Father, Creator or Rule-Maker ... Which comes first?

At the core of God's identity, we discover that God is the Father-Son-Spirit God. This is the God that Jesus revealed to us. This is the God in whose name we get baptized. This is the God we worship and serve and follow.

But I've recently found myself wondering why the Bible doesn't start with stories that highlight this identity of God. If all you had was Genesis 1 and you wanted to describe God, you'd call him Creator or Rule-Maker. And although both of those are facets of Fatherhood, I don't know that you'd get to "Father" very easily or naturally.

I wrestled with this as I prepared to teach my Systematic Theology class this month. If God is the Creator and the Rule-Maker primarily, how much room is left for him to be Father? Why doesn't the Genesis put the Father stuff up front?

My answer came from a strange direction. This winter, Alex and I preached and wrote devotionals and small group questions out of Exodus. We dug into the story of God's rescue of his people and reflected on how this story was told. And this helped me untangle my Father-Creator-Rule-Maker puzzle.

Moses and his scribes sat down and recorded the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) while the people of Israel wandered in the desert on the other side of the great exodus. Day-by-day God fed them with manna from heaven. Mile-by-mile God kept their shoes and clothes from wearing out. To their left and to their right, God kept them safe from armies and tribes that would destroy them.

When Moses and his scribes sat down and wrote about the Creator and Rule-Maker, they were writing to folks who already knew God as Father. Creator and Rule-Maker shaped the way these folks understood what it meant for God to be Father. He's not just a doting Father who gives us everything we want ... he's a Rule-Maker who gives us boundaries for our good. He's not just our Father ... he's a Creator who made all and who's involved with people of every ethnicity and culture. Our Father is the Creator and Rule-Maker.

This is my biggest, most recent theological insight. What's yours?

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