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. 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. 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. 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern His errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Last Sunday you’ll remember that we spent some time trying to measure some of the immeasurable glory and might of God. I’m delighted to say that we did not succeed! Measuring the immeasurable is an impossibility, and who knows, even eternity itself will be a journey of new discoveries each and every day…
Yet, as we touched on last week, God still reveals Himself to us today. Psalm 19 speaks very clearly of how the heavens declare His glory. It is hard to not see the handiwork of our Creator God in the beauty of the heavens.
The stars and sun point to intelligent design. The sun is about 150 million kilometres away. It is composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, a literal fireball of remarkable energy generated by nuclear fusion reactions, producing 10 million megatons of energy per second. If it were a little larger, its gravity would pull us into it. Any smaller and we’d drift off into space. If it were hotter we’d burn up, and any colder would cause us to freeze. The earth is tilted 23.5 degrees off its axis as it rotates around the sun. This tilt gives us the seasons, but it the tilt were to change by just one degree, the resulting hot and cold extremes on planet Earth would make it impossible for us to survive.
What do the heavens tell us? The list is as endless as the stars themselves, but like a giant megaphone, the number one message of the heavens is this: The Creator of the universe is intelligent, powerful, a lover of beauty, and He is infinite. God reveals Himself to us in and through His Creation. Whether we are using the most powerful telescope, the most detailed microscope, or simply taking time out to smell a flower, God’s fingerprints are everywhere.
Creation gives us general information about God, but doesn’t answer the bigger questions like, “How can I know God?” or “What must I do to be saved?”
It’s a bit like opening the box of a 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle. You know by the picture on the outside what it’s supposed to look like, but when you open the box there are only 10 or so pieces of the puzzle. You need them all in order to see the bigger picture, and without God revealing His nature, His law and His will through the Bible, all we’d have is the general picture given to us by His Creation.
We need more details, and amazingly, He has done just that.
In verses 7 to 11 of Psalm 19, David writes, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
The Bible still speaks to us today. In and through the written Word, God reveals His nature, His laws, and His love for us. As beautiful as His Creation is, we need the Bible. It is the missing piece of the puzzle.
You may not have heard of Joseph Sizoo. He was the president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary in the USA just after the Second World War. He wrote, “Years ago, when my whole life seemed to be overwhelmed, one morning quite casually I opened my New Testament and my eyes fell upon this sentence: ‘The one who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone.’ (The words of Jesus in John 8:29). My life has never been the same since that hour. Everything for me has been forever different. Not a day has passed that I have not repeated it to myself. Many have come to me for counselling during these years, and I have always sent them away with this sustaining sentence. Ever since that hour when my eyes fell upon it, I have lived by this sentence. It is the Golden Text of my life.” If you want to know true joy in this life, you have to know Jesus, who is the ultimate revelation of God to His people.
The ultimate revelation of God, is through Himself. In the person of Jesus Christ, God came into this alien world, and He revealed Himself to us. In the opening verses of the book of Hebrews we read, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word.” (Hebrew 1:1-3) There is enough in those 3 short verses to keep us going for all of eternity.
The book of Hebrews was written specifically to recent converts from the Jewish faith to Christianity, and the writer makes the point that Christ was and continues to be superior to the angels, to Moses and the prophets, all of whom God used to reveal Himself to us, and the message in the climax of Hebrews is that Jesus Christ is superior to the Aaronic priesthood as a mediator between sinful humankind and the holy God. Jesus Himself is the great High Priest, while at the same time, He is also the sacrificial Lamb who gave His life as a sacrifice for our sin.
The high priest used to enter the Most Holy Place annually on the Day of Atonement to offer the blood of a lamb, but now, as the Great High Priest, Jesus has entered heaven itself to offer His blood as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of a guilty world.
Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God, and He remains the prime means of God speaking to us today, so just what is the unique message that He brings us?
Firstly, in Christ God speaks to us concerning His unique nature. We have always wondered about the nature and character of God. People have looked for an explanation for the origin of the universe and just how and where we fit into this world.
Some think of God as the all-powerful principle behind the universe. Some regard Him as a kind of detached mechanical engineer who started the whole thing off, but has left us to our own devices, with no real concern for what happens down here – they see Him as an unloving being who lives in the distant somewhere and is unmoved by the predicament of humans.
As Christians we hold to the first principle, that God is the all-powerful source behind the universe, but we also believe that He remains intimately involved in His creation.
The Old Testament is a record of God’s progressive self-revelation. He revealed Himself continually as people were able to receive and respond to that revelation. However, because of our sin, the extent of God’s revelation has always been limited – not that the problem lies with Him, but with us.
But despite our unwillingness to allow God to speak and our reluctance to listen, He continued to reveal more and more of Himself to the prophets, the priests, and the psalmists. This is the central theme of the Old Testament, but the picture which they received was limited. It was only partial.
As we move to the New Testament, there is a fundamental change in the revelation of God. This is what the writer of Hebrews meant when he said, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.”
The moment God began walking this earth in human form, everything changed. Jesus consistently taught that God is good, and that God is love, and He taught His disciples to think of God not as just a king but also as our heavenly Father. He pictures God as the Shepherd who goes in search of a lost sheep, as a father who longingly waits with anxiety and eagerness for the return of a wayward son. He pictures God as a God who rejoices and welcomes the wayward son and immediately prepares a banquet. To understand the nature of God, we need to examine the nature and character and motives of Jesus Christ.
The simple answer to the question “Do you want to know what God is like?” is this: “Look at Jesus.”
In the introduction of John’s gospel, he writes “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.”
So, the first point is that in Christ, God reveals His true nature.
Secondly, through Jesus God clearly speaks about our need of salvation.
Jesus defined His purpose for coming into the world as meeting our greatest need. Joseph was told by the angel in Matthew 1 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” John the Baptist said “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
Jesus Himself said in Mark 10:45 “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
The depth of our sin and what it has actually done to us is dramatically revealed in the death of Christ on Calvary. We are far too flippant about our sin, but God isn’t and never has been. To understand the true horror and awfulness of sin we need to see what sin did to Jesus when He died on the cross for our sins.
The penalty of sin is revealed by the death of Jesus on the cross. It was a substitutionary death. The most terrible part of the suffering of Jesus that day was His feeling of utter loneliness and isolation from the Father. For a time He was quite literally cut off from God because He had taken upon Himself our sins, and God turned His face away from His own Son.
He had to, because at Calvary we were also given a clear picture of the Father’s inflexible justice. The God of love and grace and mercy is also the God of justice. It is the law of God that the wages of sin is death. In a mysterious but miraculous way the God of justice has provided for our salvation by giving us a Saviour, Jesus Christ. His death on the cross was a substitutionary death, and in a way the human mind cannot fully comprehend, God let Christ be our substitute. He paid the wages of our sins.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
The just, perfect law of God states that sin results in death, and the God of grace and mercy has provided a Saviour who died for our sin, so that we are now able to receive the gift of eternal life. So in and through the Cross of Calvary God speaks about His desire and His determination to redeem people from the tyranny and penalty of sin. God hates sin, but He is gracious, and He loves the sinner, so He has made provision for His forgiveness and cleansing. That provision is through Jesus Christ. The Cross is one of the most powerful means of God speaking to us today.
Thirdly, in Christ, on Calvary, God reveals His love and concern for the unsaved. John 3:17 says “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” Do you want to measure the love of God? Then look at the Cross.
In his wonderful prayer for us in Ephesians 3, Paul says “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
God demonstrated His immeasurable love for us by the suffering that His Son went through on our behalf when He was crucified for our sins. But the question is, what are we to do? How are we to respond to something which we could never possibly repay?
One of the ways we can respond to be inspired by God to work with Him in His on-going task and mission to save the lost. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5, “Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” There is that wonderful hymn written by Isaac Watts, ‘When I survey the wondrous Cross on which the Prince of Glory died.’ To meditate on the Cross and on what it means is a life-changing experience. But it needs to spur us into action. Isaac Watts’ hymn ends with the words ‘Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.’
The love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus brings countless blessings into our lives, but it also places us under a heavy debt of gratitude that should cause us to devote our lives to telling others the good news of God’s love.
God has spoken through His Creation, through Scripture, but He speaks most powerfully through His Son. Have you heard Him? Are you listening for His voice?
Each of us needs to react in one way or another to the message of Jesus. Our choice is to either accept and believe His message, and then to respond by being salt and light in this dark world, or we can choose to reject Him, but we cannot be non-committal when it comes to hearing the message of God through Jesus.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.”
John 1:18 again: “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made Him known.”
Jesus speaks not only for God but as God.
God has spoken to us right from the beginning, and He continues to do so today, ultimately through Jesus and the written Word of Scripture. Are we listening, and how will we answer His call on our lives?
Homegroup Study Notes
Read Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:18-20
There are many more passages of Scripture which speak about the revelation of God through His creation, but what reasons can you think of that people use to reject the truth of God, even though they are surrounded by clear evidence of His existence?
In which ways have you felt the Spirit of God speaking to you?
Read Hebrews 1:1-3
How do you understand these words?
God speaks to us in countless different ways, but a cornerstone of the Christian faith is that Jesus (the Living Word) is the primary means of God speaking.
What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the ‘ultimate revelation’ of God?
The fact that God gave His own Son to die on our behalf is simply too much for the human intellect to fully understand, but we are able to make some sense of it.
How have you responded to the grace of God?
What do you think He is saying to you today?