Bible study: Variety of life
The Bible repeatedly celebrates the variety and beauty of creation, from Genesis 1 where ‘God saw that it was good’, through to Revelation where four creatures representing nature’s diversity – birds, humans, wild and domestic animals – worship the Lord (Revelation 4:6–8).
Read through Psalm 104, slowly and thoughtfully. What are the images that come to mind when you read it? Hold these images in your head for a moment and praise God for his diverse and beautiful creation.
The psalm speaks of God’s majesty and power. It also reveals to us our place in the world and reminds us of our responsibility to look after all that God has made.
God’s greatness, splendour, wisdom and majesty are revealed in the design and shaping of a huge and varied universe. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands’ (Psalm 19:1).
As we spend time enjoying God’s amazing creation, our wonder turns to praise and we are inspired to worship the creator of all things (Psalm 104:33–34).
‘May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works’ (Psalm 104:31).
As God delights in all he has made, he creates the conditions for all of creation to flourish. He designs the foundations and boundaries of the earth (Psalm 104:2–9) and provides everything that is essential for life: water, food and shelter (Psalm 104:10–21).
His motivation is love. Psalm 36:5–6 says, ‘Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.’
God is not remote, but active. Acts 17:28 says, ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’. God provides for all life, including humanity, through the life-giving power of his Spirit (Psalm 104:30).
Humans are part of God’s diverse world, not separate from it. We are among the ‘creatures’ the earth is full of (Psalm 104:11–24). Our welfare is tightly bound together with the welfare of other species.
We are also called apart for a special role within creation. We are made in the image of God and we have a duty to look after and care for all that God has made (Genesis 1:26–28; Psalm 8).
These are two equal truths to be held in balance. If we fail to understand that we are part of creation, we might put ourselves above it and abuse it. If we do not understand our special calling within creation, we may see ourselves as incapable of making any positive difference.
Questions for group discussion or personal reflection
- Why did God create the world?
- Why do you think there is so much variety in the natural world?
- How can we live in a way that reflects God’s desire for all creation to flourish? Is there anything that we need to do differently?
Adapted from an A Rocha Bible study called ‘What a wildly wonderful world’. Used with permission.