Nehemiah 10:31b, “Every seventh (Sabbath) year we will forego working the land…”
This hails back to God’s original command to have the land lie fallow for a year. Why?
Why did the land need a Sabbath?
Any farmer will tell you that if you don’t rest the land and allow it to replenish its nutrients it will be less productive, less fruitful, and the quality of what it DOES produce will be diminished. Allowing it to rest keeps the soil sustainable for the long term.
I hope you’ve thought through last week’s message and asked God to help you create margins in your life so that you can be the most effective for Him long term.
But as I was praying this week about this portion of scripture and asking the Lord what this means to us today He reminded me that we were created from the soil of the earth. Soil and all of us have much of the same ingredients.
In my research this week I discovered that our bodies contain detectable traces of 60 chemical elements, most of which can be found on the earth’s crust.
It’s like we’ve just been scooped out of the top layer of the earth and formed with the same ingredients. But there’s one element we have that soil doesn’t have.
Which brings me to what I’d like for us to look at today.
Our bodies are sanctified soil. The difference between us and a handful of dirt is the breathe of God.
We are set apart. We are unique to all the rest of God’s creation.
Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”
He made us in His image. There’s nothing else in all of creation that even comes close to the magnificence of mankind because we alone were created in His image. Then we read in the following chapter something unique to our creation apart from any other things He created.
Genesis 2:7, “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
Everything else God created… HE MERELY SPOKE and they appeared. BUT when God created man He climbed down into the mud and got His hands dirty.
Nothing else in all of creation called for that degree of attention or that depth of involvement by God.
And the reason was simple: Man was the only created being on earth that was formed by God and in the image of God.
Evolutionists believe there is no divine in man, just soil. They tell us that man gradually evolved from lower life forms. They tell us that life was just an accident and man is nothing more than a higher order of animal. To evolutionists you and I are animals borne of chaos and lacking any real reason to exist. We have no higher purpose. We have no real value beyond being a scientific curiosity.
But the Bible tells us that’s not true. You’re not just soil.
Evolution may see us as one step above apes.
But Scripture tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully hand-crafted by God Himself.
You and I are NOT like the other creations of God. We’re not like Apes, the Chimps, the Orangutans. We are a special creation MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD!
Now, why is that important? It’s important for a couple of reasons.
First, YOU ARE WORTH SOMETHING
Because you are made in the image of God, you have intrinsic value. If for that reason alone, you are WORTH something.
What you THINK you are shapes WHO you are. If you think you were born to lose and have no purpose or value, that’s how you’ll live. But if you realize you have intrinsic value, you will tend to live up to that image.
You have been made in the image of God.
He has the authority to say you have value and worth.
No matter what’s happened to you,
No matter what you’ve done with your life,
No matter how many bad decisions you’ve made,
You are STILL created in the image of God and you are worth something.
You are valuable to God.
But… how do you know you have that value?
Because something is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it.
So, how much are you worth?
Well, God says you’re worth so much that He gave His only begotten Son for you.
Not only have you been created in God’s image, you’ve been bought with a price… with the precious blood of Jesus.
So, first because you’ve been created, you have worth & value, and you are valued so much that God put the price of your worth at His only begotten Son.
Because you have been created in His image you have been valued by God to the highest level, therefore you and I have a responsibility to live up to.
In evolution there is no image of God in which to live up to. You’re just an accidental collection of matter. You are who you are and you can’t help being who you are. Without the DIVINE all you have left is SOIL. As soil, all you’re left with is animal instincts and emotions that are base and uncontrollable.
Because, if that’s all you are, that’s all you’re going to be.
And many people think just like that. They will say, “That’s just how I am”, or “I was born this”, or “I can’t help myself.”
What they’re really saying is they’re just soil… not divine or sanctified or set apart or unique.
They’re declaring, “I wasn’t formed by God, wasn’t breathed into by the breath of God, but I was formed by accident or a Big Bang or by the random evolutionary luck of nature.”
And that’s what society continues to try to push on us. They tell us, “You can’t help yourself, that’s just the way you ARE, you were born to live a life controlled by your emotions and your appetites and there’s not a thing you can do to change it. And when things get too far out of whack because you’ve lived like that, just take this pill or this drug and it will all go away.”
But the Bible says that’s not true. You were created IN THE IMAGE of God. You were created to live a responsible life that reflects your Creator. God believes you can change who you are and how you live.
That’s why the Bible says in Leviticus 19:2, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.”
Jesus said in Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
And again He said in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Now just an explanation about that last verse and the word “perfect”.
Many people read that word “Perfect” and think it means to be without sin. But the Greek word used for perfection actually means something else. It means “to be complete” or “to be mature”, as in Hebrews 5:14 where the word is translated that way, “But solid food is for the MATURE, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
So Jesus is telling us, “Grow up!” Grow up to be like your daddy. Grow up to reflect the image of your Father that’s within you. That’s our responsibility.
The Bible teaches us that we can’t be saved by our good works. We can’t earn our way into heaven by accumulating enough brownie points. We don’t get past the pearly gates because we’ve been merciful. We don’t earn a place in Paradise by how nice we’ve been. We don’t even get into heaven because we’ve been holy.
But if holiness doesn’t get me into heaven, why SHOULD I be holy? Why should I do good things?
Why? To reflect Jesus to others and bring glory to Him.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, SO THAT they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Everything Jesus said and did brought glory to His Father.
Everything we do and say should reflect our Creator and bring glory to Him because you and I are created in HIS image.
This is our privileged and joyful responsibility as Believers and followers of Christ.
You can tell who employees of businesses belong to by the garments they wear. They’ve been entrusted with the IMAGE of that businessl. They are stewards of the reputation of the organization to which they belong. And we tend to judge their place of employment by how they conduct themselves.
in the same way, as stewards of the image of God, we’ve got to realize what we do and don’t do reflects back on our God. When we treat someone rough, or lose our tempers, or say things we shouldn’t say, or do something we shouldn’t do, that reflects back on our Creator.
But by contrast, if we live a life dedicating ourselves to being God’s image to the world we can change the lives of those around us. This is our responsibility as representatives of Him.
I’m not sure what someone told you years ago or what you believe about yourself today, but you have intrinsic value. You are worth more than anything else to God.
You are sanctified soil, breathed into with the very breathe of God, made in His image. Bought back from the curse of sin with the price of His only Son.
You have the privileged responsibility to display this example to others as His representative. You are a son and daughter of God!
As we give proper rest to the soil which is our bodies, we will be sustainable long term. But we can’t be fruitful in quantity and quality if we don’t come to the realization that we have intrinsic value as uniquely formed and fashioned by God’s hands, in His image, breathed in by His breath of life, and bought with the price of His only Son, which places on us the responsibility to be the image of Him to those who have intrinsic value, are uniquely formed and fashioned by His hands, in His image, breathed in by His breath of life, and have been bought with the price of His only Son, but have not as of yet accepted the free gift of salvation.
Maybe that’s you today. Maybe that’s someone you know.
God, change our perspective of who we are. Help us to embrace the fact that, regardless of what we’ve been taught or told, we are unique and valuable and worthwhile in YOUR eyes, so much so that You gave us Your only Son. Sanctify this soil today. Set us apart. Then out of that help us to embrace our responsibility to live it out as Your children to others as a reflection of You and for your glory.