“Biblical Portraits of Creation” is foremost a doxology to the triune God who revealed himself as the creator of all that exists. The authors, Kaiser and Little, draw their inspiration from twelve selections of Scripture ranging from Genesis to 2 Corinthians, and provide an impressive and intriguing study about creation. Not quite a commentary on each passage, each chapter gives ode to the marvelous riches of creation and the awe-inspiring power that brought it into existence. The book is designed for small church groups to increase the literacy of Christians about creation by demonstrating the unified voice of Scripture. Kaiser has impressive credentials as a contributor to this volume which is discernible in his frequent references to ancient Near East traditions and the Hebrew language.
|K||1||Proverbs 3:19-20; 8:22-31||Before the beginning was wisdom and knowledge|
|K||2||Genesis 1||Beginnings of the known and observable universe|
|K||3||Genesis 2:4-25||God’s garden work|
|K||4||Psalm 104||Poetic recapitulation and meditation on Genesis|
|K||5||Psalms 8; 19:1-6||Heavens and earth and man’s significance|
|K||6||Psalm 29||God’s voice commands creation and mankind|
|K||7||Psalm 33:6-13||God’s word is powerful and creative|
|L||8||Psalm 148||Praise for creation and redemption|
|K||9||Job 39-39||No one can call God to question|
|L||10||Matt 1:1-17||Beginnings of new creation|
|K||11||Isaiah 65:17-25; 66:22-24||When and how of new heavens and earth|
|L||12||2 Corinthians 4:6; 5:17||Experiencing the new creation personally|
My interest in this book was two-fold. First of all, the creation account in Genesis is fundamental to any theological topic, so the author’s interpretation of the hexaëmeron is of interest to me as it bears on the creation-evolution debate, the authority of Scripture, and the historicity of Genesis 1-11. I hold that the creation occurred in the manner presented in the historical text. Secondly, the creation week is related to the Sabbath, and given the confusion the church has about the relationship of the Sabbath to the Lord’s Day, I wondered if any such application would be made.
I was concerned about the endorsement of Hugh Ross, which led me to discover that Kaiser and Ross represented an “old age” creationist viewpoint in a debate with Ken Ham and Dr. Jason Lisle in 2006. The position Kaiser takes in the debate is not stated emphatically in this volume, which holds that God indeed created the heavens and earth ex nihilo “in the beginning,” but we can’t know when that beginning took place. Since the stars and our sun and moon were not created until the fourth day in the creation week, it casts doubt in his mind that God intended for us to understand each day as a real 24-hour day. Therefore, the creation of all there is could not have transpired as described in Genesis.
Yet this viewpoint does not seem to come across within the pages of this devotional book, though he mentions “eons that had perhaps preceded him [Job] during God’s work in creation.” They seem to affirm every detail about the creation week, but the reader has to wonder if the authors even belief it took place in a week. The authors assert that the Scriptures are true when they accord to God the fact that anything exists and they affirm repetitively that evolution cannot be responsible in any fashion for the life forms presently on earth. The inclusion of Kaiser’s previously published article, “The Literary Genre of Genesis 1-11,” as an appendix might assuage possible skeptics because he concludes that the initial chapters are “historical narrative-prose, interspersed with some lists, sources, sayings, and poetic lines.”
By largely avoiding the old age versus young age controversy, this leaves the authors open to questions about their motivation for writing this book. Be that as it may, this book is very honoring to the Lord for his first work of creation and the expectation of a new heavens and earth. It does inspire reflection on God’s greatness and grace. As an aside, the authors reveal that they believe the new heavens and new earth will take place “in time” at the outset of the millennium, and that rather than being a complete replacement of all creation, will be a “limited renovation.” Hopefully, this re-creation will not happen over the course of millions of years. Since it is a limited renovation, perhaps it will be accomplished in one day instead of six.
Several poetic passages of Scripture review the reality of creation. Among them are Psalms 8, 19, 29, 33, 104, and 148. Little’s review of Psalm 104 points out that the psalmist not only glorifies God for creation but for redemption, which is a re-creation of man. It is within the context of united praise—the praise of creation itself and the praise of those redeemed—that Little embraces the idea of worship among the saints. Coupled with his conclusions in Chapter 12, that “light” characterizes the life of the redeemed in Christ, Little encourages those who know this creator-God to worship Him “every Lord’s Day as the people of God congregate communally as the capstone of God’s creation to give expression of their praise to the one and only God!”
Each section of the book was well-written and laudatory of our Lord. “Our God has not left himself without a witness, which should arrest the attention of all mortals in all nations to move from the clear indications of his work in creation and the physical order of thing to learn of his work in redemption for us as well.” The Gospel of Matthew begins with its own generational statements likening it to a new Genesis book of origins, only this time culminating in Jesus Christ. Kaiser’s reflections on Job support the sovereignty of God and weaken our knees as he concludes, “God will not allow himself to be put in the dock at the pleasure of this creatures merely to justify his actions toward them.”
Overall, this is a worthwhile book because it proclaims the glory of God in creation, his goodness in sustaining the world after the fall, and finally his grace in the promise of a new creation.