Sermon on Genesis 1:20-23 ~ Your Refuge Will Be Under His Wings
by Pastor Riley's Blog
Then God said, “Let the water swarm with swimming creatures, and let birds fly through the sky over the earth.” So God created the large sea creatures, every type of creature that swims around in the water and every type of flying bird. God saw that they were good. God blessed them and said, “Be fertile, increase in number, fill the sea, and let there be many birds on the earth.” There was evening, then morning — the fifth day. [Genesis 1:20-23]
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Moses tells us that God created fish and birds on Thursday. He put the fish in the waters, and the birds on the earth and in the air. He made them all from the earth itself, from the waters He made them, from the tiniest minnow to the largest whale. Finally, He also created the birds, so many who can count them all. The fish and birds devour each other and are devoured by animals and men all day long, but we are unable to eat them all up. It wouldn’t be surprising if all the fish and birds were chased away, or eaten up there are so many people constantly hungering for more sustenance, but they never disappear because of God’s blessing which He spoke at their creation. Once again, then, we hear the voice of God, our Lord Jesus, as the words, “God said,” prove.
Jesus is therefore Lord of the fish and birds. Psalm 8:6-8 says about Christ that all things were put under his feet … “the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea.” In the desert, Jesus commanded the quail to flock into the Israelite camp. At a word from Jesus, fish instantly swarmed and swam into the disciples nets. [Luke 5:6] At Christ’s command, 153 fish entered a net, [John 21:11], testifying that He is the Lord of heaven and earth, the One who made them. Jesus even broiled some fish on the shore when the disciples were working. [John 21:9]
Fish know their Creator and obey Him. A fish was once made to obey Jesus and bring Him a gold half-dollar for the temple tax. [Matthew 17:27] And we? What do we do when commanded to obey our Creator? Do we swarm together into His Church? Do we bring our pennies and dollars? Do we praise and thank Him for the good table-talk we enjoy over steaming, savory fish and fowl? How deeply He loves us to make all these for our enjoyment, and how shallow our worship and praise are for Him when He gives them to us. Without Him our pantries would be empty, or we’d be forced to suck on fish-bones.
And we can’t forget the birds. Without God’s Word not one bird would have a wing or a feather. He created birds on the fifth day and gave them flight. If he cares for the birds, even giving them worms to eat, how much more does He care for you for whom He shed His blood? Consider the example of the birds then. They trust in God. No one has ever known a Nightingale to cry herself to death. No raven has ever hung himself in desperation or drowned himself. On the other hand, the stork nurtures his old parents. Do we do the same for our children? The rooster rises, looks at the heavens, and sings out in thanks and praise to God. Do we turn our hearts toward heaven and sing and pray to God? The cuckoo bird, on the other hand, gobbles up his mother after she hatches him. He is a warning against ingratitude. The raven abandons her young. Do we guard ourselves against disloyalty and unkindness? The peacock is arrogant. She struts and swaggers with her beautiful reflective feathers. But as soon as she sees her black feet, she is horrified and her proud heart falls flat. Do we revel in our arrogance, or are we eager to repent of it? Do we constantly keep our flesh and blood in mind, that we are not gods, but creatures ourselves, like the fish and birds? We can devour and be devoured by each other. We are dependent on our Creator for every need of body and soul.
Finally, consider the mother hen. She suffers bitterly to hatch her chicks from their shells. Yet, when we look at her do we consider Jesus, how bitterly He suffered on the cross and in Gethsemane to hatch you from the hard shell of sin and make you a newborn infant of God [by Baptism]? [1 Peter 2:2]
The mother hen’s voice changes. She grows hoarse. Her crowing is sad and her clucking is pitiful. How much more were Jesus’ words in Gethsemane, when He said, “My soul is grieved to the point of death.” [Matthew 26:38, par.] And on the cross, “My God, My God, how have you forsaken me!” [Matthew 27:46] He did this to bring us eternal joy.
The mother hen calls her chicks. How gently Jesus calls to your hearts throughout the year with so many friendly evangelical sermons! He says to you, “Come to me, all who are weary, and heavy-laden.” [Matthew 11:28]
The mother hen finds food for her chicks. She pecks for grain. She doesn’t eat it herself but chews it up for her chicks. Jesus is so caring toward you He feeds you in body and soul, with His body and blood. He forgot Himself in His suffering, but He never forgot those whom He came to care for. When the devil attacked us, He fought with him until His blood ran, until all His power slipped away. Jesus pecked out the eyes of everlasting death and defended you from all the forces that streamed out of the gates of hell.
The mother hen covers her chicks with her wings. She spreads out her wings for the good of her chicks. She warms them. She keeps them safe from rain and accidents. Similarly, Jesus spreads out His wings, His Word and Sacraments. He spread out both His arms on the cross, to draw you all to Him. Spread out there on His cross He offers you warm shelter from the beating rain of your heavenly Father’s wrath and judgment, and from all your enemies, especially sin and death. Jesus will cover you with His hands. Your refuge will be under His wings. His truth is your shield. [Psalm 91:4]
And in return the chicks peep and chirp for their mother hen. Happy they are beneath her wings. How pleasantly they sing and twitter as if they were nothing but robins and finches. Likewise, Jesus makes your hearts happy when you are with Him. You are warmed beneath His words. You are kept dry in His baptismal grace. In His Church you begin to pray in comfort, to praise God, to sound your beautiful songs of praise. Therefore we pray at all times that Christ Jesus help us by His Spirit to follow Him, to call on Him, to keep ourselves under His wings, and not run away from Him. For under His protection, shelter, and shadow, you may rest, safe from hell’s hawk, and well provided for in all your misery. Amen!