Creation, the Sabbath, and worship

The author invites us to rediscover the majesty and power of our Creator God as we study His handiwork.

John T. Baldwin, Ph.D., is a professor of theology at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States.

Sabbath afternoons were always a delightful time in my childhood—particularly when we as a family took leisurely walks in the fields around La Sierra University in Riverside, California. The air was fresh and balmy. Butterflies flew in concert and color. The tall trees were swaying, sending a gentle breeze that caressed my checks. As we walked through some of the beautiful spots of nature, my parents would inevitably talk of creation, of how God had chosen to create this world with so much beauty, variety, color, and complexity and gave it all for us to enjoy. Not just things to enjoy, but also time to see, sense, and smell all the glories of nature. Talking about the beauty of creation and time to enjoy it would inevitably lead us to a spirit of thankfulness for one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity—the gift of the Sabbath. As children, we looked forward to the Sabbath, this special time to worship the Creator and enjoy all the gifts of beauty He has given us in nature. As a result, early in my life, the Sabbath, worship, and creation bonded together, and in that bonding I found that I am a child of God—the One who created this universe placed me here on earth to worship the Creator and be bonded to Him.

Thus, from early childhood when I played amid the beauties of nature to life’s maturity when I was called to the ministry of teaching about nature’s Creator, three facts have impressed me the most: (1) the doxological nature of creation, (2) the beauty of the Creation week and the Sabbath, and (3) God’s marvelous revelations in His creation that lead us to adore and worship Him for ever and ever as our Creator and Lord.

Creation is doxological

The doctrine of God’s creation is doxological, serving as the basis of worship and spirituality by exalting the power, greatness, goodness, and love of God. Nothing was before Him, and nothing will be without Him. Nothing is greater than the Creator. He is the Cause and Sustainer of all reality. Hence John exclaims and commands, “Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power: for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were created” (Rev. 4:11, ASV). “[W]orship him that made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters” (Rev. 14:7, ASV).

The doxological imperative of creation provides an overarching basis for a special creation worldview that calls for a recent Creation, accomplished in six literal days, leading to the seventh day of rest and worship. Such a worldview also informs other interrelated doctrines, such as the Fall and the Deluge, sin and redemption, ethics and eschatology, and preserves the integrity of Scripture, proclaims love as the essential character of God, and establishes the reality of ultimate restoration. The more we review the basic elements of this fundamental faith structure, the more we are led to believe why a special creation worldview matters, which leads to creation becoming the basis of worship. Thus, when the doxological nature of creation is made clear as both Genesis and Revelation do, is it any wonder that the Sabbath is a memorial of this worship-inspiring worldview?1

The beauties of the Creation week

Creation, an act of God’s love, demonstrates His free and unfathomable love. Holy beings in an already existing universe shouted for joy at what God had accomplished on this recently created earth. His infinite wisdom and power brought into existence the first life-forms on earth, culminating with creatures bearing His own image (See Gen. 1; 2; Job 38:4–7; Pss. 33:5, 6, 8, 9; 146:5, 6; 148:5; John 1:1–18; Col. 1:16, 17.) Genesis describes that God’s creative activity on this earth was concluded in six literal days, followed by one day of rest (Gen. 1 and 2; Exod. 20:11; 31:17; Heb. 4:4; 11:3; Rev. 14:7). That one day of rest, the Sabbath, was not meant to be a period of idleness but rather a celebration of what God’s love has accomplished in the previous six days of work. The celebration is one of creatures turning in love to worship, adore, and commune with their Creator God (Rev. 14:7).

Thus, the Sabbath shows that Creation resulted from God’s work in six literal days. That means the seventh-day Sabbath is a perpetual reminder that the days of Creation were not mythical, symbolic, or metaphorical. They are not so-called divine days, with each day translating into multimillions of earth years of supposed divine creation, with the entire process evolving through disease, suffering, predation, death, and mutation, eventually resulting in the appearance of the human—the apex of the creation-evolution process, with the humans themselves becoming subject to evil and death. Such a method of “creation,” would render God a cruel, vile, demonic creator, unworthy of worship.

But look at the Genesis record. At the climax of the Creation week, God rested on, blessed, and sanctified the seventh day, thereby instituting the creation-based Sabbath for all humanity. The Sabbath thus serves as an unchangeable memorial of a completed creation in six days and as a sign of the sanctifying relation existing between the Creator and the beings created in His image (Gen. 2:1–4; Exod. 20:8–11; 31:17; Ezek. 20:12). The Sabbath shows that we belong to God, that “it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (Ps. 100:3, KJV). Hence, we are invited to join the doxology: “Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty” (1 Chron. 29:11, KJV). And again: “How blessed is he . . . / Whose hope is in the LORD . . . / Who made heaven and earth, / The sea and all that is in them; . . . / Who gives food to the hungry. / The LORD sets the prisoners free. / The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; . . . / He supports the fatherless and the widow, . . . Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 146:5–10, NASB). This focus on the glory of the Creation week invites us to explore God as revealed in His creation.

God revealed in His creation: A basis of fervent worship

While Christians are not to seek to prove by science and reason the reality of God and divine attributes, they must, through faith, thank God for revealing His love, wisdom, and power in the visible things He has created. As Paul states, “Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19, 20, NASB). These words encourage us to step out into nature, to look at God’s wonderful creation, and to learn about God through the things He has made. Then we can worship Him for His great kindness and power in giving us such marvels. Michael Denton, a scientist, is similarly impressed by the wisdom seen behind the designs in nature, particularly in the avian lung and respiratory system. From hummingbirds to bald eagles, the winged creatures that can both walk and fly, continue to charm the human imagination. How has God designed the breathing mechanism of birds? Only with modern advances in biology have we been able to appreciate even more deeply the wisdom displayed in avian design, particularly its respiratory system. As far as we know, only two types of respiratory systems exist in nature. The first can be called the “dead-end” type that all animals except birds display. Humans and other animals draw air into the lungs through branching tubes called bronchi that divide into smaller bronchi, ending in tiny air sacs called alveoli, which are located at the tips of the smallest bronchi. Then the air fl ow reverses and is breathed out through the same tubes. 2 This is in-and-out breathing through the same passage.

The second, but contrasting, type of lung respiratory system, present in all birds, can be called the “continuous through-put” type of lung.3 The birds draw in the air that passes into major bronchi, branching into tiny cylindrical tubes called parabronchi. These parabronchi eventually merge again into major bronchi “forming a true circulatory system so that air flows in one direction through the lungs.”4 It is important to note that the “unidirectional fl ow of air is maintained during both inspiration and expiration by . . . air sacs [the tiny cylindrical tubes] . . . so as to ensure a continuous delivery of air through the parabronchi.”5

Why does the respiratory system in birds differ from that of other animals? God must have had some special reason for designing an entirely new kind of respiratory system for His flying creatures. The energy requirements needed for flying are greater than the energy needs for just walking or running. Thus, God designed a special lung system for birds in order to provide a more efficient respiratory system to supply the extra oxygen requirements needed for flying. God provided a system in which pure air contact with blood is maintained by means of the one-way fl ow. Waste air goes out another direction. In this fashion, pure air, not mixed with stale air, gives the most oxygen possible to the blood for the additional energy needed for flying. This solution is a concept intentionally created by the Creator. We may not understand this fully, but in faith we can acclaim with the psalmist: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (Ps. 139:6, KJV). Indeed, avian respiratory system is one of God’s wonderful works (Ps.139:14).

The special design of the avian lung illustrates that God’s care for His creatures is everlasting. Such a Creator God, who cares for the sparrow as He does for us, is worthy indeed of worship and adoration.

Conclusion

If the avian respiratory system reveals the wisdom and caring nature of the Creator, should we not, being His workmanship, hasten to acknowledge God as a God of love and wisdom, care and guidance, and that He is worthy of unreserved worship of all creation? To this worship the first angel’s message of Revelation 14 sends a clarion call to the entire world: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Rev. 14:6, 7, KJV).

Inspiration places this call to worship as the ultimate obligation of human beings to their Creator. This context of creation for the act of worship proves that creation is doxological. Neither creation nor doxology can be fully appreciated without due attention to the primacy of Sabbath in the divine-human relationship.

Therefore, the next time we take a walk on a Sabbath afternoon, let each step we take be in tune with the delightful praise song of a meadowlark, or the cry of a wheeling seagull. Let our Sabbath worship and praise be an acknowledgment of the Creator whose love and self-sacrificing nature is unfathomable, and whose faithfulness is everlasting.

1 The concepts and language of the second and third sections
of this essay are informed by an unpublished, working
document on creation, which is being formulated by the
2009 Seventh-day Adventist Faith Study Committee, of
the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews
University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, of which the author is
chair. The language of section two of this essay, “Creation Is
Doxological,” represents largely the language of Dr. Robert
Johnston, while the wording of the third section, “The
Beauties of the Creation Week,” is the work of the author.

2 Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda,
MD: Adler & Adler, 1985), 212.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

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John T. Baldwin, Ph.D., is a professor of theology at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States.

July 2009

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