Then God Said...And It Was So
Holy Trinity Sunday – A LSB #’s 979, 578, 801
Text – Genesis 1:9
Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, & let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
THEN GOD SAID… AND IT WAS SO
What is your ‘go to’ when it’s time to unwind & relax? A fair number of people will drink a beer. Others go for a walk out in nature. Working around the yard or the garden is good for some. Playing golf & other sports help other people wind down. For me, when I’m too exhausted for any physical activity, yet still need to unwind, I listen to music.
It helped me to cope with life on a submarine. It encouraged me to keep plodding through the trials & struggles of seminary. It got me through the several years of loneliness I spent serving as a pastor in North Dakota. In music I find peace & rest for my heart & my soul.
During the time of the reading from the book of Genesis, God’s creation is still a perfect place, without sin or any of the corruption that it brings. There’s no rioting or looting, no murder & no brutality. The Words of God coming from it are like a song that’s being carried on the wind from a very far place. It is a world that you & I have never known.
The report about God’s creation is the truth & nothing but the truth, with no spin or bias applied whatsoever. And in spite of the corruption in our hearts, the saintly nature God created in us recognizes the opening notes & longs to hear the song in full. Shepherds once heard the prelude to that song when “out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Luke 2:8)
And when the trumpet sounds as Jesus returns to His creation to recreate all of it, in all of its beauty, then you & I will hear the song of Jesus’ words. We will hear them in person, & it will be the most beautiful song we have ever heard. Unlike now, where the Word of God is spoken & people are allowed to disobey, then our hearts will not have an ounce of disobedience in them. The Word of God will never be corrupted again in our hearing nor in our speaking. For eternity it will be as it was in Genesis 1 & 2, “Then God said… & it was so!” We look forward to that beautiful music with longing.
Yet, for now, our corrupted hearts & ears only hear the Words of God like a song that’s being carried on the wind from a very far place. In a similar way, St. Paul wrote of that in regard to our vision, when he stated, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then ace to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully...” (1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)
Knowing of that perfection to come helps us to keep going in the utter imperfection of our lives now. And it also gives hope, not simply for eternity in heaven. It gives us hope for the trials & the tribulations of now, because though our eyes & ears see & hear evil on every hand, the Word of God is still working out His perfect will in spite of our rebellion & sin.
“Then God said… & it was so!” applies just as much today as it did in the 1st creation & as it will during the 2nd. It’s just that for now, we cannot see & we cannot hear the totality of what our Lord is doing right before our very eyes. Take Good Friday as an example. Everyone who was there thought that the ministry of Jesus was over, finished, done!
No one suspected, even though Jesus told them in advance, that the will of God was being done through the crucifixion of God. Yet, “Then God said… & it was so!”
Or, how about the long past trials & struggles of your lives? Most of us are willing to admit that we can look back now & see the good that our Lord brought out of them. “Then God said… & it was so!” While they’re happening, however, no one wants to hear that our trials & suffering are part of the heavenly Father’s plan, but the Holy Spirit assures us that they are.
He inspired St. Paul to write: “And we know that God works all things together for good to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28 NASB) If we don’t believe that the Holy Trinity can overcome the effects of sin then there is no point in believing in God at all. Human beings have proven billions of times over that the human race is not capable of overthrowing the power of sin. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about science or engineering or urban renewal, all human solutions fail to address the core issue. We cannot cure someone who is dead!
Ecclesiastes tells us in chapter 3 that “God has made everything beautiful in its time!” (3:11a) Do you know what that it is? It’s just another way of expressing, “Then God said… & it was so!” And all of it was very good, until rebellion brought death into creation. The 1st emotion Adam & Eve expressed was fear. Their 1st reaction was to run & hide.
Because of His love for them, the Holy Trinity went after Adam & Eve, not to punish, but to rescue. As Yahweh had created everything in the universe from nothing, He could now create a renewed relationship with Adam & Eve where nothing existed after their fall into sin. “Then God said & it was so.” They could once again be His children if they simply believed His Word.
Here in Michigan, we’ve been going through the season of spring. One of the places I see God’s beauty is in the initial sprout of the garden plants & flowers as they 1st poke through the soil & reach out toward the sun! There is beauty in that evidence of God’s design & plan. Those plants do not grow by random chance or accident.
In verse 11 of the reading from Genesis, Moses wrote: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, & fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.’ And it was so.” Those ancient Words of God are still powerful & effective even today.
Even after sin, the earth is still fulfilling God’s promise, & obeying His Words. It’s true; there are thorns & thistles & mosquitoes to make our work far less pleasant, & the crops are far less bountiful, yet the Father in heaven still provides. As the 4th petition of the Lord’s Prayer is explained: “God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this & to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.” (Martin Luther’s Small Catechism) “Then God said… & it was so!”
It is a refrain that echoes throughout the Creation narrative. Ten different times we hear the words, “God said,” & ten different times what God said came to be. Because of sin we only hear it like a song that’s being carried on the wind from a very far place. Yet, because of the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts we are drawn to hear more of that beautiful love song.
Jesus highlights that desire & longing as He speaks in the Gospel of John at the 10th chapter: “My sheep hear my voice, & I know them, & they follow me.” (10:27 ESV)
God’s song tells us how the world should be. Our struggles & trials tell us a different story – one of sin & death, one of sorrow & tears. Those who do not follow Jesus believe only in the story of sorrow & tears. They have no hope for God’s mercy & love. Without God’s love & mercy we could never survive the disconnect between those two different versions of reality.
God does not deny the story of our sorrows & tears. Neither does He tell us to be strong & just ignore the story. In fact He joined that story in the person of His Son, who took on human flesh so He could suffer & die the death we deserved for our rebellion. It is harmful to deny that story, so as Lutherans we confess it in every worship service, with words such as these:
“I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto [God] all my sins & iniquities with which I have ever offended You…” (LSB p. 213) You & I are able to confess that story freely & openly only because of the great love of the Creator God for us. Confessing our sins is an integral part of turning back to Him, & back to His never ending love for all His children.
Then, on behalf of, & in the stead of the Lord Jesus Christ, & by His command, children of God rejoice in being able to declare that all your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Spirit. In the absolution – “Then God said… & it was so!” – Our sins are gone. That itself is part of the creation of the new heaven & the new earth that is to come. Hearing those cleansing words of forgiveness is like hearing a song that’s being carried on the wind from a very far place.
As we close, listen once more to the opening words of that song: “At the first God made the heaven & the earth. And the earth was waste & without form; & it was dark on the face of the deep: & the Spirit of God was moving on the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: & there was light. And God, looking on the light, saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:1-4a)
I pray that you hear beauty in those words, & that come the Last Day, you will be there to see the new heaven & the new earth. Until then, the Son of God & Lord of the universe promises that through thick & thin, through sorrow & joy, He will be with you always, to the end of the age. Amen.
Thy strong word did cleave the darkness; at Thy speaking it was done. For created light we thank Thee, while Thine ordered seasons run. Thy strong word bespeaks us righteous; bright with Thine own holiness, glorious now; we press toward glory, & our lives our hopes confess. Give us lips to sing Thy glory, tongues Thy mercy to proclaim, throats that shout the hope the fills us, mouths to speak Thy holy name. Alleluia, alleluia! May the light which Thou dost send fill our songs with alleluias, alleluias without end! Amen. LSB 578:1, 2, 5.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet