Devotion on Hymns of the Church (This Day at Thy Creative Word #46) 21 July 2015 Anno Domini
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Gen 1:3-5)
A little Bible teaser for you: “On what day of the week did God begin His Creation of the World and all things?” The answer is quite simple and easy to discern given the knowledge every Christian has of the Bible, Genesis, and the Ten Commandments. So what is your answer? Not long ago, I asked a student of architectural engineering if he could measure the distance from where he stood on one bank across a river without actually going across? He said it was not possible. The young man was gifted in mathematics. He had the answer from previous studies, but he had not learned how to apply all of the science he had learned. The answer was based on the simplest of trigonometric functions – construct two complementary right triangles with the common base of one running along the river bank of the near side. The length of the side running away from the river will equal the distance from the bank to your chosen point opposite the bank on the other side. Practical application of learned principles is often lacking in our educational system. So it is true of the Holy Scriptures.
I am sure most readers of this devotion have already determined the day of the week on which Creation began – it was the first day of the week, or Sunday, literally! “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” From that passage just quoted, when does a day begin and end? It begins in the darkness of the evening and ends with the sunset of the following day. That is why the Jewish people observe the Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. What has this to do with our hymn today? EVERYTHING! The first day of the week, from the beginning of time, has been the day we call Sunday! There has not been the loss of a single day from the Beginning. Sunday is the FIRST day of the Week just as Saturday (sábado in Spanish for Sabbath) is the SEVENTH.
This hymn, one of great dignity and reverence, was composed by William Walsham How, Bishop of Wakefield, 1871. The tune is Winchester New, by Rushford.
This Day at Thy Creating Word
This day at thy creating Word
first o’er the earth the light was poured:
O Lord, this day upon us shine
and fill our souls with light divine.
This day the Lord for sinners slain
in might victorious rose again:
O Jesus, may we raisèd be
from death of sin to life in thee!
This day the Holy Spirit came
with fiery tongues of cloven flame:
O Spirit, fill our hearts this day
with grace to hear and grace to pray.
O day of light and life and grace,
from earthly toil sweet resting place,
thy hallowed hours, blest gift of love,
give we again to God above.
All praise to God the Father be,
all praise, eternal Son, to thee,
whom, with the Spirit, we adore
forever and forevermore.
“This day at thy creating Word first o’er the earth the light was poured: O Lord, this day upon us shine and fill our souls with light divine.” We are reminded that ‘this day’ is the First Day (Sunday) of Creation morning. On this day was the Creative energy of God’s Word sent forth to create the heavens and the earth. This was the beginning of the physical Creation of God. But there is another First Day that is sometimes forgotten – that First Day of the Week (Sunday) the dawn of which Christ appeared to the disciples following His resurrection. On this DAY was the New Creation realized in the Lord Jesus Christ. He finished His work – not only on the cross, but at the rolled away stone of the Tomb in the Garden. This day was the fullness of light and life realized in the Lord as the Light of the World. Previously, on the First Day of the Genesis Creation, the world was bathed in Light. On the Day of Resurrection, the World was spiritually bathed with the Light that is the Life of men.
“This day the Lord for sinners slain in might victorious rose again: O Jesus, may we raisèd be from death of sin to life in thee!” Jesus rose on the third day (dawn of Sunday – First Day of week). That brilliant Light that broke through the stone walls of the Tomb on that First morning of Easter was one of such effulgence that the whole world was bathed in that Light just as the Light of the first day commanded by God at Creation’s Dawn. The physical life to which all living are heirs can bear no comparison to that spiritual and eternal life created by Jesus Christ for those who believe by His sacrifice. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4) As Jesus conquered death and Hell, so may all be accounted heirs of that victory who are in the Ark of Christ. As Jesus rose from the grave, so may all who are the Elect of God: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
“This day the Holy Spirit came with fiery tongues of cloven flame: O Spirit, fill our hearts this day with grace to hear and grace to pray.” In the first verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:1) God is mentioned in the fullness of His Godhead. The word used for ‘God’ is ‘Elohim’ which is a peculiar term in the Hebrew that does not exist in English grammar – it is a term for God which is a plural/singular form – Three Persons in One Godhead! The Holy Spirit “moved upon the face of the waters…” The Creation Model was the plan of God the Father; the creative power was present in the Holy Spirit; and the executive presence was fulfilled in Christ. “In the beginning was the Word (CHRIST), 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.” (John 1:1-3) It is God’s grace that grants us the faith to hear and to pray. Both are components of prayer – praying and listening to hear the answer, and accept it!
“O day of light and life and grace, from earthly toil sweet resting place, thy hallowed hours, blest gift of love, give we again to God above.” The Lord’s Day and the Sabbath are not synonymous. The Sabbath of the old Creation of Genesis is the seventh day (Saturday). The Lord’s Day is our day of worship which we observe on the day of our Lord’s resurrection. What of the old Sabbath – is it still binding? Yes, most certainly it is more binding now than when first declared. Today, we have Christ to be our Passover as well as our Sabbath Rest. In Him, every day is our Sabbath and we rest our labors in Him for it is He who works in the members of His Elect. All of our hours are hallowed in Christ. We enjoy a sweet rest daily in the bosom of our Savior. The rest we enjoy is not a common one, but a sweet rest that is embodied with a love that “surpasses all understanding.” We are incapable of love if it is not granted by God. We only are able to love Christ because He first loved us! “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Even that love that we return to God came first as a gift to us. We can never give God anything that is a native claim of our own – all good and perfect gifts come down from the Father of Lights!
“All praise to God the Father be, all praise, eternal Son, to thee, whom, with the Spirit, we adore forever and forevermore.” This is the fitting doxology of every hymn and every prayer. All glory, laud and honor belongs to God. We adore and praise the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. One cannot over-praise God the Father without, at the same time, praising God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, for all praise belongs in equal measure to all Three that are the One God in Three Persons.