Oh LORD! How Manifold Are Thy Works!

 

September 19, 2004 ~ Westney Heights Baptist Church

September 26, 2004 ~ Malvern Community Baptist Church (Adult Bible Class)

 

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

 

Before I begin this message you must realize that I take the first verses of the Bible as literally and true revelations of the activity of God, as I do the remainder of the Bible. It is important for you to know this so that you do not begin to think that I accept as truth the lie of evolution, if I did so none of what follows would make any sense to you. In fact, regardless of what I tell you this evening, if the lie of evolution is believed none of the Bible makes any sense at all. This message is founded on the firm conviction that God was intimately and personally involved in the creation of this universe as He is to this day intimately and personally involved in providing for its continued well being. At no point does the Bible teach that this universe is anything less than the special creation of God, created in love for man whom He personally molded in His own image to seek after Him and give praise to His holy name.

 

Psalm 8:1-9 O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! 2  Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

    3   When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 4  What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? 5  For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. 6  You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7  All sheep and oxen—Even the beasts of the field, 8  The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas. 9  O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

 

When I was about thirteen years old a visiting uncle took me outside to where he had set up his telescope. He didn't say much, just asked me to look through the eyepiece and tell him what I saw. I looked and saw Saturn! With my very own eyes I saw Saturn, rings and all! It was beautiful! Afterwards my uncle recited what has since become one of my favourite Bible passages and in so doing confirmed what my parents had been teaching me for many years: That all of creation is the handiwork of God and both reveals His glory and gives Him glory. To my dying day I will remember the thrill as Uncle Bert introduced me to the glory of God as it was revealed in the skies.

 

What I would like to do tonight is in the same way encourage you with the knowledge that we inhabit a marvelous creation which through its beauty directs us to an even more marvelous God.

 

Psalm 19, which my uncle quoted to me that night, begins:

 

Psalm 19:1-6 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2  Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. 3  There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. 4  Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world.

 

Creation is so astoundingly beautiful that sometimes it seems we are able only to stand in awe and gaze at what God has made. I don't know if any of you have ever just stood outside and stared at God's handiwork but I am certain that King David did so on many occasions and that these were the inspiration for Psalm 19 and many others. When I was still living with my parents on the outskirts of Belleville I would often come home late at night from visiting with my friends. On many of these nights I would take a walk around to the dark side of the house and stare up at a sky filled to overflowing with stars thrown into the dark like dewdrops on the grass. There were thousands of them and through them I could just begin to understand how magnificent God is to have created such an abundance of beauty. Three thousand years before me King David must have felt the same way when he wrote of God that:

 

Psalm 147:4-5 He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. 5  Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.

 

In 1995 the Hubble Space Telescope was programmed to take an extremely long exposure image of an area of the sky 1/30 the apparent sized of the full moon (about the same area as what would be covered by a grain of sand held out at arm's length). This image, known as the Hubble Deep Field Survey, contains hundreds of galaxies that no one had even dreamed existed. God could have left them uncreated and we would never have missed them and yet there they are. For all we know from this picture the complexity of the heavens continues on forever. It staggers the imagination.

 

Last Sunday Pastor Rendle and I were discussing the glory of the heavens. He said that he has heard that that we could also explore as far in the microscopic direction as we have explored in the telescopic direction and we would continue to see new and unbelievable things, things never before imagined. A book I have been reading recently bears this out. It is entitled "What Darwin Didn't Know" and it is written by a medical doctor who takes obvious delight in the design of the human body. There is complexity within each of us that shows the finest work of man is no more than a child's painting when compared to the master work of God. The most delicate thing that man is able to make appears crude in comparison to the "least" of what God created:

 

The smallest work of God

shows more wonder than all that man can build

yet it builds upon itself in vast patterns

ever more intricate and man is infinitely surpassed

our finest works are utter coarseness

compared to His most tender touch

 

Our bodies bear within themselves the proof of God. Each breath is an involuntary accident a gift from God, we have no more control over our breathing than we do over our size. Our hearts beat once each second, without rest, for every single second of our lives and do so without our conscious thought. Our brains are a marvel of engineering capable of remembering the face of a special friend for decades after our last meeting and recall the details as vividly as though it was yesterday. Our bodies are so intricately designed to function as a whole, so clearly the product of God's craftsmanship that to believe otherwise is to reject reality. 

 

It has been said that there are two revelations of God. The first is the general revelation, which we find in the creation. The second is the specific revelation, which we find in the Bible.

 

General revelation is the revelation of God which is found in creation and which shows us the character and perfection of God. It is to this that Paul refers when he writes in his letter to the Roman Christians that

 

Romans 1:19-20 …what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead

 

describing creation as a reflection of the character of God in the same way that man's own creations are a reflection of man's character. It is possible to discover God through His creation in the same way as it is possible to discover a writer through what that writer has written.

 

This is not to say that creation has nothing to say of the mercy of God but that it says it in different words than are used in the Bible itself. There are many examples of His mercy within creation, Psalm 104 being a perfect example.

 

Psalm 104:10-35 He sends the springs into the valleys, They flow among the hills. 11  They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12  By them the birds of the heavens have their home; They sing among the branches. 13  He waters the hills from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works. 14  He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the service of man, That he may bring forth food from the earth, 15  And wine that makes glad the heart of man, Oil to make his face shine, And bread which strengthens man’s heart. 16  The trees of the LORD are full of sap, The cedars of Lebanon which He planted, 17  Where the birds make their nests; The stork has her home in the fir trees. 18  The high hills are for the wild goats; The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.

    19   He appointed the moon for seasons; The sun knows its going down. 20  You make darkness, and it is night, In which all the beasts of the forest creep about. 21  The young lions roar after their prey, And seek their food from God. 22  When the sun rises, they gather together And lie down in their dens. 23  Man goes out to his work And to his labor until the evening. 24  O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions— 25  This great and wide sea, In which are innumerable teeming things, Living things both small and great. 26  There the ships sail about; There is that Leviathan Which You have made to play there. 27  These all wait for You, That You may give them their food in due season. 28  What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good. 29  You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. 30  You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.

 

And Jesus, in the gospel of Matthew, continues expands upon this passage by using God's provision for man as an example from which men may learn to provide for each other, refering to God's provision of sun and rain for man as evidences of His perfection.

 

Matthew 5:43-48 You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." 44  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

 

Specific revelation is the revelation of God which is found in the Bible as the personal revelation of God to man in much the same way as a letter is the personal revelation of its author. Through the Bible we are shown how God has operated in and guided human history to accomplish the salvation of mankind and the consummation of His perfect plan.

 

David flows easily from creation's declaration of the glory of God to the Bible's declaration of the holiness of God and comments on its own reflection of God's righteousness and its benefit to man's soul. He compares the word of creation to the word of the Scripture, and uses the beauty of creation as the foundation upon which to declare the beauty of the law of God.

 

Psalm 19:7-10 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8  The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10  More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

 

He continues by showing his own response to God's law and his understanding of the benefit of God's law to his own life.

 

Psalm 19:11-14Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. 12  Who can understand his errors? cleanse me from secret faults. 13  Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. 14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

 

He has seen the glory of creation and encountered God's revelation of His own glory through it. He has seen the perfection of God reflected in the perfection of His law. And his response is to hand his own life over humbly to his God.

 

Psalm 19:14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

 

Each of us has lived our entire life within creation, personally experiencing its revelation of God each moment of our lives. We have seen so much of God within His creation that even if we did not have the Bible to teach us specifically of Jesus Christ we would be without excuse if we continued to reject God. Personally, in discussions with others on the issue of creation versus evolution, I have used the argument that creation is consistent with the teaching of the Bible. That is to say that the God that I began to acknowledge because of creation became more fully introduced to me as I read the Bible. The testimony of creation supports the testimony of the Bible and is itself corroborated by the Bible. Thus what can be seen of God in His creation is confirmed by what can be known of God in the Bible and nothing is left but my response to Him.

 

I would like to leave you with a poem that I wrote in February of 1985. About one hundred of us were at a evangelism training retreat at Wesley Acres near Bloomfield, Ontario. I had gotten up one morning before everyone else and having nothing to do and no one to talk to I went outside and went for a walk. I stood alone on the frozen water of West Lake, my breath hanging in the air beside me. In the east I could see the red glow of the rising sun while in the west I could still see darkness of night and in that darkness, stars. There was no one nearby but God. It was a magnificent moment, one of the most beautiful of my life. This line from Psalm 8 came to my mind:

 

Psalm 8:3-4 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 4  What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? 5  For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

 

I was at that moment just one small man, a speck of dust in the middle of a vast and marvelous creation. And yet, in spite of my insignificance, I knew that God loves me and cares very deeply for my life. This is my own response to that moment:

 

out in the first morning

i stand

 

small

puny

insignificant

 

against the immensity of sunrise

and stars fading away

in the departing night

 

      psalm eight

      ringing in my mind

 

oh great Lord

what am i

that you love me

enough to give me

 

life and love

sun and stars

music and laughter

eternity forever

beauty where-ever

i look

 

such joy i have, Lord

while others suffer

why me?

what did i ever do?

 

my God!

 

i love you

i thank you

i praise you

 

i live because of you

everything i am

all i do

is all you

 

thank you

 

that i live

that i see

that i love

 

It is my prayer that you too will experience His nearness as you see Him revealed to you in the world that He has made for you to enjoy.