“You can’t see the forest for the trees!” That charge is leveled against one so preoccupied with details that he misses the big picture.
Misers are hoarders of money. Obsessed with obtaining and holding it for its own sake, they miss the blessings which come from spending wisely, and the greater blessings of giving (Acts 20:35).
So it is with us and this vast universe with all it contains, including this beautiful earth with the superabundance and near infinite diversity of life teeming upon it. This theater of variegated glory is often called NATURE.
Are we getting the message written in this forest of magnificent beauty? Like Dickens’ character Scrooge (before his reclamation) have we abandoned the stewardship assigned to us, merely sitting on this treasure chest so deep and wide?
Admittedly, those two questions are pregnant with presupposition. They assume that someone wrote the message, and that someone assigned the stewardship. The signers of the American Declaration of Independence recognized that Someone, for they referred not only to nature, but to nature’s God.
The point is this. When we gaze with amazement at nature but go no further than admiration of nature, we are not seeing the “forest” (God’s glory) for the trees. When we are astonished by the intricate wonders of the wisely ordered creation but are not drawn to adore and thank the Creator, we have no excuse. Those who assign purposelessness and chaos to what we all see will learn their grave error, hopefully before it is too late for that schooling to do them any good.
Theologians have given us a helpful insight. They speak of special revelation and general revelation. Special revelation is verbal. When originally given, it was often attested by mighty signs and wonders which simply made manifest God’s perpetual, utterly sovereign control over creation and its ordinary rules and processes – such as Jesus walking on water.
This special, verbal revelation is on record: we call it the holy Bible. Not all humanity has knowledge of it, although thankfully in our time those who do not are becoming an increasingly tiny minority. And it is doing the majority a lot of good.
General revelation IS given to all humanity, through the creation. In fact, the primary purpose of creation is to reveal (give revelation of) its Creator! The Bible teaches this in portions such as the 19th Psalm, a song written by King David. David begins his doxology with “…the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.”
Centuries later, the apostle Paul expounded on the purpose of general revelation. This is what he wrote to the early disciples of Christ in Rome: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…”
Imagine seeing a masterpiece painting for the first time. You see no “special revelation” in the form of a placard below the frame providing the artist’s name, nor a title for the piece, nor any other information. Would you say that the painting just popped into existence out of chaos, or that it has no meaning or purpose? Would you deny that an artist produced the masterpiece?
That is exactly what those who fail to even acknowledge nature’s God are doing when they gaze upon nature and get no further. For this they will be held culpable, despite whatever alibis they offer in the name of philosophy or science. The very purpose of the entire universe is to showcase God’s eternal and unfathomable wisdom, power, and glory. He is the owner of this wonderful Earth (Psalm 24:1 et. al.) Who made mankind its stewards. And we will give account to Him of our stewardship.