The sending of rain is an event greater than the giving of the Torah. The Torah was a joy for Israel only, but rain gives joy to the entire world, including animals and birds.
Midrash Psalms 117 (second century)
This shocking statement is rooted in an appropriate understanding of the missio Dei, mission of God, as all-encompassing. Israel was chosen, not for its own sake, but the sake of the whole world. It is only when our understanding of God and creation is rooted in the breadth and scope of God’s mission that we begin to grasp what we are for. Only then do we begin to see the world around us properly. There is not an inside and outside to God’s mission or reign. Nothing is beyond the scope of God’s mission. Only with that understanding does the above quote make sense.
Over time we develop a tendency to see the things affecting the church as primary and whatever affects the rest of the world/creation as secondary (and often inconsequential). The truth revealed here is that we have gotten it backwards. The entirety of God’s creation is primary and the people of God exist to serve the world by participating in God’s mission, the presence and coming of God’s intended order for creation.
This is an ongoing series exploring Teachings on Creation Through the Ages. Quotes are taken from the article of that name in The Green Bible.