In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Last week we heard how God spoke all things into existence. (Genesis 1) Today we hear about a pattern with God. He speaks, both creating things and commanding them. And so we see that where God has not spoken and commanded, or instituted, something we dare not say otherwise. We dare not make laws about things that God Himself has not said. But where He has spoken. That is where His blessing is. By this I mean, so many people make up stuff that they think God wants them to do. And though they have no mandate for it in His clear word, they then bind their consciences to it, and sometimes the consciences of others, even judging on the basis of these self made laws, and they use God as an excuse for why they are doing something. In the past it was things like special fast days and pilgrimages not commanded by God that were taught as though they ought to be done, nowadays its having to sing Silent Night on Christmas Eve, have potlucks in just the right way, have a Sunday School, or choir to properly be a church, or any number of human traditions or personal ideas that get treated as though they are mandates from God . But if God has not commanded it and instituted it with a clear, unequivocal word through His prophets and apostles of old—i.e., in His revealed Word we call the Bible—then just be honest. It isn’t God leading you to do something. Or at least you can’t be certain of that. It is really you who wants to do it.
God works in clear ways. He has revealed Himself in His Word. The things He is doing He has spoken about by His prophets. (Amos 3:7) He institutes and gives a blessing to those things that He wants us to be sure He is doing.
Have you ever noticed in the Small Catechism when talking about the three means by which salvation comes to you—Holy Baptism, the Word of Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper—Martin Luther always asks the question “What is it?” Answers the question. Then asks, “Where does God say this?” And then gives you a clear verse where God commands it and promises His blessings through it. This is how God works. He institutes and commands His blessings in His Word. You can be sure of those three means of salvation because they have God’s own mandate and blessing.
People always ask: if God knew we were going to sin and reject Him why create us? Answer: because God is love. (1 John 4:7-17) He loves within Himself: Father to Son, Son to Father, Spirit to Son, etc. But that love is so great and powerful that it desired more to love, more to serve. It desired an increase of life and love. Thus, why is not good for man to be alone? There is no one like himself to love. There is no way yet to increase, and multiply, to create, and give, and increase life and love.
So while in Genesis 1 we hear how God created every thing by His Word, and gave them purposes (Genesis 1:14-15, etc.)—i.e., His command and authorization to do certain things—in Genesis 2 we zoom in and get a more explicit view of exactly how and why He created Mankind. Here we see what is unique about mankind. God spoke of their creation, “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness,” (Genesis 1:26) saying those all important words and declaring them the crown, the very height of creation, top dog. (Genesis 1:26) This creature, Man, is unique in all creation. For mankind is in the image of God. Then in chapter 2 He reveals how He made man: He did it physically, forming him of earth, giving him a physical, material body, but breathing His own Spirit into him, giving Him His own image. (Genesis 2:7)
For life and every good gift (James 1:17) abounds where God blesses it. For whatever reason God does not bless every couple with kids, but that does not mean their marriage is devoid of life, love, and the creative, life-giving energies poured into other people and other godly pursuits.
Sadly, all too often people enter into marriage quickly, rashly, without forethought or due consideration to what this means. For marriage is a self-sacrifice. When people do not sacrifice of themselves, according to institution of God for marriage, there is no blessing there. We’ve all seen such joyless, lifeless marriages. Many of us have lived them, maybe are living them now. For some, those marriages have broken apart in pain and sorrow.
Holy marriage is not only a blessed estate by which God increases life and joy in the world, producing healthy kids who will contribute and increase life and love in the world, but it also prepares us in our hearts, bodies, and beings for understanding who Christ our Lord is to His Church. Marriage, given in the perfect goodness of Creation before the Fall, is the foundational building block not only of human society, but it is also an image erected in the midst of our lives that teaches us of Christ. For by healthy, godly marriage we see a foreshadowing of the one-ness of Christ and His Church. Human marriage is merely a shadow, just a glimmer of that true reality that God uses it to convey. For He sacrificed Himself, body and soul, for her. To save her. To win her for Himself. To free of any stain on her reputation; from any slavery or bondage that holds her captive. To shield Her from any accusation that Satan or the world would throw at her whether they are true or not. He pays all, sacrifices all to make them all go away for Her. His sacrificial love dresses her in His own glorious righteousness, making more of her than she actually is. And as with all truly loving love (1 Corinthians 13) it is transformative of Her: both here in time and there in eternity. For He saves us. And out of His love how can we not but submit to His gracious, gentle leading and serving of we, His Church? He has united Himself to us. By Holy Baptism we have been united with Him in His death and resurrection, and become one flesh with Him when we eat and drink His body and blood in His Wedding Supper. What God has joined together let no man separate. (Matthew 19:6) For who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Romans 8:35-39) NO. For what God has joined together He will not separate. That means, once you’ve been baptized into Him Christ will will work to save you till your dying breath. No matter what the world throws at you. No matter what Satan tempts you with and convinces you to do. It can not keep you from Christ, your self-sacrificing saviour. Don’t you doubt that you are His. For He has done it all. It does not depend on you. He has instituted and commanded your salvation. He does is faithful to His Word.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON