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Biblical worldview: Purpose, judgment, and progress |
We have now given attention to the works of God in the narrative of the primordial creation and on day one. We have seen among other things lessons in initiative and communication.
In the following creation days, God demonstrates other aspects of work that apply to us as his image as well. As such, just as we are to continue thinking God’s thoughts after him, we are to work the works of God after him.
Purpose and meaning
God continues his work of taxonomy in day two. Just as he divided the light and darkness and named them on day one, now he divides the waters (above from below), and the sea and dry land, and names them all.
In these acts, God creates habitable dwelling spaces for all he will create after. These basic spaces represent a structure. There is a purposeful “expanse” or “firmament” which creates a physical and mental space for God’s image, man. There is also spiritual significance to these spaces, as God uses land, earth, mountains, rocks, seas, waters, heavens, clouds, lightning and thunder, sun, moon, stars, firmament, and more all as spiritual symbols and language when he gives revelation to mankind. As such, our work, our outlook, our vision all may have similar scope and breadth of purpose and meaning, and we ought to value them so.
Self-assessment and progress
During the third day, God for the second time in the narrative stops to examine his work and judges it “good.” He does this twice on day three. He does it six times total in six days. At the end of the sixth day, he “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31).
The word “saw” in these acts is not a mere passive glance. It is instead a purposeful gaze. It is a look designed for assessment and determination: an inspection for judgment. Each of these periodic inspections is therefore accompanied by a moral pronouncement: “good,” and finally, “very good.”
Two aspects of God’s work stand out in these instances. First, God performs his work in regular episodes over a longer period. This involves several character and business traits. This shows us that we are capable of completing large projects of great vision by breaking them into parts and into proper sequence. God obviously could have performed all of his works in one single word and moment, but he broke it into segments. Whatever his full purposes for this may be, it is in part condescension to our level in order to teach us vision and potential.
This teaching is not only about the practical side of business organization and project management, but about the necessary character traits required to make it all work. Among other things, we must have faith, appropriate fellowship and relationships with others, patience, and self-control. We must be able to understand that the day of work is part of a larger whole, moving toward a goal. We must believe that the proper input today will in fact lead us to the goal planned tomorrow. We must have the patience to get to that larger goal one day at a time. We must have the faith to provide regular input and stay on schedule. We must be able to fulfill one role among many, perform only so much work per day, and not try to work the works of others for them, micromanage, or rush ahead. All of these are integral aspects of character necessary for successful work, and not only do large projects require these things, but simple tasks break down into the same features moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour. There is truly not a moment in which a faithful person will not work the works of God after him as God has shown us, and with at least some of the proper character.
Second, God reviews and assesses his own work along the way. On the practical side, this helps us to stay on track. We must be able to see that the work of each day leads toward a larger goal. We must therefore look back on each day, or each major segment of work, and assess it for quality and progress.
God’s work, of course, is perfect, so we are hardly surprised to hear, “good,” “good,” “very good” after each pause for him. Yet even in modeling this pattern—again, at least partly for our benefit—God demonstrates a pattern of humility in self-assessment and even in submitting to assessment to begin with. Our daily and periodic reviews of both projects and general performance will often require changes, corrections, improvement, challenge, etc. This requires godly humility on our part as well, including a general vision for both the capacity and reality of self-improvement.
Following God’s works on days two and three shows us at the very least examples of purpose and self-assessment. These characteristics combine to show us both the large potential of man’s work and the meek fruit of the Spirit required for godly work: faithfulness, humility, patience, and self-control. Purpose and self-assessment are godly attributes that are integral to progress in faith and work.
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