Way of Grace Church
Creator & Creation (Psalm 104) 8-16-09
Meet Your Maker
I. Creature and Creation
What do you think about when you see those afternoon monsoon clouds billow up thousands of feet above the earth? What do you think about when you see the western sky filled with flames of orange and pink as the sun drops behind the horizon? What do you think about when the lightning flashes behind the mountains, revealing the black silhouette of the desert peaks? What do you think about when you see the cactus wren making its nest in the strong arms of a majestic saguaro? What do you think about when the spring brings out those brilliant yellow blossoms, that color the sides of the highways, but only for several weeks? What do you think about when, as you move farther away from the city lights, the desert sky reveals a multitude of stars, shimmering above your head, but light years from where you stand?
While some people describe the desert as barren and drab, as dusty and depressing, it is in fact filled with wonderful reminders that we are part of something so much bigger than us, something that speaks to us, speaks to our souls, about a greater reality all around us.
No matter a person’s religious belief, this connection with nature, or we should say, this connection with creation is hard wired into each of us. We all feel it when confronted with majesty of a desert vista, or a flowering forest meadow, or the roar of breaking waves on a scenic beach.
Whether we know it or not, what we feel is the creation testifying of its Creator.
Last we began to talk about the importance of God’s role as Creator, and we did so by looking together at Paul’s message to the town council of Athens. We saw there how Paul declared the gospel of Jesus, the Good News about Jesus, by first correcting their ideas about the Creator and his relationship with His creatures.
We talked last week about how, in our daily lives, we don’t often think about ourselves as creatures. “What a good day to be a creature!” But living in light of our creatureliness means a number of things, one of which we could formulate in a question: “What does it mean tolive as God’s creatures in the midst of God’s creation?”
So this morning, I want us to meet our maker by thinking more about creation.
II. The Passage: “May the Lord Rejoice in His Works” (104:1-35)
Now, we could simply turn to Genesis 1 and 2 this morning and read about God’s work of creating the universe, the earth, and everything it contains.
But I want us to look instead at Psalm 104 because I believe this psalm not only reminds us about God’s original act of creation, the one described in Genesis 1 and 2, but it tells us something else. It tells us, as you will clearly see, it tells us that Creator’s relationship to creation is not simply something to be talked about in the past tense. No, we can do that. But the Creator’s relationship with creation is something ongoing. His work did not stop with task of making. It continues with the task of sustaining.
Let’s take break these 35 verses into smaller pieces, and look at what they tell us about the Creator and His creation.
A. The Creator’s Majesty Revealed in Creation (vs. 1-4)
Look first at verses 1 through 4:
Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 2 covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. 3 He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot;he rides on the wings of the wind; 4 he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.
Do you see what the psalmist is saying? It almost sounds like he is talking about God’s act of creation when he talks about God “stretching out the heavens”. But look at how the writer uses the present tense. He is describing what God is doing now.
He is saying here in poetic language that God’s “splendor and majesty” can be seen in the rays of sunshine that burst through the clouds in shafts of light. That God’s everywhere-presence can be felt in the rolling clouds and the rushing wind. He is saying that God communicates, he is sending a message, through the wind and lightning (the flaming fire).
What the psalmist is saying is that when he looks to the heavens, to the clouds, and the wind, and the storm, he sees the glory of God.
The write of Psalm 19 tells us something similar, doesn’t he?
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. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
Do you see God revealing his splendor and majesty when you look into the sky? On a stormy night? That testimony is there, and it causes the psalmist to begin the psalm with praise on his lips: “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great!”
B. The Creator’s Authority Manifested in Creation (vs. 5-9)
Look at how the psalmist continues in verses 5 through 9:
5 He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. 6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. 7 At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. 8 The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. 9 You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.
Notice the switch to past tense here. The perspective shifts to God’s original act of creation. The language used here is language of authority, isn’t it? “He set”, “At your rebuke”, “you appointed”, “you set a boundary”.
Even though we’re talking about the past here, the psalmist is reminding us that the firmness of the earth, and the position of the mountains, and the set place of the ocean are all reminders of the Creator’s authority in creation.
When you think about the immensity of the sea and the mountains, even the whole planet, think about the power God displayed in simply speaking a word.
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, which covers about 6000 square feet, and includes the famous nine panels from the book of Genesis that famously depict the creation of the world and creation of man, that ceiling took four years to complete. And it does even touch the artistic genius on display every day in creation.
C. The Creator’s Provision Expressed in Creation (vs. 10-18)
But look at how the psalmist continues to describe the Creator’s work in creation; verse 10:
10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills; 11 they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. 13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. 14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth 15 and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shineand bread to strengthen man's heart. 16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. 17 In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees. 18 The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
From the springs and rains that nurture creation, to the grass and vines that feed both man and beast, to the trees and mountains that provide shelter for all sorts of animals, the Creator’s provision is expressed in every corner of creation.
Sometimes it’s hard in a world of grocery stores and wholesale warehouses to appreciate how the earth consistently brings forth everything we need, everything the animals need to flourish. And that production is God’s provision.
The continual abundance of the soil and the springs and the streams daily testify of God as Creator. It’s all around us, isn’t it? It’s declared on your dinner plate!
D. The Creator’s Daily Supervision Seen in Creation (vs. 19-23)
Look next at verses 19 through 23:
19 He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. 20 You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about. 21 The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. 22 When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens. 23 Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening.
The psalmist continues to talk about, as we see in verse 21, how the animals seek their food from God. But here the emphasis seems to be how God’s role as Creator of and Creator over creation is seen through the regular rhythm of night and day; the cycles of the sun and moon.
God’s daily supervision of creation is see everyday. He is God over the day and the night. In the ancient world, the sun was often seen as a god. Here the sun is simply a part of creation, a servant of Yahweh, the God of Israel, the Maker of everything.
Every day, day and night, sunrise and sunset are declaring to you the faithful supervision of your Maker. Is that how you see it?
E. The Creator’s Wisdom Illustrated in Creation (vs. 24-26)
Look at the next three verses. Verse 24:
24 O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 25 Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. 26 There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.
Here the writer is focusing on the animal kingdom and how every creature is a clear illustration of the Creator’s infinite wisdom. Think about how big the ocean is. Think about how it is filled with life. Not sure what kind of animal the Leviathan is. From the mention of how this animal plays in the sea, it might be a large whale, or in light of Job 41, might be a crocodile.
But when you think about the incredible diversity of life that exists in our world, you have to agree with the psalmist when he declares, “O Lord, how manifold are your works!”
F. The Creator’s Sustaining Hand Evident in Creation (vs. 24-26)
Listen to what the writer goes on tells us in verses 27 through 30 about God’s relationship with all of His creatures:
27 These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. 28 When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. 30 When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.
The psalmist reminds us here that all life on this planet is not simply sustained by food, or God’s provision of food. But all life depends completely on the pleasure of God in giving life and sustaining life.
When he hides his face, life is dismayed, when removes the breath of life, they die. When he sends his breath, or His Spirit (same word for both in Hebrew), new life springs up.
Life is a mystery that even science cannot ultimately explain. It is a miracle that defies any simple explanations. Life, in its beginnings, it continuing existence, and its end, is all according to the pleasure and purposes of God. He is both Creator and Sustainer.
G. The Creator’s Praise Heard in Creation (vs. 31-35)
Now look at how, understandably, in light of the incredible power of God at work all around us in creation, look at how the psalmist responds in 31 through 35:
31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works, 32 who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! 33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. 34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. 35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!
The Lord does rejoice in all his works. Listen to what Pastor John Piper writes about how the creation praises its Creator:
“…God rejoices in the works of creation because they praise him…Creation praises God by simply being what it was created to be in all its incredible variety. And since most of creation is beyond the awareness of mankind (in the reaches of space, and in the heights of the mountains and at the bottom of the sea) it wasn’t created merely to serve purposes that have do with us. It was created for the enjoyment of God.” (John Piper, from The Pleasures of God)
Do you see what the psalmist is saying here? Do you see how he is moved by the incredible testimony of creation? He wants, desperately, to join in the chorus of creation! He wants to sing for as long as he lives. He wants God to find his meditation pleasing. He wants the Lord to rejoice in his works, including in the psalmist. He even wants the wicked, those mar and corrupt God’s creation, those who will not praise their Creator, he wants them removed from the earth, so that the creation will sing united in worship of its Creator and Sustainer.
Is this your desire? Is this how you are moved by the world that God has made, the world that surrounds you every single day?
III. Joining Creation’s Praise
The New Testament makes a startling revelation about the Creation. Listen to what the writer to the Hebrews reveals:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He [the Son] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
Paul writes something similar about Jesus in Colossians 1: And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)
Jesus is both Creator and Sustainer. No wonder on the day when Jesus triumphantly entered Jersualem the people were…saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:38-40)
You see, you and I were made to join in Creation’s praise. We are part of this created order, which was designed to reflect and respond in praise to our Maker. But listen to another sobering truth that Paul shares with us in Romans 1:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)
God’s word tells us that, because of sin, we suppress the truth about what we see all around us everyday. The testimony of God, as outlined in Psalm 104, is clear and powerful and an everyday witness of God’s creative and sustaining power. But because of sin, we move through creation unmoved. The world becomes simply a resource and not reason to worship. Creation becomes simply a commodity and not a command to praise the Creator.
We bow down and worship the stuff of the earth, but not the Maker of the earth as we should, every day.
The only way that we can join the chorus of all creation, the only way our eyes can be opened each day to the glory that surrounds us, is through the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the power of the gospel, the good news about what Jesus did, that he died for us, and now lives for us at God’s right hand; it is that gospel that can enable us to live as creatures were intended to live: in full-throated praise of the God who made us.
It’s God’s grace that he continues to reveal his power and faithfulness as Creator every second through his creation. And it is God’s grace through Jesus that enables us to rightly respond to the testimony of creation.
What all of us feel inside when confronted with the miracle of creation is an invitation to reach out and find God. That God has made himself known with even more certainty in the person of Jesus. He not only made you, but he died for you. He not only made you, but he wants to remake you in grace. The goodness of God confirmed everyday in creation should remind us of his loving invitation. Look around. Listen. Do you hear the song rising up?
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