Your Father, The Creator and Sustainer

You pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.” When you receite the Apostles or the Nicene Creed, you confess that you believe in God the Father, Almighty the Creator. What do you mean when you call God your Father? Psalm 104:31 tells you of the weight of God’s glory while it calls you to join in God’s own rejoicing at his work. Lord’s Day 9 of the Heildeberg Catechism points you to his creative and sustaining work.

Let the Lord’s glory endure. The Father is glorified in his creative work, verses 1–9. He formed the heavens, verses 1–4. He is majestic. He clothes himself with light–marking the event of the first day of creation. He made the clouds and wind. Instead of the storm being divine, it is merely the chariot of the Lord. The Psalm may intentionally contrast with elements of Egyptian and Canaanite idolatry. Even the elements serve as his messenger, verse 4, see Hebrews 1:7. Both the Spirit and the Son were involved in the work of creation, but that activity is primarily that of the Father. He made the universe through the Son, Hebrews 1:2.

“The creation proceeds from the Father through the Son and in the Spirit so that, in the Spirit and through the Son it may return to the Father…. The purpose and goal of creation is to be found solely in God’s will and glory…. A doctrine of creation is one of the foundational building blocks of a biblical and Christian worldview. Creation is neither to be deified nor despoiled, but as the ‘theater of God’s glory’ it is to be delighted in and used a stewardly manner. It is God’s good creation.”

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2, p. 406

He laid the foundations of the earth, verses 5–9. The earth was covered with water, Genesis 1:6, 7, from which God separated dry land. His rainbow is his sign that he will never again allow the waters to cover the earth. If this is how wonderful creation is, how much greater is the Creator! And this is not just a remote deity. He is your Father in Christ Jesus. Take comfort in that when circumstances overwhelm you.

Praise God for his fatherly care. He waters and feeds his creation, see Genesis 1:11, 12. He provides man with food, verse 15. The wine, the oil, and the food supply far more than the minimum needed to survive. Don’t hesitate to enjoy the good meal the Lord has given you. While the Psalm advocates neither drunkenness or gluttony, it does expect you to revel in God’s goodness. God shelters, verses 16–22. The trees of the Lord provide a place for nests. The cliffs are there for mountain animals, verse 18. The creation of the heavenly bodies provides the night as the haunt for the creatures of prey, verse 19, see Genesis 1:14. They depend on God, verse 21. The Psalm recognizes creation as something good. The daytime is for man. Look at the sea, verses 24–26. It is for ships and water creatures. All depend upon God, verses 27–30. He provides, he controls life and death. God’s glory endures, and the creation sings his praises.

“It is no small honor that God for our sake has so magnificently adorned the world, in order that we may not only be spectators of this beauteous theater, but also enjoy the multiplied abundance and variety of good things which are presented to us in it.”

John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms, on Psalm 104:31

Not only does the creation rejoice and praise God, but let the Lord rejoice. God does rejoice in good. He did so at creation, see Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 24, 31. But sin entered the picture, and brought disruption and the curse. Verse 35 seems disruptive, but God is just. Sin is punished. More exactly, sinners are punished. Their brevity contrasts with the eternity of the glory of the Lord. Take comfort, when the wicked seem to prosper, when an unbelieving relative takes the worst possible time to be nasty. You don’t have to get even, because the sovereign God is the Judge. You don’t have to take revenge when a co-worker undermines your position. You don’t have to give in to hate and bitterness. This disruptive effect of sin is not just something abstract. It has touched your life. The Heidelberg Catechism will go on to focus on the work of redemption, but even here it reassures you that God, your Father in Christ, will provide all things necessary for body and soul. Psalm 104 focuses on God as Creator and Sustainer. Psalm 105, the other half of the pair, praises him as Redeemer. The God who feeds you, who provides with wine and oil, will not neglect to draw you to himself, to bring you into his family, to enable you to call him, “my Father.” Christ redemptive work involves not just saving sinners from hell, but beyond that, preparing a new, perfect creation.

Sing to the Lord in whom you trust. God’s justice does prevail. Sinners are removed, verse 35a.Yet there is redemption for the Psalmist, and for all who sing with him. That redemption comes, not because of what you do, but because your Father gives his own Son in your place. It may seem easier to sing God’s praise when your job seems secure, when you’re healthy, when family relationships are running smoothly. But this Psalm points you, not to your outward circumstances, but to the character of your God. Psalm 105:17 points you to Joseph, sold as a slave into Egypt, feet in shackles, but still aware of God’s sovereign control and care. When your health is uncertain and you can’t get the answers you seek, when your job is precarious, when tensions creep into your home, the Psalm still calls you to sing to the praise of your God. You have the assurance that the God who formed the universe is able to meet your needs. The Lord who cares for the birds and the flowers is not less concerned about you. Bless the Lord. Creation, though fallen, will end in paradise. God rules. He is the Lord of all creation. And he is your God and your Father.

When you address God as Father this week remember the wonder of his creative activity, give thanks for his providential care, but most of all, rejoice that he is your Father in Christ Jesus.