Sounds and Silence (Habakkuk Sermon 6 of 9)
May 19, 2002 | Andrew Davis
Idolatry, The Dark Exchange
I. The Beauty of Sound, the Need for Silence
I'd like to ask, if you would, to turn in your Bibles to Habakkuk chapter 2. We're going to be looking at verses 18-20. That's sounds and silence. Last week we saw one of the greatest verses in all the Bible, Habakkuk 2:14, "The Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." What a great verse that is. And we saw that behind it is the truth that God has already filled the world with his glory. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, the whole Earth is filled with your glory. It's already out there. Well, when we think of glory, we tend to think mostly of the eye, don't we? We tend to think of a glory that we can see, maybe the beauty of a sunrise, or of a deep valley, the beauty of a river or a sea.
As a matter of fact, the verse itself causes us to think of the depths of the sea, and the beauty and the power thereof. But these verses cause us to think about God's glory which we can hear. A glory of the ear. The world is actually filled with the sounds of God's glory, isn't it? Don't you love the sound of the wind in all of its power? A wind that can twist a mighty oak and knock it to the ground or one that can barely lift a leaf with a gentle breeze. The funny thing is God in scripture likens himself to both. The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks, it says in one of the Psalms. And also, when Elijah went into that cave and needed a gentle word from God, it was in the still small voice that God spoke to him. And when Elijah heard it he covered his face and knew he was in the presence of God. The incredible scale, the scope of the voice of God.
Now I'm thinking, as I come to this text, however, of another sound I heard a long time ago. It was a sound I heard when we were missionaries in Japan. I was on my way to the little church where we were working, and I saw a little school girl dressed up in her school outfit, and she was standing in front of a stone shrine. You find them all over the city, we lived in Tokushima. And there was a Shinto shrine there, a little stone thing on the corner. And she put an orange or a candy bar or some kind of offering in this little place where you put those things. And then she stepped back and she clapped twice and then began to pray. Well, I didn't understand what was going on, I didn't know the Shinto rituals and what was happening, so I asked the missionary and he said, well, she was beginning her prayer by clapping. I said, "Why does she clap?" "Well, to get the god's attention." And then I started to see this theme in all the Shinto shrines of big bells and other things that they use to get god's attention, but there's no answer when she prays. I said, "What was she praying for?" Probably she had a test that day or something, and she was asking the god of that neighborhood block and where her school was to bless her efforts as she took the test. She was praying to an idol. But all she got back was silence. Because he didn't exist. He's not true, he's not real. But our God speaks and is not silent.
Isaiah 1:2 says, "Hear O heavens, listen O Earth, for the Lord has spoken." And so we're assembled, we're all called as nations all over the world to come and stand before God and listen to his voice. There was a day when the Jewish nation did that, the foot of Mount Sinai, and God descended in fire and the mountain was burning, and there was a sound of a trumpet call, and this voice that could shatter boulders coming down from heaven, speaking and saying, "I am the Lord your God, who led you out of Egypt. You shall have no other gods before me." The voice of God. And the people trembled and were terrified. And after God had given them his ten commandments, the people went up to Moses and begged him and said, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die." And God told Moses that what the people said was good, and so began the office of a prophet which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
"In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways. But in these last days, he has spoken to us by his son." And so we have a mediator, someone to hear the voice of God and speak. And so was Habakkuk a prophet, and God gave Habakkuk an oracle. Habakkuk 1:1 says, "The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received." And what was that burden? Well, a special vision, an ability to see the problems of his people. And he looked out and he saw unrighteousness and wickedness. He saw people using their positions of authority for personal gain. Judges were corrupt, they were receiving bribes. Councilors were on the take, they were using their positions of power to crush and dominate the poor.
II. God’s Silence, Habakkuk’s Silence
And Habakkuk prayed and he called out to the living God, but he got no answer. God seemed to be silent.
Have you ever experienced that before? You cry out to God from the depths of your experience and you seem to get no answer? And so, the troubling part of Habakkuk was God's silence initially. Look again at verses 2-4 of chapter 1, "How long O Lord must I call for help but you do not listen, or cry out to you violence, but you do not save?" You see what's troubling him. How long means I've been praying all this time, and you're not listening to me, you're not answering me. You're silent God, why? Because I know you're holy and these excesses of your people must trouble you greatly. Why will you do nothing? And so initially, the Prophet Habakkuk was distressed by God's silence.
But then God spoke, didn't he? And that got even more difficult, because he told his prophet, he told Habakkuk, he said, "Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed, for I'm going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told. I'm raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, and they're going to sweep across the whole Earth…" "and they're going to come to Jerusalem and they're going to destroy this place. They're going to burn the temple to the ground, they're going to raze this place, there'll be nothing left. They're going to sweep across the whole Earth and nothing you do will stop them. That's what I'm going to do." And so immediately Habakkuk was distressed and in torment. And he stood before God a second time, and he said in chapter 2 verse 1, "I will station myself on the ramparts…" "And I will wait for you to speak again. Please tell me what you're doing because I don't understand it." "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?" "I don't understand what you're doing. And why are you going to hand us into the hands of the wicked pagan idolatrous Babylonians?" That's chapter 1.
But in chapter 2, God speaks again and gives him his answer, and it's an answer for all time. We see that it just stands above all of human history and explains it, doesn't it? The first concern that Habakkuk had was for these wicked Babylonians. God says, "I will judge the Babylonians. They will get theirs in turn." And so, in chapter 3:16, he says, "All right, I'll wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us," that's the Babylonians. Answer number one, the Babylonians will get theirs in turn, they will be judged. Answer number two, the people who judge them, who are going to rise up in their place, they will build their own empire, and in the end they will be judged as well. The nations are going to continue to rise, they're going to continue to build empires for their own glory, but all their labor is as fuel for the fire. Because, answer three, the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. God is building his own empire for his own glory, and what God builds will never pass away.
And so answer number four. "What about the individual, the lowly person, the righteous man or woman within the walls of Jerusalem, will you sweep them away?" No. "The righteous will live by faith." And so individual people will enter that Kingdom by simple faith in the eternal God.
III. God Speaks to Idolaters
But now we come to a deeper issue, don't we? The issue of idolatry. If you look at verses 18-20, we see how important it is. Because if you're going to live by faith in the living God, what if you have a faith in a dead God? What if you're an idolater? Furthermore, idolatry fits within the context of Habakkuk. Why was God judging his own people? Because they were idolaters. They'd exchanged the glory of the living God for idols, for images, which they had picked up from the surrounding Canaanite nations. They'd exchanged their glory. They didn't worship the true God anymore. What about the Babylonians? They also were idolaters. And so God is going to judge both his own people and the nations for the same thing, idolatry.
And so Habakkuk stops and deals with this issue of idolatry. Look what he says again, verse 18, "Of what value is an idol since a man has carved it, or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation, he makes idols that cannot speak. Woe to him who says to wood, 'Come to life,' or to lifeless stone, 'Wake up.' Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver there's no breath in it, but the Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the Earth be silent before him." So he's taking up this issue of idolatry. Now, what is idolatry? Look at the descriptions in what I just read. First of all, idols are worthless things. He starts right away and says, "Of what value is an idol?" So he's really speaking to something that's worthless. It has no value. It cannot speak, it cannot give guidance, it ultimately cannot save because it doesn't truly exist.
Second of all, it is something manufactured, something made by man. It says in our verses a man has carved it. It calls it his own creation. He uses the materials of wood and stone and gold and silver, something physical, constructed. It is an image, it's shaped or carved according to the skill of the idolater, and it is lifeless.
What a contrast to the living God. It says, "Lifeless stone," there's no breath in it, but God speaks. God is not worthless. He's of infinite value. God is not a construct of our own imagination, he exists whether we believe in him or not. He is what he is, whether we accept it or not. He is the living God. And it is faith in him, the living God, that saves our souls. And so therefore, we must not be idolaters. That is the issue.
Now his own people he had spoken to directly about this issue. He had commanded them that they not do this thing, that they not make idols. The ten commandments, Exodus 20:2 and following, "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the Earth beneath, or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." So there's a clear command that God has given against idolatry.
What is Idolatry?
Well, what is idolatry? Well, it's either worshipping a false god or it's worshipping the true God in a self-styled and physical way by making representations of him with things that you experience here on Earth. That's what idolatry is. Now, the Israelite nation had a long and tragic history of idolatry. God spoke the ten commandments to the people with his own voice first. After that, they asked Moses if he would please go up onto the mountain and hear God's words. And so God then wrote down the ten commandments on the tablets of stone while Moses was up there in the presence of God. But while he was up there receiving those tablets, the Israelites made an idol.
Why is the order significant? They already have the 10 commandments, which they'd heard with their own ear. They heard the voice of God and they didn't listen. And so they made a bull, some kind of a calf or a bull. And it says in Psalm 106, "They exchanged," it says, "their glory for an image of a bull which eats grass. They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt," And so they made a golden bull of some sort to represent God and said, "This is the God that brought you out of Egypt." That's what they did. So they were idolaters right from the start. And they struggled with idolatry all along. They took the glory of God, the Earth is going to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, they took God's glory and they melted it down and formed it and reshaped it into an idol of a golden bull.
Paul speaks of this very thing in Romans chapter 1 verse 20, "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities, his eternal power, his divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." That's the Earth being filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. We look at the world and we can see the God who made the world. But they went beyond that, didn't they? They took that glory and exchanged it. It says in Romans 1-21 "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him. But in their thinking, they became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened… they…exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal men, and birds, and animals, and reptiles." So they did the wrong thing, instead of looking at the physical creation and saying, "Oh, there's a glorious God who made this," instead they looked at the physical creation and said, "I can use this to represent God." They became idolaters.
Well, they weren't very good at idolatry, they had to learn expert practices of idolatry from the Canaanites, and they did. They didn't fully drive the Canaanites out and the Canaanites taught them about Baal and about Asherah and Molech and all these other filthy gods, and they became idolaters. And it plagued Israel all through their history. Many prophetic warnings were given until finally in Habakkuk, he said, "It's over, because of your idolatry I'm going to judge you, I'm going to drive you from the promised land."
Well, who does God use to drive out these idolaters? Well idolaters. Other idolaters, the Babylonians. Were they idolaters? Look at chapter 1 verse 7. It says of the Babylonians, "They are a feared and dreaded people, they are a law to themselves, and they promote their own honor." What does that mean? They live for their own glory. Well, wait a minute, I thought the Earth was going to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Not if the Babylonians have their way. The Babylonians are seeking to fill the world with their glory and you will worship their King Nebuchadnezzar, and you'll bow down to him, you see. So they were idolaters.
Look again at verse 11. It says, "They sweep past like the wind and go on, guilty men whose own strength is their god." Do you see that? They worship their own military prowess. If you look at their idols and their carvings and all that, there was always a militaristic sense from that era. A sense of, "Look how powerful we are. We are conquerors. We are taking over the world." Look again at verses 14-17. Habakkuk speaking, he says, "You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler. The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks. He catches them in his net." There's the word net, interesting. "He gathers them in his dragnet. And so he rejoices and is glad." So he's saying the Babylonians are like fishermen with this big net, and they go through all the nations and they gather up the nations in their net. Well, what is the net? It's their military prowess. Their ability to conquer. They're strong, powerful, and they can conquer. And so they have this net and they go collecting fish all over, they're conquering. Well look at verse 16, "Therefore he sacrifices to his net. And he burns incense to his dragnet, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food." Because he's so strong militarily, look at the kind of life he's leading. And so he worships his military prowess. Really what is he worshipping? He's worshipping himself. I think all idolatry ultimately goes to self-worth worship.
Do you see now why this is such an enemy to God's purposes? Habakkuk 2:14, "The Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." So we've got some competing drives, don't we? Human drive for glory, and God's drive to fill the world with his glory. Idolatry versus the true worship of the living God. Well, that's ancient of course, or it's in another nation.
Is there such a thing as modern idolatry? Absolutely. And not just in the stone age tribes of Irian Jaya, and not just in the leftover of the Shinto culture and the Buddhism of Japan. It's not just out there. It's in here. It's right in here, isn't it? There's idolatry around us and even in us. J. I. Packer in Knowing God said this, "What does the word idolatry suggest to your mind? Savages groveling before a totem pole? Cruel face statues in Hindu temples? The Dervish dance of the priest of Baal around Elijah's altar? These things are clearly certainly idolatrous in a very obvious way, but we need to realize that there is a more subtle form of idolatry as well."
Colossians 3:5 speaks of this. It says there, "Put to death therefore whatever belongs to your Earthly nature, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Isn't that interesting? Greed is idolatry. What does it mean? It means you have set your heart on something, you want something but don't get it. And you're yearning for it, you're greedy for it and it becomes your god, it's idolatry. I actually was beginning to think about that list. Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed. They're all idolatry aren't they? You're setting your heart on something that isn't God and it becomes your god. You focus on it, you want it, you're hungry for it, it's why you live, and it becomes your god. It's interesting that the ten commandments therefore begin and end with the same command. I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other Gods. And the tenth commandment says that you shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. It's the same command. Don't put anything in front of me. Don't worship anything other than me.
And so greed and sin that entangles your heart is idolatry. But so also is false doctrine. Idolatry comes basically from making up a god of your own imagination, right? So if you begin to think of God a certain way and reject what the Bible says about God, you have become an idolater, you're not simply receiving the word of God, accepting what he says about himself. Rather, you're saying, "I like to think of God as a loving God," or, "I like to think of a God as a compassionate, generous God," or, "I like to think of God... " Does it really matter how you like to think of God? We are called to receive from him by his word what he is like. And ultimately, I think this idolatry leads to self-worship.
The Danger of Idolatry
Now, what is the danger of idolatry? Well, number one, it obscures God's glory. God's glory is above all things. God's kingdom advances when people see and know his glory, not worship some substitute. Therefore, idolatry greatly abases God in our minds. Secondly, idolatry teaches lies. Look at verse 18 again, "Of what value is an idol since a man has carved it, or an image that teaches him lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation." Look at what value is it? It's an image that teaches lies well. How does idolatry teach lies? Well, it teaches lies about God. It's a way of limiting truths about God. This is how it works. Let's say you're one of the idolaters at the foot of Mount Sinai, you're waiting for Moses to come back down. He's been awfully long. Been up there for three weeks, three weeks is a long time. And so you begin to trouble yourself. It's getting to four weeks and it moves on, and you're starting to wonder, and you're saying, "We need something to worship."
By the way, human beings are constantly worshiping something. We're built to worship. So if you're not worshipping the true God, you're going to worship something. And so they said, "Well, why don't we make something to represent God who led us out of Egypt? Well, God, who led us out of Egypt, did so with power and might. So let's make something that represents God's strength, his power, his might." You see how it works? "We'll make it out of gold. It's the best we've got. It's pure, it's holy, it's clean, and it's valuable, and so we're going to focus on God's power and the gold represents perfection and power right? So the golden bull is a perfect powerful being, and there it is."
Well, how does that image teach lies? Well, it restricts God in two ways. First of all, God is powerful, is he not? But he's more than just power. He's also mercy, he's compassion, he's grace, he's love, he's justice, he's wrath, he's many things. Are they represented in that golden bull? Not at all. And so God has been limited. He's been shrunk now by that idol.
Second of all, even the very thing that they were seeking to elevate, God's power, they're comparing the power of God to a bull? God is holding the bull's atoms together by his might and his power. God's power dwindles or dwarfs any other estimation of human power we could ever have. Can you make a representation of something physical here on Earth that rightly represents the power of God? No. So God has taken his truth and he's put it in words and we are to hear the words and listen and believe. That's why idolatry, teaches lies about God.
Also teaches us lies about ourselves, namely that we have the right to do that, that we have the right to come to God and say, "I like this about you, but I don't like that. This part's really good and we're going to take in some of that, but this we don't like as much, so we're going to have a minimum amount of that. We're going to put God together, then. We're going to assemble God." Now whether you actually go on and make a physical representation or not, if that's the way you approach the Bible, you become an idolater. It teaches lies about the right we have to build God in our own image.
Thirdly, it destroys saving faith. Chapter 2 verse 4 says, "The righteous will live by faith," but in verse 18 it says that this image is something we trust. "He who makes it trusts in his own creation." In other words he puts his focus on that, that's what he trusts to save him.
Therefore, number four, it establishes false hope. In the Book of Judges, as God was dealing with idolatry, it says, "You have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you're in trouble." Will they answer you when you call? They're a false hope. And why? Because they don't exist, they don't exist. False hope. When God judged Jonah for his disobedience and Jonah was thrown into the water, as soon as the water splashed around him and he started to sink, at that moment, reality set in rebellion went out the window and he wanted to preserve his life. So what do you think he did? "Help, God!" At that moment, right? "Please help," he cries out to the living God. He knows who God is, he's a true prophet. And he writes about that in Jonah 2. He says, "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." Do you see what he's saying? If you believe in a false God, you will not be saved, you have a false hope. And so you will sink like a stone. You will not be rescued.
Finally, fifthly, it displays pride. It displays pride, the right we have to put God together in his own image. Do you ever catch yourself saying, "I like to think of Jesus this way," or, "I like to think of God that way." Can you simply accept the God of the Bible? Does it trouble you to think of a God who would do the things in the Bible? Are you shying away from those things? Displays pride to make your own God. Well, what is the result of idolatry? Well, the first is transformation of character. Basic principle in scripture is you're going to become like what you worship, you will become like what you worship. Psalm 115 says this, "Those who make these idols will be like them and so will all who trust in them." So, as you put the God of the Bible in front of you, you are going to worship him, and he will transform you into his image. You will become like what you worship. But if you worship a false god, you'll become like that false god. It will transform you.
Second of all, come temporal judgment, Psalm 16:4, "The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods," said David. They will have a sorrowful life. How is that? Well, the greedy and covetous, do they ever have enough material? "There, I have enough now." No, they're always looking for more, hungry for more. How about the ambitious who make their career their god, are they ever high enough on the ladder of success? No, never. They're always going to be pressing for more. How about the lustful who makes sensuous pleasures their god? Are they ever fully satisfied or does it just kindle a yearning for more? How about those who worship sports teams? Is it possible to do that? I don't know, Is one championship ever enough? Immediately the questions come. What about next year? Will you win it next year? It's never enough. Or those who make a person an idol. Are they ever fully secure? That person might stop loving them or that person might die. There's no security in idolatry.
But greater than all of this is eternal judgment, because God judges the idolater with eternal judgment, with condemnation. Revelation 21 says this, "He said to me, 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God, and he will be my son.'" That's the promise of the Gospel, but then comes the warning, "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts," listen, "the idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur, this is the second death." So the ultimate danger of idolatry is hell, condemnation.
IV. In Silence Before God
Well, what should we then do? Well, Habakkuk 2:20 tells us what to do. Look again at it, it says, "The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the Earth be silent before him." This is a picture of God's awesome power. He is in his heavenly temple. He is ruling over the nations and the nations before them are like a drop in the bucket. He is powerful and mighty, and as a result of that we stand in awe before him at his awesome power. Idolatry lowers God out of his heavenly place to something Earthly, like a worm or a snake. But the true worship of God puts him back in his proper place, ruling over heaven and Earth. And it says God is in his holy temple. That is significant, isn't it? Because what was about to happen to Solomon's temple? It's going to be destroyed. That was the very thing they were trusting in, remember? God will never let this temple be destroyed. "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord," they were saying, "God will never let it be destroyed. He spoke through Jeremiah, said, "I'm going to destroy it, I'm going to flatten it. But it's just an Earthly representation of the reality. I'm still in my heavenly holy temple."
And so Isaiah 66 says this, "This is what the Lord says, 'Heaven is my throne and the Earth is my foot stool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all of these things, and so they came into being?' declares the Lord. 'This is the one I esteem, he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and who trembles at my word.'" That's not an idolater, is it? It's somebody who comes and says, "God, I worship you as you really are, tell me who you are and I will worship you. And so we're in silence before him. The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the Earth be silent before him. It's a silence produced by awe. In Revelation 8:1, when the seventh seal was opened, it said there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour. The archangels were silent, the angels were silent, the living creatures were silent, the white robed martyrs were silent, the saints were silent. All of them silent. Why? In awe of the wrath and the judgment of God that was about to come on the Earth. A silence produced by awe. Silence because of God's power. A silence also produced by guilt over sin. Job said it this way, "I know it's true, but how can a mortal be righteous before God? Though one wished to dispute with him, he couldn't answer him once in a thousand times, he couldn't speak back to God." And at the end of that experience, Job said, "I put my hand over my mouth." "I can't say anything before you God."
Ultimately, it's a silence produced by a submission to divine will. We stop talking back to God. We stop arguing with him. Romans 9:20 says, "Who are you O man, to talk back to God?" What right do we have to answer him back? Isaiah 45:9 says, "Woe to him who quarrels with his maker, to him who he is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands?' And Nebuchadnezzar put it this way, Daniel 4:35, "All the peoples of the Earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the Earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him, 'What have you done?'" We have no right to talk that way to God, and so we stand before him silent.
And this is acceptable worship, isn't it? The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the Earth stand silently before him, listening to his word, humbling ourselves before his mighty hand that he may raise us up. We need this, don't we? We're a loud, boisterous, noisy generation. The MTV generation has come along and there's just sound bites and just stuff coming at us all the time. All this sound all the time, and we just need to stand before God in silence and listen to him. "Guard your steps," Ecclesiastes 5, "before you go into the house of God. Go to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you're on Earth. So let your words be few. Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God." That's acceptable worship, isn't it? How should we worship God? Not as idolaters but as acceptable worshippers, "for our God is a consuming fire," Hebrews 12, we stand before him in silence and worship him.
Well, what application can we take from this?
Turn From Idols
Number one, can I urge you, turn away from idols. And don't answer too quickly saying, "We have none." An idol is something you worship or place ultimate value on or trust in instead of God. Do you have a god of your own imagination or is it a God of the Bible? Test yourself. Are there passages in the Bible that you simply cannot accept? Can you accept a God, for example, who would destroy a whole world because of sin through a flood, and rescue just one family with eight people? Can you accept a God like that? Or could wipe out Sodom and Gomorrah, fire and brimstone? Can you accept a God who would do that? Can you accept a God who would take delight in destroying and crushing his only begotten Son on the cross, rather than accept sinners into his presence without an atonement? Can you accept a God like that? If not, I'm urging you to turn away from idols because that's the real God, that's the God of the Bible.
Are you living for something other than the glory of God? Test yourself in this. When you're weak, when you're weary, when you're tired, when you're fatigued, to what do you turn? What do you turn to. What brings you refreshment? What brings you renewal? Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.? He says, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." What do you go to when you need? Have you been sucked into the entertainment culture of America and say, "I find my refreshment there"? Or is God your refresher?
Trust Totally in Christ
And ultimately, what are you trusting in? The Evangelism Explosion question, if you were standing before God tonight, you died and you're standing before God, giving account for your life, and he said, "Why should I let you into heaven? What would you say? What are you trusting in, ultimately? "Well, I'm a good person. Regular attender at church. Part of this or that committee. I did this, I did that, I did the other." Are you trusting in yourself? Then you're trusting in an idol. I believe that self-work, self-righteousness is the number one idol in the world. Turn away from self-works and turn to the mercy and grace of the living God who gave his son to die for us. Through simple faith in Jesus we have eternal life. Trust totally therefore in Christ. Jesus is our Savior. Habakkuk said, "The righteous will live by faith." We understand now what that means, faith in Christ and in him alone.
Stand Silent Before God
And then finally, stand silent before God. I mean very practically, just take time to be quiet before him and listen. Read the word, mull over it and think, "Who is God?" and be silent before him. The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the Earth be silent before him.