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Author:Rev. George van Popta
 send email...
 www.vanpopta.ca
 
Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
 jubileechurch.ca
 
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
 www.ancasterchurch.on.ca
 
Title:Galaxies and Sandwiches
Text:LD 9 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God and our Creation
 
Preached:1998-11-29
Added:2008-01-20
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Singing: Ps. 33:1,2; Hy 1A; Hy. 9; Ps. 33:5,6; Ps. 121

Reading -- Isaiah 40:12-31

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved:

This afternoon we are going to speak about galaxies and
sandwiches.

THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD THE CREATOR OF HEAVEN
AND EARTH

God the Father is our:

1. Loving Father; 2. Almighty Creator; 3. Faithful Provider.

1. God the Father, the almighty Creator of heaven and earth, is
our loving Father. God, who created everything we see and
everything we don't see, is our Father. We may call him Father.
An amazing thought?

Here we are on this rather small planet called "earth." Imagine
we could reduce the earth to the size of a marble and set it on
a table. Then we would place a smaller marble less than a metre
away from the earth. That would be the moon. Then about 100
metres away we would set a volley ball. That would be the sun.
The sun is our nearest star. And if we wanted to include the
second nearest star, we would have to place another volley ball
on the other side of the world -- in China or Korea -- and we
would still not be far enough away.

As you know, eight other planets circle the sun. We call this "a
solar system". And several solar systems make up one galaxy. The
universe has countless galaxies.

It's only in the last few decades that we have begun to realize
how vast the universe is. It's only since man has begun sending
up space probes and has invented giant telescopes that we have
begun to realize that earth is nothing but a tiny little
pinprick upon the fabric of space.

We have also discovered how fragile our existence on planet
earth is. Covering the earth is a crust, and every once in a
while that crust moves. We call it "an earthquake." And then we
feel vulnerable.

And surrounding the earth is a blanket of air called the
atmosphere. If that blanket were pulled away for less than an
hour, the earth would burn to a crisp. That's how fragile our
existence is upon this earth.

And now on this tiny marble, we make our confession of faith: I
believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
We tiny people on a tiny planet in one of the solar systems in
one of the galaxies claim that the God who created all of this
is our Father.

Now that is an amazing thought. But we are not the first people
in the world to be amazed by this. The prophet Isaiah was amazed
by this fact as well.

In Isaiah 40, the chapter we read, the prophet compares the
greatness of God to the puniness of man. He says that compared
to God, all the nations of the earth are like a drop from a
bucket. If you are carrying a pail of water and a drop of water
splashes out, you don't even notice it.

The nations of the earth are, to God, like a speck of dust on a
scale. If you're going to weigh yourself on your scale, you
don't first get down on your hands and knees in order to wipe
away a speck of dust. That dust is insignificant.

All the cedar trees of the forests of Lebanon would not suffice
for wood, for fuel to sacrifice a burnt offering to God. All the
animals living among those cedar trees would not be enough,
would not do as a burnt offering to the LORD.

All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by
him as less than nothing, as emptiness.

How small is mankind. How puny his existence. The prophet Isaiah
knew it long before the astronomers knew it. But how great is
God.

"To whom, then, will you compare God?", says Isaiah. "What image
will you compare him to?" Lift up your eyes on high and see. Use
your biggest telescopes, O man! Look through your 100 inch
reflecting telescopes on top of isolated mountains. Train them
on the far away stars. Send out the Hubble Space Telescope. Take
photographs of distant galaxies: our own Milky Way galaxy, the
Andromeda Galaxy, and the Magellanic Clouds. Who created them?,
asks Isaiah.

God created them. He who brings their host out by number. He who
knows each star, each galaxy, by name.

There are many, many more stars in the universe than people on
the earth, and God knows each one of them by name.

Now if God is so great and we are so small, we might think that
we had better not get too familiar with him. We might think that
God would not be concerned about us. What would he care?

If all the trees in Algonquin Park could not serve as fuel for a
sacrifice for God; if all the livestock on every farm in Ontario
would not be enough for a burnt offering to God; then surely
that great God is not concerned about me! Surely we little
people living here on just a small part of this little planet --
surely we had better forget about calling that great God
"Father". And does it not seem completely out of proportion to
teach our little children to say, "Lord bless this food," when
you give them a sandwich at lunch time? Is the God who holds the
galaxies together interested in a little child's sandwich?

We might be inclined to reason like that. We might tend to think
that because God is so great and majestic, powerful and awesome,
he cannot possibly be interested in our petty little things.
But, beloved, Isaiah 40 opposes that way of thinking. It teaches
exactly the opposite.

The Bible does not say: Because the nations of the earth are
like a drop from a bucket and like dust on the scales, therefore
God is not concerned about a child's sandwich and mother's
headache. It says the opposite. It says: Because the nations are
like dust, therefore God knows everything about your life and is
very concerned about your life. Because he created the galaxies
and holds the solar systems together, he cares about a little
boy's, a little girl's lunch time sandwich. He is concerned
about every tiny, seemingly insignificant aspect of your life.

Israel was thinking in this mistaken way. They thought that if
God created the heavens, the earth, the stars of the heavens,
and if he knows all the stars by name, then surely he wouldn't
pay any attention to them here on earth.

Isaiah contradicted that wrong way of thinking. He said in v.
27, immediately after speaking about the power of God - he says:
Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is
hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God"? Do you
not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or
weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives
strength to the weary. but those who hope in the LORD will renew
their strength.

Isaiah did not say: How do you dare call him 'Father'? Rather,
he said: Why do you say that he doesn't see you? Why do you say
that he is not concerned about you and about your problems?

Of course he sees you. Of course he cares about you. He gives
you strength. You can hope in him. He renews your strength. He
is a faithful Father.

That is what we, the confessing church, state here in LD 9. That
God, the Creator of heaven and earth -- the God of the galaxies
-- is our Father -- our Father in Jesus Christ.

For the sake of Christ. Because of what Jesus Christ has done.
Because the eternal Son of God united himself to the human race
and bore our sins to the cross. Because he was not ashamed to
call us his brothers and sisters, God has adopted us into his
family.

We are children by adoption. But we are truly children. Just as
adopted children really and truly are children of their adoptive
parents, so we are really and truly children of God. Just as
adoptive parents will consider their adopted children in the
same way as their begotten children, so God the Father considers
us in the same way as he considers his begotten Son Jesus
Christ. Now that's quite a claim. But it's true. For the sake of
Christ, God looks upon us as if we never went astray. He looks
upon us as if we never sinned, as if we never left his house.

Adam was the son of God. That's what Luke called him in Luke 3.
There Luke gave the genealogy of the Lord Jesus, and he ended it
by saying that Adam was the son of God. Sin broke that beautiful
Father-child relationship which Adam enjoyed with God. But it is
now restored again in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the 2nd or the
last Adam restores us to being sons and daughters of God the
Father. Through him we again have access to the Father. Jesus
Christ reveals to us the Father. He makes all things well again.

The promise of adoption was signified and sealed to you when you
were baptized. I spoke about that quite extensively last week.
The question can be asked again today: What are you doing with
that promise -- the promise of adoption? Do you worship God as
your Father? Do you trust in Him as your Father? Are you
obedient to the rules of His household?

God is a loving and gentle Father, beloved. He is patient with
his sinful children. He is patient with sinful children who
repent and ask him for forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ.
He is patient with sinful children who plead with him for the
grace of his Holy Spirit to fill their lives and help them to
resist temptation to sin.

But he will deal firmly, decisively, with sinful children who do
not repent. Who stubbornly continue breaking the rules of the
household. Who know better because they've been brought up by
mother church and have been instructed very well in the ways of
Father's will, but who yet go their own way. With these
children, God is patient for awhile, but his patience will run
out. If children continue ignoring the commands of God the
Father and continue ignoring the admonitions and the
instructions of mother church, then Father's patience will run
out, and he will disinherit those children. He will send them
away empty. That's the warning, and it must be heard.

Let each of us respond favourably to the wonderful promises God
has given us. Our heavenly Father is not a Father who comes to
us with a big stick. He's a loving Father who comes to us with
his blessing, with his love, with his promises, with his gifts.
Let us respond to him with love and with obedience.

2.We confess God as our Father in Christ. We also confess him as
our almighty Creator.

We believe that God created everything out of nothing. As
Hebrews 11:3 says: By faith we understand that the universe was
formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out
of what was visible. God did not use materials to create the
world and the universe. As we learn from Genesis 1, God simply
spoke. He said: Let there be light, and there was light. He
said: Let the skies be filled with birds and the seas with fish,
and it happened. That's how God created everything.

As you know, this doctrine of creation as it is revealed to us
in the Bible is a doctrine which is often attacked. There are
many questions which are hard to answer. When we read Gen. 1 and
2, we are left with many questions which are not easy to answer.
But coming with theories of evolution or with the idea that God
somehow used evolution to create the world is not the right
answer either.

Let us continue listening to Scripture which says in many
places, not just in Gen. 1 and 2, but in many places that God
created the world and the galaxies by his Word. Psalm 33:6 - By
the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by
the breath of his mouth. Revelation 4:11 - "You are worthy, our
Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you
created all things, and by your will they were created and have
their being." Isaiah 45:18 - For this is what the LORD says --
he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made
the earth, he founded it; he says: "I am the LORD, and there is
no other.

There are other places in the Word that say that God created the
the heavens and the earth out of nothing, by his Word.
Astronmers estimate that that there are millions, some say
billions, of galaxies. And each galaxy has billions of stars.
God created it all by his word. There still might be questions
in our minds as to how it all works - as to how everything came
to be -- how God created it all. But let us listen to what God
said to Job in Job 38 when Job was in danger of becoming a bit
of a know-it-all.

God said: Where were you when I laid the foundation of the
earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its
measurements - surely you know! Have you entered into the
springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Can
you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion
(the constellations of stars)? Can you send forth lightnings,
that they may go and say to you, "Here we are?"

Let us in humility and awe continue believing that God is our
Creator. There's more at stake than simply the interpretation of
a few Bible texts. And by the same token, the ideas of
evolutionism are much more than simply some notions about how
everything we see came into being.

Evolutionism says that we are here by chance. What we see around
us is just one of the infinite possibilities that chance could
have produced. There is no notion of God unfolding history
according to his eternal plan. Just chance. Evolutionism says
that we are here because of a chemical accident.

If that were true, then it would not matter how we live. If
evolutionism is correct, then we may as well live it up, party,
and have a good time, because soon or later we're going to die,
and then the party will be over. Make the most of it while
you've got a chance. Don't bother ask silly, irrelevant
questions about responsibilities or purpose. We've got no
purpose; there are no goals. Just have a good time. And don't
worry about what happens when you die. Nothing happens. You die,
and that's it. At the end of the life you're worm food, and
that's it.

Those are the logical ethical conclusions to which evolutionism
drives a person. And we see clearly the godlessness and the
revolutionary character of the theory.

But if we have been created, then it's completely different. If
we have been created, then there is One who is infinitely
greater than us who is our Creator and who created us for a
purpose. Then life has purpose. It has a goal.

And we know what that purpose is. That purpose is to love God
and to serve him with all that we have. And we know what the
goal is. The goal is to live forever with God in eternal
blessedness and perfection.

We know that this existence is not the product of a freak
chemical accident. We know that this existence is in the hand of
God. We know that God Created the world and that he has not
abandoned it. He is still intimately involved with his world,
with his universe. He has a plan for his creation. He is
bringing that plan to it's goal, unfolding it in history. And he
is intimately involved with the lives of each of us. He not only
takes care that the planets and stars keep revolving in the
correct way. He also takes care of every aspect of our lives.

For not only is he our loving Father; not only is he our
almighty Creator; he is also our faithful Provider.

3. We believe God to be our faithful Provider.

This has to do with the last part of LD 9 where we confess: In
Him I trust so completely as to have no doubt that He will
provide me with all things necessary for body and soul, and will
also turn to my good whatever adversity He sends me in this life
of sorrow. He is able to do so as almighty God, and willing also
as a faithful Father.

God provides food for the sparrows of the air. He clothes the
lilies of the field. How much more won't he take care of those
who seek first his righteousness and his kingdom!

Now this doesn't mean that all of our problems magically
disappear. Neither is this a promise that we will all become
very wealthy, by worldly standards. It doesn't mean that we're
never going to experience unpleasant things in this life. This
life is a valley of tears. Not a Harlequin Romance. It is a
constant death. And it will continue to be such until the Lord
Jesus comes and makes all things new and perfect.

But in the face of all of life's adversities we have the
unshakeable promise of God that in everything he works for good
with those who love him. When you were baptized, then Father
promised you that he would avert all evil or turn it to your
profit. Even when God sends unpleasant things into our lives,
whatever they might be, God will turn them to our good.

There might be times when we will scratch our heads wondering
how this or that (unpleasant thing) could possibly be good for
us. But when we're standing on the other side of glory, we will
see very clearly. Now we see in a glass darkly, but then we will
see everything with perfect clarity.

The heavenly Father knows best. Let us continue trusting in him
completely - trusting that he, according to his promise, will
give us all that we need for body and soul to serve him. Let us
continue believing that God is working for our good. He is
bringing about his plan for us. He is bringing about his plan
for a new heaven and a new earth. He is working towards his goal
of conforming us completely to the image of his Son Jesus Christ.

And so let's not come with our objections nor anger. Even when
things are unpleasant. Continue trusting in your faithful
Father. Continue trusting that he will turn to your good also
the adversities of life.

He's able to do so, you know. He's almighty God! He holds the
galaxies in the palm of his hand.

And he's willing, too. For He's faithful Father! He gives me my
sandwich.

This is my Father's world: Why should my heart be sad? The Lord
is King, let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be
glad. AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: http://www.ancasterchurch.on.ca/sermons/nov2998.html

(c) Copyright 1998, Rev. George van Popta

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