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G14. Knowing God by Observing His Creation.    [Make a Comment]

We are to know that God exists and Who God is by observing His creation.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Romans 1:18-32
What is revealed is God's anger from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who in their wickedness keep suppressing the truth; because what is known about God is plain to them, since God has made it plain to them. For ever since the creation of the universe his invisible qualities - both his eternal power and his divine nature - have been clearly seen, because they can be understood from what he has made. Therefore, they have no excuse; because, although they know who God is, they do not glorify him as God or thank him. On the contrary, they have become futile in their thinking; and their undiscerning hearts have become darkened. Claiming to be wise, they have become fools! In fact, they have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for mere images, like a mortal human being, or like birds, animals or reptiles! This is why God has given them up to the vileness of their hearts' lusts, to the shameful misuse of each other's bodies. They have exchanged the truth of God for falsehood, by worshipping and serving created things, rather than the Creator - praised be he forever. Amen. This is why God has given them up to degrading passions; so that their women exchange natural sexual relations for unnatural; and likewise the men, giving up natural relations with the opposite sex, burn with passion for one another, men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in their own persons the penalty appropriate to their perversion. In other words, since they have not considered God worth knowing, God has given them up to worthless ways of thinking; so that they do improper things. They are filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and vice; stuffed with jealousy, murder, quarrelling, dishonesty and ill-will; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God; they are insolent, arrogant and boastful; they plan evil schemes; they disobey their parents; they are brainless, faithless, heartless and ruthless. They know well enough God's righteous decree that people who do such things deserve to die; yet not only do they keep doing them, but they applaud others who do the same.

Supportive Scriptures - God is Good.

Nahum 1:7
ADONAI is good, a stronghold in time of trouble; he takes care of those who take refuge in him.

Psalm 25:8-9
ADONAI is good, and he is fair; this is why he teaches sinners the way [to live], leads the humble to do what is right and teaches the humble [to live] his way.

Psalm 86:5 (NKJ)
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Psalm 100:5
For ADONAI is good, his grace continues forever, and his faithfulness lasts through all generations.

Psalm 106:1
Give thanks to ADONAI; for he is good, for his grace continues forever. (see also, Psalm 136:1 and 1 Chronicles 16:34)

Psalm 119:68
You are good [God], and you do good; teach me your laws.

Matthew 19:17b
There is One [referring to God] who is good!

Luke 18:19
Yeshua said to him, "Why are you calling me good? No one is good but God!" (see also Matthew 19:17b and Mark 10:18)

Supportive Scriptures - God Saw That His Creation was Good.

Genesis 1:1-5 (Day 1 of Creation)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. So there was evening, and there was morning, one day.

Genesis 1:6-8 (Day 2 of Creation)
God said, "Let there be a dome in the middle of the water; let it divide the water from the water." God made the dome and divided the water under the dome from the water above the dome; that is how it was, and God called the dome Sky. So there was evening, and there was morning, a second day.

Genesis 1:9-13 (Day 3 of Creation)
God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let dry land appear," and that is how it was. God called the dry land Earth, the gathering together of the water he called Seas, and God saw that it was good. God said, "Let the earth put forth grass, seed-producing plants, and fruit trees, each yielding its own kind of seed-bearing fruit, on the earth"; and that is how it was. The earth brought forth grass, plants each yielding its own kind of seed, and trees each producing its own kind of seed-bearing fruit; and God saw that it was good. So there was evening, and there was morning, a third day.

Genesis 1:14-19 (Day 4 of Creation)
God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to divide the day from the night; let them be for signs, seasons, days and years; and let them be for lights in the dome of the sky to give light to the earth"; and that is how it was. God made the two great lights - the larger light to rule the day and the smaller light to rule the night - and the stars. God put them in the dome of the sky to give light to the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. So there was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day.

Genesis 1:20-23 (Day 5 of Creation)
God said, "Let the water swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open dome of the sky." God created the great sea creatures and every living thing that creeps, so that the water swarmed with all kinds of them, and there was every kind of winged bird; and God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful, multiply and fill the water of the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." So there was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day.

Genesis 1:24-31 (Day 6 of Creation)
God said, "Let the earth bring forth each kind of living creature - each kind of livestock, crawling animal and wild beast"; and that is how it was. God made each kind of wild beast, each kind of livestock and every kind of animal that crawls along the ground; and God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, in the likeness of ourselves; and let them rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the animals, and over all the earth, and over every crawling creature that crawls on the earth." So God created humankind in his own image; in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. God blessed them: God said to them, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air and every living creature that crawls on the earth." Then God said, "Here! Throughout the whole earth I am giving you as food every seed-bearing plant and every tree with seed-bearing fruit. And to every wild animal, bird in the air and creature crawling on the earth, in which there is a living soul, I am giving as food every kind of green plant." And that is how it was. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good. So there was evening, and there was morning, a sixth day.

1 Timothy 4:4-5
For everything created by God is good, and nothing received with thanksgiving needs to be rejected, because the word of God and prayer make it holy.

James 1:17-18
Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father who made the heavenly lights; with him there is neither variation nor darkness caused by turning. Having made his decision, he gave birth to us through a Word that can be relied upon, in order that we should be a kind of firstfruits of all that he created.


Romans 1:19-20 says that godless and wicked people are without excuse for not knowing God because God's qualities (His eternal power and divine nature) are clearly seen in "what He has made". What He has made is another way of saying His creation. I am assuming that no one reading this Mitzvah is in the category of being godless and wicked or he would not very likely be reading it, so I will address my following remarks to those who are not yet convinced about God's existence, and to the rest of us who already know Him, want more of Him, and aspire to His virtues.

Since what can be known about God (His existence and His nature) are there for all to see by observing His creation, then we are remiss if we do not seek to observe His creation at every opportunity. But how can Romans 1:19-20 make such a sweeping statement - that everyone, everywhere, can know about God merely by observing His creation? If we were to point to some item of God's creation and ask a typical unbeliever to explain how it could have come about without God, he would very likely respond with the Darwinism he had been taught - that it came about from organic compounds in the oceans that combined and, through natural selection, evolved to its present state. Now to me, the logic of that happening is so implausible as to defy imagination, but not to a person who has been taught that, and that has not yet had a personal encounter with God.

I would fare no better were I to show the unbeliever what the Bible says about God because unbelievers do not believe the Bible either. Now the negative picture I have painted does not mean that I should not try, because (1) it is my obligation under the instruction of Matthew 28:16-20, and (2) the Holy Spirit might anoint my words and make Himself known to the unbeliever at that moment or thereafter, and that, of course, will make all the difference. But whether I see it happen or not, I have an obligation to bring the truth of God (including the salvation brought by Yeshua) to the unbeliever at every opportunity. Although I cannot predict when God will come to him, I can nevertheless bring him face-to-face with God through speaking the words of Scripture, and through an effective presentation of God's creation.

But what is an effective presentation? I previously hypothesized an unbeliever who rejected the idea of God's existence even after I showed him something of God's creation and challenged him to explain by logic how it could have come about without God. So, that is not the approach I recommend. The approach I recommend is to show Him God's creation in nature, and draw his attention to its goodness and beauty. Ask him: "Do you see beauty in this tree?" "Do you see beauty in this other tree?" "Do you see beauty in all of these trees?" How come? They are all shaped differently, yet they are all picture-beautiful, and there is nothing about their beauty that has anything to do with their survivability. The unbeliever will admit to seeing beauty in the trees I show him because we, being part of God's creation and having been made in His image, have an instinctive understanding of goodness and beauty. There is no logic to it and there is no usefulness to it. Trees would be just as functional in adding oxygen to the environment, just as useful to nesting birds, and just as survivable in a forest crowded by other trees, if they were ugly instead of beautiful. Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection does not explain why the natural world is filled with beauty, and the truth of that will not be lost on the unbeliever.

But we ought not to consider this Mitzvah to be only for the unbeliever, because the rest of us (who already know Him) want to (and have a need to) regularly encounter Him, and one of the ways is to observe and contemplate what He has made - His creation, that God Himself said was very good.

You have no doubt noticed that, in speaking of God's creation, I have associated goodness with beauty, and have shown you how relying on the beauty of God's creation can impress an unbeliever and bring him to the place of considering the existence of God and Messiah. Genesis 1:1-31 says that God saw, on five of the six days of creation, that what He had made was "good," and the Hebrew words used for "good" in all five are "ki-tov". Now although "tov" is very often translated as "good", it is not the only possibility and, in fact the word (and concept of) "good" is quite hard to define. What, for example comprises that which is good? The way something looks? The way it feels? The way it tastes? The way it works? When we consult the prestigious Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew Lexicon1 for the definition of "tov", we get all of these possibilities: (1) good; (2) pleasing; (3) delightful; (4) delicious; sweet or savory; (5) pure and clean; (6) cheerful; (7) happy; (8) glad; (9) joyful; (10) kind; (11) acceptable; (12) vigorous; (13) excellent; (14) fair; and (15) beautiful. It is this last definition - "beautiful" - that I suggest is a better translation of "tov" in Genesis 1:1-31, because then the verses of Genesis read:

On day 1 God created light, and "God saw that the light was beautiful."

On day 2 God separated sky from water, and on day 3 He created land, the seas, grass, plants, fruit trees and seed-bearing fruit, and "God saw that it was beautiful."

On day 4 God created day and night, seasons, days, years, the sun, the moon and the stars, and "God saw that it was beautiful."

On day 5 God created swimming creatures, birds, sea creatures and creeping creatures, all of which could reproduce, and "God saw that it was beautiful."

On day 6 God created other living creatures, livestock, crawling animals, wild beasts, and man, and "God saw that it was beautiful."

Finally, at the end of day 6, just before He rested on the Shabbat, "God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very beautiful."

Now perhaps you are thinking that substituting "beautiful" for "good" as a translation of "tov" is forcing it to suit the purposes of this Mitzvah. Not So! Here are three occurrences in Genesis where a derivative of "tov" is translated as "beautiful" or "attractive" in the NKJ, NIV, NAS, and yes, even in the Jewish Publication Society's TNK.2 In the CJB:

Genesis 6:2: "... the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were attractive" The Hebrew word used for "attractive" is "ki-tovat".

Genesis 24:16: "The girl was very beautiful," The Hebrew word used for "beautiful" is "tovat".

Genesis 26:7: "After all, she is a beautiful woman." The Hebrew word used for "beautiful" is "ki-tovat".

It is similar in many other Scriptures; for example, in Esther 1:11, the word for "beautiful" is "ki-tovat". In Daniel 1:4, it is "v'tovei," in 1 Samuel 9:2 its first occurrence is "v'tov," further in the verse it is "tov," and in 2 Samuel 11:2 the Hebrew word is "tovat". All variations of "tov", and all translated "beautiful". If we use it in Psalm 106:1, we get:

Give thanks to ADONAI; for he is beautiful, for his grace continues forever.

Not bad - in fact, beautiful!

1. New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew & English Lexicon of the Old Testament, pp. 373-376, (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers 1979).

2. 1985 JPS Tanakh.

Classical Commentators

This Mitzvah is not addressed by any of the classical commentators.


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