First Sunday After Pentecost June 19, 2011
246, 243, 39, 36(3)
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
“The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I was brought forth; While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primal dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above, when He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men.”
I recently read a magazine article with the rather antagonistic headline: “Evolution is true. And science needs to up its PR game.” The author saw a real problem in the world today: far too many people do not believe the scientists when it comes to answering the question, “Where did we come from?” Far too many people do not buy the notion of apes turning into men or fish turning into birds even after 200 years worth of Charles Darwin and the rest. The suggested solution was to urge scientists to relate better to the common people. Namely, to have them get more emotional when they present their cases, to teach the folks in lab coats to tug at the heart-strings of their audiences rather than point to charts and graphs. With respect to evolution, the implication was clear: we consider this to be the only right answer, and we’re going to bend you and twist you and do whatever we need to do to get you to believe it.
Are we surprised? Not really. Natural man hates the idea that there is a Creator-God. He hates it because if there is a Creator, then there is someone to whom he must answer and man does not like answering to anyone. Man wants to be his own god and live his own life and make his own rules and decisions. Just as Adam and Eve in the garden wanted to be “like God,” so do all their descendants. It is nothing new.
The answers to the questions, “Who made us?” and “Where did we come from?” are finally matters of faith, not of science. None of us were there in the beginning to see what happened. We believe what the Bible says about creation and what the Bible reveals also correlates with what has been observed since. The heathen believe whatever is the opposite, trying to make their stories fit what is actually observable and, incidentally, not doing a good job at it). So the debate rages on, but in the end it is unbelief or faith that makes the difference.
It is traditional on Trinity Sunday to turn our attention to the great works of the Triune God―the God who is three-in-one―Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our text from the book of Proverbs shines the light on one of those great works of our God, His work of creating the world in which we live.
We will see today What a blessing it is to be part of God”s creation. In truth, we would not want it any other way, for what He made is made in connection with His wisdom, power, and love. That is good news for us! Today we observe I. A creation made in connection with God’s wisdom, II. A creation made in connection with God’s power, and III. A creation made in connection with God’s love.
Let’s begin by looking at the time before anything was made. Before creation, there was God. Here in Proverbs chapter eight we actually have Jesus speaking in the Old Testament before He took on human form. He says: “The LORD brought me forth…before His deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. When there were no oceans, I was given birth…before the hills, I was given birth.” [vv.22ff NIV] Jesus was there before creation. In eternity He was there with the Father, one God, as John chapter 1 says, “the Word [Jesus] was God…He was with God in the beginning.” [John 1:1 NIV] Likewise the Holy Spirit was also there, for the Spirit too is described as eternal by the writer to the Hebrews (cf. Hebrews 9:14). One God, three persons, existing forever and ever before the creation of matter, light, anything.
What does this mean for the creation itself? What does it mean that God was there before all this was brought into being? It teaches us something of the intelligence and wisdom that went into the creation of the universe. You see, since God was there when there was nothing, it means that from nothing He designed everything.
From nothing He determined which combinations of atoms would form which molecules. He determined the properties and characteristics of all the animals and plants. He figured out how this whole thing that we call the world would fit together and operate, from the greatest and most obvious things to the smallest and seemingly least significant. From nothing He determined how the things of this creation would be, and we are still discovering new things daily about His design. We still do not know how everything works nor have we discovered why everything is in the place it is in, but the more we do uncover, the more God’s wisdom is obvious to us.
Now do you think it is better to live in a world of God’s design or a world that got here by random chance with no wisdom behind it? I prefer a world with an architect, just like I prefer flying in a plane that has been designed by someone who knew something about airplanes, just like I prefer crossing a bridge that was conceived by a bridge builder.
A world created by God works better than a world that develops out of the primordial ooze and must depend on random mutations and dumb luck to become anything working or useful. True, because of the curse of sin, our world doesn’t work perfectly as it once did, but it works a whole lot better than it would without any intelligent design at all. It is nothing less than a blessing to us that we live in a place which was made in connection with God’s wisdom.
Sometimes we think of the work of creation as being the work of God the Father, the first person of the Trinity. It is true that there are many references to the Father’s work of creating, but just as the Son and the Spirit were with the Father in eternity, they also had an active role in the creation of the world. Again listening to Jesus’ words in Proverbs we hear Him say: “I was there when He set the heavens in place, when He marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when He gave the sea its boundary…when He marked out the foundations of the earth…then I was the craftsman at His side.” [vv.27ff NIV] Jesus was there at the creation of the world with the Father as one God creating all things. “I was the craftsman,” Christ says. The Son’s work in the beginning is mentioned clearly elsewhere in Scripture too. John says, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:3 NIV). In the letter to the Colossians the Apostle Paul wrote the same thing (1:16): “By him [Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:16 NIV). The Holy Spirit too, one with the Father and the Son, was “hovering over the waters” at creation (cf. Genesis 1:2). Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the one true God exercises power like none we can imagine.
This world was indeed created in connection with God’s power. Maybe when we think of creation we think of the power as much as we think of the wisdom. We cannot even conceive of what it must have taken to bring all things into existence. Think of being the craftsman of all the earth and sky and the creatures and even the invisible creatures—the angels, those ministering spirits!
All this power brought to bear—all of this creative energy of the Triune God—and we cannot help but marvel. Glimpses of this creative power were seen at other times such as when Jesus calmed the storm at the Sea of Galilee with a few words. But these were just echoes of the tremendous brilliance of that first power.
Why do I care that I live in a world that was created in connection with God’s power? Because it means my God can do anything for me. As the writer of the 121st Psalm sings: “I lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth!” (Psalm 121:1) Again in the 124th Psalm: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8). The one upon whom we rely is the Creator of all things. We can lean on Him confidently for any and all help in this life knowing His ability, knowing that “there’s nothing our God cannot do.” What a blessing to live under such a Creator!
What is more amazing is that God does not mind the arrangement either! He is happy to be our God as we hear Jesus say in the last two verses today’s text: “I was filled with delight day after day…rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” [vv.30f NIV]
You probably remember that after creating the world, God looked at it and proclaimed that it was “very good.” He cared for what He had made. All of it proclaimed the glory of God. The very skies showed His handiwork. Even after mankind’s sin against God’s holy law had ruined creation and it could no longer be called “very good,” God did not disregard the creation, but continued to nurture it and show His love toward it. He continued to send the rain down from heaven to water the ground. He allowed the seasons to continue in their orderly ways so that harvests could come. He gave nests for the birds and holes for the foxes.
While the whole creation was groaning as in the pains of childbirth, trapped in its bondage to decay, disintegrating before everyone’s eyes in diseases, tragedies, disasters, thorns and thistles, and all the other hardships it has endured since the fall into sin, God continued to love the world, and the Son came from the Father to be born a human being. God became one of the creatures He had made. Jesus, the Christ, became fully human so stop creation’s headlong rush to destruction. To provide a way of escape, to give us access to a new heavens and a new earth through the forgiveness of our sins. For as Jesus had said, He delighted in mankind.
God loves what He has made. He loves His creation including us. Nowhere is that more evident than in all the work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the one eternal God—the Father who created us, the Son who died for us to pay the price for our guilt, and the Spirit who called us to faith so that we could gain eternal life.
What a blessing to be part of God’s creation! Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.