Jesus: The Creator

TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 38-40

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator  of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” – Isaiah 40:28

As we have read through Isaiah, I have noted the repeated use of the phrase “that day” in reference to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In That Day: The Preservation and Inheritance of Life, I observed that the phrase “that day” occurred 44 times in the first 39 chapters of Isaiah and just once from chapters 40 to 66.

This is interesting because almost every scholar and theologian has noted that the book of Isaiah seems to be divided in two with the dividing point coming between the 39th and 40th chapter. Chapters 1-39 seem to represent the Old Testament while the chapters 40-66 seem to represent the New Testament. Coincidentally,the Bible the majority of Christians use today has 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament (a total of 66 books).

In today’s verse quoted above, God, Yahweh, is called the Creator. Creator is translated from the Hebrew word bara, which means to create. This is a very special word in Hebrew as God is the only subject of the verb create. That is, God is the only who ever creates in the Old Testament.

The root word bara occurs 50 times in the Old Testament. The number 50 is the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:11). In the 50th year, all debts were forgiven, everyone returned to his land, and the fullness of the land was enjoyed. And, Christians are probably most familiar with the number 50 in relation to the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh in fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2. Therefore, in regards to creation and the 50 uses of bara, we understand that when the creation is complete all debts will be forgiven, the fullness of the land will be enjoyed, and the whole earth will be full of the Spirit.

Now, one would think that since Genesis 1 is the account of God’s creation and that since Genesis is the book of beginnings Genesis would have the most occurrences of the word bara. But, this is not so. In fact, bara is found most often in the book Isaiah. Therefore, we could say that book of Isaiah is the book of creation more so than the book of Genesis.

Bara is used 21 times in Isaiah. The number 21 represents a period of distress. I wrote about this in That Day Sin Was Taken Away. The number 21 is also 3 x 7. Three is the number of divine perfection while 7 is the number of spiritual perfection. Therefore, the 21 uses of bara in Isaiah show us that when creation is complete all distress is taken away and the whole creation will divinely and spiritually perfect.

In regards to the division of the book Isaiah into two halves mentioned above, it is interesting that bara occurs only one time in the first 39 chapters while the other 20 uses of bara are concentrated in the last 27 chapters of the book. Notice how this is exactly the opposite of the phrase “that day,” which speaks to the crucifixion of Jesus, that occurs 44 times in the first part of Isaiah and just once in the second.

Therefore, in a sense, we can see the first part of Isaiah continually referencing to and speaking of the crucifixion of Christ while the second part of Isaiah speaks to the result of the crucifixion. And, the result of the crucifixion is that a new creation is ushered in by the one who was crucified, Jesus. Distress will be brought to an end and the creation will be full of joy and gladness, full of the Spirit.

Indeed, the last three uses of bara in Isaiah point to just this. Isaiah 65:17-19 say, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.”

The New Testament is all about the fulfillment of these verses through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And, specifically, it is Christ crucified that it is the seed of this new creation.

And, just like in Old Testament, there is a singular word for create in the Greek that stands out above all others. The Greek word for create is ktizo. Just like bara, there is only one subject of ktizo. That subject is God. More specifically it is Jesus. Jesus is the Creator spoken of in Isaiah 40:28 at the beginning of this post.

Consider everything that I have written so far in light about what the New Testament says about Jesus and the creator and his creation.

While he does not use the word ktizo, John says in John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”

Colossians 1:15-16 says, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”

Hebrews 1:1-3 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God [Jesus, not the Bible], so that what is seen was not made of things that are visible.”

Jesus is the Creator!

Then note Jesus as the creator relates to us.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in [or by] Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:14-16 says, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

Ephesians 3:8-11 says, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ [note that in Isaiah 40:28 it says the Creator’s “understanding is unsearchable”], and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rules and authorities in heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Ephesians 4:20-24 says, “But that is not the way you learned Christ! – assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

We are created in, or by, Jesus for good works, to bring peace by becoming one new man, Jew and Gentile, to make the manifold wisdom of God, the unsearchable riches of Christ known to the rules of the world, really all creation, and to bring forth true righteousness and holiness.

The result of Jesus’ creating us is that we become the sons of God. And, it is the appearing of the sons of God, the fruit of Jesus’ creation, that brings about the end of distress and weeping that Isaiah speaks of.

Romans 8:19-24 says, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved.”

Jesus is the creator.

What is creating?

Sons of God.

Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

All of creation waits for the revealing of these sons of God. For, it is through these sons of God that Jesus’ new creation comes to completion. Therefore, when the sons of God are revealed the manifold wisdom of God will be known and there will be an end to distress and weeping. Hence a new heavens and a new earth.

Jesus is the creator!

Create in Me a Clean Heart

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 50-55

Create.

It’s the first action, the first verb, in the Bible. And, that first action is taken by God.

In the Old Testament, there are four Hebrew words that can be translated to create, make, or form. But one of these words, bara, which means to create, is used only of God. God is the only being who “bara’s.”

Interestingly, in the New Testament, there are two words that can be translated to create. But, once again, one of them, the Greek word ktizo, only has God as the subject.

We often think all of God’s creating happened in Genesis 1. But, that is not so.

Like Genesis, the Psalms state that God created all living beings, especially man. But, the Psalms begins to expand on the use of bara, revealing that creating was not something that God did only in the beginning.

In Psalm 104, the writer recounts the many works of God’s creative power, loosely parallel to the days of creation in Genesis 1. The psalm states that all of the beings God created wait on Him for their food, which also could be read as the creatures having an expectation that God will provide for them. Whatever God gives, they gather.

However, if God hides His face, that is if He doesn’t provide, then the creatures are troubled. The psalmist says the result is that God takes away their breath, they die, and they return to dust, which is reminiscent of God’s account of forming man in Genesis 2.

But, in verse 30, God sends His Spirit to create new living beings to renew the earth. In essence, God is continually creating anew to replace that which has died. God is continually creating to bring life where Satan has brought death.

Psalm 102 brings the idea of recreation closer to home though. Here we see God will create a people as opposed to creating afresh all manner of living beings to fill the face of the earth.

The psalm, written by an afflicted individual, starts with a pleading cry, begging the Lord to hear the psalmist’s prayer. Then, in great detail, the psalmist describes his affliction, his reproach by his enemies, and God’s wrath upon him.

But, the writer turns his heart to the eternal nature of God. At the set time, God will arise and have mercy on Zion so that all will see God’s glory. In verse 18, the psalmist writes that the Lord’s mercy upon Zion will be written for a future generation so “that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.”

Indeed, in 1 Peter 2:9-10, we see the fulfillment of the psalmist’s prayer. Peter says that Christians, followers of Jesus, are “a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

But, David writes about God creating even more personally in Psalm 51. The background to this psalm is a familiar story that is found 2 Samuel 11 and 12. During the time when kings went to war, David stayed back in Jerusalem. One night he awoke, went to the roof of his house, and saw Bathsheba bathing. David sent for her and committed adultery with her.

When Bathsheba became pregnant, David tried to cover up his actions. He called Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, back from the battle in an attempt to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba so that the child would appear to be his and not David’s.

When that plan failed, David sent Uriah to the hottest part of the battle and had the rest of his army retreat from Uriah so that he would be killed. Eventually, the prophet Nathan confronted David regarding his numerous sins. In the end, David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Speaking about all men, God said in Genesis 6:5 “that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

In Psalm 51, David acknowledges this fact about his own heart and pleads with God for mercy according to God’s loving kindness and the multitude of His tender mercies. In verse 10, David writes, “Create [bara] in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” David links God creating a new heart in him with renewal, just as God creating new living beings was linked with renewal, or recreation, in Psalm 104.

 

Where does this new heart come from? How is this heart created in you and me?

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.”

The Greek word for creation here is ktisis, which is the noun form of ktizo. Remember, ktizo, to create, is something that only God and Jesus do.

The new heart David cried out for is created by Jesus when we are in Christ. He gives us a new heart when see him as the son of God who laid down his life for us on the cross.

Don’t Make Me Better, Make Me New

Psalm 51 is the prayer of David after the utter and complete wickedness of his heart was revealed to him regarding his actions towards Bathsheba and Uriah. David put himself in the wrong place at the wrong time not fulfilling his duty as king, coveted another man’s wife, committed adultery with that woman, found out she was pregnant, pulled Uriah out of the battle in attempt to get him to sleep with Bathsheba so the baby wouldn’t appear to be David’s, and when that didn’t work David sent Uriah back into the most contested part of the battle, telling the rest of the army to pull away from Uriah so he would be killed.

David thought he got away with it.

However, when David knew his sin was found out, he cried out to God, confessing everything he had done. It’s in David’s cry to God that we read what I think is the critical statement of the entire psalm. Verse 10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

This word create is a special word. In the entire Old Testament, God is the only one that is ever the subject of the Hebrew word for create. God is the only one that creates. So, this is the same word used in Genesis 1:1 when it says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

David knows that he doesn’t just need to have a few things patched up, a few cracks in his life to be repaired. David knows that being a better version of his current self is not good enough. David is not asking God to make a bad man a good man.

No, David is calling on God to perform an act of creation inside of him. David is crying out to God to be completely recreated from the very center of who he is. “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” David is asking God for a complete new heart that is clean so that every thought, every desire, every motivation, and every want is entirely and utterly different than they were before. “Renew a right spirit within me.” David is asking God to make him new again. Don’t make me better, make me new. Instead of asking God to make a bad man good, David is asking God to make a dead man live!

This is what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” We become a new creation in Christ, and in Christ alone. The old dies, and the new comes. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Paul says it another way in Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

“Do not be conformed to this world.” David knew he couldn’t go on as he was. And, neither can we go on doing anything and everything the way the world around us does it. Instead, Paul says “be transformed.” That’s the Greek word we get the word metamorphosis from. It’s to be completely changed. Do you know what happens to a caterpillar when it goes inside its cocoon to become a butterfly? The caterpillar is completely dissolved. Nothing of it is left. And, do you know that it is this same Greek word used of Jesus when he was “transfigured” in front of Peter, James, and John?

How do we “be transformed?” “By the renewal of our mind.” Every thought, desire, motivation, and intention of our thoughts has to be completely and totally changed. Only then can we know what the will of God is, what is good, what is acceptable, what is perfect.

But, note how Paul makes his appeal to the church in Rome. “By the mercies of God.” How does David start his prayer in Psalm 51? “Have mercy on me, O God.” It all begins with God’s mercy. We must recognize that and cry out for it so that He can recreate us, make us new, transform from us, so that He can make dead men live.

There is much more that could be said in the connection of Psalm 51 and Romans 12:1-2, which are two excellent passages of scripture to meditate on together.

A Psalm for a People Yet to Be Created

In its title, Psalm 102 says it is a prayer of one afflicted when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord. Many psalms have this voice of the one afflicted, the one in terrible grief, the one being crushed under great persecution from his enemies, the one whose body is suffering great sickness. But, after the psalmist cries out in anguish, in almost every case he turns his eyes to the Lord and begins to declare his trust in Him.

Crying out in pain then declaring trust in the Lord is a recurring theme throughout the Bible. Think of Job when he says that though God slay him yet will he trust or hope in God. Or, Jesus in the garden, sweating drops of blood as he prays, asking if there is a way that he can avoid the cup, but saying not my will be but yours be done Father.

In Psalm 102, we read the plaintive cry of a man who sees his life is short and his end of days is near. But, in verses 12-13, he writes, “But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. You will arise and have pity on Zion [the city of God’s people].” The psalmist goes on to write the Lord builds up Zion and appears in his glory there.

But, I love what the psalmist writes in verse 18, “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.” He knows that what he and the others of his day are enduring is not just for them but for a people yet to be created.

This word create is the same as in Genesis 1 when it says that in the beginning God created the heavens and earth. Throughout the entire Bible the only subject of the Hebrew word for create (bara) is God. God is the only one that creates. And, God recorded the words of this psalmist for a people that he had not created yet. Created not in physical sense, for typically the Bible does not use the word create in a physical sense. But, a people yet to be created for a specific purpose and function, which is what God gives when he creates.

Now, that people has been created. It is made up of all believers in Jesus. Basically, the Jews believed there were two races – Jews and Gentiles. But, the early Christians saw themselves as a new race. Indeed they called themselves the third race, or the new man. They saw themselves as a new people. This is why we read in Galatians that there is neither Jew nor Gentile in Christ.

Back to the psalm. Why was this people created? To praise God! What were they to praise God for? It’s in verses 19-22:

“…that he looked down from his holy height; to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord, and in Jerusalem his praise, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.”

Let us be that people, giving praise and thanks to the Lord in all things.