I ONCE HAD A PROFESSOR who repeated a particular mantra throughout the course of his class on the first five books of the Bible: “Rain + Grain = Life.” His point was simple enough: in the tribal atmosphere of Canaan, the Israelite’s loyalty to the true God alone (see Deut. 6:4–5) would have constantly been challenged. But they needed to remember that their God (not Baal), was also the creator God. As such, he was the one who brought rain needed for grain, which, of course, was needed for sustaining life itself. Here we see how creation and promise-keeping are bound together: if God promised to Abraham that through him all the nations would be blessed (Gen. 26:4), then God was determined to sustain the family (Israel) through which that would happen (in other words, praying for rain was to 'remind' God of his promise).
IT SHOULD GO without saying that the creator of the universe exercises control over that universe. To be sure, he exercises that control in ways that are not so evident to the naked eye. Now, I don’t intend to suggest that “control” here means something close to “puppeteering,” but it ought to come as no surprise that the creator God has created the world with principles and laws that reflect his rule. Freedom may abound, but not outside the order with which he himself has gifted his universe. Consider the care of the earth, the rain that is needed for growth, the grain that is needed for life—we needn’t hesitate to ask such things from God and to give him credit when such things occur:
WHEN GOD LOVINGLY and self-sacrificially assigned functions1 to the cosmos, to the satellites, to the earth, its creatures, and its vice-regents in Genesis 1, he saw that it reflected his glory, that it was made for him and that therefore it was “very good.”
The act of creation was loving and self-sacrificial because God didn’t have to do it. This means that he was not coerced, either from without or within, to do so. It’s not the same as saying that God can still be God and not be faithful, for faithfulness is characteristic of who God is. He does what he says he’s going to do (he doesn’t have to say he’s going to do anything, of course) precisely because he is himself faithful. If he did not, then he would not be the God revealed to us in the Scriptures (Isa. 49:7; 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 Thess. 5:24).
On top of the occasional book review, photography series, and other theological / literary ramblings, Growing Grace-full will serve as an archive of several short articles that have been published over the years.