Sermon: April 11, 2010
In Exodus 15:11 we have a wonderful statement that asks the question “Who is like you, O Lord…?” It is a rhetorical question affirming that there is no god like God, that there is no man like God, that there is no being like God. We have other statements that ask this question throughout the Bible. Who is comparable to The Lord? And the answer is, of course, no one. Our God is a God who is incomparable and yet, even though he is infinitely greater than us in every way, he reveals himself to us and shows himself to us so that we can, in some ways, understand who he is. I want us to be thinking of the question, “Who is God?” over the next couple of weeks.
Our text this morning is Isaiah 42:5-6 and Genesis 1:1-3. The first thing we find out when we open our Bibles to the first page is that our God is a God who creates. We learn that he created all things. We learn that he created the heavens and the earth, that he ordered the world and everything in it and that ultimately he created us and breathed life into us. In fact, this is one of the most fundamental claims of scripture and of our faith.
The word that the Hebrew writers use when the talk about God creating is the Hebrew word Bara. The interesting thing about this word is that whenever it is used as a verb, that is someone or something is creating, only God is the subject. Creation is only something that God can do. Story of scientists talking to God.
Not only is it creation something that only God can do but way in which creation is described is amazing to me. We get this picture in the first chapters of Genesis is not one of God who is working. This isn’t something that is incredibly hard for God to do, he just simply says something and then, poof, there it is. In Psalm 33:6 and 9 we have this incredible testimony that says “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. … For he spoke and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” We get this picture of a mighty King who simply has to speak, and his wishes are enacted.
And yet even though God simply has to speak to create and to have his wishes enacted he doesn’t just give the command and then watch, keeping a cooled, impersonal distance between himself and creation. He is intimately involved with his creation. We see that even though we don’t know exactly why God created everything it wasn’t just on some erratic impulse that he created the world and us. Proverbs 3:19-20 tells us that God founded the earth with wisdom and understanding. That it is through knowledge that he makes it rain and controls the seas. We get the same picture in Job, the 28th chapter when Job is talking about the creation of the world that God acted through wisdom. I think this is so cool when we consider what the chapters are talking about. God, this incomparable being, thought about the creation. He planned it. He accomplished it by his insight and by his wisdom. This wasn’t just an accident. We aren’t a random conglomeration of molecules but the creator of the universe thought about us, about our world, and he planned it for us.
The culmination of the creation story in Genesis is, of course, the creation of man. The story of Genesis begins with the creation of light and darkness, then the sky, and the seas and vegetation. The God begins to fill the things he has created. He creates the sun and moon to fill the sky, he creates fish and water creatures to fill the sea, and he creates land creatures to walk upon the ground that he has made. Finally, he creates man. Although the creation story uses the words create and made interchangeably in Isaiah 45:12 we get a little distinction. The prophet tells us that the heaven and earth was made but that God created man. Man is the only one that was created in the image of God. Man is the only part of creation that God gives a specific blessing and a charge to. Finally, God sets man over the rest of creation. Not to exploit or destroy it but to rule over it.
With the end of the creation story in Genesis we might get the idea that this is the extent of God’s creative activities. Some people think that the God we have is kind of like a watchmaker. Now, this is a good metaphor to some extent. It reminds us that we live in a universe that God himself built. It reminds us that our creator thought about it, he thought about us, and he planned it and built it especially for us. But it might give us the false impression that our God just set it in motion and sat back to watch. When we approach the world in this way we miss the fact that God is constantly at work in our created world.
Let us think about the rain that falls on the earth. When we think about the rain with our modern minds we think about how there are lakes and rivers and oceans. We know how evaporation works, how clouds for, and how wind currents move them around the earth. We know how when certain environmental conditions are correct those clouds begin to rain and we think to ourselves “It’s all natural.” In the Bible, in the very next chapter after God has finished the creation of chapter one, it tells us that He had not yet sent rain upon the world. All throughout scripture we are reminded that it is God who sends rain. Now we can say, well they didn’t know about modern science, but then we’ll have to throw out whole sections of the Bible!! Even Jesus in Matthew 5:45 says that God SENDS the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Our God is a God who is constantly at work in his creation. God created the wind which dried up the flood, brought the locusts to Egypt, and parted the Red Sea. During the storm on the boat Jesus rebukes the wind which was causing the storm the he and the disciples were stuck in. He didn’t create everything and then leave it but he constantly sustains all that we have.
If we accept this idea the next question that I believe comes to mind is, what else does God create? There are so many verses that deal with God’s actions as a creator, what he has created, what he has blessed us with that it is hard to even begin to describe and understand every act of our generous creator. We have been focusing this morning on God as creator and we have looked at the most obvious results of that. The created world. But God created and creates other things. For instance, do we ever think about the fact that God created Israel? In Genesis 35 we have the renaming of Jacob. It is not Jacob who decides that he wants a new name but it is God who renames him. In Isaiah 43:1 God tells Israel not to fear because he created them, he formed them, and he has redeemed them.
Another thing that we might not consider God to have created is the church. In Matthew 16:18 it is Jesus who will build the church not man. In the book of Acts we are told in 2:47 that it wasn’t Peter or John or Andrew or James that added to the church but it was The Lord. Here in Moran this morning we remember when we come together as the church that we are part of something so much bigger than we are. It is so much bigger than the largest church in Abilene. It is bigger than the largest church in America. We here in Moran are unified with the Highland church in Abilene, the South 11th and Willis Church, the Livonia church in Michigan. We are one with them not because of something that we have done but because God has created us into one body of believers. We are part of that here in Moran this morning. We don’t know how that works or how God has done it exactly but we believe it. We believe that we are one body with all the other believers meeting around the world this day.
But how does all this relate to us? We see the biblical testimony, we recognize that only God can create, we see that God both created and he still creates today. What does it mean for us today to relate to a God who creates? This morning I began with a quote from Exodus chapter 15. In that chapter God has just delivered the Israelites from slavery to the Egyptians. God was in the process of creating the people of Israel. He was about to lead them to Mount Sinai where he was going to create a covenant with them. For us today God has made a covenant with us. And just as the Israelites were, we were slaves, not slaves in Egypt but slaves to sin. Paul asks the Galatians in his letter to them how, now that they are free, can they turn back to these things?
In Psalm 51 we find one other thing that God creates that we don’t usually think of. We find the Psalmist asking God to create in him a clean heart. This isn’t something that we can do. Just as we can’t create the nature, or humanity, or the wind, or the rain, just as we can’t create the body and unity of Christ we cannot create clean hearts for ourselves. Creation is an activity that only God can participate in. God wants to create clean hearts in us. God wants to create a new life for us and he wants to make us his children. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” When we are in Christ we are a new creation made with clean hearts by God. We have hope because our God is a God who creates.
Our God is a God who creates. He is not one who did so once and never again but he creates us new every day. He creates clean hearts for us and creates lives of freedom for us to live. Let us go forward today with confidence and hope knowing that our God is a creator.