When you want to instill hope and encouragement in someone where do you normally point them? When you counsel people where do you often take them? Where do you point people that they might know comfort and solace? I have three anchors I encourage people to tie into when the winds are high and the waves are big—and even when the seas are calm. The three C’s: creation, cross, and coming. I see a pattern in Scripture that calls on us to look back to the cross and forward to the 2nd coming of Christ for our confidence and support. Nothing surprising here. But creation as a source of comfort, thats a bit unexpected. Here are three examples of this approach.
What message would bring hope to the exiled Israelites? They had lost everything and yet God calls to Isaiah, “comfort, comfort my people” (Is 40:1). How should Isaiah accomplish this task? What should he say? What follows in Isaiah 40 is a creation sermon. Isaiah calls the exiles to behold God and then he recalls many of his creative acts. He wants to remind them of his greatness, power, ability, and self-sufficiency. He wants them to understand that the Creator is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of the covenant they have received. Their hope for restoration is rooted in a covenant keeping Creator. It is pretty amazing to watch God preach this creation sermon and bring it home to his people. It’s definitely worth a read.
How about Job. How would you approach a man in this situation? It is simply amazing to watch God engage with him. He sits Job down and gives him a thorough creation lesson. This is incredible. Of all the things God could have said he he chooses this! I think there is something significant here. He preaches creation to to humble, comfort, and awe Job. We know God’s intention was not to crush Job with his words. God’s activity toward him was laced with compassion and mercy (James 5:11). Through his exposition of creation he reminds Job of his providential concern for him. He demonstrates his intimate knowledge of Job. He helps Job recognize his love for him. Apparently creation is exactly what Job needed.
What message would you bring to seven local churches facing persecution and even death? This is the daunting task of the apostle John in the book of Revelation. I think this book is one of the clearest examples of rooting the church in all three C’s. Look at the last two chapters of the book and what do we see. Another creation sermon—with a new creation twist. John paints a wonderful picture for us of the new heavens and new earth that God will bring at the end of the age. It is this creation restored that should stoke the flames of hope. It is the hope of life with the Lamb and his people on this earth that pushes the church to endure even unto death.
Apparently God sees creation as a significant source for counseling. Jesus confirms this when he uses a sparrow as a baseline for thinking about how much God cares for people (Matt 10:31). He turns to creation to encourage his disciples of God’s concern for them. I wonder where else we see creation used in Scripture to counsel and comfort the people of God. Can you think of further examples of this theme? Let me know your thoughts. I am really interested in thinking more on this.