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He’s a real piece o’ work.
Usually, when we say someone is a real piece of work, we are using it in a negative fashion trying to say something about their character.
William Shakespeare used the same phrase in one of his numerous immortal quotes which he lifted from his reading of the Bible, but he was using it to glorify God’s creation.
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals.
When King David began to consider the greatness of God and His creation, he was astounded that God would even take notice of man.
When I look at your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Compared to the expanse and beauty of the heavens, how could one little puny individual account for anything?
As he pondered these things, God began to show David just how much He cared for us.
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens,
and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
David understood our position in the created order of things.
Even though we were the last to be created, we were placed above the rest of God’s natural world.
Notice that he says we are made just a little lower than the angels.
Can you see the difference between King David’s thought and Charles Darwin’s?
David says we are a little lower than the angels, but Darwin says we are a little higher than the apes.
Which comparison would you prefer?
Mankind has been crowned with glory and honor in that humanity has dominion over all other created things of the world.
We find this passage quoted in Hebrews in a different context referring to Jesus.
However, before he gets to Jesus, the writer acknowledges what everyone knows to be the current reality.
Now in putting everything in subjection to him,
he left nothing outside his control.
At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
That is certainly our reality, is it not?
Not everything is subject to us.
While we may understand shark behavior, we are not yet able to control those fearsome creatures.
Out in nature and unprotected, we are at the mercy of the beasts of the field.
We cannot simply tell that bear to lie down and expect it to obey us, because the reality is that not everything is subject to us at this time.
However, we begin to find a glimmer of hope for this situation as we continue with Hebrews—
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels,
crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
From His exalted position with the Father, Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for just a little while.
The writer of Hebrews then goes on through the rest of the letter to show how Jesus is exalted above everything the Jews held dear about their religion and history.
The conclusion of the matter is that we are to look only to Jesus and not to anything else for our salvation.
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
We are told here that Jesus is the both the author and the finisher of our faith.
What does that mean?
My translation uses the word “founder” instead of author.
Founder can be interpreted as the one who formed the organization, but not necessarily the one who brought you into that organization.
However, when used in conjunction with the word perfector, or finisher of our faith, we are forced to see it in a different light.
Consider the way Paul refers to this aspect of our salvation.
And I am sure of this,
that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
The good work of salvation was begun in us by an outside force and will be brought to completion by that same outside force—Jesus.
I am not sure I can belabor this point too much or too often.
It is ALL of God’s doing, not ours.
Again, to quote Shakespeare,
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely Players
—(from “As You Like It”)
In this passage of melancholy, Shakespeare brings for the truth that not much is within our control.
We are simply here, coming on the scene, doing our thing, and leaving.
Viewed from a negative mindset, though, this would certainly produce an existential angst; but viewed from a place of understanding God’s love for His creation, it produces a hope that goes beyond what the eye can see.
Let’s continue with God’s working out His will in us.
One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
The Lord opened her heart to hear. If God had not done that, she could not have heard the message with any understanding.
But God, being rich in mercy,
because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ—
by grace you have been saved
We were dead, apart from God. We could not muster up the energy to even ask to be saved, let alone do anything to earn it.
We were made alive from our deadness in order to be able to enjoy a life lived with the Father.
he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness,
but according to his own mercy,
by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
As the TV infomercial says, “Wait!! There’s more!”
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth,
that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
We’re not done yet! There is still more!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
According to his great mercy,
he has caused us to be born again to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
I have only begun to show you the many places where this truth is brought out; but we will stop there.
The question before us today is
“What is man that God is mindful of him?”
Out of the magnitude of God’s creation, why should humanity occupy such an exalted place?
What does God think of us?
After all, history shows that by and large we are not very likable creatures.
We constantly want to be better than our neighbor, to get more than they have, to take what they have for ourselves.
Yes, civilized society has put a tourniquet on that blood flow, but it still continues in more subtle forms as well as the outright slaughter of others for the sake of gain.
Loss of life in African countries continues as one group seeks to dominate another.
Just last week a church was attacked and people were put to the machete.
The ability to earn a living is hampered in Muslim countries like Pakistan.
The majority rules and they greatly hinder anyone who is not a Muslim from finding a decent job.
When we look at those kinds of events, we may sometimes wonder if God has any concern at all for us.
However, we cannot look at the situation for others to determine our own condition.
God will rectify those things in His time the same way He did with the early church when Paul so vehemently opposed it.
We can look at the thoughts presented earlier about how the Lord called us out of the darkness into His light.
In that place, we will see what He thinks of us; what He thinks of you.
This is a concept that many struggle with, but God loves you. He loves me.
We may not feel that love the same way we do for our spouse or close friend, but God loves you.
He can do nothing else, because
God is love.
What does God think of you?
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.
He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
He thinks of you as a bride as she begins the walk down the aisle to meet her bridegroom.
You are beautiful.
You are loved.
Let that thought carry you through the week.