Every human heart that has been t o any degree sensitive to the influence of the natural world has been to that degree aware of spiritual and aesthetic values that were enjoyable to the senses. It may be no more than the satisfying of vulgar curiosity in gazing at the antics of the caged monkey, or the bovine stare of the gum-chewer for whom the Grand Canyon breaks the rhythmic wag only long enough for the profound utterance, "Ain't nature grand!" From such lows the awareness of the spiritual meaning in nature climbs slowly upward.
A little higher than the satisfying of mere curiosity toward nature is the sense of fear of the mysteries in nature. We go into hysterics at the sight of an insect or a reptile; then we glamorize our fears as evidence that we are superior beings, forgetting that our blind, unreasoning fears but emphasize the shame of how far sin has dragged us down from the "dominion" over nature with which God endowed our first grandparents.
We climb a little higher in the scale, and we come to different degrees of artistic love of the beauty of nature. Then some of us manifest our delight in a beautiful view by a trail of tin cans, banana skins, and soiled paper plates. We drown the voice of the great deep by the voice of the swing band from the boardwalk-anything, anything, for "pleasure," to stultify our souls lest we come face to face with God walking in His garden.
We go still higher in the scale of comprehension of nature, and we find among many of the so-called dumb animals expressions of the higher motives we ourselves feel, and we discover a kinship between ourselves and our "little brothers." Hence we go into all varieties of nature worship. We claim that nature and ourselves are part of God (pantheism); or we proclaim ourselves only animals and suppose that we find in the elements of which all animate and inanimate substances are composed the only deity (evolution).
We go still higher (not necessarily in the realm of "civilization," for some of the most primitive races and persons have achieved this height) and we find those who discover in nature the workmanship of a Mind, a Supreme Being, the Creator.
"Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee: ... or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: ... Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?" Job 12:7-9. All that has been said in this book has had but one purpose: to call attention to the hand of an intelligent, personal Creator in nature and to solicit the worshipful response of our hearts. To this end we have traced in nature God's majesty, wisdom, and immutability. We have found His provident care for His creatures, His love of beauty, order, design, symmetry, propriety, and truth. "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead." Romans 1:20.
Thus in nature we find a revelation of God as the great Lawgiver. The infant's earliest contact with the natural world is in the form of learning law-result follows cause, good result after good cause, and the opposite. And the highest comprehension of nature by the greatest scientist is still in the realm of law, however much we may vaunt ourselves that we have bent the natural world to our will. The answer is still negative to the question put to job by the Voice from the whirlwind: "Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?" Job 38:35. We boast that the, lightnings do obey our pushbuttons and power switches, forgetting that that mystery called electricity complies with our wishes only when we comply with that divine law it always obeys.
It is true that nature, marred by the effects of man's sinning, is an imperfect revelation of God, and it is only in Jesus Christ that we fully see the Father. But nature is not entirely lacking in the revelation of God's love. Principles of unselfishness, which is love, are seen even in the arrangements of the leaves on stems to allow all a maximum of exposure to light and air. Love and unselfishness are illustrated in larger degrees in the mother love of birds and animals, which will give, their own lives to save their young. The principle of vicarious sacrifice, of which Jesus said that there was no greater manifestation of love, is shown in nature, though in a degree immeasurably less than in the Father's gift of His Son.
But the plan of salvation, which is so fully revealed in the Bible, involves more than vicarious sacrifice. It is more than its crowning event at the cross. The plan-called in Zechariah 6:13 "the counsel of peace"-began before man sinned (Revelation 13:8) and will not be finished until all that was lost is fully restored (Luke 19: 10; Revelation 21, 22). The plan of salvation involves both provision for man's salvation before he needed salvation and also his restoration to a sinless state. Is that taught in nature as well as in the Bible?
When five weeks ago I slipped on an icy street and broke my arm and was taken to the clinic, the doctor did absolutely nothing for me but give my arm a support, in order to allow the healing and restoring powers that were already there to work toward restoration. When the cast was removed, the arm had been restored. There is all the meaning of the plan of salvation involved in that simple healing process. Simple? It involves the highest mysteries of God. Every time the blood clots over a wound we see salvation provided before the need the potential salvation of the Lamb whose blood was provided before man sinned. (Revelation 13:8.) All the restorative processes of nature-and there is no other healing-are illustrations of the plan of salvation.
Nature and the Bible speak the same language.