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God the Builder

 

Job 38:1-18

 

I: — “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?   Tell me, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4)         It sounds harsh, dreadfully harsh.  Job has suffered extraordinarily: loss of goods, loss of livestock, loss of health. His loss of sons and daughters, however, can’t be mentioned in the same breath; the loss of Job’s children is qualitatively different. It’s little wonder that Job’s wife shouts at him “Curse God and die.”   Their predicament has become so wretched that to curse God, thereby antagonizing God (one would expect), can’t make it any worse.   Why not curse God, even if it reduces their frustration ever so slightly?

But Job won’t curse God, even though he appears to be about to die anyway. Job’s friends sit with him day after day. They comfort him. They comfort him, that is, until they open their mouths.  “Maybe you haven’t been as upright a fellow as you seem to be” they suggest. “Maybe you’ve harboured secret sin; secret, that is, to us but not to God, and now you’re only getting what you deserve.”   No doubt Job’s friends mean well.  They think they’re helpful.         But in fact they don’t help.   Job replies to his friends, one after the other, several times over. Finally he and they have nothing more to say to each other.

Then God speaks. “Job, you and your friends have proffered many explanations as to why your life has unfolded as it has. But do you and they know what you’re talking about?   Were you around when I, the Lord God, fashioned the universe?  Are you aware of the expanse of the universe? (38:24) Do you know how to get “to the place whence light is distributed?”  Job has to admit that he wasn’t on hand when the world was created. He has to admit that he doesn’t know the whence and whither of light.   (But of course you and I know how important the physics of light is, even if Job knows nothing about the properties of light.)   “Do you have any understanding (continues God) of how the universe is put together, and why or how it unfolds? You don’t even understand why or how it’s a universe and not a jumbled, chaotic mass in which no person could live, let alone ask questions.”

God’s questions to Job sound harsh.  After all, when anyone has been assaulted as Job has and is now staggering like a beaten boxer, asking such a person anything sounds cruel. “You, Job; you weren’t even conceived when the universe was fashioned.”

It sounds harsh, and if God’s questions in Job 38 were all God had to say to any sufferer, we could never say with Paul that God is the “the father of all mercies, who comforts us in all our afflictions.” (2nd Cor.1:3-4) A fuller answer to Job will have to await the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

To be sure, Job eventually says in the light of God’s protracted interrogation, “I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted….Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Under the pressure of God’s questioning Job has been driven to admit that the creation is vaster, more complex, less penetrable than he had thought heretofore.  God alone is the builder, and only the builder understands definitively what the builder has built.

Where humans are concerned, however, what we can’t understand we can nonetheless marvel at.

 

II: — The creation is marvellous, and we honour God by marvelling at it.

Think of the navigational instinct of birds.  Myself, I have the poorest sense of direction.  Following a road map is almost an insuperable challenge to me when road maps are supposed to render a sense of direction unnecessary.         So poor is my sense of direction that I have difficulty recognizing streetscape or landscape that I saw only five hours earlier.  Yet the homing pigeon can always get home.

The best navigators are sea birds.  Best of all is the shearwater.   One of them, taken from its nest and transported 3,200 miles away, returned to its nest 12.5 days later.  In other words, the bird had flown, on average, 10.5 miles per hour, 24 hours per day, 12.5 days, and had found its way to the nest from which it had been taken.

Bees aren’t birds, but bees are top-notch navigators as well.  In order to orient themselves bees need to see only the tiniest bit of blue sky. You see, light from blue sky is polarized. (Polarized light has different properties in different directions, whereas the light that shines through cloud cover isn’t polarized.)   As long as bees have access to polarized light from the smallest patch of blue sky they will never lose their way.

Speaking of losing our way: for centuries sailors navigated by means of the North Star, or Polaris, to give it its proper name.  Polaris, visible any clear night, is seen if we look out past the leading edge of the Big Dipper. Polaris, or the North Star, twinkles cutely for us.  Cutely? Polaris is 2,400 times bigger and hotter than our sun.  Our sun is a star too, and as stars go, it isn’t much of a star. It looms large before us just because it’s very close to us.  Light from “our” star, the sun, reaches the earth in eight minutes and nineteen seconds. Light from the North Star, Polaris, reaches the earth in 420 years.  When next we look at the North Star we should understand that the twinkling we see is light that left Polaris 420 years ago.

The North Star, of course, like our sun, is part of what we call “our” galaxy. How many stars are there in our galaxy? – 200 billion.  How far away is our galaxy? – 100,000 light years away.  But of course our galaxy isn’t the only galaxy.  Galaxies tend to occur in clusters, and our galaxy, with its 200 billion stars, is part of a cluster of 11,000 galaxies.  How vast is the universe? The Hubble telescope has turned up galaxies that are 11 billion light years away.

And then there’s the light we can’t see, what astronomers call a “black hole.” At one point I thought a black hole in interstellar space was a giant nothing, a giant vacuum, and was called a black hole just because there was nothing there to be seen. Not so. A black hole is invisible in that the light that a star gives out is bent, bent by gravity. (Albert Einstein proved that gravity bends light.) The force of gravity is so very immense, and the light is bent so very thoroughly, that the light is bent back on itself and never escapes the gravitational pull of – of what? The light never escapes the gravitational pull of an interstellar mass equal to one billion suns.

Speaking of dense matter; the densest matter is that of a neutron star. One thimbleful of this matter weighs as much as the earth’s total human population.

Nuclear explosions are dreadful – in both senses of ‘dreadful.’ We dread a nuclear explosion akin to that of Hiroshima or Nagasaki where hundreds of thousands of people were vaporised in an instant.  Any nuclear explosion is dreadful as well in the classical sense of the word; namely, awesome. We’re awed before it. As powerful as the nuclear explosions were that devastated Japanese cities, they were firecrackers compared to the nuclear explosions that occur naturally. A minute ago I spoke of stars that are vastly bigger than our sun.   Then I spoke of galaxies where even one galaxy consists of hundreds of billions of stars. Now imagine a nuclear explosion, a ‘supernova’ it’s called, a nuclear explosion in a star; imagine a nuclear explosion that not only wipes out that one star (vastly bigger than the earth), but wipes out as well an entire galaxy. It happens in nature all the time.

“Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know,” says Job concerning the creation.

 

III: — We should spend a few minutes probing the doctrine of creation.  God has fashioned the universe ex nihilo, out of nothing. This is important. If God had fashioned the universe out of something, out of raw material of some kind, then this raw material would have pre-existed our universe.  Where would this ‘stuff’ have originated? – from a rival deity, obviously. Just as obviously, the ‘stuff’ out of which God created the universe would be a limitation on God; what he could do in fashioning the universe would be limited by the characteristics of the raw material.

To say that God has created ex nihilo is to say that there is no pre-existing matter that limits God in any way. It’s also to say that there’s no rival deity to thwart God.  And to say this, be it noted, is to say that the God who is sole creator is also the sole Lord of his creation.  The creator has a claim, an incontestable claim, on his creation and on every aspect of it. Do we doubt this? Then we should read more carefully those scripture passages that the church too often seems to read past; namely, the passages that speak of God as Destroyer. He who creates from nothing has the right and the capacity to reduce to nothing.  To say anything else is to deny that God is exclusive lord of his own creation.

It’s here that unbelievers become resentful, I’ve found.  For years I was puzzled as to why unbelievers became hostile over the doctrine of creation. After all, the universe is the same universe whether it came forth from the creator’s will or appeared we-know-not-how.  Even when a doctrine of creation fully compatible with scientific research was advanced, the hostility didn’t decrease.  Then it occurred to me: the reason the doctrine of creation provokes hostility has to do with the creator’s lordship of the creation. If the universe actually was created (ex nihilo), then the creator has a legitimate claim on the obedience of the creature. If the creator has a claim on humankind’s obedience, the creator also has the right to punish human disobedience. And of course the creator has the right to become the destroyer – as scripture reminds us several times over.  This is what unbelievers object to, I have found, in the doctrine of creation. They resent any encroachment upon their supposed autonomy.  They resent any denial of their independence.  They object to being told that they are not their own lord, are accountable to another, and one day will have to appear before the creator who as sole lord is therefore sole judge as well.  All of this underlies their hostility to any notion of creation.

IV: — How is such hostility dispelled? It’s dispelled only as they come to know God.  And they come to know God not in the first instance as creator; they come to know God in the first instance as redeemer.  To be sure, the creation has to exist before it can be redeemed; therefore creation precedes redemption.  But the knowledge of God the redeemer precedes the knowledge of God the creator.

Let me say it again: temporally, creation precedes redemption; cognitively, knowledge of the redeemer precedes knowledge of the creator. In other words, our awareness that God is creator is a consequence of our having become by faith the beneficiary of God’s saving mercy.  Israel knew God as creator only as a result of its having been redeemed by God at Red Sea and Sinai. Israel knew God as the maker of sun, the moon and the heavens only because Israel had first become intimately acquainted with God through its merciful deliverance at Red Sea and Sinai. You and I know God to be creator only because we’ve been admitted to intimacy with Jesus Christ our Redeemer, through whose Sonship we’ve become, by grace, sons and daughters of the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

Let me repeat. As sinners we have no saving knowledge of God.  But when the Holy Spirit brings Christ to us and us to Christ; when the Holy Spirit moves us to embrace that Saviour who has already embraced us in the cross, we are bound to Jesus Christ in faith.  Knowing the Redeemer, we know the Triune God who has sent the Son for our sakes. For this reason it’s only as we become beneficiaries of God’s redemption that we know that God’s creation isn’t God.

Does anyone think the creation to be God?  Yes. Apart from our knowledge of God we’re sunk in idolatry.         Idolatry is nothing more and nothing less than confusing creator and creation. Only by the grace of God (our salvation) do we know that the creation isn’t God.

The apostle Paul makes this point, albeit left-handedly, when he reminds the Christians in Corinth , “The foundation is laid already; no one can lay another, for it is Jesus Christ himself.” (1st Cor. 3:11 JB Phillips) Jesus Christ the redeemer is the foundation; the foundation of our discipleship and our churchmanship and our understanding of the world, to be sure.  But this is because Jesus Christ is no less the foundation of our knowledge of God.  To put it in terms of tonight’s sermon, the builder can be known to be builder only as the builder is first known to be the building’s fixer.

For this reason where Jesus Christ the fixer isn’t known in faith, pantheism and panentheism are rampant.

Pantheism maintains that God is the essence of all that is.  Pantheism insists that the world and everything in it is divine at bottom.

Panentheism maintains that God is of the essence or in the essence of all that is. Panentheism insists that God is an aspect of the world and everything in it.

According to both pantheism and panentheism, we should note, idolatry is impossible, since to worship the world is to worship the deity whose essence is found in the world.

According to both pantheism and panentheism, sin and evil are impossible. Since there’s nothing whose essence isn’t God, sin and evil have been eliminated by definition. Anything humans choose to do is right and good by definition.  Anything humans choose to think is sound by definition.  Anything humans choose to believe is true by definition.  Is it any wonder that the New Age Movement, with its pantheism or panentheism, is the darling of the suburbanite ‘yuppie’?  Whatever you feel is right. Whatever you believe is right. Whatever you do is divine. There is not and there never can be any criticism or contradiction of what we want for ourselves. Our self-indulgence can’t be faulted.  Our entitlement can’t be checked.  Our pleasure-principle can’t be qualified.  You may differ from me concerning what brings you pleasure, but your self-pleasuring isn’t superior to mine and mine isn’t superior to yours. To put it in terms of tonight’s sermon, according to pan(en)theism, the builder has been collapsed into the building – except that, strictly speaking, there never was a builder and the world never was built.

This monstrously self-inflated delusion is deflated only as the sword of the Word of God pierces it.  The foundation is laid already; no one can lay another.  The foundation of our knowledge of God, knowledge of the world, knowledge of ourselves – the foundation of our apprehension of truth anywhere in life is the one and only redeemer, Jesus Christ.  As we seize him in faith our thinking is corrected and we understand – now – that the world isn’t God; knowledge of the world isn’t knowledge of the divine. And apart from him ‘knowledge of ourselves’ (so-called) is so abysmally short of the truth that we don’t know ourselves profoundly or what constitutes the human good.

 

V: — Since apart from Jesus Christ everything the world deems substantial in fact is shaky, what is firm and solid in light of Jesus Christ?   The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews states forthrightly “Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” (Heb. 12:28) This is crucial. The Psalmist (82:5) maintains that the wicked are perpetrating wickedness unchecked.   “They have neither knowledge nor understanding”, the Psalmist tells us. The wicked lack knowledge; specifically, knowledge of God, knowledge of God’s righteousness, knowledge of God’s justice and God’s judgement.  They also lack understanding; that is, they grope like a disoriented person trying to feel her way through a dark cellar she’s never been in before cluttered with items she’s never seen before, without one scintilla of light to help her.

The psalmist tells us this, however, not to quicken our pity for the poor, benighted person groping in the dark; he tells us this in order to inform us of what the perpetrators of wickedness, whose ignorance of God and blind groping only worsens wickedness, give rise to; namely, the shaking of the foundations.  “All the foundations of the earth are shaken,” the psalmist cries out. We must note the use of the plural: foundations. What’s more, all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

Didn’t we say two minutes ago that the foundation (singular) had already been laid, Christ Jesus, risen from the dead? And didn’t we rejoice that just because the foundation has been laid and cannot be removed, we have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken? Then why does the psalmist speak of the foundations of the earth being shaken?

The foundations of the earth are those ‘pillars’ on which we suppose the earth to be resting, by which we suppose it to be supported, and because of which we can assume the order of human existence to be inviolable. When the foundations of the earth are shaken, however, what we always regarded as inviolable is seen not to be such, while order appears to give way to disarray.

As a matter of fact the foundations of the world are being shaken. The shift from modernity to post-modernity is one instance of the shake-up.  The shift from publicly owned decency (even on the part of those who make no profession of faith) to something resembling society-wide character disorder is another. In an environment where any and all shame is said to be psychologically deleterious (psychology now being the measure of everything), any instance of shame is deemed to be an exemplification of “shame-bound.” To be shame-bound is deemed deplorable, and therefore all shame should be denied – which denial, of course, gives birth to shamelessness.  Is shamelessness an improvement?   Isn’t thoroughgoing shamelessness the mark of the psychopath?  It used to be the mark of the psychopath.  Now it’s advanced as a mark of the sophisticate.  The foundations of the earth are being shaken all the time.

A horrific instance of this has to be the experience of Elie Wiesel, holocaust survivor and spokesperson for post-holocaust Jewry.  Wiesel was only a teenager when he was stacked in a fetid, waterless, toiletless box car and conveyed to Auschwitz . I’m not going to describe the nightmarish occurrences in Auschwitz , but I will urge you to read Wiesel’s book Night, the book in which he testifies to apocalyptic horrors.   A terrible shaking of the foundations of the earth occurred the day an S.S. guard noticed the young Wiesel observing carefully the monstrosities unfolding around him, taking it all in, having it stamp itself upon his mind and heart. The S.S. guard shouted contemptuously at him, “I know what you’re doing, young man. You’re mentally making note of all this, committing it to memory.         And you want to remember it so that you will be a witness to what occurred here. Let me tell you two things: one, you aren’t going to survive this camp; two, even if you were to survive, what you have seen here is so surreally horrible that no one would believe your testimony.  No one would believe you just because no one would ever want to admit that human beings could act as we S.S. men have acted.  No one would believe the horrors you attested just because no one would ever want to admit that what was actual here is possible anywhere, that is, that everyone is capable of bottomless cruelty.” The psalmist is correct: all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

While all the foundations ofthe earth can be shaken, there is a kingdom that cannot be shaken. In this regard I tell my students repeatedly that just because Christ’s Easter victory can never be overturned, the kingdom he brings with him in his resurrection from the dead is never at risk.

For many reasons my students have difficulty grasping this truth, one reason being the word of the master himself – when he teaches his followers to pray “Thy kingdom come.”   If the kingdom hasn’t come yet it would seem that we haven’t received a kingdom that can never be shaken.  Of course we’re mandated to pray for the coming of the kingdom, my students tell me, not least because there’s pathetically little evidence of any kingdom that has come.

By way of reply I remind my students that Jesus Christ is king, right now. He who is the messiah of Israel can’t fail to be king. Any ambiguity surrounding him and his rule has been dispelled in his resurrection from the dead. Christ’s resurrection declares him king. Since there can’t be a king without a kingdom, Christ’s resurrection also announces the presence of the kingdom.  The kingdom of God is the creation of God healed.  The kingdom of God is the presence of shalom.  Since our Lord has effected this in his resurrection and ascension, when we pray “Thy kingdom come” we are actually praying for the coming manifestation of that kingdom which is already here.  Let’s be sure to understand that if the unshakeable kingdom isn’t here then Jesus Christ isn’t now king; if the kingdom isn’t here then Jesus Christ is no different from John the Baptist, no different from Moses and the prophets.  But he is different. He, and he alone is messiah-king. His resurrection has effected a kingdom that his ascension guarantees.

Much in our Lord’s earthly ministry was a prolepsis of the kingdom that our Lord’s resurrection has effected.         Think of the temptation story.  Jesus resists the blandishments of the tempter in the course of protracted testing. When Mark writes up the episode he draws our attention to a feature that we frequently read past. Mark says at the conclusion of the temptation narrative, “And he (Jesus) was with the wild beasts.” (Mark 1:13 ) The point is that the wild beasts didn’t devour him. Ever since the Fall (Genesis 3) lethal enmity between humans and beasts has characterized this present evil age.  When Jesus resists Satan consistently, the Fall is overturned.  Confirmation that it’s been overturned is provided in the fact that lethal enmity has been dispelled: the kingdom is here.

Later in his earthly ministry our Lord stills the storm on the sea of Galilee. The raging storm, lethal in its own way, is also sign of a creation warped by evil to the point of de-creating towards chaos.  Not to be overlooked, of course, is the fact that Mark’s gospel was written when Nero’s persecution of Christians in Rome was lethally driving them towards apostasy, out-and-out denial of their Lord. The same Lord who stilled the storm in his earthly ministry is now, in his risen, ascended existence, stilling the panic that will otherwise overtake his people and warp their adoring confession of him into cringing denial.

We have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  We have received it; we never built it. God the builder has built it. This being the case, there are several truths we must be sure to own.

One, the kingdom is here, present, in our midst.

Two, this kingdom can never be overturned, dissolved, dispelled or destroyed.

Three, this kingdom is at present discernible through the eyes of faith. Faith sees what unbelief fails to see.

Four, because this kingdom cannot be shaken, to pray for its coming is to pray for the coming of its manifestation, to pray for the day when not only faith will perceive it but every eye will have to behold it and every knee will have to bow before it.  Not everyone will love the day of the kingdom’s manifestation and not everyone will love the king; but everyone will have to acknowledge king and kingdom alike.

There’s one more feature, fifth feature, we must note: while Christ’s kingdom is real, operative now, the         present evil age is never denied.  Christ’s kingdom and its contradiction overlap for the time being. While Christ’s kingdom is in our midst, the virulence of this present evil age renders Christ’s kingdom disputable. What then, do we see? What do we see as determinative? Do we see chiefly the present evil age, or do we see chiefly a kingdom that cannot be shaken?

Think of the story of the Gadarene demoniac.  The man says his name is ‘legion’; he’s afflicted by so many principalities and powers that he doesn’t know who he is.  At the conclusion of the master’s ministry he is found “seated, clothed, and in his right mind.”  To be seated, in biblical symbolism, is to be in a position of authority; for the first time in his life the man is in control of himself, properly the subject of his own existence.  To be clothed, in biblical symbolism, is to belong.  The man belongs to his community, his family, the household of God. To be right-minded, biblically, means to be sane – yes, but more than this; it means that this man’s thinking is now conformed to that kingdom whose citizen he’s most recently become.

At this point I ask my students, “When next you observe the psychotic person on a downtown street corner; when next you find a schizophrenic person in your church, what do you see?  Do you see one more deranged man shouting curses at the RCMP for not protecting him against the cosmic rays that Asian agents are loosing everywhere? Or do you see someone whom the kingdom will one day find manifestly seated, clothed and in his right mind?

When I hold the hymnbook in front of me at eye-level I can focus on the hymnbook, seeing the printed page clearly, able to read every word. Doing this keeps the book in focus and the people beyond the book slightly fuzzy, imprecise.  Or I can focus on the people in the congregation, seeing them clearly, able even to pick out my friends who have come along tonight in hope of being edified. Doing this keeps the people in focus and the printed page slightly fuzzy, imprecise. With respect to the kingdom of God, we can focus on the kingdom in our midst, with this present evil age accorded the fuzziness it deserves, or we can focus (idolatrously, I should add) on this present evil age and render the kingdom of God fuzzy, imprecise. What do we see? Which looms before us with greater clarity? Which grips us more compellingly? A more pointed way of putting the question is this: at bottom, have we abandoned ourselves to the truth and reality of the kingdom that cannot be shaken, or do we merely say we believe in it while our heart has secretly (or not so secretly) been captured by this present evil age?

The kingdom of God is in our midst. In light of the overall tenor of scripture concerning the victory of Jesus and his vindication through resurrection and ascension we should recall his dispute with detractors in Luke 17.   These latter folk ask Jesus when the kingdom is coming.  He replies, “The kingdom of God isn’t coming with signs to be observed.  Look! The kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” In their midst to be sure, and yet they didn’t recognize it, couldn’t rejoice in it. This should sober us at the same time that it forces several considerations upon us.

First: since the kingdom is in our midst, we don’t build the kingdom. God alone is builder. We don’t advance the kingdom. We don’t extend the kingdom. (When the offering is received at worship, let it not be said that the offering is to be used for building, advancing or extending the kingdom.  You and I can no more do this than we can create the universe ex nihilo.)

Secondly: since the kingdom is here, we can either allow it to be overlooked and remain overlooked (our Lord’s detractors, after all, never saw it), or we can lend it visibility.  We can’t build it. (And isn’t it grand that we can’t? If we could build the kingdom, we’d also be able to wreck it.)   We are charged with rendering the kingdom visible, a city set on a hill.

Thirdly, this kingdom or city (the kingdom of God and the New Jerusalem are one and the same), is splendid.         It’s splendid just because it’s bathed in the splendour of God himself. When John the seer speaks of the New Jerusalem “let down from heaven” – let down just because you and I can’t build it – he says that its wall is “built of Jasper.” (Rev. 21:18) Jasper was the most radiant, dazzling substance known to the ancient world.  The kingdom of God, the creation healed, the New Jerusalem that replaces the old Jerusalem which kills the prophets and crucifies the Messiah, which in turn was supposed to reverse a prior city, the Tower of Babel, but in fact did not because it could not; the kingdom of God, the creation healed, the New Jerusalem is splendid, radiant with God’s splendour. On the day that the manifestation of this kingdom comes upon us the whole world will see it luminous with the luminosity of him who always was the light of the world.

 

VI: — In light of all that’s been said tonight about God the builder and what he has built, there remains only one serious, sobering matter to consider: the urgency of entering this kingdom, the urgency of living in it, living from it, living for it. We must enter the kingdom of God , Jesus tells us repeatedly. We don’t ooze into it; we don’t wake up one day and find ourselves in it willy-nilly. There must be a conscious, deliberate decision, re-affirmed every day of our lives, that we are henceforth going to cling to the king and identify ourselves with his kingdom.

For this reason God the builder urges us, according to the apostle Peter, to “come to him, to that living stone…and like living stones be built ourselves into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1st Peter 2:4-5)

The kingdom can’t be shaken.  Humans can be shaken, however, and should be.  We need to be shaken, shaken up lest we miss the kingdom, lest we forfeit it, lest we live and die in the ghastly illusion that neither king nor kingdom was ever in our midst.   “Come to him (Christ the king), to that living stone, and like living stones be built yourselves into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood.” The presence of the unshakeable kingdom never renders evangelism superfluous; it always renders evangelism necessary.

“Come to him, that living stone, and like living stones be built yourselves into a spiritual house.”    The opposite of a living stone is a dead stone.   Dead? In Ephesians 2 Paul speaks of humankind as “dead in trespasses and sins.”   He insists that only God can make us alive.  Peter insists that only God the builder can turn dead stones into living stones, and God the builder does this as we abandon ourselves to him who is and ever will be the living stone.

 

Conclusion: — “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”  I said at the beginning of the sermon that God’s question to Job sounds harsh. Actually it isn’t. Ultimately its force is this:

“Don’t make yourself the measure of how the universe ought to unfold.

Don’t make yourself the measure of me, God.

I am the builder.

I have built the creation ex nihilo, therein establishing my claim over all creatures great and small, since neither the creation nor any part of it is God.

I have laid the foundation, Christ Jesus: Son, Saviour. Messiah, Lord.

This foundation remains impregnable even when all the foundations of the earth are shaken through the wickedness of those who lack both knowledge and understanding.

This foundation is the king whose kingdom cannot be shaken.

And now you must come to him, Christ the king, the living stone, and as living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house.

For I who am the builder am also the destroyer.”

Come to him, the living stone, the world’s sole saviour, and your only hope.

 

Victor Shepherd
August 2007

(preached at Knox Presbyterian Church, Toronto, July 2007)