Once you’ve settled on the fact that God is the Creator, the world never looks the same. A number of ideas immediately become obvious. I’d like to meditate on two of them for the next few posts.
One of the most obvious is that you and I are special.
I don’t mean that in the fawning sense, the way moms tell their children that they’re special. I mean it in the most life-changing way possible.
The creation account makes it obvious.
During the 6 days of active creation, God spends most of the time, metaphorically speaking, sitting in his chair and issuing orders. As I’ve noted before, sometimes he just speaks and items spring into existence: he says, “Let there be light” (Gen 1.3), and there is; he says, “Let there be an expanse” (Gen 1.6), and there is; he says, “Let there be lights in the heavens” (Gen 1.14), and the sun, moon, and stars come into being; he speaks (Gen 1.20), and fish swim in the seas, and birds fly through the atmosphere. Sometimes, when he speaks, he’s acting on things he has already created: he orders the waters to gather so that dry land becomes visible (Gen 1.9), and he causes plants (Gen 1.11) and then animals (Gen 1.24) to spring from the ground.
Through all of this activity (again, metaphorically speaking), God has never left his chair; he has spoken, and his will has been done. But now the story changes dramatically.
To begin with, God speaks, not to command his creation, but in meditation with himself. He says not, “Let there be man,” but “Let us make man” (Gen 1.26). He counsels with himself on what he is about to do.
In the hindsight of the New Testament, Christians see the Trinity here: the persons of the Godhead, perfectly one, speak among themselves, with the Father as administrator and visionary, the Son as active agent, and the Spirit as nurturer and protector. I don’t doubt that all that is true, but the picture here in Genesis, at the outset of God’s self-revelation, is murkier. God is speaking to himself, and he’s using the plural. Is this a majestic king planning his next action, or is it a consultation between or among infinitely exalted equals?
Well, neither, exactly. This is complicated by the fact that God doesn’t think of things, or through things, in the sense that we do. Sovereign and omniscient, he never hatches a plan or finds a solution. So why is he talking to himself, appearing to think through what he’s about to do?
It seems pretty clear what he’s doing. He’s pausing to relish what’s coming. This is not just another step in the long process of creating stuff. This next step is different in kind from what has happened so far; God is about to do something really extraordinary (as if speaking the cosmos into existence in an instant [Gen 1.16] isn’t extraordinary enough!).
In what way is this next step extraordinary? His joyous words tell us plainly: “Let us make someone like us! In our image! Exponentially greater than everything else!” (Gen 1.26a, paraphrased with abandon). May I say reverently, it’s as though he says, “You think that’s impressive? Just watch this!”
And then, metaphorically speaking, he rises, majestically and purposefully, from his chair. No pointing and giving orders now; he’s going to get involved. He’s going to roll up his sleeves and plunge into his creative work clear up to his elbows. Foreshadowing the coming incarnation, he’s going to step right into the middle of his creation.
In the next post we’ll consider what that means.