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From Redemption to Creation

March 27, 2014Filed under theology#devotionsMarkdown source

I have made it my goal to write short posts reflecting on my devotional reading every day. These posts are composed off the cuff, in 30 minutes or less. The following is one such post. Before writing this post, I read: Psalm 65, Proverbs 27, and 1 Corinthians 7–10.

The structure of Psalm 65 surprised me. The psalm opens with a declaration of God’s worthiness of praise and a statement of his atonement1 and righteousness on behalf of his saints, then moves to a depiction of his power in creation. For some reason, I expected the Psalmist to move the other direction if he were going to bring these two things together in a single Psalm. Perhaps it is the way we often tell the story in explaining the gospel—creation, fall, redemption, restoration—but moving from salvation from sins and reconciliation with God to creation caught me off guard.

So often, I fall into a bad habit of separating the attributes of God—as though God were a collection of properties and not persons who all share in the same nature. We cannot separate his creative nature from his saving love for us any more than we can separate the same kinds of things in ourselves. Do I write poetry for my wife because I am creative,2 or because I am loving? Both, of course: any split between the two is a false disjunction. When I write her a poem, I am drawing on multiple facets of my personality and exercising multiple faculties and bending my will to accomplish one end through another end. One can write poetry for its own sake, and one can love one’s wife without poetry, and one can write poetry for one’s wife. Bringing the two together is no strange thing.

So it is with God, and so this psalm reminds us. God creates because he is creative, and also he creates because of his love for his creatures. He delighted to make a good world for us. In creation he demonstrates his power and his wisdom, and in creation he also demonstrates his deep and abiding affection for those whom he created. The particularity of God’s relationship to his covenant people (“God in Zion,” Psalm 65:1) is inseparable from his relationship to all the world (“the hope of all the ends of the earth,” 65:5). Then, when the Psalmist moves from the specificity of God-in-Zion’s redemption for iniquities to the fact that he created the world and maintains it, he shows us the unity of God’s love and the inseparability of his actions. It is not as if God provides rain for all the world out of duty or obligation; he does so because he delights to do good toward we his children—even in our rebellion! The result is that “those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at [his] signs” (65:8). God’s atonement, reconciling his people, doing righteousness and justice, and his creative and sustaining power in creation all come around to the same end: the world worshipping him, the world in right relation with him.

So with David, and with the meadows, I want to “shout and sing together for joy” (65:13) at all the works of the God in Zion. It is good to be surprised.

  1. Not the point of today’s meditations, but nonetheless worth note: contra many an overly simplified evangelical presentation of the relationship between the eras before and after the Incarnation, Old Testament believers relied on God for their salvation from sins just as we do. They knew that he was the one who atoned for them (Psalm 65:3) and that it was he who brought them near, not the other way around (Psalm 65:4).

  2. No claim here that I am particularly good at poetry, mind, but Jaimie seems to like it, and that is good enough for me.