Are you a bird-watcher, a birder, or a twitcher? I’m getting an education in birding and learning that there are degrees of studying birds. Bird-watching is what I usually do, casual glancing at birds I hear or notice as I walk or drive. I have friends who are birders and go on walks with binoculars to see which birds are on their paths, taking special delight in particular birds’ coloring and sounds. I’m not sure I know any twitchers—those who go on trips looking for very selective, rare birds to add to their bird journals. If we enjoy birds at all, we take pleasure in their different sizes, colors, designs, and habits, with varied calls and sounds. In winter, we have some birds in Texas: pixabays, cardinals, robins, purple martins, and cedar waxwings (according to a website). Maybe now that I know about the first and last ones on the list, I’ll spot them more easily. When we raise our awareness by increasing our knowledge or understanding of a topic, we are more likely to notice its effects. We know that God created the natural world from Moses’s record in Genesis 1-2. We are stimulated to appreciate the natural world more to the extent that we know our Creator. Moses remarks on God’s goodness seven times in Genesis 1! “Not only is God altogether good, He is consistently good. God doesn’t know how to be anything but good. So closely linked is goodness to God that even pagan philosophers such as Plato equated ultimate goodness, the highest good, with God Himself. God’s goodness refers both to His character and His behavior. His actions proceed from and flow out of His being. He acts according to what He is.” (1) Every tree, flower, blade of grass, and weed is good and blessed because an infinitely good Creator made them. And it’s the same for every animal, bird, fish, mountain, lake, rock, and cloud.
God Blessed Creation
The Lord, who created all the creatures that live in the sea, on the land, and in the air, called them good. He blessed them and commanded them to fill the earth. “And God said, ‘Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.’ So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.” (Genesis 1:20-23) What I appreciate about birders is their delight in birds that don’t have any particular usefulness (besides supplying them with a hobby). Have you ever noticed how we appreciate some things only because they serve us? A sunny day after showers to cheer us up; flowers that make our homes look good; or animals that we feed on. But God blessed the animals before they had served any purpose for Adam and Eve. The existence of the birds and fish was a blessing in the mere fact of their existence. “In Genesis 1:22 God blesses the creatures of the sea and air telling them to ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ He was acknowledging the unique role they are to play in his creation, and he gives them the ability and mandate to reproduce. Right before this verse he pronounced that these creatures he had just created were ‘good.’ These animals were not made to be capable of making moral choices, and they had just come into being. Their ‘goodness’ could not have been because of any thing they had done. They hadn’t done anything yet. In this case, as with the other pronouncements at each stage of creation, the ‘good’ means that they were exactly what the Creator intended them to be. He recognizes how the objects of his blessing fit into his plan.” (1) All natural creation is blessed because Yahweh blessed it. Do we respect, honor, and delight in the goodness of creation and realize how blessed it is because it is created by and blessed by God? Do you take time to think about the blessedness of the created world, and therefore God, who made and blessed it? A biblical Worldview sees God as the first cause, and leads to thanksgiving, worship, and prayer—through which we are more blessed.
God’s Creation is Still Good
“So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:21) “God’s moral pronouncement on what he has done. It appears in the repeated phrase, ‘and God saw that it was good.’ This pronouncement is not made because we can point to an object and say pragmatically, ‘That thing is useful to me and is therefore good to me.’ God’s pronouncement on the goodness of creation came even before we were made. The pronouncement is made because the object is good in itself. As Schaeffer says, this means that a tree is not good only because we can cut it down and make a house of it or because we can burn it in order to get heat. It is good because God made it and has pronounced it good. It is good because, like everything else in creation, it conforms to God’s nature…’Every step and every sphere of creation, and the whole thing put together—man himself and his total environment, the heavens and the earth—conforms to myself.’ It is not only in its pristine state, that is, before the fall of man, that the earth and its contents are pronounced good. The initial blessing of God recorded in Genesis 1 is repeated later even after the fall. For example, it is repeated in God’s covenant with the human race given at the time of Noah…God’s concern is expressed, not just for Noah and those of his family who were delivered with him, but for the birds and the cattle and even the earth itself. Similarly, in Romans 8 there is an expression of the value of creation in that God included it in his promise of that future deliverance for which it as well as the race of men and women wait: ‘The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God’ (v. 21). The value of creation, declared good by God, brings us to a natural conclusion: If God finds the universe good in its parts and as a whole, then we must find it good also…we should be thankful for the world God has made and praise him for it…we should delight in creation. This is closely related to being thankful but is a step beyond it. It is a step that many Christians have never taken. Frequently Christians look on nature only as one of the classic proofs of God’s existence. But instead of this, the Christian should really enjoy what he sees. He should appreciate its beauty. He should exult in creation even more than the non-Christian, because in the Christian’s case there is a corresponding knowledge of the God who stands behind it.” (2)
Remembering the Lord of Creation For the New World
Since we know that God created the world by His Word out of nothing, we have confidence that he can recreate a perfect world that isn’t affected by the decay of sin (Hebrews 11:3; Revelation 21:1-4). Just as the Lord created all the creatures that live in the sea, on the land, and in the air, and called them good and blessed them, he will bring a better Eden, a more blessed one, that we will enjoy without hindrance. Respecting, honoring, and delighting in the goodness and blessedness of this creation will prepare us for our more blessed home. All this, though, is to motivate us to worship God, not nature. “There is a high enjoyment in the contemplation of the divine and the sublime. The concentration of the mind upon truth always brings a high sense of enjoyment…I enjoy getting out in nature and just having some quiet time. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when people confuse nature worship with true worship.” (3) Our natural world’s blessing can reduce our anxieties, help us see a bigger picture of God’s activity, and calm our spirits. Taking a walk or looking out the window to spot the birds who reflect God’s blessedness may be just what you need today. “I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)
Related Scripture: Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25; 9:9–13; Psalm 104:25-30; 135:3; Isaiah 45:12; Jeremiah 10:12-13; Ezekiel 17:22-24; Romans 1:20; 8:18-23.
- The Reformation Study Bible, “The Goodness of God,” p. 991, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015.
- Burridge, Bob, “The Meaning of Blessedness,” 2015, Geneva Institute for Reformed Studies. http://genevaninstitute.org/articles/the-meaning-of-blessedness/
- Boice, James, Boice Expositional Commentary Series, Genesis 1:1-25, Baker Books, Software version, 1998.
- Tozer, A. W., My Daily Pursuit Devotions for Every Day, Ps 119:38, Feb. 2, Bethany House Publishers, 2013.
February 3, 2022