“And God said, ‘Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.'”
“Here again is a further proof of the divine authority and majesty of this book, in that it sets before us under such various forms that power of God by which he created all things, beyond the conception of all reason and understanding. Who for instance could ever have thought, that out of water a nature could be produced, which should by no means endure water? But the Word of God speaks, and in a moment out of water are created birds. If therefore the Word of God but sound, all things are immediately possible; and out of the same water shall be formed either fishes or birds. Every bird therefore and every fish is nothing more or less than a word of divine grammar or language; by which grammar all things, otherwise impossible, immediately become possible and easy.”
“These divine things are thus written and ought to be diligently observed, studied and known by us, that we might learn to admire and adore the power of the Divine Majesty; and that we might edify and strengthen our faith from all these marvellous creation works of God! For if one could raise the dead it would be nothing in comparison to this wonderful work; that a bird was created in a moment out of water! But the reason we do not day by day and continually wonder at these things, is because by our having seen them always before us, they have lost their wonder in our eyes. If however one does but believe these things, he is compelled at once to wonder at them. And that wonder gradually confirms his faith.”
“For if God can form a mass of water, call forth and create the heaven and its stars, each one of which equals or exceeds the earth itself in magnitude; if God can, from a small drop of water, create the sun and the moon, can he not defend my poor body against all enemies and against Satan himself? Can he not after that poor body is laid in the tomb raise it again to another and a new life? Wherefore we are to learn from this book of Genesis the power of God; that we may accustom ourselves to doubt nothing that God promises in his Word! For, in this glorious and marvellous creation work is laid a confirmation of our faith in all the promises of God; that there is nothing so difficult, nothing so impossible, which God cannot do and perfect by his Word. For all this is here proved by God’s creation of the heaven, earth, sea and all that is in them.”
Martin Luther. Luther on the Creation: A Critical and Devotional Commentary on Genesis [1-3] (Kindle Locations 1926-1945).
“And God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.’ And it was so.”
“This peculiar care of God over us and for us even before we were created, may be contemplated rightly and with great benefit to our souls, but all conjectures, reasonings and arguments upon the great subject of the creation are uncertain and fruitless. The same care for us is manifest in his spiritual gifts. For long before we are converted to faith Christ, our Redeemer, rose and ascended above, and is now in the house of his Father preparing mansions for us; that when we arrive there we may find heaven furnished with everything that can complete our joy. Adam therefore not yet created was much less able to think of his future good than even we are, for he as yet had no existence at all. Whereas we continually hear all these things from the Word of God, as promised to us. Let us look at this first creation of the world therefore as a type and figure of the world to come, and thereby let us learn the exceeding goodness of God, who thus benefits, blesses and enriches us, even before we are capable of thinking for ourselves. This solicitude, care, liberality and beneficence of God, both for our present and future life, are matters more becoming us to contemplate and admire than it is to enter upon speculations and conjectures as to the reason why God began to ornament the earth on the third day. Let these observations suffice concerning the work of the third day in which a house was built and furnished for man.”
Martin Luther. Luther on the Creation: A Critical and Devotional Commentary on Genesis [1-3] (Kindle Locations 1699-1709).
“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.”
“Job, the 38th chapter, and the 104th Psalm bear witness that, although the sea is higher than the earth and is limited by no boundaries of its own, yet it cannot pass its boundaries appointed of God. For the earth, being the center of the world, would naturally be submerged and covered with the sea. But God keeps back the sea by his Word and thus makes the plane of the earth stand forth out of the waters. Hence it is by the power of God that the waters are prevented from rushing in upon us. God therefore performs for us to this day and will do so to the end of the world, the same miracle which he wrought for the children of Israel in the Red Sea, Ex. 14:21-22. But he made a special manifestation of his power by working the mighty miracle on that occasion, to the intent that he might bind that people, who were few in number, the more devotedly to his worship. And what else is this our life upon earth, but a passage through the Red Sea, where the high and threatening walls of water stand up on each side of us? For it is most certainly true that the sea is much higher than the earth. God therefore to this day commands the waters to hang suspended and holds them up by his Word that they may not break in upon us, as they burst in upon the world at the deluge. Sometimes however signs of God’s power are still manifested, whole islands perish under the waters, whereby God shows that the mighty water is still in his hands, and that it is with Him either to hold it fast or to let it rush in upon the wicked and the ungrateful.”
Martin Luther. Luther on the Creation: A Critical and Devotional Commentary on Genesis [1-3] (Kindle Locations 1595-1598).
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
“Here therefore Moses sets before us the medium and instrument which God used in performing his works, namely the Word… And what is this Word and what does it do? Hear Moses. The light, says he, as yet was not; but the darkness out of its nothing-state is changed into that most excellent creature, light. By what? By the Word. Therefore, ‘in the beginning’ and before every creature is the Word; and it is so powerful that out of nothing it makes all things.”
“This Word was God, and was an omnipotent Word, spoken in the divine essence. No one heard this Word uttered but God himself; that is, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. While it was uttered the light was generated; not out of the material of the Word nor out of the material of the speaker, but out of darkness itself.”
“Here we are to be admonished that the words, ‘Let there be light,’ are the words of God and not of Moses; that is, that they are realities, facts, works! For God ‘calleth those things that be not as though they were;’ and God speaks not grammatical words but very and substantial things. So that what with US is sounding voice, is with God a substantial thing, a reality! Thus, the sun, the moon, the heaven, the earth, Peter, Paul, you, and I, are all and each, words of God! Yea, we are single syllables or single letters as it were of and in comparison to the whole creation. We also speak, but we can only speak grammatically, or in letters. That is we give names to created things, etc. But divine grammar is quite another thing! When God says, ‘Shine thou sun,’ the sun immediately exists and shines forth. Thus the words of God are things, not mere words!”
Martin Luther on the Creation: A Critical and Devotional Commentary on Genesis [1-3] (Kindle Locations 1164-1168, 1207-1210, 1271-1278).
Martin Luther devoted the last ten years of his life to the book of Genesis. In his two volume commentary we have the fruit of his final decade of study and teaching. When he first started studying the book he stated, “this exposition I shall pore over and die over.” I am thankful that he gave himself to this task. I have found these commentaries to be a rich source of insight and comfort. When I read Luther I feel like I am sitting under a seasoned pastor who knows me well. He never misses an opportunity to press the good news of God into my soul. He delights to apply the gospel to roaring consciences and fearful hearts. He is constant in affirming our right standing with the Father through Christ. He is a pastor before he is a commentator, which is exactly why his treatment of Genesis is so helpful.
Basil Faber said this of Luther’s treatment of Genesis. “The expositions of his ‘beloved Genesis,’ as he delighted to call it, are a key or paragon to all his other writings and books, and a very rich treasure in which an excellent theology is gathered and formulated, as every diligent reader will find for himself.” Faber thought that this work was the crown of all Luther’s work. In his view it brought together all the strands of his theology. The book is filled with theological riches. In the next few posts I will share with you some of these gems from Luther’s work. I will focus on Genesis 1-3. I know you will be encouraged and helped.
What do you think about despair in the life of a believer? Does it have a place? Does it play a role? Is there any redeeming value in such a dark emotion? I know there are mixed opinions on this topic. Check out this text from 2 Corinthians and let me know your thoughts about these verses and the questions above.
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).