Bible Topics
in the Christian Library
"Who Is God?" Making God In OUR Image

Restoring The Reverence (1)

Hebrews 12:28-29

John L. Kachelman, Jr.


I. Idolatry is a foolish practice. Although its adherents may be sincere, they are wrong. They fashion a god that is comfortable to their lifestyles and vigorously support this idol. Without man's cunning the idol would perish and man's folly would be exposed. This truth is illustrated by the following: Fire symbolized the god of the Chaldeans. They carried their god into several countries proving that he was the greatest god. This god of fire challenged the images of gold, silver, brass, and wood and reduced them to ashes. By this contest the Chaldeans god was worshiped almost everywhere. But then he came to Egypt. The High Priest of Canopus thought of a strategy which would succeed in proving the Egyptian gods were superior to the Chaldeans. In Egyptian idolatry purified water was used to purify the Nile water. The purification jars were cleverly constructed with small imperceptible holes. The High Priest took one of these jars and stopped the holes with wax, and fitted the head of an idol in the jar's mouth. The Chaldeans challenged the Egyptian gods and the High Priest brought out the jar, filled with water. A fire was built and the jar set in its midst. The heat soon melted the wax, the water flowed out and extinguished the fire. Thus Canopus was victorious over the Chaldeans!

II. Our series has forced us to admit that idolatry is not a practice of the ancients. It is as prevalent today as it has ever been. We have discovered a troubling fact -- idolatry occurs with the re-designing of the biblical god into a god that is fitted to OUR concepts and beliefs of how "god" should act. The God of the Bible is not denied, just revised. God is welcomed as a gentle, permissive "Friend" not as the sovereign, omnipotent Creator. Consequently "religion" has become a convenience for surplus time; a panacea for all troubles; a license to demand the fulfillment of Self's desires. Instead of a faith that brings us to our knees we have created gods that neatly fit into our understanding, support our Cause, give us the perfect experience, serve comfort, assure success, and legitimize national decay! In no way does such an idolatrous faith bring us to the humility and reverence and awe expected by the biblical god!

III. As we survey the current religious practices and observe the shocking absence of awe for the Almighty, we are perplexed. Observe modern worshiping assemblies: "You may find much good, such a vibrant fellowship or inspirational teaching or emotional music, but too much of it happens on the horizontal plane, with only a courteous nod toward the vertical ... The purpose of the whole enterprise, it seems, is to guarantee that everyone feel comfortable and entertained" (DMc, 110). How can we recover what has been lost? How can we restore reverence?

The good news -- The situation is not as hopeless as it appears! That awe which previously existed can be restored. Two critical points will help us restore the reverence and awe for our Holy God:

1. A process of repentance which calls us back to reverence.

2. A guide which offers us infallible instruction.


There is only one way by which the lost awe/reverence can be restored -- only through repentance! To "repent" means to turn from one way (practice) and toward another (cf Ac 3:19; 2 Co 7:10). Biblical repentance is an on-going (constant) practice. As we mature in faith we come to understand sin better and we are expected to turn from this (1 Jn 1:6-10); we develop attitudes that are in conformity to God's Word (Ro 12:1-2; 2 Pt 1:5-11).

I. The process of daily repentance is especially critical if we are to be kept from idolatry! Every day Satan will tempts us to re-design the biblical God so that our lives will be more comfortable, our beliefs will be more acceptable to the world. There is a constant battle and we must practice daily repentance (2 Co 10:5). This is a great challenge -- to let go of the god of our creation and restore reverence to the God of all creation! This requires us to repent of self-centeredness!

The process of repentance that will restore our reverence has 3 steps:

1. The restoration of reverence begins where its loss started -- with the memory of who God is, what He expects, and how we are to approach Him.

2. 2 Pt 3:1-2 -- There is a problem of "forgetfulness" which plagues Believers. John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress speaks of a certain place named "Forgetful Green." It is a most dreadful place for there the Christian pilgrim meets with great calamity -- he forgets the great God. Many battles have been fought there and Satan was the Victor because saints forgot the greatness of God!

3. When it comes to life we must not forget the greatness of the biblical God. "We must pause long enough to become aware of our actual circum-stances: our joyous gratitude, we discover, has led us into the throne room of the universe, and now we are in the presence of the Holy One who utterly transcends us, who holds together all creation from the smallest molecule to the largest galaxy and all history from the 1st page to the last, who is burning in wrath against sin with the flame of urging love, who has claimed us in Jesus Christ and will keep us in the embrace of grace for all eternity" (DMc, 111).

4. This remembrance of God should be intricately woven into the fabric of our daily events (Ps 1:2; Gn 39:9).


1. Once we refuse to allow Satan to re-define the biblical God in our minds, we will keep a singular focus upon the Almighty as the One seated in heavenly splendor and ruling the Universe. This will cause us to lose sight of everything else. The commands of this Holy God will consume our attention.

2. Especially will this singular focus be expressed in our worship. All that we do in worship assemblies will be done to pay homage to this great God and express our willingness to serve Him throughout life.

3. "Sometimes what passes for worship is more human-centered than God-centered. We want to make sure everyone 'gets something' out of the experience and for good reason: this tends to be the standard most of us use to judge whether a service was 'meaningful' or not. Was I inspired? Were the sermon and music to MY liking? We MY needs met? If not, well there's always another church down the street to try next Sunday ... Much good results from the desire to be sensitive to the needs of the congregation, whether believers or seekers. But what difference does it make if God is not at the center?" (DMc, 113).

4. The problem with many "worship" assemblies today is they have forgotten that God Almighty is the focus. Worship is FOR God, not man. It seems many are confused and think the worshipers are the audience, preachers are the entertainers, and God is the prompter. All is arranged and performed for the audience's applause. Worship in this way is meaningful only if it strikes a responsive chord in those assembled ("Wow! That was a great worship -- it really met MY needs!"). It is easy to understand why God is re-designed in order that He will sanction any kind of "wowing" worship practice. After all, if the focus of our worship is to elicit "Wows!" from the audience then God must be a god of the "Holy wow!"

5. Repentance leads us to restore the focus of worship -- it is FOR God not man. 

a. Worship that is designed FOR man is idolatry (Ex 20:3). 

b. Worship that unseats God as its primary focus is sin (2 Ths 2:4; 2 Ti 3:2). 

c. Worship that is focused upon man is blasphemy (Mal 3:13- 14).

6. We need to guard against re-designing God so we fashion a god of worship that satisfies selfishness. We are "at home" in worship ONLY when we focus solely upon God (Ps 84:1-12; Zech 8:21).

1. Repentance leads us to focus upon God's greatness and in
order to focus properly we must have structure. God has revealed to us the structure of worship that He desires. Idolatry seeks to re-design this structure!

2. In creating man, God knew that there would be a need for certain rituals and patterns that would give man the means for worship. Worship cannot be left to the whimsical nature of man. The great God of the Bible has given us a pattern by which He is to be praised (Jn 4:24).

3. Our idolatrous culture tries to re-design God's patterns. It scoffs at traditions, rituals, and patterns. A Jewish Rabbi (Abraham Joshua Heschel) was once confronted with a complaint about the worship in his congregation. Some told him the worship did not express what they wanted to feel and asked him to change it. Heschel told them that the worship was not to give them the feelings they wanted but it was for them to learn to sense what the worship taught (honor to God) (DMc, 115).

4. The biblical God has expressed the structure of worship that will keep our heart's focused upon Him. Only those who seek to idolize will re-design a god who will accept less than what the biblical God has commanded!

II. There is a biblical illustration that fits well in this lesson (Ex 19:10-14).

When God reveals Himself, man has no choice but to prepare himself to meet this majestic God. This preparation will help us to restore the reverence that our great God deserves. Notice what is involved:

A. Prepare with consecration (19:10).

This requires us to separate from sin and dedication to God. You cannot reverence the true God if you have not spurned sin. The one,s true God can never be reverenced by one whose life harbors sin (2 Co 6:17).

B. Prepare with willing obedience (19:10bff).

Some of the commands seem trivial but they are required by God. We are obligated to do everything God says; do not trivialize any command! Those who demonstrate reverence humbly obey every command.

C. Prepare with the appointed time (19:11).

God had given a set time and that time was to be restricted for God. Thus reverence is found by those who prepare for the appointed times of worship. Reverence is demonstrated by the schedules and priorities of every day living.


I. Reverence can definitely be restored! Those who truly repent, re-focus, and follow God's structure find that the lost reverence is restored (Is 57:17-19; Ps 51:12).

II. There is no doubt that there is a great desire to restore reverence by using this three step process. But, how are we to know what true repentance is? How are we to know which focus is the right one? How are we to know which structure is right? The answers to these important questions cannot be found in rituals or cultures. There is an infallible source that gives us assurance that our following the three steps to restoration is right -- the Word of God! God's Word is more important than any other instruction. We look next at how this Word can lead us confidently to a restoration of reverence for the Almighty God!

III. A little boy was asked, "How many gods are there?" He quickly replied, "Only one!" "How do you know this?" "Because there is room for only One. God fills the heaven and earth." Let us find comfort in this simple understanding. There is but ONE true God. Let all cast away the gods of their imaginations. Let all turn to the one, true God and submit to His directions in your life. You may not "like" what the God of the Bible teaches, commands, and condemns, but do you really have another option? No. There is but ONE true God!

Copyright 1999 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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