Why Did God Create the Universe in the First Place?

It is, of course, presumptuous for man to think he could ever fully understand the mind and purposes of God. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord?” (Romans 11:34). “Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20).

On the other hand, there is no doubt that the mind of man, which itself was created by God, seems intuitively to raise such questions, and this could mean that God actually has placed these very thoughts deep in man’s heart. It is certainly true that one of man’s most fundamental needs is to have a purpose in life, to know why he was placed here and what his life is all about. The question of God’s purpose in creation is, therefore, of profound importance, and it is reasonable to believe that God would make His purpose known to those who seek it in humility and faith.

It is not presumptuous to consider this question unless one does it apart from God’s revelation through His Word. Human philosophical speculations, on such subjects as this, should be rejected out of hand, but to seek this information in the Holy Scriptures is both reverent and relevant.

For example, consider the magnificent song of testimony at the throne of God, recorded in Revelation 4:11. “Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” Here is conveyed the remarkable news that it gave pleasure to God to create the universe!

But in what way could the creation of the physical universe bring pleasure to its Creator? Certainly it was not just in the abstract contemplation of its vastness and intricacy. “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18).

His purpose in creating the earth, therefore, was that it might “be inhabited.” Its living creatures would be His pleasure.

But it was not just the wonderful ordered complexity of living things that pleased Him. “He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: He taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man” (Psalm 147:10). But, on the other hand: “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy” (Psalm 147:11).

Now we begin to glimpse the answer to our question. It was only man who was “created in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27) and who therefore could “hope in his mercy.” All other things were created for man’s use and control. “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:6).

We see, therefore, that the physical and biological creations were made for the service of man. Even angels themselves were created as “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).

It may be noted in passing that this fact points up one of the many absurdities of the evolutionary theory. Since the creation was entirely for man’s dominion, it is incredible that the Creator would have forced the earth and its other organic inhabitants to endure a five-billion-year preamble of confused and meaningless existence before its master was ever present to try to comprehend and order it.
Thus, as the Bible says: “The Lord hath made all things for Himself” (Proverbs 16:4). More directly, all things were made for man, and man for God. “I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea I have made him” (Isaiah 43:7).

Man’s chief purpose, therefore, is to glorify God and to bring Him pleasure, to “fear Him” and to “hope in His mercy.” But then here is another problem. This kind of response from man is not forced upon him by God. If it were forced, it could not be genuine. Enforced “love” is a contradiction in terms, and so are mandatory “hope” and required “faith.”

Man was consequently created with moral freedom. But freedom to love and trust God necessarily also means freedom to hate and reject God. The Creator, therefore, knew before He created man, that man would sin and thus bring the curse of death into the world (Romans 5:12). And surely the agony of the ensuing millenniums of suffering and death in a groaning creation (Romans 8:22) does not bring pleasure to God. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezekiel 33:11).

Nevertheless, God has permitted man’s age-long rebellion, because even this has its purpose in His divine economy. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain” (Psalm 76:10). God not only is Creator; He also is Redeemer. He permits the effects of man’s sin and rebellion to extend only so far and to endure only so long. Furthermore, He Himself has paid the price for man’s redemption and restoration. He has “made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself … whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20).

Any man who, despite his human sin and failure, still desires to know and love and serve God is thus now free to come and be reconciled to Him, through simple faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God is revealed to him, not only as the great Creator, but also as the loving and merciful Savior. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And here, finally, God experiences the divine pleasure for which He created the universe: Jesus said, “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:7). “He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). He, “for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).

There are those, however, who regard this divine desire for personal pleasure as unworthy of an infinite God. Some have even charged Him with selfishness and egotism, with a morbid craving for love and worship from His creatures.
God’s “pleasure” from those that “hope in His mercy,” however, is not a selfish pleasure, but is infinitely unselfish. Because He is “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10), it is His nature to be gracious. He had created man, and redeemed man for the very reason that He possesses infinite love.

After this brief interruption of an age of sin and suffering, and after He has “restored all things” (Acts 3:21; Revelation 21:5), then all who have been saved will know Him in the fullness of both His creative power and His redeeming grace. His full purpose in creation will thereafter be displayed eternally. “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, … That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4, 5, 7).

Henry M. Morris and Martin E. Clark

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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