Finished Heavens And Earth

Finished Heavens And Earth

“Thus the heavens and the earth, all the host of them, were finished.”–Genesis 2:1

Six days. No more; no less. Two questions come to mind as I consider the entirety of the first chapter of Genesis. The first question is this: why did God need six days to produce a finished creation? The answer to this one easy. He didn’t NEED to take six days. God could have created the earth, the heavens, and all they contained instantaneously with a single thought if He wanted. He is not bound by space and time as we have seen; He is the Infinite, the All-powerful. Knowing and understanding this, then, brings us to the second question.

Why did God TAKE six days to complete creation? First, He did this to establish our days from beginning to end. These six days were the beginning of the concept of time. As with everything God does, these six days are intended to teach us a lesson. In every single verse, God has a lesson prepared for us…if we would only look for it. So, what is God trying to teach us by taking six days to finish the heavens and the earth.? He is teaching us both patience and pacing.

Ask any artist, composer, or tradesman about patience and pacing and they will tell you how important they are. Whenever we start something, the excitement (or anxiety) often pushes us to get the task done as quick as possible. However, this usually leads us to make mistakes. An artist will lay out her supplies before ever starting her masterpiece rather than continually run to a cabinet for the next item. It is the same with composers. Before putting any notes on paper, they will see how they sound when put together. Tradesmen will look at plans or schematics long before they start their next job. Everything must be done with care and in order.

God never asks us to do anything and then expects us to rush to get it done. When He called Billy Graham to preach, He started him in the church pulpit, not the stadium. A new church is started by just a few members and then begins to grow, not with a full congregation. Even Noah spent 120 years working on the ark. During the six days of creation, God was showing us the importance of taking your time.

To take your time, however, does not mean to waste your time. When God gives you a job or a task, he expects you to be diligent and do your best. Whatever obstacles you face, face them with patience. So, regardless of what God calls you to do, whether it takes six days or six years, remember this; God chose you.

Profaned Altar Made Of Cut Stone

Profaned Altar Made Of Cut Stone

“And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it.”–Exodus 20:25

We start out this morning with a warning from God to Moses concerning the building of an altar. God desired an altar of uncut stones—stones in their natural state, not profaned by man. When something is profaned, it’s sacredness is no longer pure and man reveals his contempt for God.

Take, for example, language. Language is a gift of God, intended to allow the communication between people. This gift, like many do, came with certain stipulations. God said not to take His name in vain, and not to tell lies. When we do so, we have profaned God’s gift. Since I have already broached the subject of profaning language, let’s go a little farther. If the words crossing your lips are the same as the profanity used by an unbeliever, remember Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

God intended for the altar to be a place of sacrifice, of unity, a place of protection, and a memorial. Last Sunday’s verse, Genesis 8:20 spoke of Noah building the altar and making sacrifices of the clean animals and birds. In verse 21, we read of God’s reaction to these sacrifices. “And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imaginations of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.” If Noah were not a righteous man, then his offerings would not have been accepted by God.

In Deuteronomy 12:5-7, God tells His people what to do once they have destroyed the temples and places of worship of their enemies. “But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all the tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there shall you go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the first born of your herds and flocks. And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.”

Our quote Thursday by Joseph de Maistre spoke of civilization being found wherever there was an altar. This is what these verses are saying. Once God chose the place for the tribes to gather, He made sure there was an altar. It was to be a place of offerings and sacrifices and a place where the people came together to eat. If the Israelites would have taken it upon themselves to choose their gathering place and built the altar of their choice, God would not have blessed them.

In Exodus 21:14, we read of the protection of the altar. “But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.”  Nothing nor no one has authority at the altar save God. The children of Israel knew this. They also knew that if they killed a man while he was under God’s protection, they would be just as guilty as he was.

Often, an altar was built to remind future generations of an important event concerning God that took place in that spot. Isaac built one in Genesis 26:25 after being visited by God. “So he built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord, and he pitched his tent there; and Isaac’s servants dug a well.”

In our lives, we see these same intentions God had for the altar. It is at the altar where we bow down and make ourselves an offering to God. We gather at the altar with our brothers and sisters in Christ to find fellowship and strength. As long as we go to the altar with a sincere heart, God will protect us from the Satan’s wiles. And it is at the altar where we remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

We are a lot like the stone altar from our opening verse. Just as God wanted it uncut and natural, that is how He wants us to come to Him. If we try to cut off our rough edges and clean ourselves up before we surrender to God, it’s like saying Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t sufficient enough to do the job. By trying to help God save us, we are saying we don’t trust Him to do it by Himself. God wants us to come filled with our sins—our rough edges—so that we can confess each of them to Him. Once we do this, He will take away our sins. Then He can begin to smooth our rough edges until we are, at last, a new creature in Him.

How Long

Lord How Long

“Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long they utter and speak hard things? And all the workers of iniquity boast themselves? They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, and afflict thine heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.”–Psalm 94:3-6.

One of the big arguments against religion in general—and Christianity in particular—is that it is contrary to Reason. One of the definitions of reason is sound judgment and good sense. It appears that in recent years, Reason, like Christianity has taken a back seat to violence.

Whether it is extremists driving trucks into crowds of innocents or cowards shooting police officers from hiding, senseless violence has become the answer to everything. We need to get back to “Love Your Neighbor.”

Robert Kennedy once said, “What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by an assassin’s bullet. No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled or uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of people.” It was a comment on the times in which he lived and, unfortunately, it is still relevant today.

The world today reminds me of the world in which Noah lived. Genesis 6:11 tells us a little about the world at that time. “The earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” God ended their violence with a flood. I see the world around us and I can’t help but look up and ask, “O Lord, how long?”

The real question I should be asking is how long before I get serious and do something? How long before I fall to my knees in prayer for my enemies? How long before I love my enemies, before I bless them that curse me, do good to those who hate me, and pray for them that use me spitefully, and persecute me?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” I dream this, too. More than that, it is my prayer.