Annotations to the Heidelberg Catechism - Lord's Day 9
Lord's Day 9
What do you believe when you say:
believe in God the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth?
That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who out of nothing created heaven and earth
and all that is in them,
and who still upholds and governs them
by His eternal counsel and providence,
is, for the sake of Christ His Son,
my God and my Father.
In Him I trust so completely
as to have no doubt
that He will provide me
with all things necessary for body and soul,
and will also turn to my good
whatever adversity He sends me
in this life of sorrow.
He is able to do so as almighty God,
and willing also as a faithful Father.
Q. & A. 26 Thou Hast Created all Things
- Gen 1:1 says: In the Beginning (i.e., when time was directed to begin) God (the Creator is the Triune God, although in this work the Father, who created all things through the Son [BC, art. 12; Ps 33:6; Jn 1:1-3] is prominent) Created (creation is that act of God's almighty will whereby he, through his Word, that is, through his Son, called all things into being out of nothing) The Heavens and the Earth (i.e., the dwelling of himself and his holy angels, and this world, and he made the two so that they should become one, as, indeed, they shall be in eternal glory).
- We do not read anything further about the creation of heaven. But God created the thousands upon thousands of angels before he created heaven and probably before he created the earth. For we read that they praised God when he formed the earth (Job 38:6-7).
The angels do not have a body as we do. Nor do they have family relationships. They also stand in another relationship to Christ, who is their Lord, but not their Redeemer. Further, they were not created in God's image. Thus they are placed lower than man. People are God's children; the angels are his servants. Scripture distinguishes archangels, seraphs, cherubs, thrones, powers, and principalities, and also names some of the angels, e.g., Gabriel and Michael.
The Ordinary task of the angels is to praise God (Isa 6:1-4) and to protect his people (Heb 1:14; Mt 18:10). Their Extraordinary task is to serve in the revelation of God (Lk 1, passim; Lk 2:9; Acts 1:10).
A number of the angels (“angel” means “messenger,” “envoy”), whom God had created good, rebelled against him in deliberate sin and fell irremediably. They became wicked angels, evil spirits. Scripture calls their leader the devil (i.e., liar, slanderer), satan (i.e., adversary), old serpent, murderer from the beginning, god of this age, etc. He works in the unbelievers and against the believers, but he is subject to God's rule and must, in God's strength, be withstood by us. It is a rich comfort that, in Christ, legions of angels fight on our side against the threat of these evil spirits.
- Of the earth, after God had created it, it was said that it was “without form and void,” an as yet unformed mass, which God prepared in six days (the first and the subsequent creation). These six days can be divided into two related groups:
1st day: light 4th day: sun, moon and stars
2nd day: firmament 5th day: fish and birds
3rd day: sea, land, trees and plants 6th day: quadrupeds and creeping animals and man.
On the seventh day God rested. It was a rest of recreation in his “finished” and “very good” work.
- Scripture does not tell us about creation so that we might know the origins of things, but so that we might know God and understand that everything is subjected to him. What a comfort this is! For the church confesses of this almighty God that he is my God and my Father for the sake of Christ his Son. Once God was the Father of man in the covenant and they were his children. However, through sin we turned away from him. But now all who believe in Christ receive again the privilege of being children (Jn 1:12).
B. Cross References
- The BC speaks, in art. 12, about the creation of all things, and in particular about the creation of the angels, a topic which the Catechism does not address directly. Note also what art. 2 says about creation.
- The six days of Gen 1 were not eras. Scripture refers to each of them as “day.” (Note also Ex 20:11).
- Gen 1 mentions only tangible things. However, this means also that God created the different aspects of things, e.g., time, number, motion, and colour, and he set his laws for them as well.
- Holy Scripture does not give any basis for the doctrine of guardian angels, as promulgated by the Roman Catholic church.
- The idea that God needed the world as object of his love.
- The idea that God became richer through his creation.
- The doctrine of pantheistic emanation.
- Spurning of material things.
- Deification of material things.
- Who is the Creator? What does “creating” mean? What did God create?
- Which “heaven” does Gen 1 refer to? Who live in it?
- Are there many angels? When were they probably created?
- In what relationship do the angels stand toward each other, toward Christ, and toward us?
- How does Scripture distinguish the angels? Give the names of two angels.
- What is the ordinary and what the extraordinary work of the angels?
- What happened to a number of the angels? What is their leader called?
- What do the devils do with respect to the unbelievers? What do they do with respect to the believers? What should we do with respect to the devils?
- In how many days did God create the earth? What did he do on the seventh day?
- Why does Scripture relate creation to us? What comfort is it to you that God is the Creator?