Volume 12, No. 1 (January 2017)
“The meaning of the universe is God going public for the glory of God.”
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD,
for He comes to judge the earth. (1 Chronicles 16:33)
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
Let heaven and earth praise Him,
the seas and everything that moves in them. (Psalm 69:34)
Let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy. (Psalm 96:12)
The heavens proclaim His righteousness,
and all the peoples see His glory. (Psalm 97:6-8)
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together. (Psalm 98:7-8)
All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD,
and all Your saints shall bless You!
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and tell of Your power. (Psalm 145:10-11)
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all his angels;
praise Him, all his hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars!
Praise Him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For He commanded and they were created.
And He established them forever and ever;
He gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling His word!
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted;
His majesty is above earth and heaven. (Psalm 148:1-13)
Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary;
praise Him in His mighty heavens! (Psalm 150:1)
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD! (Psalm 150:6)
Sing to the LORD a new song,
His praise from the end of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it,
the coastlands and their inhabitants.
Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice,
the villages that Kedar inhabits;
let the habitants of Sela sing for joy,
let them shout from the top of the mountains.
Let them give glory to the LORD,
and declare His praise in the coastlands. (Isaiah 42:10-12)
Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it;
shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest,
and every tree in it!
For the LORD has redeemed Jacob,
and will be glorified in Israel. (Isaiah 44:23)
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the LORD has comforted His people
and will have compassion on His afflicted. (Isaiah 49:13)
For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12)
Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice,
for the LORD has done great things!
Fear not, you beasts of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit;
the fig tree and vine give their full yield. (Joel 2:21-22)
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)
The scope of such declaration and praise is not, however, confined to human beings and human communities. All the works of God, the whole creation, the heavenly beings praise God (Pss. 29; 69:34; 97:6; 98:7-8; 148; Isa. 42:1ff.; 44:23; 49:13; Joel 2:21ff., etc.). They even testify to God’s greatness and pass on the word in order that others may hear, praise, and worship (Pss. 19: 1-4; 97:6; 145: 10-11). The creation that is good (Gen. 1) praises the Creator whose power and glory are reflected in the creation. For all these reasons the language of praise may be viewed as the one speech that is truly primal and universal. All existence and reality is capable of praising God and does so. (Patrick Miller, “’Enthroned on the Praises of Israel’: The Praise of God in OT Theology,” Interpretation 39:10-11)
The first angel summons people from every nation and tribe and tongue to “fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come” and to “worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water” ([Revelation] 14:6-7). This “eternal gospel” recalls the vision of chapter 4 and summons the whole creation to acknowledge God as Creator and Lord of history. (David Peterson, “Worship in the Revelation to John,” The Reformed Theological Review 47:3 [Sept-Dec ’88], 71)
At [Revelation] 5:13 the climax of the throne-vision is reached as the circle of worship expands to encompass the whole creation and the doxology is addressed to both God and the Lamb, uniting the praise of God (4:9-11) and the praise of the Lamb (5:9-12) in a single hymn which anticipates the goal of God’s purpose through Christ, the universal worship in the new heaven and earth. ((Richard Bauckham, “The Worship of Jesus in Apocalyptic Christianity,” New Testament Studies 27 [1980-81] 322-341)
WE ARE TO BE THE PRIESTS OF CREATION’S PRAISE
[Christian worship] is the concrete and vicarious (or substitutionary) expression of the deep meaning and the essential attitude of the whole cosmos, which is, the expression of uninterrupted adoration of the living God by the whole of creation. (Otto Haendler, cited by J.-J. von Allmen, Worship: Its Theology and Practice, 69)
What, then, are we to say about our own place within this design? We begin by recalling the frequent declaration of the Psalmists that creation, in a myriad of ways, is endlessly praising its Creator. In all its colour, movement, subtlety, richness, diversity and splendour, it brings glory to God: “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork.” (Ps. 19:1) Our calling, I would suggest, is to articulate and extend that praise in ever fresh ways, to be “priests of creation.” In humankind, creation finds a voice; to use George Herbert’s word, each of us is invited to be a “secretary” of praise. Through the human creature, the inarticulate (though never silent) creation becomes articulate. (Jeremy Begbie, Voicing Creation’s Praise, 177)
God made men and women in His own image to be the priests of creation and to express on behalf of all creatures the praises of God. (James B. Torrance, Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace, 13)
Through God’s Grace we are called to voice for all people, for all creatures and for all creation, the praises of God and to realize our God-given destiny to be priests of Creation under Christ, our Great High Priest. (David W. Torrance, “The Word of God in Worship,” Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 1 :11)
In the cult [corporate worship] of the Church man rediscovers the purpose for which he was created: to be a royal priest, and his right to summon the whole creation to join with him in adoration and praise of the Lord. ((J.-J. von Allmen, Worship: Its Theology and Practice, 37)
God made man in His own image to be the Priest of creation, to express for all creatures the praises of God, so that through the lips of man the heavens might declare the glory of God, that we who know we are God’s creatures might worship God and in our worship gather up the worship of all creation. But nature fails of this purpose because of the failure of man. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus comes to be the Priest of Creation; to do for men what man fails to do, to offer to God the worship and the praise that we have failed to offer. (James B. Torrance, “The Place of Jesus Christ in Worship,” in Theological Foundations for Ministry, ed. Ray S. Anderson, 348)
And in and through and with Christ, we fulfill our created purpose by voicing the praises of all creation to the glory of God the Father.