A Call to Worship

Nehemiah 9:5b-6 – Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

Why worship the Lord? Here, as we see a congregational prayer in Israel after the walls of Jerusalem were built, we see a great starter reason. Worship the Lord, for he has made and sustains all things.

God is the only God. The Lord is the only God over all. Only the Lord created the heavens, the earth, and the seas. This is saying that God made everything there is, everything you can think of. God made the sky and all in the sky. God made the land and all that is on or under the land. God made the seas and everything within. There is no part of the entire universe that God did not create by his mighty power, out of nothing, for his glory. Thus, there is no part of this universe that does not belong to our God.

Not only did God create all things, he sustains all things. If God were to remove his power, the universe would disappear in an instant. Nothing we think is solid could remain without God empowering it to do so. God is necessary, not only for the beginning of creation, but for the continuing existence of all things.

Indeed, as the prayer begins, blessed be our God! Blessed be his name. Rightly do the heavenly hosts worship him. Rightly should we.

The Image of God

Genesis 1:26-27 – 26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

27 So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

What does it mean to be created in the image of God? Three things come to mind: relationship, reflection, and rule.

Being made in the image of God has to do with our intended relationship with God. God created mankind in his image and likeness. Later in Genesis, we will see that sons born to fathers are said to be similarly born, the likeness of their dads. The concept here includes the idea that we, as people created in the image of God, are supposed to be in the relationship of loving children to God our Heavenly Father. Human beings doing what human beings are supposed to do will love the Lord, worship the Lord, and rejoice in the presence of the Lord. Like a child who properly loves his parents, we are to love the Lord our God.

Being made in God’s image is also about reflection. Images in the ancient times, just as pictures today, were supposed to depict to some degree the attributes of a person or thing. Mankind being made in the image of God shows us that we have the responsibility to display in our lives and character certain things that are true of God. God is holy, loving, just, and good. We are to live in such a way as to help the world see what those things look like. In doing so, we function as the image of God.

Being made in the image of God also indicates rule. Kings who conquered in ancient times would erect statues of themselves in the conquered lands to remind people who was the new king. God has called mankind to live in this world, to fill it, and to subdue it. We are supposed to show the globe not only what God is like, but that God rules. We are to be royal ambassadors, representatives of the holy King.

Consider the image of God when you think of the fall of man or subsequent sin. When mankind fell, we attempted to take ourselves out of relationship with God, no longer living as children of our Heavenly Father. Eve believed that God was not good, not loving, not a Father to her. When we rebelled, we failed to reflect the character qualities of the holy God, but instead tried to bring into the world a morality of our own making. Eve was convinced by the serpent that she could be like God, knowing good and evil, determining for herself what is right and wrong. And, when we fell, we failed to rule the world as we were supposed to. We stopped shaping the garden for the glory of God and instead plunged the world into brokenness and futility.

One of the beautiful things about living as a Christian is that we, by the grace of Jesus, have the opportunity to function in the image of God as we were intended. As believers, because of Jesus, we are again returned to the status of children of God. Like the prodigal coming home and being welcomed as a son, we are embraced by our Father and given familial relationship with him. As believers, we can, for the first real time in our lives, actually reflect for the world to see the attributes of God. We can point people to God’s goodness, love, justice, and so much more. And, when we are in Christ, we can remind the world of God our King as we call the world to come to Jesus and to submit to the rule of the one who reigns now and will reign forever.

Trust, Rest, and Praise

H – Highlight

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 2:1-3 – 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

E – Explain

Genesis 1:1-2:3 is the first account of creation in Scripture. These introduce us to God who creates all things out of nothing.

Genesis 1:1 declares to us the simple fact that God created everything. Genesis 2:1-3 show us that, at a moment in time, God was finished with the work of creation and rested. We know that God did not rest from fatigue. But God made the seventh day, the day when he did not work, a special day, a holy day.

A – Apply

There are a few truths to apply here. First is that God created everything and, in doing so, proved his existence and his power. We should take confidence from the fact that the God we served created this universe. We should see that this God is our Lord, as he made us by his power and for his purposes.

The fact that God rested and called the seventh day holy should remind us that rest is good. Rest involves trusting the Lord to fulfill his purpose in creation. Rest reminds us that our constant work is not required to keep God on his throne or to see his kingdom built.

The rest on the seventh day also points us to Jesus. The author of Hebrews makes it clear that we enter into the true Sabbath rest when we place our trust, not in our work and obedience, but in Christ and his finished work. Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is the natural fulfillment of the Sabbath command. This is not to say that resting a day in the week is not a good and God-honoring practice. But it is not a New Testament legal requirement.

R – Respond

I think the biggest responses for me from this text are trust, rest, and praise. God created the universe without my help. He does not need my wisdom to fix it. God rested, and he clearly designed me to trust him enough to rest too. And there is a response of praise for Jesus, as he is my Sabbath rest.

If I’m going to do this rightly, I will have to intentionally take time to rest this week in trust of the Lord, even in a chaotic and stressful time.

Prayer: Lord, I worship you, Maker of heaven and earth. You are almighty and glorious. I pray you will forgive me for the times I have forgotten to trust you, the one who is powerful enough to create the universe from nothing. I pray that you will help me to rest in Christ for my standing before you. I truly praise you and thank you for Jesus, whose finished work is my only hope. I pray that you will help me to rest physically, knowing that you do not need me to keep the universe going.

The Powerful Principle of Ownership

In Genesis 1:1, we find in the word of god that, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Later, in verse 27, we discover that the Lord created humanity in his image. God, by his will, by his power, for his glory, made all that is out of nothing. God borrowed nobody’s material. God used nobody’s ingenuity, insight, or power.

One of the principles that we ought to take from this truth is the fact that all creation belongs to the Lord. If you make it, it is yours. You may use it as you wish. No one has the right to take it from you. No one has the right to do with it something beyond your design.

This concept has powerful implications for our understanding of our own lives. God made us. We are his. All that we possess is actually not ours. All that is ours is a loan from God. We are, at best, stewards of the Lord’s property. This is true with our money. This is true with our time. It is true with our thoughts, and it is true with our bodies.

Greg Koukl wrote about this principle in chapter 6 of his book, The Story of Reality, and I found his words helpful:

The basic principle is a commonsense one: If you make it, it’s yours. When someone invests labor and personal creativity to fashion something of value, then that valuable thing belongs to them and should not be taken from them. The way the Story puts it is this: It’s wrong to steal. It’s wrong to take something that is not yours. The concept of private property, then, is an important one in the Story; otherwise the command not to steal would make no sense.
Since God made everything out of nothing, it all belongs to him. He has proper authority to rule over all because none of it would exist without him. That includes you and me, by the way. We don’t own ourselves—God does. Let that sink in too. When we claim absolute ownership over anything without the understanding that God holds the ultimate title, it’s very much like stealing.

Here is why this last point is so important. Nowadays, when certain ethical issues come up, it’s common to hear someone say, “I have a right to do whatever I want with my own body.” It’s a popular point, but it isn’t quite accurate, is it? First, no one can do whatever he wants with his own body, not in a civilized society anyway. Second, if God made us, then our bodies are not our own, strictly speaking. We inhabit them, of course, and have an important connection with them. But if God is God, then we are not completely free to do as we wish with our bodies. In the end, the Potter has the right over his own clay.*

Christians, may we remember the truth of God’s ultimate and total ownership of all that exists. We do not have the right to do whatever we want with our bodies. We do not have the right to think however we want. We are the creation of the Lord. For us to take ourselves to a place outside of his design is for us to attempt to steal from the almighty God who made us.

* Koukl, Gregory, The Story of Reality (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2017), Chapter 6.