I had a conversation with a student recently about the reality of God in the midst of lockdown. “In springtime,” he said, “it is always easy to look around and see examples of God in creation.” He was not referring to a pantheism in which “god is all and all is god.” Rather, he simply meant that God, the Creator, is evident in creation. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that this evidence is so apparent that no person is without excuse—what we theologically describe as general revelation.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 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. (Romans 1:18-20, NASB)
Sobering thought, but nevertheless encouraging for those of us who believe. For God’s presence is seen clearly in His activity in the world in which we exist. He is not so far above and beyond all things that we are unaware of His existence. For He chooses to make Himself known by His own creation. Some say God’s self-disclosure results in a built-in awareness of God that is written on the heart of every human being. In fact, anthropology recognizes that all human beings are fundamentally “hard-wired” to believe in some kind of divine reality. It is considered one of the very rare universal traits—a hallmark really—of being human. This should not surprise us in light of the biblical principle of general revelation described in Romans 1.
My student went on to describe how a bird has built a nest on his, the student’s, front porch. “The mother has been guarding and incubating the eggs. Now, they have hatched. It is a reminder to me, that even in a pandemic, God’s order remains.” Yes, indeed! “Creation will do what God set it in course to do.” God continues to reveal Himself by the orderly processes of creation in the midst of pandemic. But do we know what to look for? Do we have eyes to see? Have we lost sight of His presence in this very dark time?
As I reflect on the conversation with my student, I think of moments in my own life when I witnessed examples of God in creation. Spring is certainly a great season to see God’s handiwork—as my student vividly describes. But I recall other times and seasons as well. I remember unbelievable sunsets during the summer months when I took my family to the beach before stay-at-home ordinances. I remember the glorious cacophony of autumn colors in the Northeast when I attended seminary near Boston. And of course, I remember the impossibly massive snow drifts in the deepest winter of Russia when I lived there some years ago. In each of these moments, the undeniable reality of God and his handiwork in nature touches the core of my memory.
Interestingly, my student went on to describe how God’s purpose in creation is connected to worship. “Not only will creation continue to function as designed,” he said, “but it continues for man to accomplish that which he was created to accomplish: worship … everything that exists praises God by its mere existence.”
What a wonderful thought highlighting the significance of worship in relation to why, after all, God created us. And His creation testifies “to His eternal power and divine nature.” Though divinely transcendent, He chooses to speak to us clearly. God fully and ultimately reveals Himself through His Son Jesus, the Word—who is present at the time of creation (John 1:1-5). Now God’s self-disclosure is very personal and He reveals Himself specifically—what we theologically describe as specific revelation. As the author of Hebrews declares,
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Hebrew 1:1-3a, NASB)
The sovereign Creator of the universe first reveals Himself by himself. In the beginning, God. As the Spirit of God moves over the darkness, God speaks a word, “Let there be light!” That word is light and breaks through the darkness (Gen 1:1-3; John 8:12; 1 John 1:5-10). God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus the Son is worthy of praise! Worthy of worship! For, “Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3).
I remember standing on the Mount of Olives a few years ago overlooking Jerusalem. I thought of the passage of Scripture that describes Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The people of the city gathered and the disciples “began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice” (Luke 19:37) directing their praise toward Christ as He entered the city. Of course, the religious leaders did not appreciate the crowd’s enthusiasm and goaded Jesus. Luke 19:39-40 records this moment: “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’ But Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!’”
Considering this moment from atop the Mount of Olives, my eyes were opened to something I had never seen before. While there is certainly a prophetic connection to the stones of the temple which would ultimately be cast down, the entire area is utterly and completely full of stones. Stones everywhere. Large, small, scattered all about. Can you imagine what the Pharisees must have thought when Jesus said that even the stones would cry out? When the people no longer praise, the stones will cry out in praise! Imagine the great sound and chorus when the very stones of Jerusalem and the stones of the Mount of Olives and the stones of the Kidron Valley that lay scattered between the city and the mount—what a great and thunderous sound of praise and worship!
God speaks in the darkness. Let there be light! He reveals Himself. Let’s open our eyes and see! Even in the darkness of lockdown, what light do you see? I see a God who is worthy of all praise and worship for He has revealed Himself unequivocally and for all! If I don’t praise Him, maybe even the stones of our own Jerusalem—our own neighborhoods—will cry out!