Psalm 19:1–2 states, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.” Creation speaks! It talks to us, all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The question is, “Are you and I listening?” You might wonder, “What is it saying?” It is constantly repeating: “God is glorious!” in a gazillion different ways. Psalm 19 highlights the fact that the heavens declare the glory of God. So, when we read our Bible, and if we keep our eyes wide open in this created world, the reality cannot escape us that God has created everything to be richly enjoyed (1 Tim. 6:17). In fact, God has created everything for His own glory and our good. God’s glory on display in creation is one of the reasons angels in heaven repeat with awe and adoration: “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3). If they are so full of adoration and awe, how can we by God’s grace be more like that?
Here are six ways we can enjoy the present creation:
- Wear biblical glasses to view creation. We all know that creation is not what it once was: the fall and the flood have left creation groaning (Rom. 8:22). Yet, despite that truth we can still find much of the beauty and glory of God on display in creation. We need to be cautious, however, for our naturally sinful hearts tend to worship creation itself. Tragically, after our desperate rebellion against our Creator, we find it easier to worship God’s creation and its enjoyments more than the Creator Himself (Rom. 1:25, Phil. 3:19). Adam and Eve were enthralled by the fruit of the forbidden tree. And naturally we all follow in their trail, unless God has fundamentally changed us at the heart level. Still, creation speaks to each one of us. However, its voice is largely muffled by our natural estrangement from God. Though creation cannot redeem us, still its voice says,
There is a great God of glory and power and generosity behind all this awesome universe; you belong to him; he is patient with you in upholding your rebellious life; turn and bank your hope on him and delight yourself in him, not his handiwork.1
Before anything else we need to wear biblical glasses if we want to learn to enjoy God’s glorious creation. Creation should at least awaken in us a restlessness about so much beauty, power, and glory on display, and make us ask: “What is all this for?” And the answer is, “To delight yourself in the Lord.”
- Know who is Lord of creation. This world came into being for a reason. Colossians 1:16 tells us “For by him [Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible…all things were created by him, and for him.” So, creation is an expression of the overflowing love of God the Father for His Son and vice versa. He was active in it! Everything reflects Christ’s glory and majesty!
But that is not all; the Lord chose the earth as a sanctuary to put His glorious plan of redemption on display. Jonathan Edwards says that creation “was doubtless created to be a stage upon which this great and wonderful work of redemption should be transacted.”2 This earth, in God’s mind was the place upon which His mercy and grace would be put on display, through Christ, the God-Man. Think about it: Christ, the eternal Lord of creation, through birth, became part of His own creation! Born of a virgin! This all, so that sinners like you and me could be born again.
This should transform our enjoyment and awe every time a baby is born into this world, as each baby is to remind us of the day that Jesus Christ, the Lord of creation, was born as a baby into His own creation! Let those times when ten tiny fingers clasp around our finger be a reminder of the fact that the Lord of creation deserves our worship for becoming a baby as well. Creation calls us to celebrate life, especially the life of the Lord Jesus.
- Let creation remind you of the Creator. Creation is there to remind us that God is our Creator and we are not (Psalm 100:3). It is there to remind us that God’s greatness is unsearchable! When we consider the heavens, “the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained,” it should make us cry out, O, Lord, “what is man that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Ps. 8:3–4).
Creation and all its pleasures were made to be a help for us to praise, adore and worship our glorious Creator. C. S. Lewis explains it well when he says,
Pleasures are shafts of glory as it strikes our sensibility…. But aren’t there bad, unlawful pleasures? Certainly, there are. But in calling them “bad pleasures” I take it we are using a kind of shorthand. We mean “pleasures snatched by unlawful acts.” It is the stealing of the apples that is bad, not the sweetness. The sweetness is still a beam from the glory…
I have tried since… to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I mean something different…. Gratitude exclaims, very properly, “How good of God to give me this.” Adoration says, “What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations3 are like this!” One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.4
Too often we are tempted to wrongly condemn the pleasures of creation itself. When we learn to use these pleasures as reminders of God’s greatness, it frees us to see the glory of creation with new eyes. Not only does it speak to us about God’s power, might, glory, and beauty (Rom. 1:20), it also speaks about a generous and gracious God, who showers us with all kinds of blessings to remind us of Himself as a good and gracious Father (James 1:17, 1 Tim. 6:17).
So, when we are in tune with Psalm 19, or hum along with the hymn, “This is my Father’s world, He shines in all that’s fair…He speaks to me everywhere,” then creation for the believer is loaded with innumerable reminders of the glory of our Creator. Therefore, it should lead us to consider His greatness and inspire praise and adoration in our hearts for Him who made all this. That is what we see the psalms do, over and over. Think for instance of Psalms 29, 97, 104, and 148. Take time to read these psalms and to rejoice and praise God as the Creator.
- Let creation remind you of scriptural truths. We see a very clear example of this in Psalm 19. In many ways Psalm 19 is unique. For in Psalm 19, the psalmist begins by meditating on the beauty and glory of God’s creation. But his meditation on creation leads him to spiritual truths. Here is what happens. In the opening verses he thinks about the glories of the heavens as God’s creative art. Then his eyes focus on the sun. He considers how penetrating these rays are (v. 6). And as he considers the beams of the sun, he starts to compare the sun to the purity and penetrating power of God’s Word, His law (vv. 7–11). And as he does so, the rays of God’s Word reach all the way into his heart. And he asks the Lord for purity of heart (vv. 12–14). That is how we also can enjoy creation around us as well, when it leads us to consider spiritual truths.
There are so many ways in which the Lord has given us helps in creation to turn our minds to spiritual truths and realities. The Puritans often used creation and created objects to inspire meditation. Have you ever realized how creation can also help us think about Christ and His glorious redemption? Here is how Dr. David Murray puts it:
He created sheep so He could teach sinners about how He is the Good Shepherd. He created birds to help His redeemed people live less anxious lives. He created camels to teach how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter heaven. He created lilies and roses so He could compare Himself with them. He created water to explain how He refreshes and revives the thirsty.
And think of how Jesus even created what would be used in His own crucifixion. What did He think when He made the trees, one of which would one day suspend Him between heaven and earth? What did He think when He made the metal that would eventually impale Him on the cross? He made what would be used to cause Him pain and kill Him. He created all the accessories of redemption.5
Let us enjoy this present creation to lead our minds to spiritual truths.
- Take time to study God’s creation. Through reading books or watching videos about the stunning facts or beauty of God’s creative handiwork, we can learn to enjoy this present creation as well. Creation praises God by simply being what it was created to be, with all its breathtaking variety. And reading about it and studying it will also inspire us to worship our glorious Creator.
When we start to study some of the facts we will be stunned by God’s wisdom, ingenuity, and endless variety. Here is one of those facts for us to ponder, in which God shows His eye for detail and design:
Antarctic ice fish can live in waters so cold they would freeze the blood of other living creatures, while desert pupfish survive in waters that are over 100 degrees.6
As we study more of the facts, Psalm 104:24 will echo in our hearts: “In wisdom thou hast made them all.” So, let us take time to study God’s creation and inspire young children especially to study it. Let creation spark delight in our hearts and we will be humbled by God’s unrivaled wisdom.
- Go outside and enjoy creation. But there is of course nothing better than going into creation and enjoying it for what it is. Perhaps with a pair of binoculars. Perhaps taking a magnifying glass. But simply to enjoy.
Go outside and enjoy “the redness of the sun, the roundness of the moon, the whiteness of the snow, the wetness of rain, the blueness of the sky, the buzzing of bumblebees, the invisibility of the wind, the number of the grains of sand on a thousand beaches, the never-ceasing crashing of countless waves, millions of gorgeous wild flowers, some in places where no one sees but God!”7
So, if you have time, take a friend or family member, or just yourself, and go outside to enjoy this present creation. Because even this fallen earth is filled with God’s glory, all to fill our hearts with wonder and adoration for our glorious Creator.
- John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers), 2000, 87.
- Jonathan Edwards, A History of the Work of Redemption, 300.
- This word means that which glitters, or sparkles.
- C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm Chiefly on Prayer (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1963), 89–90.
- David Murray, Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013), 136.
- Starr Meade, God’s Mighty Acts in Creation (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway), 74–75.
- Adapted from John Piper, The Pleasures of God, 95.
Used with permission • The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth VOL. 28 | MAR/APR 2020