The Silent Witness

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Have you ever stood in awe of creation? Perhaps it was a particularly impressive sunset. Perhaps you were privileged to visit a natural wonder. Perhaps it was amazement at God’s wisdom displayed in the animal kingdom or the wonder of beholding childbirth.

Psalm 19 speaks of creation as a witness to God’s glory. “The heavens above declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (v. 1). Creation silently points those with eyes to see to the glory of its Creator—silently, at least, in the sense that it doesn’t quite verbalise words that can be comprehended by human ears.

Sometimes, creation speaks quite loudly. Think of the dark clouds and thunder and lightning and earthquake that attended God appearing to his people at Sinai. Think of how loudly the stilled storm shouted the power of Jesus. Think of the darkening sun and the quaking earth at the crucifixion.

Biblically, creation is more than a mere prop in the drama of redemption. It is an important supporting character. Creation boldly displays God’s glory, power, wisdom, and goodness.

But creation also bears powerful witness to God’s wrath. The wonder of childbirth is attended by great pain. The intricacy of the created order is riddled with frustration because of human sin. Paul tells us that the entire creation groans under the weight of sin, longing for the day when it will be released from its bondage (Romans 8:18–23). Creation is amazing and wonderful and, often, awe-inspiring. But it is also broken. Death and decay remind us that something has gone drastically wrong. They are stark reminders that the world stands under God’s judgement against sin. Even many of the earth’s natural wonders, it can be argued, are remnants of God’s wrath poured out against sin in the global flood.

Christians, however, must remember that chaos is not a display of the natural order. The creation account in Genesis shows precisely the opposite: that, in creation, God transformed chaos into cosmos. It is because of human sin that all things tend again toward chaos. Understanding this reality is part of what it means to see the created order declaring God’s glory.

When you attend a funeral, you are a witness to something profoundly unnatural. When you watch news coverage of tsunamis, hurricanes, and earthquakes, you are watching evidence of divine wrath. When a virus causes upward of 400,000 deaths in six months, Christians should be profoundly saddened that this is not the way God intended things to be. Human sin is destructive. God’s holiness is consuming. Creation bears witness to this.

Of course, not everybody understands this. Those who reject God’s revelation in the Bible see no connection between human sin and chaos in the created order. That is why, as much as creation declares the glory of God, we need something more. We need the Scriptures—the law of the Lord, which is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord, which is sure, making wise the simple—to reveal to us the character of the God whose glory is displayed in creation and his plan to redeem sinful men and women. The Scriptures point us to the gospel, which is God’s ultimate plan of restoring order to a chaotic world.

David asked the Lord to “declare [him] innocent from hidden faults.” If the Lord answered that prayer, he would “be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” The gospel does precisely that. In Jesus Christ, we are declared to be righteous—innocent—in God’s sight. And that truth is revealed in Scripture.

Take some time today to consider how creation declares the glory of God. Reflect on the beauty of creation, which testifies to the glory, power, wisdom, and goodness of God. But reflect also on the chaos of the created order, which testifies to the fact that something is not right—that human sin has invited an enemy into God’s creation. Reflect on the truth that chaos is not what God intended. And then hear the promise of the gospel, revealed in Scripture, and know that, in Christ, there is a guarantee that chaos will one day again be turned to cosmos.

Stuart