Do you not know? Have you not heard?

Lectionary Readings:

1-    Isaiah 40: 21-31
2-    Mark 1: 29-39
3-    1 Corinthians 9: 16-23
4-    Psalms 147

Once upon a time, there was a man who groaned within himself:

My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”. [1]

And to this man we reply fervently:
Don’t lose hope!

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.[2]

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.[3]

From time immemorial man has faced 3 great questions: [4]

  1. Does God even exist?
  2. And if God does exist, then what is His nature?
  3. Does God love me?  Is God a personal god? Does God care for me?

Man has sought to answer these questions by examining the nature of the universe and life as we know it.

Paul says in Acts that God has not left us without clues, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.[5]  And then in Romans:  even though His eternal power and divine nature may be invisible, they have been understood and seen through the things He has made ever since the creation of the world.[6]  The truth of creation expresses the thought that everything existing outside of God has been called into existence by Him.

Does God exist?

Consider the heavens, and poetic way in which David describes God’s existence:

When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained[7]

No… forget the poetry…

Think of the cold hard facts:  the complexity of the balance of life points to a deliberate Designer that sustains our Universe.  Astro-physicist Robert Jastrow, a self-described agnostic, stated (when discussing the Big Bang Theory): [8]

“The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion…The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen.”

We live on earth, whose size is perfect, such that our gravity is exactly right to hold a thin layer of nitrogen and oxygen that only extends about 50 miles around the Earth’s surface.[9]  A little smaller, and no atmosphere, a little larger and the hydrogen would be free.  For some peculiar reason, Earth is the only known planet equipped with the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.

And consider our distance from the sun – any further away, and we would be freezing.  Any closer, and Earth would burn up.  And yet somehow, we remain the perfect distance from the sun, while rotating at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph.  Add to that the complexity of the rotation on our axis, so that we have day and night, heating and cooling all sides of the planet.

How about the moon, and its gravitational pull, creating ocean tides and movement?  No tides – and there would just be stagnant water.  Had you considered that?  And yet if there wasn’t the ebb and flow of gravitation, the oceans would overflow onto land.

When the Apostle Paul set foot in Athens he said to those assembled there:

“As I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown God.’ What you worship as unknown, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth…” [10]

Jeremiah proclaimed:

Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.[11]

This is the God that made the earth by His power and wisdom, and stretched out the heavens by His understanding.[12]

Now, consider that liquid that forms more than 2/3rds of the human body, and most of the world’s surface: “WATER”.[13]  Both David and Jeremiah tell us that God makes the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he makes lightning for the rain, and brings the wind out of His treasuries.[14]

Without water, nothing can survive: plants, animals or humans.  It’s colourless, odourless and has no particular taste.  With an unusually high boiling point and freezing point, even though it is an integral part of our body and cell-structure, we are able to stay at 37 degrees (Celsius).  And this water, an integral part of our blood, carries food, medicines and minerals through our body to be absorbed and used.

And here are some more interesting facts about water:[15]

  1. Because of its unique surface tension, it is able to flow upwards in plants, against gravity, and taken life-giving water and nutrients to the top of trees.
  2. It freezes from the top down, and when frozen it floats – so fish can still live under the ice during winter.
  3. Most of our water is in the oceans: salt water.  But it evaporates, forming clouds, and is then distributed throughout the world in clouds that disperse the water over land, plants, animals and people.  This system of purification and supply sustains life on this planet Earth – recycling at its most basic and essential form.

The writers of the Bible had noticed all of this, and commented:

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full…[16]

God makes the drops of water; they pour down rain according the evaporation, which the clouds then drop and cleanse man with abundantly.[17]

“You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.[18]

Scientists have discovered laws of nature that never change. But why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?  Why should the Universe obey rules, let alone abide by the rules of mathematics?  Why doesn’t our Universe have conditions which change unpredictably from moment to moment? Why is it even mathematical?[19]

At the beginning of the 20th Century, many of the laws of nature and physics had been described so successfully that many scientists felt that all that remained were just a few final decimal places.[20]  Isaac Newton had described the laws of motion and gravity, Maxwell the laws of electromagnetism.  The small anomalies were ignored or unrecognised by the physics community.

And then along can Albert Einstein, with this theory of relativity, in 1905. This theory shocked the scientific community – it was a staggering new view of space, time, matter and energy.[21]  Einstein’s theories revealed that the flow of time & the structure of space were relative to the velocity, mass and acceleration of their observers:  their observed values were actually fixed, they were relative to each other.  Einstein was able to show that time was not merely a mental contrivance of man:  it is a physical property of the universe and that rate of time that flows depends entirely on the physical conditions present where you are measuring the time.  Space and time were somehow connected.

Imagine, then, several years later, the shockwave that was felt throughout the scientific community when the astronomer Willem de Sitter found a small error in Einstein’s equations – and when he corrected this error he suddenly discovered that the Universe was finite![22]  Space, time, matter and energy had a beginning.

The prophet Amos tells us:

Seek Him that makes the seven stars and Orion, and turns the shadow of death into the morning, and makes the day dark with night: that calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the face of the earth: the LORD is His name.[23]

The law of cause and effect states that the cause is always greater than its effect.[24]  This being true, our God – Creator of the Sun, the moon and stars – must have more power and energy that the Sun and all the stars together combined.  Our Creator is more powerful than all of the energy stored in all of the stars in all the galaxies of the entire Universe.  Are you starting to get an idea of how powerful our God is?

He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; He suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at His rebuke. By His power He churned up the sea…. By His breath the skies become fair…. And these are but the outer fringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him! How then can we understand the thunder of His power?” [25]

The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made…for he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded and it stood forth.[26]

So, if that is God, why do we need Jesus?

We need Jesus, because He shows us that God, while omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, is gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, and wants to be a personal God.[27]  We need Jesus to teach us about the personal God and the relationship that we can EACH have with this all-consuming fire and energy of life and knowledge.   That we have forgiveness for all of our sins, short-comings and hang-ups.

And we also learn from Jesus that every morning is a new day and a new opportunity to spend time with the Creator.  We read in Mark this morning:

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.[28]

Some of our most vivid encounters with our Creator will be when we are alone with Him, surrounded by His Creation!  We need to know the God of the forest, the God of the hills, the valleys, the rivers and the oceans.  The Spirit of Peace finds us in that quiet place of contemplation. Creation can teach us constant awareness of our Creator and reverence for Him.[29]

Have you ever noticed how birds praise their creator, first thing in the morning?  When you wake up, you can hear them singing their hearts out – praising God.  (You know the one I’m talking about – that annoying little bird that at 5.30 a.m., before you’re really ready to get up and face the day, is sitting outside your window jabbering and singing and saying “Hallelujah” – and you just want to throw a shoe at it! Yeah! That bird! That song!) Thanking God for another day.  Joyful and energetic.  After they have sung their praises, then they go about the business of getting some food, building their nest, collecting twigs or whatever they need.  But first, they sing praise to God the Designer, Artist, Architect, Engineer, and Life-giver.  We each need to take time to meditate daily about our Maker.

Isaiah 40: 26 reminds us:

Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things …

When we take that moment to meditate on our Creator, we will see His nature more clearly:

Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the depths; fire and hail, snow and clouds; stormy wind, fulfilling His word; mountains and all hills; fruitful trees and all cedars; beasts and all cattle; creeping things and flying fowl; kings of the earth and all peoples; princes and all judges of the earth; both young men and maidens; old men and children.[30]

When I look at the beauty in a forest, I see that every one of God’s creatures is a masterpiece. From the ant or caterpillar crawling along a twig, to a panther, lion or elephant – each is unique, beautiful, bringing harmony and balance to the forest, with careful attention to detail, precision, accuracy, and symmetry.  Notice the variety of each species! Everything has its purpose and fits harmoniously into earth’s web of life. Even the bugs and flies have a purpose.
And yet, the Bible reminds me: I have a special value!  I am special!

Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?[31]

Creation also teaches us to take care of God’s property:[32]  Genesis says that we were put here to tend and keep God’s garden!  Our Creator is the owner – we are the stewards and caretakers.

A righteous man regards the life of his animal.[33]

And there are even rules in the Bible about cutting down trees![34]

When in your war against a city, you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down.
Are trees of the field human to withdraw before you into a besieged city?
Only trees that you know do not yield food may be destroyed; you may cut them down for constructing siege works against the city that is waging war on you, until it has been reduced. [35]

If we paid a little more attention to the instruction manual we’d received regarding our relationship with God and His creation, we might have a few less problems.

And finally, creation teaches us that our Creator knows best[36] – we need to look to Him for help and healing and to solve every problem.  When we are feeling down and neglected, and our rights disregarded, we are promised:

He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.[37]

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.[38]

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.[39]

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His, and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.[40]

[1] Isaiah 40: 27
[2] Isaiah 40: 28
[3] Job 12:7-10
[4] Mark EASTMAN, M.D. “Science & the Bible: Cosmos & Creator” http://www.khouse.org/articles/1999/233/
[5] Acts 14:17
[6] Romans 1:20
[7] Psalms 8:3
[8] Robert Jastrow; “Message from Professor Robert Jastrow”; LeaderU.com; 2002. Quoted in Marilyn Adamson “Is there a God?” http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html
[9] Marilyn Adamson “Is there a God?” http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html
[10] Acts 17:23-24
[11] Jeremiah 32:17
[12] Jeremiah 51:15
[13] Marilyn Adamson “Is there a God?” http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html
[14] Psalms 135:7; Jeremiah 51:16
[15] Marilyn Adamson http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html
[16] Ecclesiastes 1:7
[17] Job 36:27-28
[18] Psalm 65:9-13
[19] Marilyn Adamson  http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html
[20] Mark EASTMAN, M.D. http://www.khouse.org/articles/1999/233/
[21] Mark EASTMAN, M.D. http://www.khouse.org/articles/1999/233/
[22] Mark EASTMAN, M.D. http://www.khouse.org/articles/1999/233/
[23] Amos 5:8
[24] Mark EASTMAN, M.D. http://www.khouse.org/articles/1999/233/
[25] Job 26:7-9, 11-14
[26] Psalms 33:5-6, 9
[27] Marilyn Adamson  http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html
[28] Mark 1: 35
[29] “Crucial Lessons from knowing God is our Creator” http://www.freebiblestudyguides.org/bible-teachings/God-crucial-lessons-knowing-our-creator.htm
[30] Psalm 148:7-12
[31] Luke 12:24
[32] “Crucial Lessons from knowing God is our Creator” http://www.freebiblestudyguides.org/bible-teachings/God-crucial-lessons-knowing-our-creator.htm
[33] Proverbs 12:10
[34] “The Jewish Way to Wage War: War & Peace in Judaism” http://judaism.about.com/library/3_intro/level2/bl_war.htm
[35]Deuteronomy 20:19-20
[36]http://www.freebiblestudyguides.org/bible-teachings/God-crucial-lessons-knowing-our-creator.htm
[37] Psalms 147:3
[38] Matthew 7:7
[39]Isaiah 40: 28-31
[40] Psalm 95: 3-6

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