“The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies speak of the work of His hands. Day and night they pour forth speech. There is no place where their voice is not heard.” — Psalm 19
“From the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes, His divine power and divine nature have been seen in the things He has made.” — Romans 1
“(The Celtic Christians) had the book of Scripture in one hand and the book of nature in the other hand.” — Howard Espie, Scottish minister
It’s amazing how the world of heaven seems to consistently find its way into the world of earth. For me, I see this divine interaction in sunrises and sunsets, when the golden tones of our life-giving star fade into the deep blues, purples and reds of the evening sky. Or when the dark of night is triumphed by dawn’s first breath of light. Amazing interaction!
I also see this interplay in the mountains and valleys — the canyons and plains. Of the massive works of creation and the intricate details of erosion and wind and time. Of the majesty of God — and of the intimacy of God. Of the majesty of a roaring Scottish waterfall — and the intimacy of a ground-sheltering green fern. Just like God’s power and might, the waters roar over the cliff’s edge and descend onto the rocks below. The sound is thunderous, as if all heaven has suddenly decided to jump up and fall down on hollow wood floors. Just like God’s intimate care and personal love, the fern grows in intricate detail below the water’s power, given life by that same water that rudely drowns out its daily chorus of praise towards its Creator.
Indeed, heaven and earth meet in nature and speak powerfully of nature’s Creator. The ancient Celts knew this and the monks who came from Ireland to Scotland 1,500 years ago with the gospel message knew it as well. There was special revelation in the form of the bible and that revelation was marvelous. It spoke of the Creator and His unique relationship with His creation. Of sin and rebellion, of law and grace, and of the Creator’s sacrifice to reconcile His fallen creation to Himself. The people encountered by the monks knew some of this already, after all, the Highlands of Scotland speak so powerfully of a creator spirit who is intricately involved in its creation, bringing rain for the seasons, sun for the day and stars for the night. Of power and majesty in the northern lights. Of mighty waterfalls and little green ferns.
Once they heard about the Creator, they put two and two together and it pointed to one God in three persons. Blessed Trinity.
The Celtic monks were adamant about declaring the close relationship between heaven and earth, the divine and the every day. For them, creation told one part of the gospel story and the scriptures told the rest. They pointed to the seasons and the land as evidence of God’s care. And they even devised prayers to be used in daily life thanking God for His daily provision. Heaven and earth — God and man — dwelt together on earth in the day-to-day, though not in fullness or in purity. Sin messes with that. But still, God is interested in your daily life, they taught, and what you do on earth matters to Him.
As my friend Howard pointed out, they had the book of Scripture in one hand and the book of nature in the other hand. And I’m sure the beauty and majesty of Scotland helped quite a bit in the fast spread of the gospel across this land! What people saw for centuries and the druids and pagans could not adequately explain was now revealed: there is a Creator God and He is both powerful and loving.
Heaven and earth are both under His domain.