Genesis 2: 7 “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
Not all religions have seen their gods as the makers of the world in which they live. The Greeks believed that their gods sprang to life from an eternal earth. The creation story in the Babylonian epic The Enuma Elish similarly has various gods developing out of the material of the universe already present. Then they bring order to that universe with their abilities to control certain forces of nature.
The more modern idea is to turn things completely around. Man becomes the maker of God. Atheistic anthropologists suppose that our concept of god is nothing more than a product of the human imagination, even a product of human evolution. Over time we have developed the concept to make god more and more to our liking. Now that is an idea that appeals to human pride, if there ever was one. We get to dictate to god what the rules are, the standards of morality, even whether he gets to exist. Just a few minutes pondering human depravity, cruelty, and selfishness will tell you what a frightening idea this is. Man making the rules for the god he has made is a certain recipe for disaster.
No, “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground…” God the Father is often symbolized as a hand from heaven. From what we know of creation from Genesis 1, I suppose that a giant mouth might also be an appropriate sign for our Maker, since he spoke most of the world into existence with his commands. But people, the crown of his creation, were not made by an impersonal command. The Lord formed us, like a potter working the clay between his hands, shaping it and molding it until he has something both functional and beautiful. Then he took this lifeless collection of creatively arranged dust particles, and intimately he breathed life into them.
Isn’t this picture of God’s hand forming us from the dust of the ground at one and the same time humbling and awesome? It is humbling as it puts us in our place. Our origin is nothing more than dirt. Since the fall into sin, we cannot escape the fact that someday our bodies will return to that humble origin. Indeed, the process has already begun! We are like Cinderella at the ball, and the bells on the clock are already chiming midnight, and soon, too soon, we will return to what we were before the magical transformation.
But consider the awesome power of God to turn dust into the miraculous, complex, multi-talented bodies we inhabit. Consider the awesome love of the LORD that so freely blessed us with our being. Only when his Son adopted a set of human hands for himself, and let them be pierced and made powerless to redeem us, has he shown more free and faithful love than this.
“I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,” Christians have been confessing for thousands of years. Many question this simple statement of faith in our time. But it is more than an abstract piece of theology we should fight to defend. It is evidence of God’s love that we want to believe.