1st Sunday after Epiphany – B LSB #979
Text – Genesis 1:3
And God said, “Let there be light,” & there was light.
AND GOD SAID
Because of the mad man in charge of North Korea, nuclear weapons have been in the news a lot over the past year. Due to the increased accuracy of modern weapons there’s no longer a need to produce giant hydrogen bombs. So the largest one ever built was the RDS 220, a Russian made weapon that they exploded over their Arctic Ocean on October 30, 1961.
It had an explosive force 3,800 times the size of the weapon dropped during WWII on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It is interesting to note that the single most powerful invention of mankind is only useful for the destruction of other things – including human beings. Does that say something about the human race as it exists today?
The single most powerful force in all the universe is the Word of God, & in the 1st chapter of Genesis it is being used, not to destroy things, but to create them out of nothing! “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ & there was…” Strewn throughout the 1st chapter of the Bible there are 7 more verses that begin in the exact same way – “And God said…”
And after God was done speaking, the entire universe, & everything in it, had been brought into existence: “And God saw everything that He had made, & behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31 ESV) Stars & planets, rocks & tigers, snails, fish & birds, rivers & oceans, trees & elephants, multitudes of angels & two human beings, all created because God said so.
Then, in the midst of the awesome & pristine beauty of all that Elohim had made, the highest of His creatures rebelled against Him. “And to Adam [God] said: ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife & have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns & thistles it shall bring forth for you; & you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust, & to dust you shall return.’” (Genesis 3:17-19 ESV) Because of Adam’s sin, the Word of God was changed from blessing to curse. Creation needed to turn a new leaf.
This is the 1st Sunday of a new year, & sometimes when the old year is past we say good riddance. We’re glad to leave it behind & move on. For whatever reasons, there are years when we just want to turn a new leaf. That frustration or discouragement is always the result of sin. Sometimes, we’re even willing to admit that it’s our own.
I’m sure that Adam & Eve felt the burden of their original sin for the rest of their lives, especially once their firstborn son, Cain, murdered his brother Abel. If they had calendars at the time, after that day, you can bet they wanted to turn over a new leaf. Eventually, however, we need to come to terms with our past, for we are only alive in the present, the here & now.
Wanting to move on is understandable, yet, neither do we live in the future. Tomorrow never actually arrives. It just keeps on moving ahead of us, never allowing us to catch up, except when time runs out on the Last Day. Calendars are a tool we use in this broken world & they will be unnecessary in heaven or in hell.
For now, we experience time mostly as a struggle to accomplish the daily tasks of living. When God spoke these words, life for Adam & Eve took on an entirely new character: “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground…” (3:19 ESV) You see, everything we try to accomplish is in some way a time consuming struggle.
Our words are merely instruments of grammar. Sometimes, our words have no basis in reality at all. We call those lies. Yahweh’s words are instruments of reality. When God wills something to be done it instantly comes into existence. As St. John writes his Gospel, he records Jesus praying, & Jesus says there, of the Father, “…Your word is truth.” (17:17 ESV) For example, when Jesus has been fasting in the wilderness 40 days & nights, the Devil tries to convince Jesus that His hunger is the ultimate reality. Satan tempts Jesus to take matters into His own hands, turn the stones into bread, & eliminate the struggle.
Jesus counters the temptation by saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” If we look at that a little deeper, what Jesus is saying is that His hunger is not the ultimate reality. It may appear that man lives by bread, but the truth is you & I live by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
The Word of God does not simply create things. It creates & sustains life itself. The theory of evolution is the farthest thing from the truth because it is an affront to the very Word of God. The theory of evolution only stands because God has restrained the power of His Word. Otherwise, everyone spouting those lies would be destroyed.
Our sins are not any better & they would destroy us as well. But in His grace & mercy, Yahweh is allowing those who teach evolution to continue living, & He allows us to continue living, because the Heavenly Father desires that all men would be saved. The grace & mercy will end on the Last Day of time. “…now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV)
The 2nd person of the Holy Trinity became human in order to be the Mediator between God & man. He enables sinful people to come into God’s presence without being destroyed in order that we might be saved instead.
All that talk at the beginning of the sermon about nuclear weapons actually does say a lot about the human race. That the most powerful thing human beings have created is only useful for destroying things speaks rather directly against the theory of evolution. In that theory, higher & more sophisticated life forms are supposed to be developing & evolving all the time. Yet nuclear weapons do have the capability of wiping out almost all of God’s living creatures on earth, except for, supposedly, the cockroaches. The human race needs a savior. That much is pretty clear even to secular atheists & unbelievers of all stripes. The question boils down to whom or what should be that Savior.
The Gospel lesson from Mark 1 tells us: “And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11 ESV) To briefly paraphrase that we could say, “And God said…” For at the Baptism of Jesus God is speaking a new word of creation. Jesus is taking the place of Israel, the failed nation of God, & Jesus is succeeding.
In fact, He passes with flying colors. Here, God is once again saying of His creation, “It is very good!” It is through this Man, the new Adam that God steps back & declares of His creation “it is very good.” As you & I were baptized into Christ Jesus, we were baptized into this new creation. We are now eternal & will not die the 2nd death, which is hell.
In the 3rd chapter of Genesis, the Devil attacked God’s Word with the lie, “Did God really say?” Adam & Eve fell for the lie. As we live, move & have our being in Christ, the Gospel of Mark teaches us, “Yes, God did say, you are mine, & with you I am well pleased.” Amen.
God, whose almighty word chaos & darkness heard & took their flight: hear us we humbly pray & where the Gospel day sheds not its glorious ray, let there be light! Lord, who once came to bring, on Your redeeming wing, healing & sight, health to the sick in mind, sight to the inly blind: oh, now to humankind let there be light! Spirit of truth & love, life-giving, holy dove, speed forth Your flight; move on the water’s face, bearing the lamp of grace, & in earth’s darkest place let there be light! Amen. LSB 979:1-3.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet