Creator vs. Maker – Bara vs. Asah.


Today’s Reading: “I believe in God, The Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”

In science, even those who claim to be unbelievers have a difficult time explaining how all of the amazing order found throughout creation came into existence without a creator. Fred Hoyle (1915-2001), well-known British astronomer, mathematician, and self-proclaimed atheist, once commented…

The chance that higher life forms might have emerged (without a master plan) is comparable to the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.

Isn’t it intriguing that whether a scientist ponders on the systematic order found within a single human cell or an astronomer analyzes the jaw-dropping photos of the stars taken by the Hubble telescope, it seemingly takes more faith to believe that all this came into existence without a creator than it does to believe that something, or someone, is behind it all?

Most of the major religions of the world subscribe to a theology called monotheism, or the belief that there is one god, or one master creator, who pulls together all the detail we find ourselves living in. As we discussed last time, The Apostles’ Creed goes one step further in defining this singular god, calling Him ‘the Father Almighty.’ Today, we explore The Creed’s second descriptive phrase…

Creator of heaven and earth.

It might be helpful here, my dear reader, to go back to the ancient book of Genesis and investigate a bit more carefully the original text. If you recall, Genesis 1: 1 states:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (NIV)

Throughout the Book of Genesis, the ancient Hebrew language uses a very unique word for our English word ‘create’ or ‘created.’ The word is bara (pronounced ba-rah) and it means to create, or form, or shape out of nothing. Another ancient Hebrew word is found throughout the Old Testament, asah (pronounced ah-sah), which means ‘to make.’ But here’s the intriguing fact. The Hebrew word bara (to create) is used exclusively for activity associated with God, while the word asah (to make) is used when describing either the work of God or, more specifically, the creative work a man can do. In other words, human beings can ‘make’ (asah), but only God can ‘create’ (bara)!

This is why the phrase, ‘Creator of heaven and earth’ is so important to both The Apostles’ Creed and the way you and I perceive the God we say we believe in. You see, only with God, can we experience a true creation…a miracle…something out of nothing. Yes, man can ‘make’ something out of something already there (asah), but only God can ‘create’ (bara), bringing life and order out of nothingness!

Which reminds me of the old joke…

One day, there was a group of scientists who were debating with each other about the literal interpretation of Genesis and the creation story. So, one doubting scientist sends an emissary to talk with God about the whole thing. He plans to entrap God by having a “life-making contest.” The wise scientist thinks that he has figured it all out and that he can clone a new life as quickly and efficiently as God can create a human being. God says to the scientist, “OK, you go first.” The scientist bends over to scoop up a handful of soil. At this point, God interjects, “Sorry, out-of-bounds. That’s my dirt. You need to go get your own!” 


My prayer: Father God, as I see it, this one little Hebrew word is a big game-changer. Not only can You asah, making something out of something like I can do, You can also bara, making something out of nothing! For me, that not only distinguishes You uniquely at the beginning of time, but it also confirms for me today that with God, the Creator of heaven and earth, nothing is impossible in and through You. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to consider: In what ways can this little Hebrew word of bara change the way I look at God and how He interacts with His creation? With nothing impossible for Him, and with His unique ability to make something out of nothing, bringing order out of chaos; how might this alter the way I react to difficulties, emptiness, or trials I might face in this life?

So, what are you experiencing today as we are Contemplating The Creed?

Over a seven-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Apostles Creed. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Creed home page for ease of use.

If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!

Click here to go on to the next session in this blog series…

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