Friday, April 15, 2011

Making Up God

Isaiah 44 describes the process of making an idol. A smith spends long hours shaping metal or a carpenter spends time carving wood. Then in Isaiah 44:19 it says, “And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, ‘I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh and eaten it. And shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? Shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?’” We laugh at this poor man who cut down a tree, used part of it to cook with and then out of the same tree made something to bow down to. We know that a lump of wood can’t hear us. But people are still making their own gods today.

President Obama is a black man. We know this to be true because we’ve seen him on television. Some of us have seen him in person. Now, suppose someone came to you and said, “I believe the President is a white man.” We would conclude that this person is either crazy or he is talking about some other president. Now, suppose there are some attributes that we know are true about God, such as God is all-knowing, and someone came to us and said, “I don’t think God really knows what I ate for breakfast this morning.” Assuming this person knows what all-knowing means, we must conclude that this person either doesn’t know that God is all-knowing or they’re making up their own God. Instead of a God that knows their deepest, darkest secrets, they want a God who doesn’t care about that sort of thing.

A lot of people like to see God as a God of love, but they struggle with the concept that he is also a God of judgment and wrath. We find people saying things like, “I don’t believe God would send anyone to hell.” Or to word it another way, “the God I believe in wouldn’t send anyone to hell.” It sound really good. The only problem is, that isn’t the God of the Bible. Throughout the Bible, we see God as a righteous judge. God had fellowship with man until Adam and Eve sinned. When that happened, God threw them out of the garden. All they had to do to live forever was to not eat from one and only one tree in the garden. When they sinned, he threw them out so they wouldn’t have access to the tree of life. Even God’s chosen people, Israel, were not free from his judgment. When they sinned, he turned them over to gentile kings. When Jesus turned up on the scene, he went into the temple and overturned the moneychanger’s tables. We spoke of people going to a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. He referred to himself as a judge. Then when we get over into Revelation, Oh boy, God’s wrath is just pouring out, tempered only because he is a God of love.

So, people who worship a God who isn’t a God of wrath aren’t worshiping the God of the Bible. They’re making up their own god—much like the man who carves an idol out of a stump—but why can’t they see that they are making up their own god? I think it is because they have put too much emphasis on the way they feel about God rather than taking the time to learn who he really is. Perhaps they don’t really believe that the Bible is God’s word, so they place more importance on other things rather than accepting that God has reveal what he wants us to know about him through the Bible. They think about what they would do if they were God and conclude that that must be how God is. Just who do we think we are to be able to decide what God should and shouldn’t do.

God is God. We don’t have the right to go telling him what he should or shouldn’t be. If God says he is love and also a God of judgment, who are we to say that he isn’t. We may not like that he judges our sin, but we have no say in the matter. God reveals himself through his word, the Bible. The Bible is like no other book and it is the only book that God ever wrote. We know he wrote it because it is the only book that contains historically verifiable fulfilled prophecy. And we’re not just talking about a little bit of prophecy; we’re talking about page after page of predictions that took place exactly as they were written. The old testament has 333 predictions of the Messiah concerning his birth, his life and his death. Jesus fulfilled every one of them. There is a God. He is a living God. And he wrote a book.

If we want to know the truth about God, we must get it from the book he wrote. We may not like what the Book says about God, but it is what it is. You can make up gods by imagining God to be various things all day, but if you really want to know who God is, you’ve got to go to the Bible.

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