The Power and Wisdom that Makes the World

TODAY’S READING: JEREMIAH 9-11

“It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom.” – Jeremiah 10:12

Until my junior of college, I considered myself an atheist. As such, I believed the big bang theory, the theory of evolution, etc. I believed in the theories that could explain the world without God. While I would never have said this, I think you could say that I put my trust, my faith, in those theories.

During my junior year of college, I came to believe in God. Over a period of time, I dropped all those theories about how the universe began. I changed my mind. I began to believe in creationism, that the earth was created in six literal days and the earth was 6,000 years old. I put my faith and trust in this. For, to not do so would be to deny the truth of the Bible.

But, did putting my faith and trust a big bang and evolution to explain the making of the world change how I live my life in any concrete way on a daily basis?

Did belief in God creating the world in six literal days and a young, 6,000 year old earth cause me to change the things I did and said from day to day?

Was my life different, better, because of either of these beliefs, these opposing faiths in how the world began?

But, just a few years ago, nearly 20 years after I first began to believe in God, God revealed something to me.

Job 38:1-4 says, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.'”

God continues to pepper Job like this with question after question about the creation for two whole chapters.

Just like Job, I was trying to answer questions that I could not answer. And, not only was I trying to answer those questions, but I was attempting to live my life according to how I answered those questions.

Was I there when God created the universe and all that is in it?

Can I even understand how God did it?

Does it even matter how God did it?

According to God’s questioning of Job and Job’s answer (he basically said I’m stupid and should just shut up now), the answer is no. How the universe came into being doesn’t matter.

So, nearly 20 years later, I have changed my mind again. I no longer put my faith in a big bang or evolution. I no longer put my faith in creationism. In fact, I don’t put my faith in any explanation of how the world came into being.

So, what is my faith in?

Why did I start this post with Jeremiah 10:12, which says, “It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom?”

Because the power and wisdom with which God made the earth and established the world is now the center of my belief. But, based on my change of my mind, I no longer read Jeremiah 10:12 and think about how God created the world. Instead, my mind immediately turns to Jesus.

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it please God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to the Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

Now, when I read Jeremiah 10:12, I read it as God making the earth and establishing the world through Jesus Christ, more specifically, Christ crucified. And, it is Christ crucified that changes my life, making it not different, but better.

Jesus Christ is the sole focus of my faith and my trust.

I know realize that God made all of creation – material and immaterial – to point to him. And, God is doing so through the cross.

Ephesians 1:7-10 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite [another translation say summing up] ¬†all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

God is making the earth and establishing the world on the power and wisdom of Jesus Christ on the cross. That is the only “theory” I need. That is what I put my faith and trust in.

To put my faith in how God made the earth – a big bang or creationism – misses the point. That debate takes my eyes off Jesus and focuses them on questions that I cannot answer. And, when something else other than Jesus becomes my focus, then that thing, that belief, that faith, becomes idolatry.

After speaking of God’s power and wisdom making the earth, it’s interesting what Jeremiah says a few verses later.

“Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is not breath in them. They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish. Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the Lord of hosts is his name.” – Jeremiah 10:14-16

Next to God, every one of us is stupid and without knowledge. Everyone who constructs idols, whether physical or mental, will be put to shame by those idols. Because those images are false and there is no breath in them. In other words, those false idols, again whether physical or mental, are dead and there is no life in them.

Ah, but there is an image that is not like the false ones. He is true – physically, mentally, spiritually. He is the one who formed all things. This image should be the sole focus of our every thought.

That image is Jesus!

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross.

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” – Colossians 1:15-23

Worship the Image, the Living God

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 95-103

Psalm 97:7 says, “All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols.”

In the above verse, the word images could also be translated idols while the words worthless idols could be translated pagan gods or “nothingnesses.”

Images and idols are representations of spiritual realities, powers, or forces. But, these spiritual realities, powers, or forces are created things. In other words, they do not have live in and of themselves. Therefore, scripture says that the images and idols that represent these spiritual realities, forces, or powers are dead. Idols cannot speak, hear, or move.

To  worship is to serve. So, to serve images or idols that do not have life in them puts us to shame because we are serving that which is dead. When we serve that which is dead, we become dead too. So, when Paul writes in Ephesians that we were dead in our sins and trespasses, he says this because we have become like the images and idols that we are serving or worshiping.

Centuries and millennia ago, idols were made of stone, wood, and other materials. Today, we simply worship the spiritual power or force behind the idol – e.g. power, money, or sex – without the tangible idol. We think we are more sophisticated because we don’t have the tangible idol, but we are really all the more enslaved because our idol worship doesn’t have the tangible reality to prove its falseness.

So, instead of worshiping or serving images, we are to worship and serve the image – Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

Why do we worship the image – Jesus Christ?

Because unlike the images and idols we create that are dead, Jesus is the life of God and that life is in him. John 1:4 says, “In him was life.” In John 5:26, Jesus said the Father “has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” In John 11:25, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” In Revelation 1:18, Jesus said, “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore.”

In order for us to have life, we must worship or serve life. Therefore, we must worship and serve Jesus to live. For, whatever we worship, we become. This is just what the Thessalonian church did. According to Paul, they were well known for having “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9)