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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Psalm 104: Beautiful Images of Earth

Genesis 1 and 2 are not the only creation passages in the Bible. Psalm 104 should stand on equal footing as a description of God's handiwork on Planet Earth. The astute reader will recognize a similarity between several verses and the first 4 days of Genesis (Ps. 104:2,3,6,19,20). However, the creatures of the 5th and 6th days (marine life, birds, land animals, and humans) are sprinkled throughout the psalm without reference to a literal, linear timeline. God is seen, in beautiful poetic language, as intimately joined in essence to the elements, not because the author is a pantheist but because he sees the majesty of the Creator reflected in the beauty and geologic processes of this earth. God is clothed with "splendor and majesty." Light is His cloak. The very heavens with all of its starry glory are the (tent) curtain in which he dwells. The beams of his upper chambers are in the waters (probably the upper waters where the clouds dwell and rain originates). He doesn't just ride through the clouds on His chariot... the clouds ARE His chariot. Winds and fire serve Him as ministers and messengers. I believe that verse 4 can be interpreted at several levels, but it can refer to slow and sometimes violent geologic processes (like hurricanes, glaciers, forest fires, and volcanoes) that help to shape this planet.

The earth is also described in phrases of splendor. It's foundation is made firm and solid by God. The land is clothed with the waters of the deep, but those primordial waters are restrained by God so that they cannot uproot His creation by spreading random chaos and destruction. Instead they are tamed to provide springs, streams, and rivers that water the land and nurture the wildlife (vv. 10-13). The needs of man and beast are met in halcyon abundance.

However, Genesis 2 and 3 hint at a rumble in the cosmos. A war is afoot, and the heart of man is the battlefield. Choices must be made, loyalties defined and realigned. The right choice, meaning figuring out who is telling the truth and who can really deliver the goods, is a matter of life and death. God challenges the inhabitants of earth, choose life, not death. Choose Me. The "Serpent" makes the very same claim, and in fact wins the most votes. He gains the title "the god of this world."

However, Jesus Christ made an interesting promise about Planet Earth. In the Sermon on the Mount, in the Beatitudes, He stated that when He finally returns to the earth again, the meek (those who choose God) will inherit it.