************ Sermon on Psalm 8:6-8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 4, 2005
CALL THE BOYS AND GIRLS FORWARD.
Can any of the boys and girls tell me why there is no school tomorrow and why most people don't have to work this weekend? (GET RESPONSE ABOUT LABOR DAY)
Tomorrow is Labor Day. What is Labor Day? What are we supposed to think about? What are we supposed to remember? (GET RESPONSE ABOUT WORK OR LABOR)
Who can tell me the job given to Adam and Eve? (GET RESPONSE) This is what the Bible says: "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground'" (Gen 1:28). It was their job to tend the garden of Eden, to look after the animals and birds.
What is your job? (GET RESPONSE) What is it that kids are supposed to work at. Let me tell you. The job of kids is to grow: to grow in Jesus, to grow in mind, to grow in body, to grow in maturity, to grow up.
How many different kinds of jobs are there in this room? Let's go around the room and find out the jobs of your parents ...
What is my job? (GET RESPONSE) Preaching the Word of God is the most important part. But I also use or apply the Word when I visit, listen to problems, conduct weddings & funerals, go to meetings, work in the community, and so on.
LET'S PRAY FOR A MOMENT, THANKING GOD FOR ALL THE JOBS, ALL THE TALENTS TO DO THOSE JOBS, AND THE BENEFITS THOSE JOBS GIVE US ...
I Work - Part of the Created Order
A Psalm 8 tells us that man is kind of small, puny, and insignificant when compared to the sun, moon, and stars. Listen to what the psalmist tells us:
(Ps 8:3-4) When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, (4) what is man ...Back in 1977 the spacecraft, Voyager I & II, were launched by NASA. It took 12 years for Voyager II to go by the planet Neptune. Voyager I & II have now been traveling for 10,000 days or 28 years and they are still inside our solar system. It will take almost 200 more years before either will pass by the closest star. And 1000 years from now they will pass by the next closest star. This vast universe of sun, moon, and stars is so great that no man, no satellite, no spaceship, can ever travel through it all. Yes, against the vastness of the universe, against the destructive power of Hurricane Katrina, we have to ask, "what is man?"
Yet, we as believers know there is something, actually Someone, Who is far greater than the universe: namely, the God Who made the universe. The psalmist had never heard of space probes and giant telescopes, yet he too was in awe of what God had made. Two times he can say, (Ps 8:1,9) "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"
Compared to the Creation man is so small, puny, and insignificant. But compared to the Creator man is even less, a nothing, an absolute zero.
Isaiah 40 is written from this same perspective: that man is as nothing and God is so unimaginably great. Let me quote and comment on what Isaiah says.
"Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket" – and who pays attention to one drop in a pail full of water? "They are regarded as dust on the scales" – no one notices a speck of dust on a weighing scale. "He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust" – who in England, Long Island, or Sri Lanka would like to hear this? "Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing" – humbling news for this world's superpowers (Is 40:15,17).
How puny is man! Even earth's greatest empires and nations are as nothing.
But how great is God! "To whom, then, will you compare God?" "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. "Lift your eyes and look to the heavens." We can use our biggest telescopes, even our 100-inch reflecting telescopes, to look at stars that are billions upon trillions of miles away. Yet we still can't see to the outermost edge of the universe. "Who created all these?" asks the Lord. "He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing" (Is 40:18,25,26). Did you know there are more stars in space than people on earth? Yet God knows each star by name.
How puny is man and how incredibly great is God!
So again we have to ask, as the psalmist puts it, "what is man?"
B There is another thing that Psalm 8 tells us: when viewed from the right perspective man is also pretty big and important. Listen to what this psalm says:
(Ps 8:5) You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.The psalmist is referring here to how man was made. Of all the creatures in heaven and on earth only man had the breath of God breathed into him. And, only man was created in the image of God. Man, then, is little less than God. Furthermore, man is also crowned with glory and honor. We have been given the glory and honor of God Himself.
This is not the only thing that the psalmist says about the greatness of man. On this Labor Day weekend listen again to the words of our text:
(Ps 8:6-8) You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: (7) all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, (8) the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.The Psalmist is talking about our God-given job, our work, our calling, our vocation. And, what a job it is.
The earth is pictured as man's workshop. And, in this workshop man reigns supreme in the same way as an ancient king reigned supreme in his kingdom. Man was given the earth and everything in it as his dominion. On the earth man is almost a god. He is king.
Yes, God made us kings with a kingdom. We reign and rule the earth. We grow unbelievable quantities of grain. We raise and slaughter birds, beasts, and fish as food. We cut up the mighty oak and entire forests to make furniture and houses. We tear down mountains and explore the bottom of the sea in our quest for coal, gold, and oil. We stop rivers, make lakes, and reclaim land from the ocean. We build skyscrapers, control the atom, and fly through the air. We are kings and rulers. We are earthkeepers. Like Adam and Eve, we have been given a command, a blessing, to be fruitful, to fill the earth and subdue it, to rule over the fish and birds and animals. And, one of the ways we do this is by the work we do.
Next to God and next to the vastness of His creation we are nothing. But when we look at our vocation, our calling, our job, our work, we look pretty impressive, don't we?!
Of course, the job given to us to be earthkeepers and rulers is too big for us. After all, we are sinful, fallen, and puny creatures. There is only One Who is big enough for the job, only One Who is up to the work assigned to us since the beginning of time. And that One, of course, is the Lord Jesus (cf Heb 2:5-9).
C Is there work for us to do in the new heaven and new earth? The Bible indicates to us that there is. In the parable of the talents (Mt 25) and minas (Lk 19) Jesus mentions the reward of those good and faithful servants who used their master's money wisely. Since they have been trustworthy in a small matter, they are worthy of trust in a big matter too. In Luke's version they are given charge of ten cities and five cities. Revelation tells us the new heaven and new earth involves a city, the New Jerusalem. I wonder what those future administrators and governors of cities will do.
One of my Catechism classes made a list of the jobs that won't be found in the new heaven and earth: no doctors, no nurses, no preachers, no garbage collectors, no firemen, no policemen, no ambulance drivers, no soldiers, no funeral home directors, no pharmacists, no physical therapists, no psychologists, no counselors, no insurance brokers, no chiropractors. They also made a list of jobs that will be found there: choir directors, musicians, gardeners, teachers, administrators and governors.
Work, my brothers and sisters, is part of God's created order of things since the beginning and it even has a place in the future life.
II A Biblical Perspective
A Today many people look at work as a necessary evil, as part of our fallen world, as something you have to do in order to survive. So some go to work hating every moment of it. They feel trapped in a job they don't want because of the pay, the pension plan, the health insurance, or whatever. All week long they look forward to Friday (TGIF) and all weekend long they dread the thought of Monday morning. Others, they try their best to get out of work: they collect unemployment when they don't have to, they go on disability while they are still able, they get added to the welfare rolls, they turn to a life of crime, or they purchase a lottery ticket with the hope they will win enough to never have to work again.
B The Bible helps us put our work in perspective. First, it reminds us that work is a blessing, not a curse. The Bible doesn't say, "God cursed Adam and Eve and said, 'Be fruitful and ...'" Rather, the Bible says, "God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and ...'"
Of course the work given to Adam and Eve was perfect. They took and found joy in their work. Our world, however, is fallen. This means that even the best of jobs involves drudgery and boredom; often we are hard-pressed to find any joy in the work we do. We need to remember God blessed us with our jobs so we can fulfill the mandate to subdue the earth and rule it.
C Second, the Bible reminds us that work is a calling. I purposely used the word "job" when talking about my work. But actually my job is a "calling." By this I mean the Lord has called me to my job. And, your job is a calling too. You see, God calls me to be a pastor but He also calls some to be farmers or plumbers or factory workers or insurance salesmen or bankers ... Every job is a calling from the Lord. He has put us there. He has a purpose for each of us in the work that we do.
D Third, we need to remember the words of the Apostle Paul: "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Cor 10:31). In our jobs, our callings, we must remember that God's glory comes first. Whether we preach sermons, milk cows, answer phones, or deal with accounts, we must do it all for the glory of God.
Topic: WorkThose three men could just as well have been working on a car, a truck, a house, a road, a dairy, an office. Most people work to earn a living, attain success, or amass wealth. Such reasons, however, must not be the Christian's primary motive for working. Like the third man in our story, we need to see that what gives work eternal value is not the product or service or paycheck or benefits but doing the job faithfully to the glory of the Lord.
Three men worked on a large building project. One was asked, "What are you doing?" "I'm mixing mortar," he said. The second man said, "I'm helping put up this great stone wall." When the third man was asked, he replied, "I'm building a cathedral to the glory of God."
E Fourth, we need to keep in mind what Paul says: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat" (2 Thess 3:10). God abhors laziness in every area of life. And, it is His will that we work for the food on our tables and the clothing on our backs. In fact, when we don't work for our paychecks and food – if we are able – then we are guilty of theft.
F Fifth, we are to work so that we "have something to share with those in need" (Eph 4:28). Many people take their paychecks and spend all the money on themselves and their own pleasures and needs. That is not God's will. Part of the reason we are to work on this earth and in this life is so we can practice love, charity, care, and concern with those less fortunate than ourselves. And, so we can support the causes of the church and the kingdom.
By now you should realize that we have two ways of looking at man. We can look at man through the eyes of God and the vast creation He has made and we have to admit that before the greatness of God man is nothing. But we can also look at man from the perspective of our calling, our work, and we have to admit that man is indescribably big and great.
We need to remind ourselves often that before God and His vast creation man is nothing. We need to remind ourselves of this because man always tends to exalt and worship himself. We fool ourselves into thinking that because we can control the atom and go into space we are masters of our destiny and lords of our life. But, when we glory in ourselves and our own accomplishments, when we make bold predictions about the perfect society we are creating, when we boast about all that we have and do, then we should remember: man is nothing.
We also need to remind ourselves often that man is king of creation. So many people have such a poor self-image. They need to remind themselves of their lofty position in Creation: that they are kings and rulers over all that God has made.
There are also many people who act like a slave rather than like a king. They become slaves of the things God has put under them. They worship instead of rule the things of this life.
We must learn to look at people the way the Bible does. Next to God and His vast creation we are really nothing. But in the workshop that God has put us we are kings with a kingdom.
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