FROM THE HEART - OUR GOD IS REAL
Dear Christian friends,
The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, once said, “It is hard to investigate and find the framer and the father of the universe. And, if one could find him, it would be impossible to describe him in terms which we could all understand.” He understood that there was a God but didn’t think it was possible to know him. His student, Aristotle, basically said the same. God is “the supreme cause for all things, by all dreamed of but known by no one.” The ancient world did not doubt in the existence of God or gods, but the ancient world did not believe man had any way of knowing him. They thought that the gods were only occasionally interested what happens in this world.
While the subject of the existence of God has been tossed around in living room conversations, over the backyard fence, over dinner, or even in philosophy classrooms, let’s look at a man of God, David and see what he says in Psalm 19. He says very confidently “How We Know that God is Real.” 1) Look up to the skies; 2) Look up the Word of God; 3) Look in the lives of God’s people.
How do we know that God is real? Look up! The heavens declare that God is real! “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Such a conclusion is not rocket science! Yet the irony is that many rocket scientists do believe that the heavens were a product of chance instead of God.
I know a man who was an engineer for the space shuttle. He showed me and my family his work space. Even though our nation had not landed on the moon in 1968, scientists were already at work designing the space shuttle whose days are over. Our friend told us how amazed he was at the engineering of those shuttles because they were so far ahead of their time. Only a raving lunatic ready for the funny farm would believe that a Florida hurricane kicked up enough wind and chaos to put it altogether by accident on a runway at Cape Canaveral. Everyone knows it was a product of designers and engineers.
Now look at the heavens and see the skies and all that is in them. Which is more intricate? Which is more complex? Which is ginormously bigger? Does anyone really believe this was a product of chance? This psalm was penned by David, the great warrior king. How many times did he camp under the skies when on some military campaign and look up at the heavens? He concluded one thing – there has to be a God. When I worked in Montana so many years ago, it was common to go on overnight hikes with fellow employees. We didn’t take tents along. We would lay our sleeping bags out under the stars. That was Big Sky country. How could one not feel small under the stars and in comparison to the One who stretched out the heavens? One person who professed to be an atheist even said, “There has to be a God who made such a beautiful place as this!”
David says that you don’t need ears to hear the fact, use your eyes. “Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
David even points to the sun and see the God who made it. He compares the sun to a bridegroom.
They did weddings differently in Bible times than we do. Today the attention is on the bride; then it was on the bridegroom. Their ceremonies didn’t really take place in the temple when the priest said, “I now pronounce you man and wife.” After all had been arranged, the wedding consisted of the bridegroom in a great procession and in all his regal majesty proceeding from his home to the bride’s home and bringing her to his house. He was all decked out in his finest for all the people to see. David compares the sun to the bridegroom. “In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” As the sun also has a procession as it marches across the sky, it testifies to the power and might of the Creator. Science says that it makes up 98.5% of the mass found in our solar system; it is almost 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit on its surface, 15 million degrees Centigrade at its core. Nothing is hidden from its heat. It is not the result of an accident. It gives testimony to the existence of our omnipotent and omnipresent Creator.
But now allow me to give you an insight. When David writes, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” the Hebrew word for “god” is kind of generic in nature. The same word was used for Chemosh, Baal and Molech the pagan gods of Israel’s enemies. It emphasizes the power and might of a God or even the real God. Frankly, if that’s all God would reveal about himself, there would be nothing whatsoever to comfort us. He could mash us with a fingernail and we would have no reassurance he wouldn’t do so.
Not so with our God. Look at verse seven. Who is identified there? The LORD! Remember last week when we heard the passage, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” Blessed is the nation whose God is Jaweh. He is the one who describes himself as “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” He wants to have a relationship with us. We can have a relationship with him because that which blocks that relationship, our sin, has been taken away. It happened on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. While his creation speaks to us without words, he reassures us of forgiveness of sins with his Word.
Verses seven to ten describe his word. Again how about a little insight into Hebrew poetry! Hebrew poetry isn’t concerned about rhyming. Hebrew poetry often expresses parallel thoughts. There are parallel words that all refer to his word – the law of the LORD, the statutes of the LORD, the precepts of the LORD, the commands of the LORD, the fear of the LORD, the ordinances of the LORD. They all refer to the Word of God. By the way, he makes it clear that he is talking about the Word of the LORD. Each term is followed by the phrase “of the LORD.” Each phrase referring to the Word of God also is described in ways that only God’s Word can be described – as perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, sure and altogether righteous. They can be said about the Word because they can be said about the author.
The word of the LORD has power. “They revive the soul.” I translated that verse the law of the LORD turns the soul. That’s what it does. It “converts” us. The Word turns us from walking away from God to turning us toward God. The turned says what Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
“They make wise the simple.” Who are the simple? The gullible and naïve! Often Christians are called that. Science fiction writer Isaac Azimov, who called himself an atheist, said that “One man’s religion is another man’s belly laugh.” Christianity is often the butt of jokes. One man dying for the sins of the world; God demanding the blood as a payment for sin; walking on water and rising from the dead are often the target of skepticism and ridicule. Who can believe these things? I do, Mr. Skeptic! We do! “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” In the end those who believe in Jesus, the naïve, are the wisest of all.
His word “gives joy to the heart.” Think of David! For pleasure he slept with a loyal soldier’s wife, he impregnated her and eventually killed her husband in the cover up. Yet after repenting of the sin, the prophet said that the Lord had already forgiven him. David knew joy! How about you? The apostle Paul thought he was doing God a favor when he put Christians to death. The LORD forgave him and the blood he shed and even called him into service. That forgiveness and God’s call into service was so great that from a prison cell he could say, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” That gave him joy. How about you?
His Word ‘gives light to the eyes.’ We see what is important. We see the LORD and what he did for us. His Word “endures forever.” His Word is not a fad, it has been with us since that Garden, and its promises take us into eternity. It is pure.” There are no mistakes. We call the Bible the Holy Bible for a reason. The Word has the same characteristics as its author. “They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” They have the power to save. Nothing has more value than that. Yes they are worth more than gold and sweeter than the sweetest honey.
When I was in grade school the rage was to have a pen pal. It was cooler if that pen pal was in some foreign nation. Computers have spoiled the whole idea of pen pals. You took the time to write the letter, after all you were writing a stranger. You went to the post office and got some foreign stamps. You put it in the mail and waited. You waited for weeks for the mail. Finally it came. As you read the letter you tried to picture what that person looked like or what kind of personality that pen pal had. When you read God’s letter, His word, we see what he is really like. He is so genuine and real and interested in people, all people because he forgave all people everywhere. That’s the reality of God.
People can see God in creation; people can see God in his word. People can also see God in his people. The Lord rules his people by his word and when we live according to the word, we show what God means in our lives.
“By (his word) is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” His Word consists of Law and Gospel. The Law warns us of sin. The Gospel rewards in the sense that through Jesus, our relationship with God is not of fear but love. He forgives and promises heaven.
A child of God is also realistic. No one is perfect. David knew that. “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” David describes two types of sin. First, there are the ones that he doesn’t even recognize – my hidden faults. He realizes that sin is so ingrained him that he doesn’t even know the sins he does. We do the same when we confess, “I am by nature sinful and unclean.” Like Paul who that he didn’t know it was wrong to covet – to have a sinful desire – until the Law told me, “You shall not covet.” Yet we know the LORD can see them. That’s why we say, “I am so sorry, LORD!
The other sin described is the deliberate sin, the willful sins that destroy faith and rob of forgiveness. They challenge God. I know that you forbid them but I am going to do them anyway. The writer to the Hebrews wrote, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” This is the kind sin that throws God’s grace back into his face. David did this sin too. Remember the adultery and the murder of her husband Uriah. Talking about the grace of God, David was even led back to repent even after those sins. Pray that God would always restore us if we fall into willful and deliberate sin.
Most of all let our prayer always be, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” I need you Jesus. You are my Redeemer. You gave your life for my sin. Help me show my thanks. In the thoughts that I think and in the words that I say, let me show that I know you are real. As you love me, let me love you and show people how real you are.