The Sermon of Creation

What is the nature of everything we see around us? What is the nature of creation? How do we interpret the world we live in? I’ve had many chats with people who don’t seem to think creation has much to say to us at all – as if we are a bunch of aliens plonked down in a foreign land. The idea that creation is speaking to us just may not be a thought we give a great deal of time to – but even then we end up living as if it has nothing to say to us. So does creation have anything to say to us?

The Nature of Creation
Our starting point must be our maker. John 1:3 tells us that everything was created through Christ and without him nothing was made. Surely, then, when we look around us, just as a potter leaves his prints on his work, we should expect to find Christ’s fingerprints all over creation.

In Psalm 19, we read:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

It seems that, far from there being some wishy-washy, half-baked way in which the heavens might say something vaguely about a Creator God or higher being, creation is boldly declaring and proclaiming the glory of the LORD! Creation is constantly displaying knowledge of the LORD! Paul quotes Psalm 19 in Romans 10:18 to say that man is without excuse, because the sermon of creation has gone out to all the earth! Wow! So, creation is saying something to us! But do we believe this? And if we do believe it, do we live like we believe it?

The Sun and the Moon
Let’s think of an example – the sun and the moon. The sun has been a focus of attention to untold numbers of people down the centuries. Ancient Egypt, Ancient Indonesia, African tribes such as the Munshi tribe and the Barotse tribe and so many more all worshipped the sun. Even if we look at the Wiltshire landmark, Stonehenge, we can see that the people who erected it clearly attached great significance to the sun, as they lined the stones up exactly with mid-summer sunrise and mid-winter sunset.

So what does the sun have to say to us? If we go back to Genesis 1 we see that there was light on the first day of creation, and it was not until the fourth day that the LORD created the two lights to govern the day and night (sun & moon). If we then shoot right the way to the other end of our Bible, to Revelation 21:23 we read that in the New Creation there is no longer any need for the sun because Christ brings the light. We can also see that in Isaiah 60:19.

You see, the sun and moon are not essential to creation in order to make things tick along – they are not just there in some detached sense because that was the only way that the LORD could design it – he is not an architect who came up against a design issue or a problem with structural integrity and had to stick in the sun and moon to shore things up. In Genesis 1 the vegetation was created before the sun, so it isn’t even as if the vegetation needed the sun to survive. It is much more exciting than just an architectural bodge-job: The LORD put the sun and the moon in the sky to tell us something!

So what can we say about the sun? Well, it is the brightest light in the sky – it brings us life and it lights our world. It sustains us!

What else does the sun do? Well, every evening the sun goes down and every morning the sun rises. But wait, can we see more here? How about, every day the Son goes down, and every day the Son rises..!

N.B. It is important to note that the Jewish day starts at sunset each day and ends at sunset. It was the Romans who gave us our days, starting at midnight and finishing at midnight. The Jewish day, starting at sunset helps us much more to understand the meaning of the sun. I would say that sunset MUST be the start of the day. If we start and finish our day at midnight then we are moving from oblivion to oblivion, but by starting our day at sunset the Gospel is proclaimed to us. We start in darkness, the sun is in the pit, and then the sun rises in glory and brings us life-sustaining light. That is not just the pattern of our day, but it is the pattern of the whole of creation!

So the created sun proclaims to us something of Christ! Just as Christ went into the pit for us, into the dark place, and then rose in glory, so the sun proclaims that to us. The sun dies and rises every single day! And we, also, must die to our old selves in Adam and be risen in Christ.

I can’t help but feel that those who have worshipped the created sun down the ages and even those who still worship the sun now are onto something. But instead of worshipping the Son, they are worshipping the created sun, the sign that proclaims the Son. In Malachi 4:2 Christ is even referred to as the glorious ‘sun of righteousness’ who will rise with healing in his wings.

We have already looked at how Psalm 19 tells us that creation’s sermon proclaims something to us. If we read further on in Psalm 19 we are given the very example of the sun:

4 In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

And what of the moon? Well, the moon is a light shining in the darkness. She is the faithful witness, the Church. The moon/Church does not create her own light or her own glory, but only reflects or bears witness to that of the sun/Son.

Some of us may be sceptical about this whole idea and maybe think that I am reading way too much into it. My question is, how do we view creation? Surely we should see Christ’s fingerprints all over it. Some may argue that we are looking up trying to find things around us that we can use as metaphors to coincidently apply to Christ, and maybe even use in a sermon – but I am suggesting something much more exciting – that the things we see around us are the way they are because they were designed that way specifically to teach us something and to proclaim the glory of Christ!

There are so many other things we could look at – literally anything that is going on around us. Why are seed-bearing plants so important (Gen 1:11; John 12:24) – seeds that fall to the ground and are buried, dying a kind of death, in order to bring life? Why do the waves crash against the sea shore and then draw out, seemingly wanting to drag us in? Why do we cry and what is a tear?

So how do we view creation? Is it a sermon that has anything to say about Christ? Is it a sermon we are falling asleep in because it has nothing interesting to say? Or is it the most amazing sermon you have ever heard!?

For a more in-depth discussion on a Theology of Everything see Dan Hames’ article at: http://www.theologynetwork.org/theology-of-everything/starting-out/why-and-how-to-do-a-theology-of-everything.htm

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13 comments

  1. I’ve not even read this and I know it’s going to be awesome!

  2. Thanks for the article link, mate. Dodgiest thing I ever wrote 😉

    I do think it’s interesting and important the way the Bible seems to approach the creation as a deeply spiritual and symbolic home for humanity– rather than an incidental backdrop for the salvation of our souls.

    It would be good to spend some time thinking about how the gospel is preached and proclaimed in the creation…

  3. Thanks Pod – did you actually read it?!

    Dan – thanks! I absolutely agree. I would love to spend a bit more time going into some of the specifics – I think plants have a lot to say to us as well. It’s interesting how Jesus uses a lot of plant illustrations… I feel another blog post coming on!

  4. I love our diametrically opposed perspectives 🙂

    If I’ve understood your article correctly, you see “the Sun” as a representation of “the Son”, whereas I view “the Son” as a representation of “the Sun” (i.e. that Jesus is man’s latest anthropomorphous representation of the Sun).

    From my perspective, that is why there are so many metaphors and references to “rising”, “light of the world”, “light and dark” etc within The Bible. We’ve made it up from the ancient times you allude to in your article when we believed that the Sun was a god and created the Christ figure as the new “Solar Deity”.

    I do totally agree with you that creation has much to say and I find it fascinating that we each discover and interpret what is being said in different ways.

    Love your blog and look forward to engaging with you in more discussions.

    1. Tom L · · Reply

      Hi Paul,

      Interesting point you make. It seems to be a kind of chicken and egg situation. As you say, it is a matter of perspective and interpretation. From a human perspective one might look at the universe and say the Sun came first, however, the word of the living God testifies differently. He tells us that his eternal Son, the one who was at the Father’s side from before the world even began, was the reason and logic of the whole creation. What Steve wrote is not another human interpretation of what we see around us, but God’s given reason for creation as revealed to us by his Word. One interpretation is received by revelation; the other interpretation comes from human reason. This is a good example of the age-old struggle between those who trust in self, and those who trust in Jesus for truth.

      As a good friend of Jesus once put it, “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no-one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful.” (John 3:31-34)

      1. Thanks for taking the time to reply Tom.

        You say that “What Steve wrote is not another human interpretation of what we see around us, but God’s given reason for creation.”

        I’m inclined to disagree with that statement.

        What Steve wrote is Steve’s interpretation of what he sees. I’m sure that his interpretation is influenced by his belief that the Bible is the Word of God, but that belief is still Steve’s interpretation of how things are. And as far as I am aware, Steve is human.

        Hence, both his interpretation and my interpretation and indeed your interpretation are simply human interpretations of what is.

        You also say that one interpretation is received by revelation and one from human reason.

        If by that you are implying that the interpretation based on the Bible is the “revelation” then I could claim that my interpretation is the revelation as from my perspective I interpret the Bible as allegorical, metaphorical and mythological and the perspective I put forward originally is based on what is “revealed” through the Bible.

        However, I’m not going to claim that my interpretation is a “revelation” as once again it is simply my human interpretation of what is.

        My philosophical perspective is that All is in “THE ALL” and “THE ALL” is in All. As such, although “THE ALL” is unknowable, each new perspective provides a fresh insight of “THE ALL” and ourselves. This is the reason I genuinely love seeing, hearing and discussing the differences in perspective that each of us has.

  5. Ooh, I loved the tantalising hint about the waves crashing on the shore. I had noticed that it is fairly common for the Bible to talk about the way God actively prevents the sea from taking over the land again.

    Another thing to mention about sea is the way that, in the OT, it represents the nations. That makes fish gentiles. No-one (as far as I’ve found) eats fish in the OT. But with the coming of Christ, we have numerous references to him eating fish. Something here about Christ taking gentiles into himself?

    Please tell me more about crying and tears. Maybe something about tears are salty, and I think salt is about judgement, and then no more salt-water sea in the New Creation? This is a great start to a blog – thanks Steve.

  6. Thanks Paul – I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    Tim – Thanks! I think you’re right. There is surely significance that it is the salt water that is trying to swallow up the land? Great observation about fish not being eaten in the OT. What made you look for that?

    I haven’t really thought through the tears things yet, but I think there is definitely a lot there! definitely something about the fact that they are salty as well! Maybe I’ll post about that some time!

    Thanks Tim.

    P.s. I have linked your blog in the ‘blogs to visit’ section on the sidebar.

  7. Steve,
    I’ll come clean. The fish observation came from James Jordan. Have you heard of him? He is the master on imagery and symbolism in the Bible; his book ‘Through New Eyes’ is the place to start (available as pdf for free at various places on the web). But once you think about it – fishers of men makes more sense. As for the sea being chaos/the world in rebellion, that then explains why so much of Acts is about storms and a shipwreck.
    Thanks for the blog link. That might be the encouragement I need to get it going again! But, as I say on a number of blog posts, it’s best to go spend time at Christ The Truth rather than a minnow like me.

  8. Awesome! In Rom 10:17 we also see that Paul is quoting from Psalm 19 not just to say that everyone has heard something about God in general from creation, but that everyone has heard the universal and 24-hour ‘Word of Christ’, not least from the sun!

  9. […] to warm the ground again, shedding its light on the vegetation? That’s right – the sun. The sun which is there to proclaim to us Jesus Christ, the Son comes in its life-giving and life-sustaining power and brings new life. People all around the […]

  10. […] even further away still. But in spring the sun returns, bringing with it new life. Irrelevant? No! The created sun proclaims to us Jesus Christ, the Son. Is it just coincidence that the created sun, that is there to proclaim the Son to us, is the […]

  11. […] sun – it’s rising (Mal. 4:2) and passage across the sky (Ps. 19:4-6 cf. Ps. 45) – and the whole related theme of […]

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