"Natural" Analogies Illustrate God

God organized nature in certain ways to teach us about who he is. Specifically, the reason I'm writing this post is thinking about the contrast between light and darkness. I meditated a bit on this idea in a previous post, but here I want to consider that God is the one who invented light and it's counterpart, darkness, for a reason. Such inventions illuminate (pun intended) brilliantly (pun intended again) who he is compared to what evil is like, contrasting God's glory and sin, his perfection and our corruption. God intended this as he is the one who designed atoms, light, darkness, and our retinas this way so that we might understand Reality better. In nature, we see that light cannot defeat darkness, but darkness is the opposite and absence of light, that just as our sin and evil "cannot overcome the darkness" (John 1:5), still the darkness is a real and potent reality as the absence of light.

In sum, God is the one who structured nature to illustrate. With light and darkness, he created these with this reality of his goodness contrasted with evil in mind. That's the point, and it's a fascinating idea to think about.

A Mistaken Presupposition We Often Have

Now, before you think this is too extreme, we should realize a mistaken presupposition we often have: We often assume that something—such as light and darkness—exists in nature first, and then God (in his word) decides to take these up natural occurrences as analogies. We assume nature is primary, and then God's usage of nature comes second. 

But isn't this backward logic? God existed first, with his unsearchable intentions and designs (Romans 11:33). Then, with this all already in place, he created the world. So in this creation we can assume many things in nature exist not just for their own sake—as wonderful and "very good" as they are (Genesis 1:31)—but to be an analogy of ultimate reality, to illustrate his glory.

God-Created, "Natural" Marriage

We can look, for example, to marriage to see this at play. As the Bible states unequivocally, marriage is a parable of Christ's love for the church (Ephesians 5:25-32). Sex and even marriage may seem "natural," since man and woman are drawn to each other and have intimate sexual intercourse to procreate, but such a relationship exists ultimately to point to the ultimate Love of God for his Bride.

But even here, we can get this backwards. We can assume marriage existed first and then secondly God used it as an image of his love for his people. We can assume the natural was created before the illustration. But the Bible says it's the opposite. God specifically creates marriage because he wanted a representation of what his love for his people is like. His love for his people existed first, and because of this he created an analogy for it in marriage. Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 and then says that this quote, all the way from the beginning, "refers to Christ and the church.” This means when we read Genesis 2:24 in context about marriage, that text always was referring ultimately to Christ and the church, even back then when it was first spoken and written: "'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh' [Genesis 2:24]. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Looking for Other “Natural” Analogies that Exist

It’s this way with marriage, light and dark, and possibly other analogies. So, these many "natural" analogies are not primarily "natural" at all. They're designed.

This gives us free rein to not only be amazed whenever we read an analogy in the Bible, but also to see God illustrated in nature. And when we do so, we don't have to think that we're summoning something up on our own. We instead can know that we're digging into glories in nature that God purposefully put there to show us himself.

For example, consider:

Why is the universe, with all the billions of stars and galaxies, so large?
Why is rushing water so strong?
Why is fire fierce?
Why are tall mountains awe-producing?
Why is wind invisible but impactful?
Why do we get hungry?
Why do we need sleep?
Why do birds gather and eat their food?
(Hint on this one: Jesus gave an answer in Matthew 6...)

God created all of these "natural" occurrences, and in them (and many more) we are right to see analogies. We do well to find illustrations from the Master Illustrator that were always intended to point us to him, our Creator and Sustainer—analogies that begin not with nature but with him. In so looking at them, we get to marvel more of his manifest glory.