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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:Our Help is in the Name of the LORD
Text:LD 9 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God and our Creation
 
Preached:2021
Added:2021-10-11
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 124:1,2,3                                                                           

Hy 1

Reading – Psalm 33; 1 Timothy 6:6-19

Ps 148:1,2,3,4

Sermon – Lord’s Day 9

Ps 33:1,2,6

Hy 78:1,2,3,4,5

* 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, we make a simple confession at the beginning of every worship service. It comes from Psalm 124, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (v 8).

Do you still notice those words? Sometimes when we use a text over and over again like this, we don’t pay attention anymore. Or we forget where it comes from and what it means. So we should know that Psalm 124 praises God after He delivered Israel from her enemies. It tells about a time when enemies had attacked, their anger hot and their intentions evil. These foes threatened to swallow Israel alive—David says that they nearly swept God’s people away.

But God was on their side. He gave escape and He saved them from harm. It’s in response to this amazing grace, as an answer to God’s love, that Israel makes this humble confession in Psalm 124, “Our help is in the name of the LORD.” That’s who helped them. That’s where rescue came from. And that’s where they would continue to look for salvation.

We echo that confession twice every Sunday, more than 100 times per year. There is a lot of comfort in those words, speaking of God as the one “who made heaven and earth.” But what does this mean? Just why is it so immensely reassuring to know that God is the Creator of all things? How can these words strengthen us?

Let’s then consider the first article of our confession in light of the Holy Scriptures. I preach to you Lord’s Day 9 under this theme,

God our Father created the heavens and the earth:

  1. how?
  2. why?
  3. therefore?

 

1) How? So how did God create the world? Did God directly create every different kind of plant and animal that we see today, or did He use some kind of process of evolution? Can God still be called the Creator if He guided the development of living things, from the most basic to the most complex? And how quickly did God bring about this universe? Was it all really completed within six roughly twenty-four days, or did He use thousands, or even millions of years?

These are the kind of questions that come up when we deal with the doctrine of creation. In earlier centuries, many of these questions would not have been asked. There was little thought for the alternate ways in which the universe might’ve come about. Not that everyone believed in the God of the Bible. But if you did believe in God, you also believed in him as Creator. People tended to accept that this was just who God is: He is Creator and Lord of all.

Those days are long over. The idea of a Creator is rejected as a quaint idea from previous generations. It’s like the people who still believe in a flat earth, or who believe that humans were around at the same time as dinosaurs.

Instead, the university students among us will know how thoroughly the theory of evolution has been woven into so many subjects. Evolutionary thinking is central in the disciplines of human biology, and history, and psychology, and so much else. This is because people will always look for a grand explanation of where we came from. We want to know why we’re here and where we’re going. And the story of evolution is accepted as the story that explains our place in the universe.

But there’s a different account, a true account. Our place in the universe, and our purpose for this life, is revealed through the Biblical truth that God is Creator. So where would you look for a text that speaks of God as Creator? You might think of Genesis 1 and 2, an obvious place. But there are also the creation psalms, like Psalms 19, and 33, 104 and 148. Or there are the last few chapters of Job, where God the Creator speaks of his mighty works.

It’s striking that throughout Scripture, God is praised for this marvelous activity of creating, from the first book of the Bible to the very last. Consider the song of the twenty-four elders in heaven which we hear in Revelation 4, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (v 11). God only created once—and Scripture says that He really was finished everything in six days—but being the Creator remains central who God is in his glory.

God created when only He existed, when there was no material available for him to use. The Catechism emphasizes that God “out of nothing created heaven and earth” (Q&A 26). It wasn’t simply that the canvas was blank, or that the clay was unformed; there was no canvas, and there was no clay. He started from scratch.

Does that matter? It shows that only God is eternal. In the beginning, there was only him. So all that we can see with our eyes today—the blue sky, the trees, the person in the mirror this evening—all this (and everything) came into existence only because God created. Psalm 90 sings to the LORD, “Before the mountains were born, or before you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (v 2).

But God spoke, and it came into existence. That’s the refrain of Genesis 1, day after day; “And God said, ‘Let there be…’ and there was…’ ‘Let there be…’ and there was.” Scripture says that his word alone accomplished it.

Maybe you have used Siri or Alexa or some other speech-based program. Somehow it can make your words can feel really powerful. “Siri, put on my favourite organ music. Alexa, dim the lights in the living room”—and she does. Yet think of all the programming that had to happen for this to be possible. Our words simply cannot command and create like God’s words can. By speaking, God made it all, even the greatest heights of creation: “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Ps 33:6).

That was one way of creating. But God made us by a different method. He formed mankind of dust from the ground and breathed into our nostrils the breath of life. We are even formed in God’s image, the crown of his world, and the object of his special love. Psalm 33 says about mankind, “God fashions their hearts individually” (v 15).

God made all, and God maintains all. That’s the second half of God the Father’s work described in the Catechism. It’s about how God “still upholds and governs” the universe (Q&A 26). Psalm 33 puts it this way, “He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses” (v 7). That is to say, God keeps it all in its proper place: the sea over here, the lava down here, the weather, the nations—they only move at his command.

Sometimes we like to pretend that we have control over a little corner of this life. We think we’ve found a 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 essential to things getting done. 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 agenda. We like to “manage” things, we say: we have to manage this problem, manage this outcome, manage this discussion. We’re in control.

It’s an illusion. No part of life is our domain. But it’s under God’s direction, every moment. Because it’s his creation. And God reminds us of this reality, sometimes on a big scale, like when a small virus turns the whole world upside down. Sometimes He reminds us of his control on a tiny scale, like when we’ve got a big week planned, and suddenly we get sick and have to stay home and get nothing done. We’re not in control, after all. “He makes the plans of the peoples to no effect,” says Psalm 33:10-11, but “the counsel of the LORD stands forever.” And the Lord has a special purpose for his creation.

           

2) Why? So why did God create the universe? We don’t know exactly what God was thinking. And certainly God didn’t have to create. The Father, Son and Spirit have each other, and they are perfectly one, united in everlasting love. Yet they were pleased to make this world, and to make us.

And God even speaks about why He created. He reveals the grand purpose, that all of it must glorify his name! “Sing to the LORD, all the earth,” says Psalm 96:1. Have you ever heard the earth sing to God? Have you ever heard the trees of the field clap their hands, or the morning stars sing for joy? Creation sings whenever it testifies to his majesty. And again God says, “Let everything that has breath, praise the LORD!” (Ps 150:6). That is their purpose—and it’s our purpose.

“If you want some perspective on your little life and the problems you have,” God says, “take a look at what I’ve done in this world. See my strength. See my authority. See my wisdom. See my faithfulness. Look at the creation and see what an awesome God I am.” There sounds forth every day a powerful witness to the God who created all things. Who could make all of this out of nothing? And who could sustain it day after day, for endless years?

Psalm 33 speaks about God’s creation. It also tells how we must respond: “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him” (v 8). God wants his creation to inspire awe in human hearts. He wants every one of us to say, “What is man, that you are mindful of him?” (Ps 8:4). Let all the earth fear the LORD!

And God expects this especially from those who bear his image. God says in Isaiah 43:7 that we are the ones “who are called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” We’re on this earth for a reason. We’re not accidents of biology or worthless blobs of tissue. God has given us this earth, and He has put us on earth, so we can live for his praise.

We often need that reminder. It’s a corrective that we have to hear regularly: Why are you here? What’s the purpose of your life? God didn’t create you to seek your own benefit. Yet this is exactly what we sometimes do. We use God’s world in selfish ways, in me-centered ways. We corrupt God’s good gifts, like when we live for food or our drink, or we let health and fitness become our purpose. We place our children on a pedestal, or let our job become our identity, or allow cars or friends or productivity be our reason for living. But God says, “I called you by my name, and I created you for my glory.”

This comes out in the passage we read from 1 Timothy 6. Paul there warns us against the desire to be rich and against the love of money. God put us in a world where we can work and earn and acquire, but God didn’t create us to devote our lives to the pursuit of wealth: “Do not be haughty, nor trust in uncertain riches” (1 Tim 6:17). Getting rich isn’t why you’re here.  

This doesn’t mean we have to reject material things and that we have to live as beggars. Paul affirms that it’s God himself who “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (6:17). Underline that: we can enjoy them. We don’t have to be without joy on this earth. We don’t have to feel guilty when there’s something in God’s creation that gives us pleasure in a lawful way. But we should make sure that we’re using everything for God’s great purpose.

Though I have so much, am I still putting my trust in the living God? With everything that I’ve been given, am I humbly showing God my thanks? And am I using God’s gifts to benefit others? Are we being generous to the needy? Caring for those who struggle? Scripture says, “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (v 18). If we are rich with God’s gifts, are we also rich in good works? Because God made everything, all of it must be put to work for God and his Kingdom.

 

3) Therefore? So what does all this mean? Why does it matter? Believing in God as Creator provides us with rich comfort, in so many different ways. In the first place, when we accept the Bible’s account of creation, we confess that our God is truly eternal. There was nothing before him, there is nothing after him. God owes his existence to no one, for He made all. This means that our God will never fade away. As Scripture says of Christ, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

Confessing God as Creator, there is a second important truth. It means that we confess his independence. That is, when God created, He didn’t need anybody or anything. He could do it himself, from start to finish. And still today, that’s what our God is like. God is not dependent on circumstance or our cooperation. He is free to do what He wants, when He wants, in the way He wants to do it. Not that God is some tyrant. For God the Creator is also good and gracious.

God the Creator is sovereign. This truth means He’s able to transform any situation here on earth. He can give healing. He can provide for physical needs. He can protect us from harm. He can work miracles. God can, because this universe is his to command.

And flowing from that is the confession that God the Creator is almighty. He has all the power. He who created this whole world out of nothing—in the short span of six days—is surely able to give us strength for every day of life. The almighty God can give the strength to resist temptation; He can give strength to persevere during a difficult period of your life; He can give strength to serve in your family. He can give whatever strength we need, because He is almighty.

Through our confession of God as Creator, we also find comfort in the power of his Word. For in the beginning, God spoke, and it came to pass. The oceans, the mountains, the planets, they all listened to what God had to say. “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Ps 33:6). As God is almighty, so his Word is almighty. 

And the truth is that God’s Word has not decreased in power. In Genesis 1, God spoke into the darkness of nothingness, and there came light. Today, God speaks into the darkness of our sinful lives, and again there is a miracle, for God brings light. There comes the light of faith, the light of knowing God. His Word still has that creating power, every time.

So when we read the Scriptures, when we listen to them, we must understand that these words have the power to save us. We should actually expect this, instead of reading God’s Word carelessly or thoughtlessly. Remember that these words have the power to change us. These words have the power to work faith in our hearts. Not because of the person preaching, and not because of our wisdom when reading. The Word has power, because it is from God: “He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Ps 33:9).

If we remember the purpose of God’s work of creation, we find another sure comfort. We said God created this world for his own glory. This means that whatever happens—even when awful things occur—know that God’s plan stands firm. Tragedies and disasters and the troubles of ordinary life don’t mean God has given up control to Satan for a while, or that God has suddenly become unpredictable. Through every event, God’s purpose remains: “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations” (Ps 33:11).

And in God’s purpose, we find our purpose. For even the modest circumstances of our small lives fit within God’s grand plan. The events we go through on this earth are never pointless. They might be hard, or disappointing, or burdensome, but they’re never random or futile. Actually, all of them serve to bring praise to the living God. And what is better than that?

All this means that God the Creator is a God we can trust. He is eternal; He is sovereign; He is almighty. He is beyond anything we can imagine, yet God the Creator is not beyond our reach. For we can put our trust in him.

This is the good news 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,” it makes a beautiful confession. We affirm that in this almighty and glorious God “I trust so completely” (Q&A 26). For He is not a distant and detached Creator, but He is the LORD, the One who can do all things for our good and our salvation.

The confession of God the Creator is profound. See how it’s also the climax of Psalm 33. After exulting in the great works of God, and in his mighty words, there comes this prayer of faith, “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our hearts shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name” (vv 20-21). We can wait for him. We can rejoice in him. We can trust in his holy name, for He is our help and shield. Says Lord’s Day 9: “In him I trust so completely as to have no doubt that he will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul” (Q&A 26).

It’s for this reason that we confess Psalm 124:8 at the beginning of every worship service, all year long, year after year. We say: “Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Because what is the implication of that? If God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, what is there that He cannot do? What is there that He will not do, for his people in Christ? Our help is in his Name.

The people of God come to church with troubles on our minds and hearts. To different degrees, we’ve probably all experienced hardships or even sorrows in this past week. Looking ahead, the coming week might have its challenges. So we come to church seeking God’s encouragement. We come to church praying for forgiveness and for cleansing. We’re here to get help. The church is not a museum full of perfected believers, a gallery of good-looking saints who have it all together, but a hospital full of those seeking help.

And we start by confessing that our great Helper is the one “who made heaven and earth.” That’s actually how every day of every week of every year of our lives ought to begin. Not just on Sundays, but at the beginning of every day—at the beginning, look to God in a spirit of worship.

Tomorrow, as you start another day of work or study or whatever else, make it your Psalm 124 confession, “My help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. Today, He can save me. Today, He can provide for me. He can, and He will.” For our God is the Creator of heaven and earth—and He is our Father, for the sake of Christ. So I will trust in him, and I will glorify his great name.  Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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