Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible
“O Lord, Your works shall be magnified greatly; You made all things in wisdom” (Ps. 103:24).
From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures overflow with expressions of great wonder and doxology towards God the Creator. Creation itself reveals God, reflecting His power, wisdom and craftsmanship. The act of creation was not something that happened ‘by chance’ or ‘by accident’, but rather it was a deliberate and free expression of God’s creative will. It was the outcome of His infinite love, wisdom and goodness; being that the created world might participate in His own blessedness and beauty.
As Creator, the Trinitarian God is ontologically distinguished from all that is created. God IS – as He revealed to Moses before the burning bush: “I AM He Who IS.” That is, He is not made, unlike all things that are created.
This great chasm between God and His creation does not, however, indicate a God Who is distant and unapproachable. Rather, through His uncreated divine energies, God is constantly present – sustaining and providing for His creation.
In Genesis 1:1, we read “In the beginning God made heaven and earth.” The famous six days of creation mentioned in Genesis are not taken literally in the Orthodox tradition. Instead, they denote vast periods of time, over which the act of creation gradually progressed and culminated with the crown of creation – Man.
St Cyril of Jerusalem, commenting on the ‘how’ of creation, states that this is an intricate mystery which cannot be analysed and understood with human capabilities. The Bible is not a scientific text explaining how the world was made, but rather proclaims Who lies behind it.
Psalm 32 proclaims the Holy Trinity as Creator of the world: “By the word of the Lord [the Son] the heavens were established, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth [the Holy Spirit]” (verse 6).
A significant teaching of our Orthodox Faith is that God created the world out of nothing (ex nihilo). That is, He brought creation “from non-being into being” (Divine Liturgy prayer). This is in stark contrast to the problematic creation beliefs of various pantheistic traditions, Manicheism and ancient philosophies, which assert that God formed the world from pre-existing matter. The Orthodox teaching highlights the ontological chasm between the Uncreated God and the created world, thus proclaiming God’s omnipotence, creation’s dependence on Him, and that creation is a product of His will.
The Scriptures and Church tradition affirm that the immaterial angelic orders came into being before the material world, after which, the irrational material world (earth, stars, water, animals, plants) was created. Last of all, Man was made in a unique manner – in the image of God – and received the breath of life (the grace of the Holy Spirit) making him a living soul.
Man was given dominion over all living things. He was bestowed with the responsibility of transforming Himself and all of creation, leading both to a more perfect communion with God. After the fall however, as a result of sin, not only Man, but “the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs” (Romans 8:22), eagerly looking for the time of redemption, when our All-Merciful God will establish “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).
Source: Lychnos December 2020 – January 2021