The Poetry of Earth is Never Dead — Fall 2019 Chapel Message

In my house, my children have started calling me The Lorax as I like nature, the outdoors, trees, and often lead my children in their direction.

The Lorax, of course, is a famous Dr. Seuss character that speaks in defense of nature (in anapestic tetrameter no less), saying:

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues” [1].

But, the funny thing is, in our world, in so much as trees represent all that God has created, they do have “tongues” or at least they can speak and do speak for themselves. As one example, Psalm 19:1 explains that “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

The English poet, John Keats, another Lorax-type, said in a poem reflecting on noise made daily by grasshoppers and crickets in summer and winter, said, “The poetry of earth is never dead” [2].

Indeed, God’s poem of creation speaks, but there is a limit to what creation can say. Yet, if what God created speaks to the world something about God, to what end does it speak, or why? And, most importantly, why does this revelation matter?

In a recent chapel message it was my aim to answer that question, for the answer is more important to living the Christian life than we might think. Using the Apostle Paul’s explanation in Romans 1:18-21, I examined the special value of General Revelation.

Basil of Caesarea (330-379), known as one of the Cappadocian Fathers or “Basil the Great,” said that God has given humanity two books to read. The Bible and “the whole world is as it were a book that proclaims the glory of God” [3].

As Christians have studied the Bible and developed theological terminology over the centuries, these two “books” have been classified as general and special revelation.

  • General Revelation is what God has revealed generally in creation about himself, his attributes, and his moral law.
  • Special Revelation is what God has revealed specifically in words about himself, his attributes, the gospel, the way of salvation, and much more in the Bible.

As I walked through Romans 1, the text makes clear that General Revelation has limits and Special Revelation is needed. From what God has revealed in creation, the peoples of the world can know that God exists, that he is holy and mighty, and that they’ve broken his moral law.

But without Special Revelation, they cannot know that he has provided a way for reconciliation, for forgiveness, for the transfer of his own righteousness to them through the substitutionary sacrifice of his own Son, Jesus, through his life, death, burial and resurrection.

Therefore, the special value of General Revelation is that it calls the believer simultaneously to praise God and proclaim God.

To put it another way, we as believers in Christ Jesus are like the Lorax. We are commissioned to go to the ends of the earth and “speak for the trees”—adding to the knowledge revealed to the world in creation by proclaiming the glory of God and the good news of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, until Jesus returns, the poetry of earth is never dead. Yet, the peoples of the earth won’t know Jesus without a preacher (Rom 10:14).

To hear the entire message you can watch this video:

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[1] Dr. Seuss, The Lorax (Random House, 1971).

[2] John Keats, “On the Grasshopper and Cricket,” (1884).

[3] Hexaemeron, 11.4. See also Stephen M. Hildebrand, Basil of Caesarea (Baker, 2014), 37.