Tuesday, 24 February 2009

nature knows

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)

One of the ways I believe God’s word is perfect is in its timeliness. Just as Jesus came at the fullness of time, so God sent his word to his people in the fullness of time. The fact that the words of Scripture were given to the Hebrews and to the early Christians at the time they were is no accident. God has tied the revelation of his nature to particular periods of history, to particular modes of expression, to a particular way of seeing the world. God’s word is living, so it always speaks to every generation. But God chose people to express his word in oral tradition and in writing in their own language and idiom. So we must treasure the language of the Bible. We must dig deep into its figures of speech, into the comparisons made, into the methods of expression and the metaphors used to describe the ways of God.

We live in a world that is at times completely out of touch with the earth. No longer tied to the seasons and rhythms of the land and the sea, we forget or ignore the lessons nature has to teach us. The ancient writers did not have this luxury. The Scriptures are filled with creation as a living testimony and witness to God. The mountains shout, the trees applaud and the heavens declare. Too easily we can dismiss nature’s appearance in the Bible as mere metaphor and the crude anthropomorphisms of an ignorant culture. But I happen to think they were on to something, or rather, that God was on to something.

We need an understanding of the natural world viewed both as God’s creation and God’s revelation. Yes, we do make the distinction between “special” and “general” revelation. Christ falls in the first category, and creation in the second. But for those who know Christ – in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, in whom all things are made new, in whose being all things in heaven and on earth are summed up and made perfect – we have been given an incredible treasure in the works of nature. If we listen closely, we can hear the story of Christ in the rivers and wrens. Creation whispers the secrets of the kingdom of God for those willing to listen.

(See previous posts talking trees, secrets and rara avis.)


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