Lesson 4 • Fourth Week
Revelation Through The Natural
Background Reading: Devotional Reading:
Psalm 29:1-11; Psalm 8:3-8; Psalm 19:1-6 Romans 1:18-20
"The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters."
Psalm 29:3 KJV
"The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters."
Psalm 29:3 NIV
Agnosticism — The view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable.
General revelation — Knowledge about God and spiritual matters, discovered through natural means.
Nature — The physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth.
Much of the emphasis of this series will be on the intermediaries God sometimes chooses to be His spokesmen to the family of believers. Information from the Lord of Creation is being imparted to the world through multiple conduits at any given time. The Word of God has primacy in telling us about His nature, and the human agents of its dissemination—namely, evangelists and preachers—have told millions about Him. Christian laity, in as much as they live godly before men, are "living epistles" disclosing the character of God by their lifestyle. And, although not as directly as through His Word and His people, the Father yet has another important device through which He can reveal Himself.
The natural world around us—the creation of God—also speaks of who He is.
In Psalm 29, the psalmist equates weather phenomena—thunder and lightning—with the veritable "voice" of the Lord. A divine utterance is attributed to the meteorological events that can split trees asunder, make the ground to tremble, and set the forest aflame. Even an unintended consequence of the storms, like startling pregnant livestock into labor, is added to the glory the psalmist is giving God. The whole of the brute force of nature becomes a testament to its Creator.
Reading this poem, it seems the poet was inspired in the midst of a singularly violent thunder storm. Testimonies of nature like this probably derive from simple observation. Psalm 8:3 certainly appears to have been written after star-gazing on a clear night. But another way to interpret these passages is to recognize that they argue that the physical world is speaking directly to us. This is the explicit statement of Psalm 19:2,3; nature is a type of 'prophet,' crying aloud to all who will listen. "He's a provider, a sustainer," the simplest food chain announces. "He's an artist," the picturesque landscapes proclaim. "He's consistently faithful," the cyclical seasons boast. "He's irresistible," the natural disasters admonish. We could never feign complete ignorance of God with this cloud of witnesses.
It was the apostle Paul that taught us the significance of these witnesses by nature. He asserted that "since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power" (Romans 1:20, NLT). This is called general revelation, and it is enough to prove "God is"; therefore, it leaves all humanity culpable for ignoring this evidence and denying the existence of the Creator. At the coming judgment, no one will be able to offer ignorance as an excuse.
Everywhere they have gone, Christian missionaries have encountered an awareness about the Lord of creation on the part of the people groups they visited. It may have been of the character of the Athenians' monument to the "Unknown God," which Paul used as grist for his testimony on Mar's Hill—that is to say, it may have been only sketchy, but there was some awareness. Atheism and agnosticism are simply willful ignorance: the conscious, sin-inspired dulling of one's own ears. Nature is such a boisterous herald of the One True God, that we cannot honestly say we missed the message.
What were the natural phenomena used to represent God's voice in the psalm?
Name some of the things about God we learn by observing the natural world.
Is all that God wants us to know about Himself revealed through nature?
Essential Thought- "A creation is always revelatory about its creator."
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