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Six Thoughts on the Sermon of Creation

Here's a thawed out Thursday repost with the addition of a sixth point.  If you've read it before, scroll on down to number 6.

1) The sermon of creation is not a minimal thing - it's maximal.  Romans 1:19 'what may be known about God... God has made plain.'  Colossians 1:23 'the gospel... has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.'  Psalm 19:2 'Day after day they pour forth speech.'

2) Our blindness/deafness to this sermon is not minimal either - it is maximal. Note that in Psalm 19 David trusts that the creation daily pours forth speech in intentional evangelism.  In Ecclesiastes 1 his son sees the exact same heavens.  Yet even with all his wisdom, the 'teacher' of Ecclesiastes finds it utterly meaningless.  The circuit of the sun which was such a vivid portrait of the Bridegroom Champion in Psalm 19 becomes, in the eyes of the 'teacher', a futile and meaningless cycle.

Humanity is blind to the things of God (2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:21). We cannot judge what the sermon of creation is saying by what we see. We naturally only see what we want to see.

3) The sermon of creation is not a static thing, it's dynamic, it's about movement and action and inter-relation. Literally Ps 19:2 says "Day unto day is a pouring forth of speech; night unto night is a displaying of knowledge." The sequence of day and night and day and night is itself a display of knowledge.  This proclamation involes 'sun, moon and stars in their courses above.'  The sermon of creation is expressed in dynamic action, it does not simply speak to us in static snap-shots of beauty.

So often people simply characterise the sermon of creation as something like "Look at a snow-capped mountain range, doesn't it fill you with awe. Well, now you should direct that awe to the God who is big enough and clever enough to have made it." That is certainly an element to what creation is saying, but it's not what David is drawing our attention to.

Psalm 19 highlights the progression of day and night, the movement of the sun across the sky, the heavens in their courses.   The dynamic sermon of creation tells far better of the Glory of God who is not a static, unmoved deity simply waiting for people to give Him glory. The Living God acts and moves and relates.  And His Glory, according to the Bible, is His Son acting, moving and relating. The theist will think of the sermon of creation in static terms because her god is static. The Christian knows the sermon is dynamic - just like our God.

4) The sermon of creation is 'the word of Christ.'  It is not about abstract qualities of power or wisdom but about the Son.  Of course this is so since Jesus is eternally the image of God (Col 1:15).  There is no revelation that is not in Him.

In Romans 10 Paul asks if any have not heard the word of Christ (v17)?  He answers, of course not and quotes Psalm 19!  The sermon of creation is the word of Christ.  When we examine Psalm 19 we see this to be so.  His example of the sun is a dead giveaway.  This sun is like a Bridegroom Champion who moves from east to west (like the journey the high priest makes from altar to ark) as the light of the world. (Ps 19:4-6; cf Ps 45). Here is a sermon regarding Christ.

Think also of John 12. When Jesus picks up a seed He doesn't say "How pretty and how intelligently designed" - He says "This seed proclaims my death and resurrection and, though this, the life of the world."  The sermon of creation is a gospel word concerning Christ.

5) The sermon of creation is seen only through the spectacles of the Scriptures (Calvin's famous image).  Ps 19 continues 'The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving/converting the soul.' (v7)  That which left even Ecclesiastes' 'teacher' looking into the meaningless cycle of life and death is that which, through the spectacles of Scripture, becomes the dynamic proclamation of Christ and His gospel.

6) Now with Scripture's spectacles on, we can learn much from creation.  We can 'go to the ant... consider its ways' (Prov 6:6); we can 'consider the ravens' (Luke 12:24); we can 'reflect on' farming, athletics and soldiering (2 Tim 2:4-7) and be given insight.   This revelation is in a sense beyond Scripture.  But it is never apart from it.  We learn more from Christ's creation by doing this than if we stay in church and read our bibles.  But if this 'more' is to be considered a revelation - if it is ultimately about Christ (which it really is) - then such learning must begin in the Scriptures and be co-ordinated by them.

But now, bible in hand, the Christian becomes an eager biologist, geologist, cosmologist, anthropologist, etc, etc.   As we happily march off to our labs and digs and libraries the naturalists will frown at us and accuse us of treating the bible like a science text-book.  Of course, this accusation is backwards.  The real problem is that they treat naturalism like a revelation. But, never mind.  This just shows how much they need the Scriptures.

The truth is that the Bible is not a container into which the Christian tries to shrink all scientific knowledge.  It is a lens through which we hope to see the heights and depths.  We do not think that the Scriptures exhaustively reveal the world to us. Instead, we believe that they uniquely reveal the way to know this world - by the Spirit and in Christ alone..

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