By Robert Mayes
Genesis 1 teaches how God created the world. He spoke and things came to be. God made light, divided the water from the air, and made land, the sun, moon and stars. Then God made basically a big zoo. Finally, God made the man and woman. We notice that God makes mankind last, as the highest of His visible creation. Only mankind is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26). This suggests that the creation of mankind was the goal of creation, the end God had in mind, the intended recipients of everything else He had done.
Valerius Herberger, a Lutheran pastor from the early 1600s, wrote how creation from Gen. 1 was a gift for mankind, thus also for you. He said, “The whole world, together with all creation was to serve men, but man was to be devoted to God alone.” Modern science has shown the wisdom of this saying. There are so many things that had to happen for people to be able to live on our planet, that did happen. From temperatures people can live in, minerals, elements, water in liquid form, Earth’s magnetic core that blocks harmful UV rays, the ozone layer, topsoil, the right amount of gravity caused by just how much mass our planet has, atmosphere kept in by this gravity, plants that take in our carbon dioxide and give us oxygen to breathe, and the fact that we are a safe distance from the sun (neither freezing on the spot or burning up to ashes), we have all that is needed to sustain life. Random chance could not make all this. Everything that sustains life is all a gift from God’s fatherly mercy and goodness. All these aspects of creation serve mankind without our even knowing it most times.
THE CREATION OF MAN IN PAGAN MYTH
This understanding of creation as God’s gift is in direct contrast to how pagan cultures have viewed it. Now there are many different ancient cultures (Aztecs, Greeks, Chinese, Norse, Native Americans, east Indian, African tribes), but some similarities emerge in the creation myths that deviate from God’s Word. And all of them are united against God’s gift-giving of creation for people He loves.
Why was man created? There are three main options according to the pagan myths. First, man was created to serve a (false) god. You see this with the Greeks, the Norse, the Celts, and in some Egyptian myths.
Another reason mankind was created according to pagan myths was that he was in some way part of a (false) god or the literal children of a (false) god. You see this with the Babylonians, the Chinese, the east Indian (Hindu), the Tanzanians, and again in some Egyptian myths.
Still, other myths say that the existence of mankind is all because of some kind of cosmic accident. You see this with the Nigerians, the Boshongo/Bantu tribes (from Africa, countries of Angola and the Congo countries). Coincidentally, you also realize that man exists only by random accident in the false modern myth of macroevolution. Macroevolution claims that man somehow came about for no reason by random mutations in microbes that by freak chance ended up becoming animals, that by more freak chances ended up becoming people.
There are aspects of some pagan myths that are closer to the Bible. While these myths are still not true, pieces from the original Genesis 1-2 account stayed with the people. For example, the native American Blackfeet tribe myth said that mankind was created out of the mud (similar to Adam created from the dust of the ground, Genesis 2:7). Another example is the Japanese creation myth, that began in a lifeless, silent world and then creation came into being by sound (similar to the nothingness of Genesis 1:2 and creation coming to being by the sound of God’s Word in Genesis 1:3). But the rest of these myths are a bunch of hooey and are worthless.
THE BIBLICAL DIFFERENCE
How different is the creation account from God’s true Word! Here, God does not create people to be served. God creates people so that He can serve them. Creation is not made for the (false) god. God makes creation for His creatures, and thus for you. Likewise, creation is not part of God. There is no divine nature in creation. We are creatures, we are not God Himself. Likewise, God planned out creation. It was not a big accident.You are not an accident.
In Genesis 1:26, God not only made mankind (male and female) in His image, which is the righteous perfection from sin, death and evil. God also charged mankind to have “dominion” over the other creatures. And in Genesis 2:15, God put the man in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. The pattern is clear. God is at the top, then humanity, then creation. Idolatry messes up this pattern. Creation is put above humanity so that man might serve created things as God. This is one reason why Jeremiah 10:8 is a simple, but powerful passage: “A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine” (NKJV).
God repeats the same pattern in salvation that He established in creation. Because we lost the original righteousness because of the Fall, God sent His Son to take on the same created flesh He once made. God’s Son became man, but was without sin. God’s Son did not come to demand your service the way false gods do. Jesus says, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus gave His life for you, a fallen creature, dead in sin who cannot redeem yourself. But He paid the price completely by His shed blood. Having risen from the dead on Easter, Jesus is a new creation. By Baptism and through faith in Him, you also are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). You are not an accident. You are a creature whom God intentionally created so He might love and serve you.
Rev. Robert Mayes is the pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church and Zion St. John Lutheran Church, in Beemer and Wisner, NE.