Essentials of Old Testament Theology - Lesson 2

God and Creation

Centrality of the doctrine of creation in biblical thought.

Paul House
Essentials of Old Testament Theology
Lesson 2
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God and Creation

Creation Theology in the Old Testament

Genesis provides a wonderful introduction to the doctrine of creation, but this passage hardly exhausts the Old Testament’s teachings on the subject. Though there are many ways of organizing this material, it is valid to emphasize creation and God’s person (Genesis 1–2), creation and God’s people’s suffering (Isaiah 40–48), creation and worship (Psalms 90–99), and creation and God’s wisdom for daily living (Proverbs 8:22-31 and Job 38:1–42:6).

I. Creation and God’s Person (Genesis 1–2)

Genesis 1:1 announces the OT’s most unique teaching: there is only one God, and this God created the world. The rest of Genesis 1-2 indicates that God is personal, relational (which includes self-revelation), purposeful, and powerful. These chapters also indicate that God made human beings with dignity, purpose, and the ability to relate to him.

II. Creation and God’s People’s Suffering (Isaiah 40–48)

Isaiah 40 begins with a call to comfort God’s people. They need this comfort because they have recently endured a terrible invasion by Assyria, and because lsaiah has revealed that eventually Babylon will conquer them (see lsaiah 36–39). Isaiah uses creation theology to offer this needed comfort. He claims that creation proves that God is powerful, sustaining, and comforting to hurting people (40:12-31). He stresses the folly of seeking other gods (43:10-11 and 44:9-20). God created Israel (43:1) and still has a purpose for them. He will redeem them for his glory (43:14-21). Isaiah 51:12-13 are summary verses.

III. Creation and Worship (Psalms 8, 90, 95-99)

God alone merits worship, and creation theology proves this point. God merits worship because of his greatness, superiority to human beings, and willingness to entrust human beings with stewardship over the earth (Ps 8). God merits worship because he has no end or beginning (Ps 90:1-2), is the ruler of human affairs (Ps 90:1-12), and forgives human sin (Ps 90:13-17). God merits worship because of his plans for a messiah through David’s family (Pss 104–106; see Pss 2 and 110).

IV. Creation and Wisdom for Daily Living (Proverbs 8:22-31 and Job 38:1–42:6)

God the creator knows how to manage creation (Job 38:1–42:6). This fact inspires faith in Job. Further, the Lord used wisdom to create the world (see Pr 8:22-31), and reveals wisdom to believers through the Old Testament wisdom literature. The creator teaches us how to live from his own storehouse of personal wisdom.


These two and a half hours of foundation-level lectures will introduce you to the beauty of the Old Testament and its major themes. They are summaries of Dr. House's full Old Testament Theology class available in the BT Institute.

Essentials of Old Testament Theology

Dr. Paul House


God and Creation

Lesson Transcript


We're trying to put the pieces together in the Old Testament. That is the topic that I've undertaken. When I was asked by a pastor, my father, to bring four or five or six talks on the Old Testament and rather than try to cover several books at once each night and then try to do that, though I have done that in the past in various venues, decided to take four or five major themes. And tonight I don't want to talk about God, the Creator. And so we begin in Genesis one and two with a great theme that has many, many practical implications for us. And I would just begin to suggest some of these as we work through the text. Genesis one and two does provide a wonderful introduction to the doctrine of creation. But these marvelous chapters hardly exhaust the old Testament's teachings on the subject. And I suppose there are a lot of ways you can organize the material we're going to look at. But what I want to do is to, first of all, look at Genesis one and two, which emphasizes God, a person who God is and announces God's greatness in a very clear way in Genesis one and two. So God's person. And then though we could start before these chapters, Isaiah 4248, where we see the theme of creation applied to the suffering of God's people, trying to bring a hurting, suffering people to a better place and to comfort them. What the text does is to stress that God is the Creator in a similar way that Jobe 38 1 to 42 six does that.


When you're hurting, it's important to know that God is powerful, the Creator and in control. A third theme we would find, particularly in Psalms 90 to 99, and that is the theme of creation God, the Creator and worship. For we learn in the Old Testament that God merits worship. He doesn't just demand it. He doesn't just command it. That because he is the creator and for a host of other reasons, God merits our worship. And then finally, if we have time to get their creation and wisdom for daily living, the wisdom, literature and places like Proverbs eight and Jobe 28 anchor their teachings about daily life, godly living, wise living, which is the biblical definition of successful living, is anchored in the fact that God is the Creator. He is a possessor of knowledge and he reveals it to us. So God, God's person in creation, creation in God's people suffering, creation in worship and creation and wisdom for daily living. That's the outline, and we'll see how far that we get. We start with Genesis one and two. And here the Bible announces perhaps its most unique teaching in the ancient Near Eastern context. I know with Dr. Hoffner here and probably a lot of other people. There's always somebody here who knows more than I do about it. I don't know if that intimidates me or not. It did. When you started preaching as young as I did, still in my teens, I was pretty much aware that every time I preach, somebody knew quite a bit more than I did. So that's not so new. But I think that perhaps the most unique teaching of the Old Testament, its ancient context, is that there is only one God and that He is a creator.


He has made everything that you see. He's created the heavens and the earth that the Old Testament would stress that God created alone is not a situation of several gods creating the world. It is important for us to see, when we look at the text, that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the Earth was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light. There was like, We see one God creating. We see that this God is powerful. If He can speak and things happen of such magnitude that this God is able to create in all power. As the text goes on, it tells us in chapter one and two that God created human beings in his image, male and female. He creates them and that he makes them stewards of the earth. In other words, human beings are not an afterthought as far as God's concerned. Human beings are not simply inexistent to do the sorts of jobs that no self respecting little God would do, as is true in some of the ancient near Eastern Count, but that God purposefully created human beings with the intention of having a relationship with them, and that they would be given significant responsibility for what exists here on Earth. And I suppose that one of the positive byproducts of growing up on a farm in a rural context is that somewhere deep in my soul, I think that human beings ought to be good stewards of the earth, whatever that would mean. And it's the whatever that would mean. That puzzles me sometimes. But God has put us here for a significant purpose with tremendous responsibilities.


That's how much he thinks of us. That's what he put us here for. And to be in relationship with him so that God is powerful and God is relational. And as you look in Genesis one and two and you see God beginning to work with human beings, God reveals himself to the human beings, to Adam and Eve. He wants to be known and tries and works at having a relationship with human beings. We are made with dignity, purpose, the ability to relate to the creator of heaven and earth. And he is powerful. And the text tells us something else very important. He is good and the text tells us that God is able to assess that which is good and that which is not good. Now, of course, as the Scriptures go on, that ability to assess has a double edged nature to it, doesn't it? Because God can assess and know that which is good and that which is not good. That is the scriptures. Go on. We will see that God is also the judge of all things and of all people He assesses. Now, on our good days, that makes us happy because God is also in Genesis one and to the sustaining God, He keeps things going. And so as we pray to the sustaining God and He looks with favor on us and assesses our commitment to him and our situation and says yes to our deepest needs, we are so happy that our God is powerful as He assesses and He blesses. On my bad days. However, when I know that I have sinned against God and I know that He indeed will bring discipline into my life, or I'm not sure that all comes to me in one specific day.


But over time, as it dawns on me that that's what's going on. I'm less pleased with the fact that God is powerful and he assesses. That's true nonetheless. So when we look at creation and God's person, we have a portrait of an extraordinary God. Now then we know that something terrible happens after Genesis two and the rest of the Bible operates in the shadow of Genesis three, when human beings, instead of believing God, who is their creator, their sustainer, the one who relates to them, the one who loves them, the one who cares for them, the one who has given them a good life. Instead of believing what he has said, they believe what the serpent says. Act on that and sin and the ramifications are evident from this point on. I'd like to be clear, however, though, this doesn't mean that human beings can't do anything good. We know that we are made in God's image and in Genesis four, even with the growth of sin, you see these these tremendous accomplishments by human beings, artisans and music and cities and all these things being built, and you kind of see that the human race lives between the potential of Genesis 126 to 31 that were made in his image and your relationship with him and the reality of Genesis three, which is that we see and. And perhaps one of the best portraits of that is in the Tower of Babel account in Genesis 11, where human beings, because they have these tremendous abilities, can make this tremendous and wonderful edifice for all the wrong reasons. And so to use a recent tragedy in our country's history, human beings could have the skill, the knowledge and the ability and the wherewithal and the resources to build the Twin Towers, the World Trade Center, and have the ingenuity and the skill and the audacity to create a terrorist mechanism to bring them down.


You see, we live between these two poles, and without the redemption of God, which is promised in Genesis three, that there will come one who bruised the head of a serpent. We do not have hope, but we have this through God. In Isaiah 4248. It is clear that God's people have sinned in such a manner over such a long period of time. That God has sent severe circumstances into their lives. In Isaiah 36 to 39, we read that the great Assyrian army has come, has put tremendous pressure on the entire nation, defeating every town and city of note except for Jerusalem. And that in Isaiah 39, the text says that eventually the country will be overthrown by Babylon. They have short term reason to be discouraged. That is, they have suffered greatly and they have long term reason to be discouraged. That is, their nation will be defeated at a certain point in time. And other than short term problems and long term problems, they don't have any problems and they suffer. And so God says in Isaiah 40, Comfort, Comfort my people says, Your God. And we open up a section where God speaks tenderly to his people and how does he comfort them? Look at Isaiah 40 and verse 12. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a spanner and close the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance. Who has measured the spirit of the Lord or what man shows him his counsel. Whom did he consult? Who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice and taught him knowledge and showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from the bucket and are as counted as dust on the scales.


Behold, he takes up the coast, lands like to find dust. You see, he is the one who has made all of this. First 22. It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them like a tent to dwell. And that's how magnificent is power for God, creating the world in the skies like pitching a tent for someone else. Though I have to admit, for me to pitch a tent would be about like to create a whole world. Some of you are more skilled. However, my wife and I agree. We had this marvelous agreement and lots of them in our marriage. One of them is as far as we're concerned. Camping basically amounts to leaving the window open for a few minutes at the hotel. So. But for God, it would be no more trouble for God to stretch out the world than it would be for you, master campers, to pitch a tent. No struggle at all. This is such is his power. And by the way, verse 23, he brings princes to nothing and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Even the Assyrians, even the Babylonians, even the Americans and the Russians and the other armies. God is all powerful. So verse 27 Why do you say, Oh, Jacob and speak of Israel? My way is hidden from the Lord and my ride is disregarded by my God. Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth? He does not faint or grow weary. His understanding is on searchable and he gives power to the faint. You see, Isaiah says the Creator, God is your God.


He has not forgotten you because his memory cannot fail. He has not lost his power to help you because he can't get tired. Which is another extraordinary truth about God as we contemplate it at mid-week. God does not lose vigor, strength. He does not become tired. And in fact, to him, who has no might. He increases strength. God, the Creator, the God you serve day by day, His renewing your strength so that you can mount up with wings like eagles and run and not be weary and walk and not faint. Isaiah, then, through several text in these chapters, uses creation theology to say to Israel, I have made you, I redeemed you. I still have purpose for you and I am powerful enough to help you. So that the summary comes in. Isaiah 51. And verse 12. 5112. I am he who comforts you? Who are you that are afraid of man who dies? Of the son of man who's made like grass and have forgotten the Lord, your maker who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth. And you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor when he sets himself to destroy. And it goes on when I am afraid. And when I doubt and when I sin because of those fears and because of those doubts and I get utterly discouraged to the point of despair at the events of life, I have forgotten. The significant fact that I serve the God who has stretched out the heavens, laid the foundations of the earth, is more powerful than any enemy, is bigger than any problem. This God whom we serve, who loves us, who has redeemed us, who has not forgotten us, is certainly able to do what we need done today.


I am reminded of that this week in an odd way, because of birthdays. Today is the birthday. If I haven't forgotten someone, which is probable. But at least three important birthdays. Heather's maternal grandmother's birthdays. Today she's a blessing to us. Heather is her only granddaughter. Special to us. It's one of my mentors birthdays. It's one of my closest friends and strong helper in the midst of Troubles birthday. Friday is our daughter's birthday. She won't be a teenager anymore. And that's a good thing. Though we got off pretty easy as far as that went. I can tell you, though, as I think about these different people and their different needs in ages from 90 to 20. The Creator, God, is able to sustain every single one of them and everybody on the prayer list and everybody around the table because he is the creator. That's the testimony of Isaiah 4248 is the testimony, by the way, of Jobe, 38 to 42. What ultimately comforted Jobe. God says to him, kind of gives him a pop quiz. You know, Jobe thinks he can run the universe better than God, so God gives him a quiz. So do you know how to feed all the animals? You know how to get the sun up in the morning. You know how to do all these things? What's he telling you? You can trust the creator to run your life in a way that will work good in your life. If these things are true, is it any wonder that we might turn to a third issue creation in worship and that you can read all sorts of the Psalms along these lines before you get to Chapter 90 and following Psalms like Psalm eight that talks about how God has made us in His image with these responsibilities and gives tremendous praise to God is the Creator.


But when you turn a book for the Psalms, beginning with Psalm 90, you start with this magnificent psalm about the nature of God, Psalm 90, verse one Lord, you've been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth in the world from everlasting to everlasting. You are God. This is the God we serve. And the text goes on to say this God is the ruler of human affairs and he is the person who forgives. Chapter nine, verse 13 return. Oh, Lord, how long have pity on your servants? Verse 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us and for as many years as we have seen. Evil God, who is from everlasting to everlasting, is forgiving. And forgives human sin. We go to some familiar text like Psalm 95, which is often used as a call to worship in so many circumstances. Oh, come, let us sing to the Lord. Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with Thanksgiving. Let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise for the Lord is a great God and a great king. Above all, gods in His hands are the depths of the earth. The heights of the mountains are his. Also, the sea is he is for he made it and his hands form the dry land. Oh, come, let us worship and bow down and kneel before the Lord, our maker. This is what we do when we worship and I think of other texts. Chapter 96 verse four Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. He is to be feared above all gods, for all the gods of the people are worthless idols.


But the Lord made the heavens and Psalm 100 that reminds us that we are but the sheep of his pasture. We are made by him. We are sustained by him. We are blessed by him. We should worship God. For he merits it. There is a sense in which we ought to always pass out compliments to one another. But every now and then you realize that one of the reasons you ought to praise whoever made the meal, the reason you ought to praise whoever took care of a bit of business. Or fill in the blanks is because they have done a superb job. They have done high quality work and they deserve our thanks. And there comes a time in certain circumstances, like some of the people I've mentioned tonight, in a vague way. There comes a time where some people do such a good job for us and are so kind to us and have done so well on our behalf. We owe them a debt we can never pay. But we can say they merit our thanks. If this is true of human beings living on this side of Genesis three. How much more true must it be of our God? We'll finally it is interesting to me to look at the book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs actually drives me nuts because I like to look at things in whole pieces. And by the time you start reading the Proverbs, you get eight Proverbs in seven different subjects. Somebody like me, it kind of drives me nuts. But even someone like me can read Proverbs 822 and we have a tough little verse there, Proverbs 822. But wisdom is speaking and the text says, The Lord possessed me. Or does it mean purchased me or fathered me? Or, as the Greek translation of the Hebrew says, created me at the beginning of his work.


And by the way, the ambiguity in that statement in so many different ways, it can be translated, particularly as far as bought and created and that sort of thing. I'm a little nervous about making the wisdom here. Christ, just for a lot of Christological Trinitarian reasons, but God had wisdom from the very beginning. He had at the start, the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old age is to go. I was set up at the first before the beginning of the earth, and then he has wisdom and use it to make the world. And it's that sort of wisdom that God reveals to us in Proverbs and other texts to teach us how to live. The wisdom God reveals to us is the same sort of wisdom he used to set up every thing that we see that works so efficiently, and he reveals it to us. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And the text then goes on to tell us what God has said. So God's greatest wisdom is to give us Jesus Christ His wisdom for salvation. That does not seem wise to the world. But God also gives us specific daily guidance. He's the creator. He knows possesses, has uses wisdom and then takes people like me and you and gives that wisdom back to us in instruction for godly, which then means, by biblical definition, successful living. Time doesn't permit to say if all of this is true. No wonder John one says so much about Jesus Christ and creation. No wonder Paul could say in Colossians one that all the world holds together through Jesus Christ and talks about Him being the Creator. Or that Revelation 21 would talk about the new creation in which Christ rules.


But you see, if Jesus is God, he must also be the Creator. And the New Testament puts all this creation theology, gospel, John not only Chapter one, but it uses Isaiah 4248 multiple times, particularly John eight. I understand that the New Testament carries this theme on through that we serve the Creator. And tonight, if you need wisdom and who doesn't? I just keep thinking I'll get smart enough to live. But unfortunately, my friends keep doing things, my family keeps doing things, and I keep doing things That proves we need added wisdom. Today the creator gives it. We need to have a strong sense of worship. And we have a church that believe deeply in quality, biblical God honoring worship. And I know can't church, can't advertise it as much, or maybe they've done it outside of my presence. But, you know, I can't contribute to a book on worship recently. If you want to know what college church is trying to do in worship, I think kid has written some good stuff and he quotes Chuck pretty copious lead time or two. And so, you know, you can see what we're trying to do. I don't know if they get royalties or not. You know? Heck, yeah. Chuck broke his neck and said no. But anyway, creation and worship. And I'm one who appreciates beauty in nature. But that really what I'm talking about. I want to talk about God who acts in nature, rules our affairs, forgives human beings, and not just have happy notions of beautiful sunsets, though that's important. And creation. And your suffering. And God's person. The doctrine of creation is a very practical thing. It hits us where we live. It's as practical as the next discouraging moment you have, which, if you put a clock on, it, may not be very long.


But we have an eternal sustaining God and the same God who has created it all. According to Isaiah 65, Revelation 21 and three, we didn't even have time to pursue. He's going to make create a new heavens and a new earth where sin will be absent and will live with him forever together in his presence. The Creator. He has a tremendous theme, and I suppose Bill Dumbrell is right when he says, Really, if you look at the Bible, everything is moving from creation to new creation. And that's where we're headed.