Sunday, January 23, 2011

Uncreating Creation--Six, Five, Four...

The creation story fascinates me--the concept that God spoke and there was from the wasn't.

When visualizing the power of God's spoken Word, my mind connects to the Disney movie where Aladdin speaks the words of his wish and poof, the Genie magically makes those words become reality on the technicolor screen. It's a real, divine power that I can only seemingly understand through the lens of fantasy.

Since July of last year, though, I have been intrigued not by the concept of creation, but by the thought of God un-creating. Last year, I spent a week in Psalm 46, dwelling on the verse that says, "he lifts his voice, the earth melts" (v. 6). One commentary explained it as "the creation itself may seem to be uncreated."* In short, God speaks and creation is no more.

Speaking of Christ as part of the triune Godhead, Paul says, "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col. 1:16-17).

At the time, my state was seeing its landscape, its plants and wildlife being literally uncreated from the oil spill in the Gulf. It seemed things were not holding together well in Christ. I could imagine God enthroned, suddenly stop speaking the name of a particular plant or a specific bird--and that creation would be no more.

This past week, I once again returned to this notion of uncreation concerning God's judgment of Judah's sin as well as God's final judgment of the entire earth:

"'I will completely remove all things
From the face of the earth,' declares the LORD.
I will remove man and beast;
I will remove the birds of the sky
And the fish of the sea...
" (Zeph. 1:2-3).

In this passage, the prophet says God will uncreate the world; in essence, He will "reverse" creation.

Genesis has God creating man last on Day 6, right after creating land animals. Ironically, in God's plan, the last created is the first to be uncreated. Then, God continues to reverse His creation, next uncreating what He made on Day 5--those creatures who dwelt in the waters and the birds of the air.

Later in the same chapter, God shows how this judgment of the earth begins with His own household, Judah. Interestingly, the sins for which Judah would be punished seem to be quite similar to the sins of our nation, our world, implying the earth will be uncreated for many of the same sins Judah was destroyed or "uncreated" for.

For instance, after blasting Judah over its idolatry and worship of the heavens through astrology, God gives a couple other sins that may not make our radar but that definitely make His: "So I will stretch out My hand against Judah...And those who have turned back from following the LORD, And those who have not sought the LORD or inquired of Him" (Zeph. 1:4a, 6).

With God, "Well, I used to..." won't fly. With God, "I didn't know because I chose to not read the Bible" is no excuse.

God continues, "And I will punish the men Who are stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, 'The LORD will not do good or evil!'" (Zeph. 1:12).

This third group of "stagnant in spirit" apparently saw evil going unpunished in the world around them (sound familiar?) and thus believed God to be morally ambivalent instead of the patient, merciful, unwilling-for-any-to-perish God that He was.

The term "stagnant" also refers to Judah's consuming spiritually stagnant cistern water versus the living water God offered through His promise of Messiah, something the prophet Jeremiah also criticized the people of Israel for.

And to those of us living in modern times, this term also brings to mind the message to the church of Laodicea: "'I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth'" (Rev. 3:15-16).

The uncreation of creation--once before by flood, the next time by fire. It's as real as the Words God spoke to create our existence in the first place.

There are so many who are relying on intentional ignorance, a past-tense religion, or a lukewarm faith to see them securely to the other side of eternity.

Yet, complete submission to the Lord with all one's heart, soul, and mind is the only way.

* Baker and Carpenter. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament. p. 579.

Photo Credit: "M16: Pillars of Creation." J. Hester, P. Scowen (ASU), HST, NASA

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