Habakkuk 2:19 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 is no breath in it.
I may have knocked on wood, but I’ve never talked to it. I’m not crazy enough to talk to a rock and think it will give me some guidance. I’m not foolish enough to tell a piece of wood to come to life. Even if a piece of wood did come to life, I don’t think that would cause me to start getting my life direction from it. Idolatry is plain dumb. I mean, who would seriously turn to a piece of wood or stone for direction? Really. I mean, who would turn to the TV, a horoscope, a boyfriend, a good luck charm, or a beer for guidance. Oh… wait.
You know, that’s what idolatry is at it’s purest form – looking to someone other than God to save me or complete me. It is putting my confidence and faith in something other than God and making that thing or person my functional savior. As Christians we know that we have one Savior; His name is Jesus. Yet we gather up all kinds of functional saviors. We play the lotto in hopes that it will be our path to provision and security. We go to the bottle to drown out all our stress and fears and failures. Our teenagers looks to a boyfriend to make them feel special and valued. Dr. Phil and Oprah are our in home therapists while that ancient book called the Bible (you know, the one with all the answers) sits on the coffee table collecting dust.
We laugh at the Israelites for having a couple of lifeless functional saviors, yet we have so many more. We think they are stupid for trying to store up manna and yet we do the same thing with powerball tickets. Listen, an idol is an idol is an idol. There’s no way around it. It plagued Israel for many years and it’s plaguing our culture even more. The only way out is to make your real savior your functional one also. It’s lining up your actions and your responses to what you believe. Do you say that Jesus is your Savior? Then act like it. Go to him with your needs. Turn to Him in times of trouble. Seek His Word for direction.
My prayer: “Jesus you are my savior. Come strip away the things that I turn to, that I think will save me or complete me. I serve you alone today, Lord. I worship you and none other. I pray that in my life you would not only be my first, but my only. I love you my Savior and my King! Help me to rest in all that you have and all that you are. Amen.”
Nahum 2:2 The LORD will restore the splendor of Jacob like the splendor of Israel, though destroyers have laid them waste and have ruined their vines.
I’m starting to think God is a dumpster diver. It’s not because He is hungry or homeless or in need. It’s just that He seems to find some pretty good stuff in there. He finds things that the world threw out and considered worthless. He uncovers valuable gems that others thought had no value. It’s dirty stuff He finds, too. But He is a restoration master! He can take what others thought was junk and make it into a work of art. Yes, He finds some good stuff in there.
Maybe that’s where He found you. In the second chapter of Nahum, the prophet states that destroyers have laid the people of Jacob to waste and ruined them. They were trampled on, destroyed, thrown out with the garbage. There they lay in the dumpster waiting for the garbage truck to pick them up. They were without hope wallowing in their worthless life. But their dumpster diving God was on His way. He was going to restore their splendor, clean them up, and make them new.
That’s what God does. He reaches down into that dumpster and pulls each one of us out. When we feel outcast, He finds us. When the world calls us worthless, He gives us worth. When we are covered in the slime of sin – He extends His hand, His grace, and His forgiveness. Yes, my God is a great dumpster diver! And for this I am ever thankful. I am thankful that He is willing to push through the garbage and find me in barren places. I am thankful that He finds value in those who find no value in themselves. As the king and psalmist David once said: “God you have pulled me out of the dumpster… er, I mean, pit.” Thank you Lord!
Micah 7:7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
What do you do when your world falls apart? You just lost your job. Your husband left you. The bank is calling looking for your mortgage payment. Your kids are out ruining their lives and you feel powerless to stop them. People look at you and judge you with their eyes. You feel alone and afraid. As much as this sounds like a country song, it’s unfortunately the story of someone you know. It might even be your story. So what do you do when your world falls apart?
In Micah 7, Israel’s world was falling apart. Micah was a man called to be a voice for the Lord. He stood alone. He stood for the Lord. The best people were wicked at best; the worst, absolutely repulsive. These people make America look good. Really, they were gross. He says that Godly people have vanished from the land. He states that both of their hands are good at accomplishing evil. Yes, Israel was falling apart at the seams. People were turning on each other, households were dividing, and friends betrayed friends. It was the way of life.
Not for Micah. He said, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD…” He was determined to be different. He would swim upstream. When everyone was running one way, he would determine to run the other. When they were all walking away from the Lord looking for hope and peace in all the wrong places, He would look to the Lord. The Lord would be his hope. God would be his Savior. God would hear him and answer his prayer. The world can run its way all it wants. It can rebel against God and find depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and death. It can look to wrong places and come up empty. But not Micah… and not me. I will watch in hope for the Lord, I will wait for God my Savior; and He will hear me.
Hosea 13:4 “But I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me.
We are a people in need of saving. I’m not talking about clipping coupons; that’s a different kind of saving. I am talking about the need to be rescued. We need to be rescued from pain, from hurt, from sin, from depression, from anxiety, from hopelessness. That’s just a short list! Yes, we need saving.
So we turn to all kinds of things to save us. We look around us to find something that satisfies, something that completes us, something that will bring us some happiness. We look to temporary things just to make the bad feeling go away. That’s like being handed a jacket on a really cold day. It will make you warm for a while, but eventually you need to come inside. Eventually you get cold again and seek refuge. God is that refuge!
Jesus is the only Savior, there is no other. He’s the one who has called us out of darkness and slavery into His glorious light! So He asks us to acknowledge no one else as God in our lives. Because He knows that He alone satisfies; He alone can save us. It’s time to lay down our substitute saviors and turn to the only true one. It’s time to recognize who really saves. Don’t settle for temporary rescue from the cold, come inside and find life in your Savior!
1 Kings 18:25-29 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Since you are so numerous, choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first. Then call on the name of your god but don’t light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull that he gave them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “Baal, answer us! ” But there was no sound; no one answered. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made. 27 At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, “Shout loudly, for he’s a god! Maybe he’s thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he’s on the road. Perhaps he’s sleeping and will wake up! ” 28 They shouted loudly, and cut themselves with knives and spears, according to their custom, until blood gushed over them. 29 All afternoon they kept on raving until the offering of the evening sacrifice, but there was no sound; no one answered, no one paid attention.
You are probably familiar with the story of how Elijah called down fire from heaven to light the altar of the Lord. He poured buckets of water on in first just to prove a point. What a showboater! But do you remember this part of the story? I had forgotten how cruel Elijah was to the prophets of Baal. He mocked them sarcastically and cruelly. Their faces must have been turning red with embarrassment once the whole thing was over. I love how he told them to keep shouting because maybe their god was thinking it over or taking a walk. Bahahahahahaha!
“Maybe your god is taking a walk; maybe he is sleeping.” Do you ever find that you have put something else in place of God in your life? These are the things that become your functional savior. It could be people, money, things, relationships, alcohol, shopping… just about anything you use to rescue you from yourself. We turn to things other than God for our hope, our rescue, and our peace. We turn to people for our self-esteem and worth, and they are all substitutes for the voice of God in our lives. Jesus came to this earth to be our Savior, our only Savior.
Can you hear the prophet Elijah calling out to you as you fill the void with other things beside Christ? “Why are you so discontent; is your god of money taking a walk. Why are so depressed; is your approval from man taking a nap?” This is the insanity of serving other gods. It is for this reason (among others) that God said to worship Him and Him alone. Tear down your altars, people. There is one true God; He alone is your Savior. All others will fail and all others will be mocked.