It is more than fitting that the writer to the Hebrews begins the account of this chapter with creation. In Hebrews 11:3 we read, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” The author of Hebrews will be giving us an overview of the lives of Old Testament saints and the faith they exhibited. We have already noted that their faith is the same as that of believers today. The men and women of Hebrews 11 were members of the church just as we as believers today are. Although they lived in a different dispensation of God’s covenant, nevertheless their hopes and desires in life as God’s people were the same as ours. They too were confident in the promises God gave them. They were convicted of them in their hearts. This faith drove them to do what they did—some pretty extraordinary works, as we will find. Yet, we as God’s people today have this same confidence in God’s promises, do we not? We too are convicted that these promises will be fulfilled even though they are in the future.
This is why the writer to the Hebrews begins with the account of creation. Through faith we understand, he writes. We do. The saints in the early New Testament church did. The saints in the Old Testament church did too. Through faith the church of Jesus Christ believes that God out of nothing made heaven and earth. No one was there when God laid the foundations of the earth. No one saw with earthly eyes the creation of this world. Not even Adam and Eve, who were created on the sixth day, after God had called everything into existence. What we read on the first page of Scripture is understood, and always has been understood, by faith.
As such the creation of this world stands as evidence to us of certain truths that are invisible to the eye. We will find that the verse before us does not refer merely to God’s calling forth the creature out of nothing. No doubt this is true. But God’s Word in creation is a testimony of the hidden wisdom of God that He has ordained before the world unto our glory. It reveals hidden truths that God reveals only to those who have been given the eyes of faith. The eyes of the wicked man, his sin-darkened mind, cannot comprehend what we learn today. It takes faith. The six-day creation is a matter of faith versus unbelief. You either believe it or you do not. We learn today of a truth that has always been accepted by the church of Jesus Christ throughout the ages—a truth denied only by those who refuse to believe in the one true God of heaven and earth. Belief in the creation account is a true test of one’s Christian character. No, it is a true test of faith.
The Voice of All Creation
I. Understanding Creation
God’s Word teaches us here what is the believer’s view of the origin of this world. Through or by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. This means that faith embraces, first, that the universe was created by God. And, second, that it was created in six consecutive days of 24 hours. Those who deny the literal account of Genesis 1, according to this verse in Hebrews 11, do not properly understand the origin of all things. Genesis 1:1 states it very simply: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This means that everything that is tangible to our earthly eye and can be ascertained by means of our earthly senses is a creation of God. On day 1 God called forth the light; day 2, the sky; day 3, the dry land and the various species of vegetation scattered through the earth. On day 4 God set the heavenly luminaries in their places, including the billions of stars we see scattered through outer space on a dark night. On day 5 the fish and birds were created out of the water, and on day 6 the animals were created out of the dirt. Then, as the crowning achievement of God’s good creation, man and woman were created with a mind and will that gave them an intimate knowledge of their Creator. God rested on the seventh day and beheld all that He had made and, behold, it was very good. He rejoiced in that day in the works of His hands and dedicated the day for worship.
All this is simply stated for us in the Word of God before us today. The “worlds” in the text refers to everything contained in time. It refers not only to all creatures but to the various laws of nature that govern the creation: the orbits of the planets around the sun, the seasons of the year, the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, the chlorophyll that makes a leaf green, the intricate design of the human body (circulatory, digestive, nervous systems), and so on and on. The worlds were framed by God, we learn. Everything in this world was arranged, put in order, equipped for its several purpose. God called forth each creature with a view toward its specific purpose in relation to the other creatures.
But what is striking is the truth that all of this took place by God’s creative Word: the worlds were framed by the Word of God. This reminds us of II Peter 3:52: “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” We will come back to this in a moment, but the point is this, that we learn here that by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth. Literally, that “Word” referred to in our text means spoken Word. The Bible contains God’s written Word, but the creation is the result of God’s spoken Word. And God said, “let there be light and there was light.” And God said, “let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind…and it was so.”
Take note of that powerful Word of God. When God speaks the thunders awake and the cedars of Lebanon break. When man speaks he is powerless. I know that computers are an amazing device. The movies men create entertain many with the magnificent and unlimited power mere humans are able to wield. But it is all make believe! Humans have no such power. But it is not make believe with God! God is all powerful to call a creature that had never existed before into life and being. The Bible extols the spoken Word of God in creation and in providence, that is, God’s sovereign control over the creatures of His hand, including man. It extols the power of God’s Word sustaining life and taking it again. The most powerful evidence of God’s spoken Word is found in our own salvation. He speaks to a dead sinner and says live and we live with the life of Jesus Christ.
God’s Word is all powerful in creation and in salvation. Psalm 33:6: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” By faith we understand this. By faith we take hold of Genesis 1 and confess it without hesitation and without compromise as truth. Neither do we have to hedge and attempt to blend together the truth of God’s Word with the lie that is so prevalent about us in this wicked world. By faith we understand. With our understanding we believe the creation account of Genesis 1. The unbeliever who has swallowed hook, line, and sinker the unproven theory of evolution smiles at the child of God when he insists on the creation account of Genesis 1. He believes that Genesis 1 is but a quaint myth or fable made up by Moses to satisfy the curiosity of an uncivilized people whose knowledge of the creation was at best meager. To believe the Scriptural account is amusing to him. He claims to have discovered so many facts about the age of this universe and the origin of things. How can anyone deny them? The first scriptural fact he chooses to be rid of is that “God created the heaven and the earth.” The basic premise of the theory of evolution is “there is no God!” The earth began by natural causes—unproven, unsubstantiated causes—but which the unbeliever in his blindness would accept as true rather than God creating all things.
The point is: both the evolutionist and those who attempt to blend together evolution with the creation account insist that to believe in creation is irrational. It defies understanding. It defies the findings of science, therefore it is not the logical explanation of origins. They try to make those who insist that the worlds were framed by the Word of God look like fools. They mock, “You do not understand the workings of this universe! You blindly follow after the myth of the Bible.” The believer, however, is confident, convicted (that is faith, remember) of those things that are not seen. With the eyes of faith he understands—intellectually determines for himself—that God created the earth and that He did it in six consecutive days limited by evening and morning. The creation of this world appeals to our understanding, people of God. Our understanding has been opened. It has come under the influence of God’s grace and is directed by the Holy Spirit.
Now we refer back to the passage we read in II Peter 3:5. Peter says there that the wicked unbeliever is willingly ignorant. He is ignorant, that is, void of knowledge and understanding. He is willingly ignorant that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. He is not willing to confess God. He searches, in his unbelief, for another explanation for the origin of this world. He does this because unbelief has blinded his eyes. The believer, however, reads the account of Scripture and understands it. It is logical. It makes sense. We understand that God framed the earth and everything in it. He did so in order to fulfill His sovereign design and purpose for all things. It is no harder to believe that God called the things we see out of nothing than it is to believe that this present universe came about by means of a big bang. In fact, what sounds more like a myth to you? Faith is not blind. Faith is knowledge. Perhaps we believe in certain things we may not see with the natural eye, but that does not mean faith defies our understanding. We know what we believe. We understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God.
II. What It Declares Now
God has a purpose or particular design for the creation. The writer to the Hebrews explains this at the end of the verse we consider. We read, “so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” The “so that” at the beginning of this phrase is literally “in order that.” That is why we say that God has a purpose or design in what we see in creation. That changes, however, the meaning of this last phase. At first we might say, “well, this means that God created something out of nothing. Or God made the things which we see out of things that had never appeared before.” This is all true, but that is not really the idea expressed here, because that does not speak of a certain purpose of God in creation—a design that He has for the creation. A simple translation of the idea of this passage is this: God framed the worlds by his Word in order that he might make invisible things visible. He might make apparent through the visible creation something that is invisible to the eye. What is that? We learn in Romans 1:20 that God’s design or purpose in framing the worlds is to declare His power and godhead, that is, His divinity! The creation is a visible testimony, to everyone who sees it, of the Creator—the power and the divinity of the God who has called forth all creatures great and small. The heavens and earth and all creatures in them declare the glory of God (Ps. 19:1-3)! God makes clear in His creation His power, His divine power and sovereignty.
There is an argument bandied about in the secular classrooms of higher learning whether the idea of an intelligent design should be taught alongside the theory of evolution. What this means is that, rather than teaching that everything began just by chance, maybe there was someone with intelligence that began everything. Evolutionists quickly dismiss this with a wave of the hand, of course, because, as we said, they deny the existence of God. But certain agnostics lend some credence to this view. Both are wrong, however. Here is the truth regarding creation: there is a God in heaven who must be served and obeyed. He has called forth the worlds by the simple word of His mouth—so powerful, so mighty is He. He also gave to every creature its particular function in this creation. He controls the creatures of His hand by His power. He rules over His creation. He is Creator, all else is creature that is subject to His will.
This power is a divine power. This Creator is God—the God who reveals Himself to us on the pages of Scripture. Before Him all men must bow and worship at His footstool. This is the purpose of God revealed in creation. Creation declares to every man that God is God and His is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. Yet, fallen man who is blinded by sin and unbelief is willingly ignorant of this. In his defiance against the Creator he comes up with a theory that takes God out of the equation and places man at the helm. Then, out of his own vain imagination, he comes up with a theory that even unbelieving scientists dispute among each other, yet declare it as fact to the general populace. In unbelief man embraces it, turns away from God, and worships the creature rather than the Creator.
God’s people who by God’s grace are given by God to believe, however, see this testimony of God in creation and declare, “O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds thy hands have made. Then, sings my soul: “O Lord, how great thou art!!” We thank God for the understanding He has given us through faith. We see clearly—oh so clearly—the power of God in rolling thunder, in the depths of the seas, in the vastness of outer space. Indeed, how fearfully and wonderfully we are made.
But there is more in creation that God reveals to us by faith. We see that this powerful hand of God by which He created all things is the same hand that saves us. In His design for all things God set this creation as the stage through which He would reveal His glory in the way of sin and grace. Man would fall into sin, the creation would be cursed for his sake—all in order to make way for the salvation of a people chosen by God unto eternal life. The Word by which God created all things is that same all-powerful Word that delivers us out of the misery of our sin and into the marvelous light of God. That is a powerful word, dear listener. We say this because that Word is Christ! This cannot be seen, of course,without using the eyeglasses or spectacles of Scripture. John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” The Word of God that is all powerful to create, John informs us, is the Son of God. That Son of God became flesh and dwelt among us as our Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:16, 17 teaches that all things were made by Him and for Him.
The believer cannot view this creation without seeing the Word of God who is Jesus Christ. The divine Son of God was active in the creation of this world. He was the Word God spoke that called out of nothing the things we see with the eyes. This divine Son of God took on Himself human flesh and become man like as we are in order to deliver us from the sin into which mankind had fallen. It is this amazing work of God in our salvation that we as believers see in the creation of this world. The unbeliever cannot see that. He cannot fathom that. The believer sees the very Word of his salvation in creation. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. Why? Because by them the invisible truth of our salvation in Christ is made visible in the very creation itself! But we cannot see this invisible truth without the eyes of faith! Faith is the evidence of things not seen! It is the substance of things hoped for. Our faith is put to the test when it comes to the creation of this world. No person has seen the creation of this world with his or her own eyes. What do we believe concerning creation?
III. Unwavering Faith
The believer confesses with unwavering faith: “I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” Our confidence in God cannot be shaken, even though, it seems, the whole world has swallowed a godless theory. We are convicted in our hearts of the blessed truth of creation. The Christian may be labeled as believing a fable or a myth. But our accusation of unbelief is more accurate. The world of unbelief has been deceived by a myth, a myth that denies the power and godhead of God Himself. But our faith is unshaken. Such is the character of true faith too. It remains unshaken. As we will find, this same unshaken faith characterized God’s people of old. Each one of them hoped, sometimes against hope, clinging in faith to the promises of God. God grant us this faith in the midst of the unbelief that surrounds us. May we with the apostle Paul say with conviction: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” What marvelous truths God has declared to us in His creation.