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February 23, 2013 - Jesus, Provider and Sustainer



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Lesson 8   23 February, 2013
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Jesus, Provider and Sustainer

Major Texts: Heb 1:3; Col 1:16,17; Job 42; Matt 5:45, 6:25-34,10:28

The lesson this week seeks to make the point that the Creator, whom it identifies as Jesus, was not just involved with creation at the beginning. He is also involved in the continuing care and sustaining of it. We will explore this assertion in the following way:

  1. At the point of creation, God was not enmeshed with His work as in He did not share His essence with creation. In other words, God and creation are not of the same essence. To argue for that would be to set up the basis for pantheism. The creation story sets up a form of reality that manifestly disallows for pantheism. God is depicted as being separate from what he created.
     
  2. At the same time, God is shown to be taking pains to ensure the preservation and continuance of what he made. We might first look at the fact that creation was so constituted as to provide food and provision for all created things. Plants were to bear fruit and seed and herbs were to be edible. Noticeably absent from the Genesis story is any form of predation. Given the nature of things today, it is all but impossible for us to imagine a biosphere without predation, but that is what is indicated. For example, what would a vegetarian hawk look like? Or a vegan lion? And what is to be said about whole sub-systems in our biosphere that rely on predation of some kind? Yet, this is the picture of Eden, to be replicated again in the new earth where, as Isaiah envisioned it, God points to the day when ''the lion and lamb will lie down together, and there will be no hurt on my holy mountain." The foundational point is that creation, as it came from God's hands, was constituted so as to provide sufficient resources for the continuation of life.
     
  3. There is the matter now, of the fall. How did the emergence of sin affect creation itself? Clearly, there are indications in the Bible (the whole creation groans awaiting its redemption) that nature itself has been damaged by sin. And there is the biblical record that after the flood humans were given leave to eat animals which is an event that radically changes the dynamics of earth when compared to what they were after creation. Yet, in spite of the changes, earth still provides.
     
  4. We point to the fact that, after sin's appearance, it might be said that nature itself became capable of doing damage as in natural disasters, storms, earthquakes, and the like. Yet, In the face of these, we have verses like Matthew 4:45, and Psalm 65:9,10, and Matthew 6:25-34 (a very challenging set of verses to take at face value!) that suggest that behind the scenes, God is still actively providing for his creation. Seedtime, and harvest, God has promised to preserve.
     
  5. An interesting question to explore here would be one that asks about the relationship of the supernatural and the natural. How do they inter-relate? Should we expect such inter-actions regularly? What shall we say to those who think "everything" is a miracle?

 

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