The Orthodox Faith
For St Paul Orthodox Youth Society - Brisbane
By Fr. John Abdel-Karim
10 - THE CREATION OF THE WORLD
Our Orthodox faith teaches us, "I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible." God is the Creator of all of the visible and invisible world. That is to say, He is the Creator of the spiritual world (angels); the material world (the sun, the earth, the stars, and whatever exists in them); and also the world of spirit-matter (man). Everything has been created "by The Father, through The Son, in the Holy Spirit." Let us listen to what the Holy Scriptures tell us about this: "I made earth and man upon it, with My hand I founded the firmament of the Heavens, I order the course of the stars" (Isaiah, 44:24). The Psalmist and St. Paul repeat, "Thou, O Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the Heavens are the work of Thine hands" (Psalms, 102:25; Hebrews, 1:10).
Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition teach us that God created the world out of nothing. Absolutely nothing. The mother of the Maccabees says to her child, "I beseech you, my child, to look at Heaven and Earth, and see everything that is in them and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed" (II Macabees, 7:28).
She is asking her child to look at the Heaven and the Earth and to see what there is in them, and to recognize that God made them from what had not existed; that is to say, from nothing. And the New Testament tells us, "That the worlds were framed by the word of God so that things that are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Hebrews, 11:3). All phenomena were made by the word of God out of things that had not existed. Our Church and Holy Tradition assure us that God is "He Who created out of nothing."
Everything was made by the word of God alone. As we said above, from the Letter to the Hebrews, "by the Word of God" (Hebrews, 11:3). We find in other parts of the Holy Scriptures, "By the word of the Lord were the Heavens made . . .” (Psalms, 33:6). And further down in the same psalm, "For He spake and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast" (Psalms, 33:9). In the Old Testament (Genesis, 1:3-6) we read, "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light . . . Let there be a firmament . . . And it was done." And so there exists no doubt that it was only by the word of God that everything was created.
God created all of this world in six days, as it is told to us in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. But those were not days under the sun as we know such days today. How could there be days and nights inasmuch as the sun was created on the fourth day of creation? We must therefore regard those days as lengthy periods. After all, to God "a thousand years . . . are but as yesterday" (Psalms, 90:4).
Why does God call the periods of creation days? We do not know. Why did He make the Creation in six days? We do not know. God could have created everything in a moment with a single word and a single motion. He preferred this way of creation. It is His privilege. We cannot say anything about this. We must emphasize here, though, something more important. When and at what time did God create the world? We are referring to the days of creation--but when did those days begin? What is time? Did time exist before the creation of the world?
We have said in another section, that God is not subject to time. He is eternal; He is beyond time. And so we should understand that time was created together with the creation of the world. The beginning of the world becomes the beginning of time. Time and the world are synchronous.
Why, however, did God create the world? Hadn't He been happy by Himself as Trinitarian God? Did He perhaps need the world? Need us? We build a home out of the need to live in it. We make automobiles because we need them for transportation. Is it possible that God had need of the world and that is why He created it? No. It is blasphemy to believe something like that. God has no needs.
Speaking to God, David says, "O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord; my goodness extendeth not to Thee [i.e., Thou, O Lord, needeth not my goodness]" Psalms, 16:2).
Then why did God create the world? He created it out of love. He created it to make it a participant in His glory, joy, and bliss. God is not selfish. He wants His creation to have and to enjoy whatever He has. We can say that the cause of the creation of the world is God's Love. The same God Who is Perfect Love. The purpose of creation is participation in the joy, the glory, and the bliss of God.
Naturally, the creation of the world bears witness and gives praise to the Power and the Glory of God. We can even say that this is the purpose of creation; that is to say, the praising of God by His creatures. However, that is not a servant's work.
It is participation in the glory of God. The one who benefits from it is not God, but we ourselves.
Let us pray
Our Father and Creator, Who by Your Word alone and out of Love created us from nothing, we raise our voice to You humbly and respectfully. We glorify You. We thank You for creating us. For granting to us all Your earthly and material goods. We thank You for Your spiritual goods. For revealing Yourself to us. For Your Church. For Your sacraments that enable us to participate in Your Life and Glory even now as we live upon the earth. Hear our prayer. Do not deprive us of Your Heavenly Kingdom. Prepare us for "the glory that shall be revealed in
us" (Romans, 8:18).