In the last post we discussed God’s ability to create out of nothing. In the creation account we learn that this is just one way he fashions things. He also shows his ability, skill, and power by making things from other things. He does not create trees and plants out of nothing. He commands the earth to bring forth vegetation (Gen 1:11). He uses the raw material he has already created and from that makes these things. He does the same thing with livestock. Listen to the language in the creation account. “And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds…'” (Gen 1:24). God issues an imperative to the earth and it obeys! The earth immediately gives birth to living creatures. Not from nothing, but from the dust these come forth. God creates out of something. The same thing is true when he created us. He did not declare, “let there be humans.” He could have. Instead he molded us from the dust of the ground and then breathed life into us (Gen 2:7). We were created out of something.
Creation out of something shows us fresh things about our God. It shows his power to take from one thing and bring forth something else. It demonstrates his skill and creativity. Who would have guessed that a cow could spring up from the ground! Who could have imagined that a human being could be fashioned from the dirt! Only a brilliant and capable artist could conceive and execute such a feat. It also demonstrates a humility that will be shown again and again throughout Scripture. God loves to work through created things to bring about new creation. He certainly could have bypassed the earth to create living creatures. But he didn’t. He chose to work in and through the earth to make that happen. He is a co-worker with creation to bring about creation.
Creation out of something also teaches us some things about us. It instructs about bonds that have been forged in the created order since the beginning. There is a reason why living creatures and humans were fashioned from the ground. We were created for the earth and the earth for us. We are earth bound creatures. Our feet were meant to walk this earth, forever. This is why a new earth is our eternal destiny and not some disembodied heavenly state. This is also why birds and fish were not made from the earth. The sky is the home of the bird and the water that of the fish.
There is a lot of theology that disparages life as simple creatures on this earth. We are led to believe that spirituality is about transcending our creatureliness. We are told that the goal of this life is escape from this earth and our limitations as humans. This is simply not so. We will only know freedom when we embrace the fact that we were made in the dust and for the dust. We belong here. All the down to earth activities of living are deeply important. We need rescue from sin, not the earth. We need resurrection for our bodies, not liberation from them. We need salvation from our rebellious attempts to be gods who refuse to embrace our glorious position as creatures. We were not made for the sky. We were made for the earth. We need a Savior who will come and restore us and the dirt we come from. In Christ we have such a Rescuer—the Creator who became dirt dweller and enacted the eighth day of creation. His birth, life, death, and resurrection affirm our earthly existence and rescue us back into it.