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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:The Gospel of God our Creator
Text:LD 9 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God and our Creation
 
Preached:2018
Added:2018-04-24
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 148:1,4                                                                                        

Hy 54:1,2,3  [after Apostles’ Creed]

Reading – Job 38:1-41; Job 42:1-6

Ps 104:1,2,7,8

Sermon – Lord’s Day 9

Ps 33:2,4,6

Hy 35:1,4

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


Beloved in Christ, how important is the doctrine of creation? Some say that it’s an old-fashioned belief—kind of embarrassing in our modern age. It’s like the people who still believe in a flat earth, or who believe that humans were around at the same time as the dinosaurs. No, we need to put the doctrine of creation on the shelf, and work with more a scientific account of the origin of the world. The main thing, after all, is that we affirm Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Today we’ll see that it is important to hold to the Bible’s teaching on creation. It’s important, for all sorts of reasons—not the least of which is our sure comfort as believers. That God created everything is part of our stable confidence as his people! But don’t take my word for it; consider the story of Job.

Job was a righteous man, living a few thousand years before Christ, probably around the time of Abraham. The Bible tells us that Job walked with God, and he was richly blessed. For Job was a wealthy man, with much property, and many children. He had “everything,” but for this reason Job caught Satan’s eye. “Job loves you,” Satan said to the LORD, “but only because you’ve bought his love with all those blessings. Take away those holy handouts, and he’ll reject you in an instant.” And God in his sovereignty allowed such a test to take place.

In just a short time, Job lost everything: his possessions, his family, his health, even the support of his wife. Yet in all this, the Bible says, Job didn’t sin against God. He confessed God as the Giver of all things, both the good and the bad. Not to say that Job didn’t suffer. He did suffer, which raised for him serious questions about God’s justice. A few of Job’s friends came by to commiserate, to try teach him God’s ways, and to ask a few questions of their own.

After long chapters of many speeches by Job and his friends, God finally breaks his silence. But God doesn’t address directly any of the difficult questions of suffering or justice or evil. What does He do instead? He speaks of Himself as the Creator. For three chapters, God paints a beautiful picture of who He is, and what He’s done in creation. This was enough of an answer for Job: God is our Maker, and the Lord of all! For us too, this should be enough of an answer, for creation means that our God is incredibly powerful, perfectly sovereign, and ever-faithful. This is the gospel of God’s creation, for Job, and for us. I preach the Word as summarized in Lord’s Day 9 under this theme,

We believe in the gospel of God our Creator:

  1. his glorious works
  2. our humble position
  3. our sure confidence

 

1) his glorious works: For chapter after chapter, Job and his friends have been looking for answers. Along the way they’ve made some bold statements about God, and in their ramblings they strayed dangerously close to LORD’s the holy majesty. They’d even called on him to give an account of his actions on earth, to explain himself. The heavenly God had been taken down a few notches, spoken of in human terms. So when God does speak, his first concern—perhaps his only concern—is that Job and his friends view him properly. Before any discussion about the ways and purposes of God, there needs to be a real and reverent sense of just how glorious God really is.

This is made clear from that introduction to God’s response, in 38:1, “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind.” The voice of God comes to Job, wrapped up in all the terror and intensity of a mighty wind. Probably few of us have experienced the power of a tornado or cyclone, when winds can reach 200 km/h and rip trees right out of the ground. Such a wind is said to sound like the rush of a freight train, and it’s just as unstoppable. A wind like that makes anyone fear for his life.

God speaks to Job “out of the whirlwind.” Even before the LORD has said a word, Job is being humbled by the magnitude of God’s power and glory. This is not a God to mess with. This is not a God who can be put on the witness stand and be questioned!

Then God begins his response. And He tells Job that the window of insight isn’t hard to find. “Just open your eyes,” God says. “Look around. Do you see the earth that you walk on each day? Do you see its perfection and its design? This is all my work. This is what I, the LORD, can do. This is my realm. And now tell me again, who are you? What can you do?”

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? (38:4-5). God returns to the beginning, and He speaks about those things that were done once, and never repeated: how He set the foundation of the world, measured it out according to his plan, and put everything in its place.

God did these things when there was only God. He didn’t need more than He had. He wasn’t missing out on the company of some creatures. The Father, Son and Spirit had each other, and they were perfectly one, bound together in perfect love. But God created anyway, “out of nothing created heaven and earth” (Q&A 26).

Because God made all, He rules all—even something as basic, yet as uncontrollable, as light and darkness. There is nothing in the universe that moves as fast as light, and so much human effort is spent trying to overcome darkness through better lightbulbs and more reliable energy. But even the realms of light and darkness are under God’s dominion, as He asks Job, “Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And darkness, where is its place?” (38:19). Only God knows. For He directs all things.

And they listen! God echoes what He once commanded the waters of creation, “This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!” (38:11). God says that in the beginning He rolled back the tides and divided the seas in order to make way for the land. We see how true this is when we consider that something like 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, and only 5% of the ocean floor has been mapped. The vastness of God’s oceans and seas puts more questions to puny mankind: “Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this” (38:18).

Not just the earth is covered with the fingerprints of God—even the heavenly lights were set in place by Him: the sun, the moon, the stars, and the vastness of a thousand galaxies. “Job,” the LORD asks, “How can you say that I have no right to move you from your privileged place in life?” For, “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion?... Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth? (38:31,33). Right to the constellations and supernovae, to the highest reaches of the universe, God holds power and rule. “Can you do this?” He asks Job.

Those questions humble us too. Sometimes we pretend to have control over a little corner of this life. We think we’ve found our niche, where we’re in charge. Maybe within our home—we set the rules, we say what’s what. Maybe at work—where we’re the boss, or we’re indispensable to production. Or outside, in the garden—that’s our domain, to make it grow and keep it green. Or perhaps we’ve got every hour of our day planned out and scheduled on our smartphone or calendar. We talk a lot about “managing” things: we have to manage this problem, manage this outcome, manage this discussion. We’re in control.

But it’s an illusion. No part of life is up to us. It’s under God’s direction, every moment. Because it’s his creation. And God reminds us, sometimes on a big scale, like when an erupting volcano in Indonesia grounds hundreds of flights. Sometimes He reminds us on a very small scale, like when we’ve got a big week planned, and miserable flu puts us out of commission for three days. We’re not in control, after all.

Even something as simple as a change in the weather can alert us to how powerless we really are. As God asks Job, “[Who causes] it to rain on a land where there is no one?” (38:26). And again, “Can you send out lightnings, that they may go? ... Who can number the clouds by wisdom?” (38:35,37). A sudden rainstorm, a flash of lightning, half a meter of snow when your airplane is trying to land, a hot easterly wind—the weather reminds us that not only are we not in control, we’re also not the sole object of God’s care. The world doesn’t revolve around us. Rather, it’s God’s plan that is being constantly unfolded, for his own praise and glory.

When Job 38 ends, you’d think God was finished with questions. But there’s two more chapters of this, 39 and 40—some worthwhile reading, for later this week. God goes on to speak about his glorious works of creation, seen in everything from the roaming mountain goat to the wild donkey, to the proud ostrich, to the noble hawk, to mysterious creatures of the deep. All of it is the work of his hands. As the Catechism says, we believe in God the Father, “who out of nothing created heaven and earth and all that is in them” (Q&A 26).

God wants Job, and everyone, to see creation’s witness to his majesty and glory. “If you’re looking for answers, if you want some perspective,” God says, “first take a look at what I’ve done in this world. See my strength in creation. See my authority in this universe. See my wisdom in designing everything. See my faithfulness in upholding it all. See what an awesome God I am.” Aside from those brief times when we’re on vacation, it’s easy for us to overlook the splendour of God’s creation. Yet it’s around us every day of the year. Every day, there rings forth that witness to the God who created all things.

 

2) our humble position: When you read chapters 38, 39, and 40—surveying just a little of everything God created—and then go back to the first question that God asks Job, you see what an utterly humbling question it’s meant to be. God had said, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (38:2). Who is so ignorant that he dares to question me? There really should be no foolish words directed against the LORD. No matter what science says, and no matter what we experience, there can be no flimsy questioning of God’s power or ability.

As God keeps addressing him, Job must’ve felt himself getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller. As Job cries out to God at one point, “I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer… I will proceed no further” (40:4-5). At last he realizes how lowly he is.

Yet we can’t leave it at that. God’s purpose is not to put an arrogant believer in his place, to squish him for a while under his thumb. God is looking for a faithful response to himself. God wants his revelation to inspire an awe-struck answer from mankind; He wants his works to elicit a chorus of humble praise from his people. He wants every one of us to say, “What is man, that you are mindful of him? And the son of man that you visit him?” (Ps 8:4).

That’s what we see at the beginning of Job 40, when Job announces that he’ll say no more. That’s the “first stage” of his response to God: it’s the flying of the white flag, a surrender to God’s Almighty power. But the “second stage” comes in chapter 42, when Job goes a step further, and he offers that simple confession of faith. He says to the LORD, “I know that you can do everything” (42:2).

Now, let’s remember Job’s situation at this point. When Job says this, his miserable circumstances haven’t changed at all. Job was still on that ash heap, still diseased, still lonely, still poor, still grieving. Outwardly, nothing at all about his life was different from how it was at the end of chapter 2. What’s more, Job still doesn’t know why he had suffered so profoundly—indeed, in this book he never finds out the reason for his suffering.

But by the end, Job has learned to quit complaining, to stop questioning the LORD about God’s wisdom and justice. And this was growing in its place, a better response to the gospel of God the Creator: “I know that you can do everything, and that no purpose of yours can be withheld from you” (42:2). Job is learning something essential for every child of God, that God’s purposes in this life are so much bigger than we’ll ever know or understand.

From our vantage point, we see only a fraction of what God is doing. And we see even less of the reason that He’s doing it. Yet He is our God, and his purposes are always good! The same wisdom and power of God which created and sustains the universe—this same wisdom and power is at work in us and for us. For He cares deeply for those redeemed in the blood of his Son. He shows favour to us, not just when the sun is shining and our body is strong, but when the foundations of life seem to crack and splinter. Even then, God is present and He will not give up on his good purpose in us.

And this is a precious confidence to have in our God. As Job continues, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you” (42:5). There has come a transformation in Job’s knowledge of God. It has gone from hearing to sight, from distant and detached theology, to intimate and intense relationship. Before he’d known many good things about God, but now Job experiences just how real they are: “Now my eye sees you!”

He’s learned what kind of God the LORD is: He is a God who is perfect in all his ways, a God who is good and just in everything He does. So Job will simply, and humbly, and truly worship. And that’s the response that God still wants from us. More than just knowing in our minds that God is the Creator, we must love Him with our whole heart! When we confess that He can do all things, and that his purpose is always good, we’re happy to say, “This is our God. This is the God who made us. And I trust in Him.”

 

3) our sure confidence: When we read the Bible, details are important. Looking again at the beginning of God’s response in chapter 38, there’s something telling in verse 1, “Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind…” What I want to point out there is the use of God’s name, “the LORD.” You probably know that “the LORD” (all capitals) is the way that many English translations express the Hebrew name Yahweh. This is a most significant name, for the LORD is his covenant name.

It’s striking to see this name in chapter 38, because this name for God hasn’t been used since the very first chapters of Job. In all those chapters in between, from 3 to 37, Job and his friends used other divine names, like simply “God” or the “Almighty.” In their thinking and speaking, God had become a little abstract, even out of touch. It’d be like my wife always addressing me as “Husband.” “Yes, Husband. How was your day, Husband?” It’s an accurate term, but kind of abstract, pretty lacking in life and love.

When God comes near in Job 38, He will speak not just as Almighty Creator and  Heavenly Judge, but He’ll speak as the LORD, the faithful, loving, covenant-keeping God. Listening to the LORD speak, even from the midst of the whirlwind, Job knows this is a God he can always depend on. Job knew that God could’ve destroyed him—He had every reason to—but God will not. Instead, God is willing to speak with him, to teach him to trust again in gospel of God the Creator.

That’s the gospel that the Catechism sets before us. After speaking of how God the Father created out of nothing “heaven and earth and all that is in them,” and how he “still upholds and governs them,” we confess with the Catechism that in this almighty God “I trust so completely” (Q&A 26). For that makes all the difference: we can trust Him! He’s not a distant and detached Creator. He’s not a harsh and unpredictable Governor. He is the LORD, the One who can do all things, and He will do all things—for our good and our salvation! 

So long ago, Job confessed his faith in the LORD. And we may do so today with a confidence that is even stronger. For we can call on this same God and Creator as our Father! It’s already there in the first line of the Catechism’s answer: “the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Q&A 26). There it comes again, a few lines down, when we confess that the Creator “is for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father.” And then one more time at the end, speaking of how this God can provide all things for us, that “He is able to do so as almighty God, and willing also as a faithful Father.”

Take all of Job’s knowledge of God as the glorious Creator, and all of his assurance in God’s almighty power and faithful care, and then wrap it all up in another beautiful layer, the precious truth that this God has become our Father.

And that’s so good to know—to know that this God, and covenant LORD, and faithful Father, can do all things! For life on this earth can be a difficult ride. Maybe money is tight right now and has been for a while. Maybe you’re worried about your job and where it’s headed. Maybe some of your children or grandchildren are causing deep concern, and you have no idea what to do anymore. Perhaps your health is a nagging issue, or you’re in a mental rut, and you can’t climb out of it. Maybe we’re bothered by some vague sense that this life is out of our hands, that some new trouble is just around the corner.

Yet the gospel of Lord’s Day 9 is that we can trust God our Father so completely that we have “no doubt.” No doubt that whatever the circumstance or trouble we face, God will provide what is needful—no doubt, because He’s our God and Father in Christ.

For this reason we confess Psalm 124:8 at the beginning of every worship service. We say it with the Psalmist, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Every Lord’s day we confess that our God created all things. What’s the implication of that? If God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, if He commands the cyclones and moves the will of the presidents, what is there that He cannot do? What is there that He will not do, for his blood-bought people? Our help is in his Name. For He is able, and willing!

So we affirm with the Catechism that God our Father “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” (Q&A 26). Job learned the truth of this. For after all his suffering, and after being schooled by God in true theology, Job was restored. He received children again, he was blessed with new wealth, and he saw his health improve. God provided all things necessary, and turned to his good whatever adversity He’d sent him.

Seeing this, we might give a cynical response. “No wonder Job put his faith in God—he probably knew that God would give back everything that he’d lost. If I was blessed like that, I would always trust God too.” It’s a cynical response, and it’s the same thing that Satan once said.

But the truth is, there isn’t always restoration after suffering, like we see in Job. There do come things that are intensely hard to endure, year after year. We wonder if it’ll ever change; if we’ll ever find relief from sorrow, or rest from anxiety. Some wrongs are not put right. Some burdens are not removed. Loved ones who have died do not come back. And as much as we’d like to, we don’t always find answers to our questions about God’s purpose and his reasons.

Yet we know that God’s daily grace will not fail. For we know that God’s Word and his promises are sure, that “neither death nor life… nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:37-39).

This is the gospel of God our Creator. It’s gospel—good news—because it tells of God’s greatness, God’s wisdom, and God’s faithfulness. We know this God to be our almighty Creator. And we know this same God to be our faithful Father in Christ! Let us be confident in him, and by faith walk with him every day.  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: http://frcmn.org/sermons/

(c) Copyright 2018, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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