Scripture Reference:  Genesis 1:1 to 2:1 (NIV)

Artists are known by their artistic output. Whether in the graphic arts, sculpture, music, theater…great art reveals a distinctive vision, which educated patrons of the arts easily recognize. The ability to render a unique vision of reality with crystalline clarity distinguishes great art from the merely pedestrian.

We can legitimately think of God as “the Great Artist”. His work displays his grand vision. In this blog post and the next two I want to investigate God’s artistic output as God describes it, in the story of creation from Genesis chapter 1.

How does the Great Artist appear in Genesis 1? First, as powerfully creative on a massive scale: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Gen 1:1  God speaks into existence the entire universe in all its vast array. (Gen 1:3; 2:1)

In addition to raw power, we also see wonderfully intri­c­ate detail, revealing the divine wisdom by which God implements his boundless creativity. God creates sky and ocean and land (Gen 1:6-10), then God populates these spaces with a wonderful variety of plants, fish, birds, animals and finally human beings. (Gen 1:11-12, 20-28)  Amazingly the elements of creation fit together perfectly in a universe that is very good. (Gen 1:31)

The creation we find at the end of Genesis 1 is beautiful, purposeful and orderly. The careful development of a self-sustaining, life-producing universe through the seven day pattern reveals God as the master planner and designer, organizing creation according to principles that allow his intelligence and artistry to control his infinite power.

Knowing God to be a Triune Being, we can discern the most fundamental principle God employs to control his creative power. I’m thinking of unity and distinction. There is one God (unity) who exists as three divine Persons (who re­main distinct, not mixed together). So we are not surprised to find that God’s one, unified creation contains innumer­able distinctions—we perceive the nature of the Artist by closely observing his work.

God’s distinctions take the form of boundaries. Boundaries define proper relations, like the relational boundaries that have eternally distinguished the three divine Persons from each other. God groups related things (like land or sea or sky) and distinguishes them from other things by boundaries is the basic principle God uses to control the divine, creative power.

God created all things, each with its own set of proper relations. God made each thing to fulfill a specific purpose or role in creation, and it must be properly linked or related to other created things in order to accomplish its divinely ordained purpose or play its role. Day is not night; land is not sea; bird is not fish; male is not female. Boundaries distinguish each thing from all others, defining its purpose, yet each is related to the others in ways that allow the flourishing of God’s creation.

The relational boundaries distinguishing the three divine Persons can never be erased, mixed or merged—they remain eternally. This quality is reflected in the Great Artist’s creation: boundaries and distinctions established by God must not be crossed. Crossing a bounda­ry of God’s divine order is transgression. When things operate outside their purpose, their proper relations get twisted, distorted—and the purposes of God are perverted. That is sin.

By its nature sin fractures and mutilates proper relations by using created things for purposes or in roles other than those God intended. God made all things good (Gen 1:31), but precisely because all things God made have particular design purposes or roles, all can be perverted—used for other purposes, in other roles.

We learn from the Genesis 1 creation story that life without boundaries is chaos (Gen 1:2).  Only God is unlimited. We creatures are limited. We fulfill our divinely ordained destiny by honoring the relations God has appointed as proper for us.

 Next time: The Greatest Boundary of All