Missionary statesman and theologian E. Stanley Jones told of browsing in a bookstore and seeing a set of books on a table with a sign reading: SECOND HAND THEOLOGY FOR SALE. Jones said that upon seeing that sign he vowed never...
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.
I remember when Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human rocketed into space and how Khrushchev mocked, “Gagarin flew into space, but didn’t see any god there.” Although he was an atheist, Khrushchev represented the notion some people have about God as way up there and far removed from their everyday lives and concerns. Their god is little different than the deist’s watchmaker god who made the world, wound it up, set it in motion and walked away, leaving us to navigate life on our own. While professing belief in God they push Him farther and farther away.
What a delight to discover that the God of the Bible is intimately present to us and engaged in the smallest, most commonplace, quotidian nanosecond of our everyday existence. The heavenly Father knows every sparrow that falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29), numbers every hair on our heads (Matthew 10:30), gives names to the gazillion stars (Psalm 147:4), and even suffers with us in all of our suffering (Isaiah 63:9).
While asserting that God is present to every particle of His creation, the Bible is careful to distinguish the Creator from His creation. God is different from His creation, but not separate from it. Scripture never confuses the Creator with the creation. It does not teach pantheism, in which everything is God and God is everything. Rather, God is revealed as immediately present to every person, sunrise, heartbeat and atom. The apostle Paul exults in God “who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6). In a sermon before the Athenian intelligentsia Paul proclaims the God in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Some modern theologians speak of God correctly, albeit clumsily, as “the Ground of our being”. God is our very life!
Today’s Scripture reveals that the universe was created by God and is sustained by God moment by moment as He speaks His “powerful word”. There is nothing in the universe that exists on its own. There is no maverick atom doing its own thing. Elsewhere the apostle Paul speaks of Christ as cosmic glue as “in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The Son of God created all things ex nihilo, out of nothing, and upholds all things in every moment of their existence.
Theologians call this Continuous Creation, by which God is recreating the worlds every moment. It is God who sustains that tree outside your window, the earth spinning, and your heart pumping in every successive moment. Early American theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote about God’s continuous creation: “God’s preserving created things in being is perfectly equivalent to a continued creation, or to his creating those things out of nothing at each moment of their existence.” (Jonathan Edwards, “Original Sin” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards)
Khrushchev was flat out wrong! God is not way up there in the sky and far removed from us. The psalmist can teach us to open our eyes and see God revealed in every detail of life:
14 You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to use,*
to bring forth food from the earth,
15 and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
and bread to strengthen the human 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 its home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;
the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
19 You have 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 animals of the forest come creeping out.
21 The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
The old hymn had it right! This is our Father’s world, as “In the rustling grass I hear God pass/He speaks to me everywhere.” This moment and the next moment and the next, Jesus upholds all things by His powerful word!
Grace and peace,