God and Ruin Alone; and God Triumphant

The great fact that stares us in the face on all hands is that God is not known, yet nothing can be clearer to a reader of the Bible than that God desires to be known, and that He has taken infinite pains in order that He may be known. The gospel now is the setting forth of God.

God has from the first of Genesis been making Himself known, and He is now fully declared in Christ. God is first presented to us in the Bible in view of ruin, and what we know of God in that relation is (however it occurred) that He is superior to it!

We see that twice in the record of the Bible God has been, found alone and face to face with ruin. The first occasion was Genesis 1, when "the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep."

Now the earth was not created in that state. The first verse says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," and it would be folly for anyone to suppose that it came from God's hand as we find it in verse 2. It would deny all that we know of God as a God of order. (1 Cor. 14:33.) No, it had fallen (how, we do not know) into the state of verse 2 at some time subsequent to its creation in verse 1. Chaos was there, but Isaiah says "He created it not in vain," or, as it may be read, "in chaos." (Isaiah 45:18.)

A state of ruin then was before God, and God we see was intensely interested in it. "And the Spirit of God moved upon [brooded or hovered over] the face of the waters." We can see why this was so, It was in view of Christ. If all things were created "by Him," all things also were created "for Him." God had Christ before Him.

We learn then that God is adequate when ruin is before Him, and nothing else; that is, that ruin does not shut up God. This is how God first comes before me in the Bible. In His presence all the ruin has fled. Consequently out of all that ruin, beauty, and nothing but beauty, came. God's resources are seen to be in Himself, and this I see to be worthy of the Supreme Being. "And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good." This is the language which closes the first day of ruin. Ruin must succumb to God, and thus God is making Himself known in Genesis 1.

Now we come to another day of ruin and to another appearance of God on the earth. And again we see that God and the ruin have met, and again the same story is repeated. God came into this world in the person of Christ (John 1:1-10), only to find that there was nothing here agreeable to Him. The whole scene was one heaving, tumultuous chaos, with God shut out. "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not." Man was not created in that state. But if God comes into it - if the Spirit of God broods and hovers over it - it is in view of what God is about to do. And His Spirit is at the beginning of His work here as there, and in every soul. We have before us the dawn of the new creation, and God not frustrated by all that Satan has done to overthrow the first creation, and to bring in moral and physical ruin upon it all. This is the great lesson: God is superior to all the ruin, or He could not be God. Death closes up man's history, and in the person of Christ on the cross God forsakes man, an utter ruin before Him. But then He takes Christ out of death, "for it was not possible that He should be holden of it," and in Him we have a new creation for God. He is "the beginning of the creation of God." All the ruin and darkness (moral darkness) was there at the cross - all that sin was before Him - and all that Satan had done, and Satan too who did it - ruin, and nothing else, is seen there, and God the active agent in it! The consequence is that ruin must disappear for God, so that beauty, and complacency in it, may remain for Him. And this has come to pass, and it is all stable because it is all of God, and all in Christ.

For us individually it is a good thing that we have come to God's estimate of ruin (Romans 3), nor only this, but that we keep it before us that, in nature's working, chaos and ruin are all that are found in man, i.e. nothing for God. All that does now, or ever will, delight the heart of God in anyone, God has formed for Himself, and God has produced, "that no flesh should glory in His presence."

"But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord." (1 Cor. 1.)

I add one word more. Who shall estimate the work of God, the saints in the value of the cross of Christ? What human language could attempt to portray it - this new creation - brought home so close to us as it is by this language of the Spirit of God Himself? "But OF HIM are ye in Christ Jesus"! God and the ruin were once alone, and now God only is left. God triumphant! May we live in the daily joy of being now brought to Him.

H. C. Anstey.