From: Robert Schneider (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Oct 21 2002 - 08:27:51 EDT
Here is the second of my meditations on the Creation.
Meditations for the Creation Season
Robert J. Schneider
St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Boone, NC
October 27, 2002
II. WISDOM: GOD'S AGENT IN CREATION
The Psalmist declares (104:24):
O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all:
The earth is full of your creatures.
In these words, this inspired poet sets forth a theme found in many places
in the Hebrew Scriptures: in wisdom has God brought this marvelous universe
into being. So central to the notion of creation is wisdom that she has
been personified: she is in Hebrew Hokma, in the Greek texts Sophia. Some
scholars have spoken of her as "the feminine face of God."
The Bible describes Wisdom as an expression of God's own nature.
God is the source of all wisdom (Prov. 2:8), and wisdom is one of the most
important of God's gifts to humankind (Prov. 8:11-12). Specifically, Wisdom
's role in creation is highlighted in key passages. In the book of Proverbs
Wisdom is personified and praised as God's agent and assistant:
The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth..
When he established the heavens I was there.,
When he marked out the foundation of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always.. (8:22-23, 29-30)
In the Book of Ecclesiasticus (Apocrypha), Jesus the son of Sirach also
I came forth from the mouth of the Most High,
And covered the earth like a mist.
I dwelt in the highest heavens;
And my throne was a pillar of cloud.
Alone I compassed the vault of heaven
And traversed the depths of the abyss..
Before the ages, in the beginning, he created me,
And for all the ages I shall not cease to be (Sir. 24:3-5, 9).
Wisdom alone knows the whole creation intimately. So also declared
the author of Job: in the magnificent love song to the creation in Job
38-41, God reminds Job that only God's wisdom knows the creation in its
entirety and in all its parts; human knowledge and understanding is limited.
Whatever human beings are able to comprehend about the creation, wisdom
teaches them, as the apocryphal Book of Wisdom declares (Wis. 7:22). The
author goes on to name her qualities:
There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique,
All-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all
For she is a breath of the power of God,
and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;
Therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.
for she is a reflection of eternal light,
and a spotless mirror of the working of God,
and an image of his goodness (7:22-26).
Given the marvelous creatures that inhabited the world of the
ancient Hebrews-the Pleiades and Orion and all the panoply of stars (Amos
5:8), the sun like a giant running its course (Ps. 19:5), the many beasts of
the wilderness (Job 38-41), the snow-capped peak of Mt. Hermon (Sir. 24:13),
the magnificent vista of the Jordan from the heights of Mt. Zion, the
awesome desert landscapes, the hills and plains of Canaan flowing with milk
and honey (Exod. 13:5)-it is no wonder that the biblical writers were
inspired to praise God's Wisdom, and speak of her in the same personifying
language with which they spoke of the Holy One. Through their emphasis on
the role of divine Wisdom in the creation, the biblical writers imply the
creation's intrinsic goodness and value and purposefulness.
One cannot read the many passages in the Old Testament about the
creation without realizing that in the visionary poetry of the biblical
writers all creatures rejoice in and praise their wise Maker. In Ps.148,
the Psalmist eloquently calls upon every element of the creation-sun and
moon, fire and hail, snow and frost, creeping things and flying fowl, every
thing that has breath--to praise the Lord. The biblical writers live in a
world whose every creature is alive to the presence of its Creator and
rejoices at God's manifestations. "The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament shows his handiwork" (Ps. 19:1). At the coming of the
Lord, the morning stars sing together (Job 38:7), the mountains skip like
rams (Ps. 114:4), and the trees of the field clap their hands (Isa. 56:12).
Our vision of the universe is much more expansive than those
inspired Israelites: we have even more reason to gaze with admiration upon
the creation that Divine Wisdom has wrought. We can call upon galaxies and
supernovae, upon the amazing celestial furnaces in which stars are born,
upon the all of the astonishing array of creatures we are bound together
with in this intricate web of life four billion years old-we can call upon
all this creation to join us in praising our Creator.
Readings: Proverbs 8:22-31; Sirach 24:1-7; Wisdom 7:15-8:1; Psalms 136;
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