Man’s dominion over the creatures proceeded from his relationship with the Lord Who gave him that dominion. It is not enough to say that man’s relationship to God was primary and his relationship to the other creatures secondary. Rather, how man conducts himself in the creation is to display him as being made in God’s image. And this is a duty that man fulfills in knowledge and love to the Creator Who charged him with it.
As I sit down to write this article, I’m in the midst of preparing to preach Romans 8:19–22 in our congregation’s midweek prayer meeting. It’s an amazing passage that reminds us of what creation was originally supposed to display about God, and about His image-bearers. But it also reminds us that the fallen creation is subjected not to death-pangs but birth-pangs, as it labors and groans forward to the resurrection of God’s children for a new heavens and new earth.
The fourth chapter of our Confession is just two little paragraphs that capture this reality about the creation: it manifests God’s glory (4.1) with His image-bearers as the special manifestation of that glory (4.2).
Manifesting God’s Glory
“It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”
Just as God decreed because it pleased Him, and elected because it pleased Him, so also now He created because it pleased Him. He is God. He is under obligation to none but Himself. And this, too—the adoration, fellowship, and pleasure within the Godhead—is captured in this phrase. For this was a triune pleasure to engage in a triune work.
“for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness,”
The previous clause implies what this clause plainly states: God is ultimate. Creation is not about the creature; it is about the Creator. His power, wisdom, and goodness are essential to Him—necessary characteristics of His essence. Creating does not add these to Him; it is a display that He is like this in Himself. Creating is about displaying His glory.
“in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible,”
God being eternal, the beginning comes when He creates. There is nothing, not even time. Then He creates; He makes of nothing. He alone is uncreated, and nothing else at all is Creator. When man treats matter as if it is so ancient that being or existence are of its essence, sinners are attributing Creator-glory to the creature. But when the Scriptures repeatedly emphasize that at this beginning Jesus was there, creating, they are declaring that He Himself is the Creator, the living God (cf. Jn 1:1–3; Col 1:15–17; Heb 1:1–2).
“in the space of six days; and all very good.”
Here is an important connection between God and man. God is outside of time and infinite in power. He can create in an instant. Yet, He chooses to do so in the space of six days. Why?