

Even  among  a  few  highly motivated defenders  of  Biblical  creationism,  it  is supposed  that  living  things  have  been so  equipped  by  the Creator that when ever  adverse  conditions  are  encountered, a species is able to surmount those difficulties to the extent of  changing its structure  or  form.  In collusion  with its environment,  the  creature  is  presumed to become  a creative demiurge enabling it to  change,  modify,  or  convert its tissues  and  organs  into  forms  that  will better  fit it to  survive.  In this manner, it is claimed, a new species is developed. And  it has  been insisted that assent to such  subsidiary  creation,  or  evolution, is  a  perfectly  sound  and acceptable  adjunct to creationist doctrine.

It is true that tissues  and genes may be injured or lose their ability to function properly  and  habits  may  differ  as  new conditions  arise,  but  living  organisms have  no  power  to  transform their  own structures  or to devise  or originate new ones  for  emergency  purposes,  either in one  generation  or  over  a  succession  of many generations.

No Emergency With God

At  the  outset  the  Creator  provided each  creature  with  means  for  meeting the  normal exigencies that it might en counter.  There  is  no  real  emergency with God.  He has foreseen and provided in advance for every need, both physical and spiritual.

The  foresight  and  forehandedness  of the  omniscient  Creator  may  be  illustrated by an imaginary visit with Adam sometime after his exclusion from Eden. He  could  have  been  taking  a  walk through  a  woodland  when  suddenly he discovered  that  he  had  stepped  on  an ugly  thorn  or  a  sharp  rock.  As  he  sees the  blood  flowing  freely,  he  may  well have  said to  Eve,  "This is  getting  serious.  I'll  have to  do  something  about it, and  quickly,  or  I'll bleed to death!" But by then it already was too  late for him to  develop  a  substance  in  his  blood  to form  a  clot that might stem the flow.  It also  was  far,  far too late  for him to en code  a  genetic mechanism whereby his posterity  would  be  enabled  to  produce such  a  protective  material  in  their blood.

But  Adam  did  not  need  to  concern himself  with  adapting  or  changing  his structure.  The  foreseeing  Creator  and Provider  had  made  provision  for  such circumstances  when  He  created  man. In  Adam's  blood  He  included  thrombogen,  a  prothrombin  that  upon  exposure  to  the  air  at the  site  of  an injury could  produce  a  clot  of blood.  That life- saving  biochemical  is  but  one  example of  the  myriads  of  Creator-implanted substances  and  functions  that  are  essential  for  protection  and maintenance of  living  creatures.  Other examples  are digestive  enzymes,  hormones,  healing agencies,  "antibodies,"  and  a  complex sensory  system.  In  addition to  all these we  possess  memory,  consciousness,  and the  ability to  honor  and  obey  the  Creator of  so marvelous a system.

God  planned  neither  sin  nor  the  in juries  occasioned  by  it,  but in His wisdom and meticulous design He provided in advance for the needs that Adam and his  descendants  would  encounter.  All this is but one aspect of the finished creation  achieved  solely through the  foreknowledge  of  an  all-wise  Creator.  God does  not  operate  on  an  ex  post  facto principle.  His  plan is  in  sharp  contrast to  the  idea  that development  and  realization  of  a  remedy  are  instigated  by  belated  awareness  of  a  need.  No  creature can improve  upon the achievement of its Creator.

The  grandest  example  of  God's  fore knowledge  and  foresightedness  is  the plan  of  redemption  from  sin  through provision  of  "the  Lamb  slain  from  the foundation  of  the  world"  (Rev.  13:8). When God does, something He completes it. He is the "author and finisher of  our faith"  (Heb.  12:2).  There  is  a  new  creation now in progress.  It is the preparation  of  inhabitants  for  a  new  earth wherein  only  righteousness  may  dwell (see  John  14:1-4;  2  Peter  3:10-14;  Isa. 65:17;  Rev.  21:1,  2,  5).  When  soon  the redeemed  share the glories and peace of that renewed world the Creator and Redeemer will  say  with finality:  "It is  finished!  I am the A and the Z the Beginning  and the End"  (Rev.  21:6, T.L.B.).

 


*  From  The New  American  Bible   1970  Confraternity  of Christian Doctrine, Wash., D.C. All  rights reserved.

+ From  The New English Bible.  © The  Delegates  of  the Ox ford  University  Press  and the  Syndics  of  the Cambridge Uni versity Press  1970. Reprinted by permission.

$  From  the  Today's  English  Version  of the  New  Testament. Copyright   American Bible  Society  1966.

§  From  The  Living  Bible,  Paraphrased  (Wheaton:  Tyndale House Publishers,  1971).  Used by  permission


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April 1976

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