You’ve probably heard some variation of the quote: “Life can only be understood backwards.” The source is the Danish philosopher Kiekegaard, and his point was that clarity for our lives forward lies in looking to the past. That’s how it works here, as we look back to the very beginning. The scriptures open with dramatic tone. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 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.” If you are a Christian, then you have likely read these words, perhaps many times. You have more than likely taken them as a simple account of what took place when the world was made. But what if I told you that these few words, and what follows for the next two chapters, are revealing for us far more than just a simple narrative on God creating everything from nothing. What if I told you that what is being revealed to us is in actuality God covenantally binding Himself not only to humanity, but to the full breadth of His creation. But what does that mean, exactly?
A covenant, in brief, was a typical way of describing a relationship typified by promises and obligations. The word covenant can be found 286 times in the Old Testament, and is a common feature of the ancient world, particularly in Near Eastern cultures. When Moses writes that God created the heavens and the earth, what he is shaping immediately for the reader is that God was establishing a covenantal relationship with His world. What comes next is familiar to most. After these substantial opening words God begins to create, and with nearly everything He creates He immediately calls it good. The scriptures record an almost rhythmic continuation of just that— He creates, He calls it good. In this we see the declaration of God’s unchanging covenant with the totality of His creation. Everything He made, He sustains. And everything He made is meant to obey Him. Everything is bound covenantally to God. (Psalm 145)
“All things, plants, animals, and persons are appointed to be covenant servants,
to obey God’s law, and be instruments of His gracious purpose.”- John Frame
While that quote is true, there is a nuance when it comes to “persons.” Among all the things God created, humanity is different. Human beings are the one creature created, called, and empowered to bear God’s image within the rest of His creation.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
Human beings were created to mediate the rule of God to His world. We were given stewardship over everything, trusted with everything and as such a failure to be faithful to God on our part affects all of creation. We were made accountable to our Creator for His cosmos, His world.
To miss humanity’s unique calling in this world would be
to miss the very purpose of our being made in God’s image.
You see, this understanding only comes by looking back. But this has to leave us wondering, where is the disconnect between what God intended, and the world in which we presently exist? In other words, what happened?
Excerpt from Renovate © 2016 by Léonce B. Crump Jr. Published in the United States by WaterBrook Multnomah, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. All Rights Reserved.