I am grateful that Bex is urging us to get more deeply into the Bible. As our namesake “Big Bible” indicates, we want to occupy online space with theological interactions over Christian Scripture. The biblical book on the table for this month is Genesis.
In spite of how ancient these bewildering and beautiful texts are, the Old Testament actually has a lot to say about media and media-related themes. In Genesis 1-2 we find that there is such a thing as “the media of God,” what I call “TheoMedia.” And the media of God includes the created realm.
Creation is God’s self-expressive artistry. His character and wonder are placed on display through the physical and visual media of the trees, the sea, the wind and the fluttering of wings. Throughout Scripture we find biblical writers acknowledging Creation as a means of God’s self-disclosure:
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handowork (Ps 19:1).
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made (Rom 1:20).
So here is a question: Of all the media to which we pay attention each day, how attentive are we to the divine media of Creation? God put on a wondrous sunrise the morning I wrote this post. Were we watching? The birdsong was lovely. Were we listening? We do a lot of watching and listening in our media-saturated culture. But no media are more saturating than that of the sky, the soil, the tree-rimmed horizons and the grassy hillsides. Creation is all-encompassing. Yet our ears and eyes are often tuned in to other sounds or affixed to other sights. When my kids get upset that the sun is casting a glare on the TV screen and messing up family movie night, then maybe I should turn the telly off and gather everyone outside to see the golden blaze of a western starset. Let the one who has ears to hear and eyes to see, listen and look—God is placing himself on display “in the things that have been made.”
But what about tsunamis? What about earthquakes? Does the eye of God glare angrily through the eye of hurricanes and typhoons? Are floods some form of divine communication? We know from the Old Testament that natural disasters are sometimes more supernatural than natural—God himself is identified as their source. But not always. The wind and fire that brought doom on Job’s children and household was not from God. And Elijah found on Horeb that God was “not in the wind,” and “not in the earthquake,” and “not in the fire” (see 1 Kings 19:11–12). Jesus warned against making direct connections between calamity and the divine will (see Luke 13:1–5). What we have to recognize is that Creation needs salvation. The created realm is a vast mélange of divine media, but it has been distorted and twisted in some way by the sin of human beings. Sometimes, the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). But sometimes, the sky is groaning for redemption (Rom 8:22). So the multi-media sights and sounds, tastes and smells of Creation must be carefully interpreted. If we are paying attention, carefully heeding the TheoMedia of God’s creative artistry, then we will notice not only profound glimpses of his beauty, but the evidence that the entire cosmos awaits the return of his Son for final salvation.