Description / Transcription
Our Father in heaven, we claim Your promise that though You oppose the proud, You give grace to the humble, and so I ask that my heart would be humble before You that You might give me grace to preach Your Word faithfully, joyfully, and in great power. And that You might give humble hearts to all who listen, that we would receive from Your hand which You have to teach us by way of explanation or exhortation, rebuke or encouragement. We pray that we would have ears to hear. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
There is a show on Netflix, I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before. It’s called The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes and my family watched several episodes. Most of the episodes, I think, are earlier in the pandemic, in the spring. The show features a British architect and a British actress, of course, they sound very smart and refined, as they travel around the world to discover these amazing architectural designs. Some of them are places you would never want to live in. They’re so odd, but they are amazing, and then others are just stunning. And more often than not, they’re set in some absolutely majestic, at least interesting, physical location. In one episode the hosts tour this nine bedroom house built into the side of a hill on a Greek island, which okay, I’ll wait out the pandemic there. I’ll do livestream services for you. They finished the segment by overlooking the sea, facing west, as they look upon a picture-perfect sunset. The hills, the mountains, the sea crystal blue, the sun setting. And the woman says, I defy anyone to sit here and see this and tell me this isn’t paradise.
For a moment I thought she was going to make a profound theological statement, as she paused to say I defy anyone to sit here and see this and tell me there isn’t a God. That would be a logical conclusion.
I’ve mentioned before that scientists have determined, as however they determine these things, that there are actually more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on the planet. That’s how vast are the reaches beyond our solar system, beyond our galaxy, light years and millions and billions of light years away, and they have estimated with the most high-powered telescopes that there are, in fact, more stars than grains of sand on the seashore. That’s how vast the expanse of God’s creation. Surely you ought to conclude that these things did not happen by mere chance.
If you were to find, the classical illustration, if you were to find a watch washed up on the beach, you would conclude what? You would conclude that there is a watchmaker. And somehow though you were not here to see it being formed, that this did not happen by accident.
If you were to find, suppose, a litter of kittens under the steps of the white house, not the White House, but our white house where some of the pastors work, as we did last week, five of them, one now living at the DeYoung household, um, this is not the first time, probably not the last time, we have seen stray kittens, many stray kittens. There is some sort of romantic feline ambiance there at the white house.
If you were to find those kittens scurrying under the ramp there in the back, you would conclude not that they are the product of chance or that they are the product of some amoeba joining with another amoeba, but that they are the product of personal feline agency.
So as they looked out upon that sunset from the Greek island, they should have concluded Mother Nature didn’t make that sunset, there is no Mother Nature. No human engineered it. God created it. And He delights in the goodness of all that he has made. And even though we bear the effects of the curse, still we see, Romans 1 tells us, the power of God, the invisible attributes of God, His goodness, His grace, and His glory all around us, if only we have eyes to see.
How many times in the history of the world has somebody, you know, raised their fist at God and said if only You would give me a sign, if only You would let me see.
God says to us, if only your eyes were open.
We come this morning to Genesis chapter 1. We looked last week at the first two verses, and now we are looking at the six creation days and then the seventh day of rest into the beginning of chapter 2. There are dozens of things we could talk about from this chapter. We could easily spend months on Genesis 1. We are going to spend two weeks here. Next week we will focus in particular on the creation of man in God’s image, so if it seems like we’re moving past day 6 rather quickly, that’s why. I hope to come back to that next week.
But this morning our structure is very simple. Sometimes you can’t, you just have to take what the text is, and there are seven days and so those are going to be our seven points as we work through each day, and then having worked through the explanation of what’s happening in this creation week, we will finish briefly with three big themes that God wants us to see from this creation week.
So we’ll reach each day in turn and then make some comments and then move on to the next one, and we will finish then by pulling out those three larger points.
Follow along then in your Bibles, Genesis chapter 1, beginning at verse 3.
“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”
We see here on this first day the sevenfold pattern that recurs in each of the six creation days with slight variation, but basically the same pattern.
Gordon Wenham in his commentary labels it like this. Number one, you have an announcement, “God said”; then two, a command, “let there be”; three, fulfillment, “it was so”; four, the execution of that command, light in this case; five, the approval of what has been made, “God saw that it was good”; number six, then there is often a subsequent word, a further fashioning of creation or often a naming of the creation; and then finally number seven, we have morning and evening and the day is numbered.
This is obviously a stylized piece of literature. People will often point out, well, Genesis is not a science textbook. And of course it’s not a science textbook. There were no science textbooks. The language, we can see, is not meant to be technical, detailed, but rather selective and observational. But literary refinement, stylized prose, is not the opposite of true.
Sometimes people say well, Genesis is not a science textbook. Okay, I really haven’t met anyone who says it is a science textbook. But then the next inference is therefore we ought not to take too seriously the historical veracity of what is affirmed. That conclusion does not follow.
We have here, rather, a piece of narrative which we are given several indications meant to read as historical narrative, even if it is stylized. We are not in the realm of make-believe. Notice there are no potions, dragons, wizards. If you were to read some of the other ancient near-Eastern myths, we’ll talk about some of the parallels when we get to Noah. There are other flood stories in the ancient world. But if you were to read them, and we have nothing to fear to read these other sort of creation stories, you will find that they sound vastly different from the one that we have here in Genesis. Nothing of gods and goddesses struggling and slaying one another and ancient enemies, but in fact we have a dearth of metaphors, symbolism, or imagery. What we have instead is a patterned prose.
To give you the technical Hebrew language, we have what is called a vav-consecutive plus an imperfect verb. That just means a vav-consecutive shows up and your English translation usually has “and”: And God made, and it was so, and God called, and there was evening, and there was morning.
So this vav-consecutive, this and plus an imperfect verb, why does that matter? Because that is the very common, normal way throughout the Old Testament for narrative to be told: And then this happened and then this happened and then this happened…
Sometimes people want to say Genesis 1 is poetry. It actually doesn’t have any of the markings of Hebrew poetry. The most common marking of Hebrew poetry is parallelism, that you have one line and then you have the next line stating the same thing. You heard some of it when Derek was reading from Psalm 19. You have nothing like that here. It is not poetry.
It is not myth. Now some people will say myth refers to any explanation of origins, or a myth is a grand story that explains where we come from and how everything holds together. Well, if that’s your definition of myth, then I suppose Genesis is mythic. But that’s not what most people on the street understand by myth. They think of myth as the opposite of fable, myth is the opposite of history.
No, we have here in this patterned prose of Genesis 1 a historical account, given by the Holy Spirit to Moses, of creation. We find often in the Old and the New Testament a writer is harkening back to the creation account. Jesus Himself assumes the historicity of Adam and Eve and even quotes from Genesis 2, saying “did not the Creator say?” in Matthew 19.
So throughout the Bible there is this assumption writ large that this is an accurate recording of the creation of the heavens and the earth. Notice in verse 6, verse 3, verse 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29… Ten times in this chapter we have recorded “God said” and it begins up in verse 3 at day one.
Creation comes by the voice of God. Creation is a trinitarian act. We say in verse 2 the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters, and now we have the expression of the second person of the trinity. You say where? I don’t see the name Jesus. But you have the Word, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things were created by means of God’s Word, His Lógos, His speech.
And so here it is, God speaks and creation comes into existence. If you are a Christian here this morning, or watching at home, you have had a miracle wrought in your life every bit as powerful as this miracle of creation.
2 Corinthians 4:6 likens the miracle of new birth, of regeneration, to God saying “let there be light and there was light.” If you’re a Christian, that’s what God did in your life. maybe He did it when you were a kid and you don’t even remember it, you’re not even aware of it, or maybe you can pinpoint the exact sermon and moment and day and time and year, but at some point God spoke into your life, and when there was no faith, He gave you faith. When there was darkness, He gave you light. When there was death, He gave you life. He said into your heart “let there be light,” and there was light.
It happens in creation, and so it happens in our rebirth, as His children.
Notice in verse 4 God separates the light from the darkness. This is a key theme in the chapter. Five times we read of separation as God’s creative activity. He’s separating day from night. In fact, you could argue that as Genesis unfolds, you start with the proper divine distinction or separation and then, with sin, you have the failure and the curse wreaking its effect and the wrong kind of distinction or separation.
What do I mean? Well, in creation you have the separation day from night, as we’ll see waters above from waters below, light for the day, light for the night. You have the fundamental distinction of man as male and female. God ordered the world with these divine pairs, separating. And then when sin enters the world, you have man separated from God. You have Cain at odds with Abel. You have Adam and Eve separated from the garden of Eden. You have male and female separated from one another as Eve sins and Adam blames his wife.
But here in creation, God is doing the good work, this ordered design, and He begins by separating the light from the darkness. He calls the light “day.” God names persons and things, we will see, and it’s so significant that later in chapter 2 we will see He gives to the man the ability to name things, because man is going to be a sub-creator. He is going to be a royal ruler underneath this sovereign ruler.
And God declares that it is good, as He will throughout the creation days. Good meaning the object’s quality and fitness is resonate with its purpose. This is the way it’s supposed to be.
Look at verse 5. We ought to say something here about the word “day.” No small amount of controversy. I’m not going to get into this very long or get into the science. You can read all the books you want to read, but of course there is a longstanding controversy, at least for the last 150 years, but in some sense it’s back farther than that.
What is meant by the day? Is this a 24-hour day? The Hebrew word is “yom” and it normally means a regular, 24-hour day. And I think there are good reasons to take yom here referring to a normal 24-hour day.
Four quick reasons. Number 1, the mention of morning and evening. Certainly we are put into the realm of cycles of darkness and light. This suggests very strongly we are talking about a normal day. A day that has darkness, a day that has light. Morning and evening.
Second reason, whenever you have in the Old Testament numbered days, they always refer to a regular day. So when you can say well, that’s the first day, that’s the second day, those are not the sort of metaphorical “day is like thousand years” but rather they refer to a normal day.
Third reason. The seven days of the week are the pattern for our seven days of the week. We don’t have seven ages, we have literal seven days of the week, and there is a pattern ingrained in the Bible of having one day in seven for rest and worship. And so these literal, 24-hour days that we inhabit in our week are a pattern of these regular, 24-hour days.
And then a final reason. From the fourth day on, and we’ll say something when we get to the fourth day about well, then, if these are normal days how come the sun and the moon aren’t created until the fourth day? How can they really be normal days? We’ll come back to that. But from the fourth day on, we read that these are for signs and for seasons and for days and years. That’s not the language of metaphor or epochs, but that’s the language, you see it there in verse 14, of normal seasons, cycles, days, years, just like we experience creation.
So the day is a normal day.
Look at day two. And we’ll move through these more quickly. You’re doing the math and thinking oh boy, and we still have communion. I’m aware, I’m aware.
Verse 6: “And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.”
You may notice there is no appreciation formula here in the second day, and that God declared it to be good, not because it wasn’t good, but perhaps because the waters are not fully separated until the next day, and so perhaps there’s a two day execution here and so He’ll declare it very good, or good, on day three.
This word in verse 6 “expanse” is also occasion no small amount of discussion. What is this expanse, or sky, or firmament? Some people take it to be almost a technical sort of word for a canopy or a glass dome that covered the earth, a sort of likening to a metalwork separating waters from water. I take it in a more ordinary observational sense. The idea that the firmament is a ceiling or a vault, or a dome, seems overly mechanical, overly precise.
I think verse 20 gives us an indication of how we’re supposed to understand the expanse. Look at, God said let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.
Now, where do you see birds flying? Not in some glass dome, vault, firmament, but rather the sky. So I think very simply and observationally that the expanse which God calls heaven, which could also be translated as sky, is a way of saying that there were waters that have been separated so now that there’s waters here on earth and lakes and rivers and oceans, and there are waters up in the heavens. What are those? Well, the rain that comes from the clouds. And separating those rain coming from the clouds and water here on earth is the expanse, the heavens, the sky, where birds fly.
Look at day three.
“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.”
“And God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.”
So God has given to created living things, and here we’re just dealing with plants, the ability to reproduce according to their own kind. Again, that may not sound very interesting to you, but if you knew the sort of creation stories that were around in the ancient near-East, you would see how different this is. There’s no magic. The created things are not some other sort of deity to be worshiped, but rather the created things that are living things, here plants, later animals and fish and birds, and then the crown of creation, men and women, they are given creative power by their Creator, so there is power that God has given resonate within us to reproduce, to multiply, according to its kind.
Now there are limits. Pine trees don’t produce bananas. Goats don’t produce lemurs. Zucchini plants, remember I told you the zucchini plant story? Turns out they were watermelons. Um, my sister-in-law said, I said you want this odd-shaped zucchini? She said, I bet that’s going to be pink when you open it up. I said is it spoiled? No, it’s a watermelon. So, uh, there’s a backstory behind all of that, but we have wild watermelon growing outside, which is in my book better than zucchini. So other than that, you do produce according to its kind.
Now, obviously Moses is not giving us everything. He’s only dealing with seed-bearing plants. Fruit trees are mentioned. Verse 10, the cosmos, the earth, the sky, and the sea are established and then verses 11 through 13 God begins to fill the creation with the created things. First these trees and plants.
We come to day four.
Verse 14. “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.”
So what were the days like before the creation of the sun and the moon? Some, that’s maybe the most obvious argument why yom, why the days wouldn’t be regular days, because we don’t have sun and moon as we understand it until day four.
Well, there are a couple of explanations. One, can simply say that the universe prior to day four was illuminated by the special supernatural presence of God, like you see in Revelation, that God and the Lamb will be its light, so you don’t need. I mean, you have God speaking creation into existence so He can find a way to keep things light or dark before the sun and moon are created.
Another explanation is to suggest that they already were created but had not yet been separated and put into place. I think you can actually make a good case for that. Verse 1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That’s a figure of speech to say that God had created the totality of the universe, which then needs to be shaped and fashioned and separated and filled with living things, but He has created the heavens and the earth. It stands to reason that there already would be a sun and a moon. Notice verse 3 and 4 and 5, day one, we already have light separated from darkness. You already have morning and evening.
So there’s already something creating light, something giving a time of darkness, and so several commentators argue that there is a difference in the syntax in verse 6 versus verse 14. It’s hard to see in the ESV, but it is there.
Look at verse 6: God said let there be an expanse. Let it be separated and it’s there.
Or the same thing earlier in verse 3: Let there be light, and there was light.
Different syntax in verse 14: God said, in the ESV it says “let there be light in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night,” you could justifiably translate it something like “let there be separated.”
In other words, the work that’s going on here is the work of separating the lights from the darkness. The light that will govern the day and then the light that will govern the night. In other words, the sun and the moon created already as the heavens and the earth were created, light already in existence, darkness already in existence, but now hung into place as it were. Even if that’s not the case, and you go with the first argument, that they’re simply illuminated by the special supernatural presence of God, there’s nothing to say that the days cannot be ordinary days lit in extraordinary measure.
Day five, verse 20.
“And God said, ‘Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.’ So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.’
This is the first mention in Genesis of one of the most significant themes, blessing, verse 22. And notice in what does blessing consist? And God blessed them, saying be fruitful and multiply. We’re going to see the same thing, we’ll spend more time with it next week. Verse 28, and God blessed them male and female and said be fruitful and multiply. Blessing throughout the book of Genesis is far and away most obviously associated with the gift of offspring. God blesses the animals that they may reproduce. He blesses mankind, He blesses Adam and Noah. He blesses the patriarchs on numerous occasions that they might have children, usually against extraordinary odds.
We talk about achievement, we talk about accomplishment, we talk about privilege, we talk about success, we talk about legacy. The Bible talks about blessing. It’s not that there isn’t occasion to use all of those terms, but it reorients us. How do you experience good things in life? What you accomplish, what you achieve, your success? Or do you experience it as blessing? The story of God’s blessing in your life.
We see the first instance of it on day five.
Day 6, verse 24: “And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.’ And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.”
“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
We have four divine speeches in day six. Every other day has only one or two speeches, but here we have four times God says something. We will talk next week about that plural in verse 26: Let us make man. Just notice that different from the other acts of creation, this is not an impersonal “let there be,” but “let us make.” And instead of making things with the ability to reproduce according to their kind, now man is made according to God’s image.
We see here that man is a creature but he is not like there other creatures. Humanity is never considered part of the animal world. Created on the same day, but not of the same kind. God speaks about the other acts of creation, but He speaks to man. He will be a royal ruler and he will be designated not by species but by sexuality. The distinction will be not each according to its kind, but that this unified man is given in a plurality, male and female.
And notice in verses 29 and 30, God is the one to provide food for them. Why is this significant? Because in all the pagan mythologies, man is created that he might provide food for the gods. That’s chiefly what the gods are cranky, temperamental, interested in sex, and they’re always hungry. That’s what the pagan gods are like. And so man is created to bring sacrifices and bring food.
But here, in the biblical account, God is the one who spreads the table, as it were, and provides a feast that He might supply richly for men and women here on the sixth day.
The seventh day, chapter 2, verse 1.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.”
We sometimes think of day 6 as the pinnacle of creation and in a way it is the culmination His creative activity with male and female, and yet clearly we are meant to read the creation week together and we see, in fact, a perfect bookend.
Look at chapter 1:1 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and then chapter 2, verse 1: Thus the heavens and the earth were finished.
What was begun in verse 1 has now come to its glorious conclusion in chapter 2, verse 1. Which tells us the focal point in a way is on the creation of man, that’s where most of the verses are, but the conclusion, importantly, is on the seventh day it is repeated three times that God did not work on the seventh day. This is not rest like recuperation, oh, God’s exhausted. It’s not weariness from the week. You could translate the word He ceased, He ceased on the seventh day. The work was finished and now God is going to step back, look at His handiwork, enjoy a job well done.
You’ve encountered those memes before and there’s a TV show by this name, Nailed It, where somebody, you know, puts on Pinterest an immaculate, you know, Cookie Monster cake or a Spiderman cake that has Spiderman shooting webs out of the cake and just make this, your 5-year-old will love it, and then you try to make it and it’s a blob of blue and red with some confetti falling off the side. Nailed it.
Well, God actually nailed it. You know, some of you work with your hands. I’m amazed at people who can do things, put things together, make things. I have none of those abilities. I’ll, I’ll tell you my proudest moment recently. My son and I, Jacob, and actually he was really the brains behind it and I was helping him, we made a PVC pipe towel rack. Okay? This is the extent of my handiwork. We went to the store, we bought, he had measured out what we needed and we bought PVC piping, and it has four racks to it. You can fit 10 towels. If you’re ever in the area, you can, I mean, just come by and look at it. It’s in the backyard. We had to get out a table saw, we’re sawing things, we’re pounding things with a mallet. We’re measuring things. Sometimes I just look out on the back porch and say, “kids, just, just take a look at that PVC towel rack. That’s a fine piece of handiwork.” I just, I just look at it and think of all the minutes I spent on that.
You know. Some of you actually, you know, it’s gardening or it’s construction or it’s architecture or it’s your car, or baking, you know how to do things and you step back, that’s the moment where it’s worth it to look and say, “that’s it, there it is.”
And so you have God not resting because He’s tired, crashing, say “this is good, good, good, good, good. Day 6, very good. Done.”
The striking thing about the Sabbath is that the week of creation ends not by consecrating space, not by consecrating a location. That would have been common. You set apart a place where the god lives, a temple, an altar. The very first thing to be consecrated in the Scriptures, to be set apart as holy as God is holy, is not a place or a person but a time: This day shall be consecrated, and it shall be set apart and made holy, belonging to God.
The number seven, you probably know in the Bible, represents completion, perfection, fullness. You’ve heard that maybe a long time. Pastors tell you that, Bible studies tell you that. Seven represents perfection, completion. Well, why? Who just decided? Why do we just say that?
Well, it’s because those sevens come from this first seven, the creation day, the creation week, rather, which represents completion, perfection, fullness. So seven becomes that number, that hallowed number.
So what themes ought we to draw, very quickly, from this creation week?
Number one, we ought to see the greatness of God. John ___ says in his commentary that the opening chapters of Genesis reject atheism, pantheism, polytheism, humanism, and evolution. We could add to his list, they also reject materialism and dualism.
Think of it. Just what we’ve seen so far in Genesis is a rejection of atheism, because there is a God. It’s a rejection of polytheism, because there’s only one God. It’s a rejection of pantheism, because the creation is not God. It’s a rejection of humanism, because man is not God. It’s a rejection of macro-evolution, because the world and its creatures come into being by intelligent design. It still allows for adaptation and micro-evolution, but on the macro darwinian scale, it’s disallowed. Genesis 1 rejects materialism, that is that the physical world, what we can see, is all that is really there. Genesis 1 on the other hand rejects dualism, the dualism that says spiritual stuff is good and physical stuff is bad, or intrinsically dirty and evil. Genesis 1 is opposed to all pagan mythology, the pagan mythology that worshiped great creatures or worshiped the sun gods or worshiped the moon or the various astrological deities, or worshiped the gods of life and fertility or death. Genesis 1 is opposed to all of that.
God creates ex nihilo, out of nothing. In the beginning there was God. He has no competitor. He has no rival. He is the law-giver. The world reflects the Creator as He subdues the chaos and brings about an ordered world. We see here the greatness of God.
Second, we ought to see the goodness of creation. Of course, we live on the other side of the curse, so not everything is as it ought to be, but yet we can recognize good, good, good, good, good, very good. We believe as Christians in the incarnation, God took on human flesh and He was still God. The act of taking on flesh, of being joined, a human nature and a divine nature, did not render the divine nature less divine.
To err is human. Well, to err, to err, to make a mistake, to sin, is not human. It’s fallen humanity. Christ shows us what humanity was meant to be, what enfleshment was meant to be. We believe in the resurrection. That’s why loved ones, I’m going out on a limb here, I did not clear this with our finance people or with our deacons, but I’m, I’m going to say it. If you are considering cremation out of sheer financial, it’s just cheaper, you can’t afford burial you don’t think, would you talk to us as the church, because there is something rich and creation and body affirming is a reason why Christians have always practiced burial, to say that the body is a gift from God and it is body that is laid into the earth, this body will be resurrected. Creation, physical matter, is good. So we see, whether it’s in the mountains, the lakes, the streams, the ocean, the grass, the trees, your garden, your children, in food… We are meant to enjoy and delight in the beauty of this creation.
Of course we can enjoy it in the wrong ways. We can enjoy it in the wrong proportions. But ask yourself, do you have eyes? Do you have eyes to see beauty, wonder, enchantment.
G. K. Chesterton has that famous paragraph where he says maybe we are the ones who have grown old, and it’s children who have the wonder to delight in monotony. You know, your kid who will throw you the ball forever, who will push you the toy car along the ground, do it again, do it again, do it again, never grows tired of the monotony, and Chesterton says maybe God in His creation is like that. Maybe we are the ones who have grown old, and every night with the moon and every morning with the sun, God says “do it again.” Do it again. He never gets tired of it. Beholding the beauty and some of us, our eyes have grown dim to the wonder, to the enchantment, to the beauty, to the goodness of all that God has given us.
And here’s a final theme. The greatness of God, the goodness of creation, and the grace of rest.
Have you ever noticed mankind’s first, full day on the earth is spent in rest? The first day is not to work, but to enjoy all that God has made and worked on his behalf. Have you ever thought why do we have seven days a week? We have a 24-hour day because of the earth’s rotation. We have months, roughly corresponding to with the phases of the moon. We have years based on how long it takes the earth to travel around the sun. All of these have natural phenomenon.
But there is no natural reason why we ought to have weeks. Why not just have months? Why not just have years? Or endless days? But we have weeks, precisely because God shaped the earth six days and on the seventh He rested.
You notice the seventh day does not have the refrain “evening and morning.” Because in a way it has no end. The Sabbath rest of God continues. Now this I’m not going to finish here, two minutes, I’m not going to finish where you think I might finish with a little two minute sermon about resting and worship on the Sabbath. Could do that, but that’s not what Hebrews 4 does. When Hebrews 4 goes back, we don’t have time to go there, and quotes from Genesis that God rested on the seventh day, do you know the connection that Hebrews makes? Therefore, you ought to rest from your labors and find your identity in Christ.
So here’s the Sabbath rest that we are meant to enjoy. Remember I said it’s God saying “nailed it.” It’s God stepping back, not because He’s exhausted, but to step back and look and say “That’s it! I love that. That’s good.” And Hebrews tells us there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
Now however important it is to honor the Lord’s day, I’m telling you that Sabbath rest is even more important. Do you ever imagine God stepping back, looking at you, His beloved child, and saying “very good. I like what I see there.”
Some of you, some of us, maybe me, we never relate to God that way. There remains a Sabbath rest, ’cause at first when I was finishing the sermon, I thought, okay, rest and Sabbath and take a break because it’s finished, but then I look at my life, maybe you look at the same, I think, it never feels like it’s finished. A house is never clean. I never have my to-do list done. You know, the kids are literally never all in bed at our house. Okay, there’s a few moments there. It never feels done.
But that’s not what Hebrews says. Hebrews doesn’t say sit back because you’ll be able to say to-do list is done, housework is done. But you will be able to say everything that ought to be done to make God love me, nailed it. Nailed it. To the cross, because you didn’t do it, I didn’t do it. God rested on the seventh day and said that’s enough, it’s done, I like what I see.
And so we are meant to rest in all that God has done for us as He looks upon your life in Christ and says that’s very good.
Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we give thanks for Your Word, so much here. We pray that You would make sense of a lot of information and You would take to our hearts to give us this rest which we are so desperately in need of. I pray that You would give it to us now as we partake of the feast you have prepared for us. In Jesus we pray. Amen.