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"Who Is God?" Making God In OUR Image

Restoring The Reverence (2)

Hebrews 12:28-29

John L. Kachelman, Jr.


I. We live in times where God is "respected" but not "revered"; where people trust in the supernatural but not the supernatural God of Scriptures; where feelings outweigh faith; hope has been usurped by hopelessness; where religious devotion is practiced more like a picnic than the knee-knocking, heart-pricking experience of Scripture. Indications of our lost reverence are all-around us:

1. Biblical reverence honors God with dress.

In Scripture those who approached God in worship wore the best garments (Ex 28:2,43). Past generations owned "Sunday go to meetin'" clothes. These may have been overhauls, but they were the best garments owned and use was restricted to church going! It was common to hear mothers instruct their children, "You go change. We're going to worship and you know better than to wear that! God deserves your best. Wear your best for the Lord!" This practical code of dress existed because of reverent respect FOR the Lord God Almighty. The loss of reverence is indicated today by the lax dress that many wear to worship. Many dress better for a school/business function than they do for assemblies where the Lord God Almighty is worshiped! Reverence in worship is not shown by dress that is appropriate for a picnic.

2. Biblical reverence honors God with speech.

In Scripture those who approached God in prayer, singing, or, preaching did so with awe. They addressed the Almighty in terms of respect and fear. The loss of reverence today is seen in prayers offered to "Daddy," in songs designed to make worshipers giddy, and in preaching that has forgotten the term "sin" and seldom calls for self-denial.

3. Biblical reverence honors God with firstfruits.

In Scripture those who revered God recognized God's ownership of possessions -- they never allowed Self to recv better than God! The loss of reverence today appears as many feed Self their firstfruits and offer God their leftovers. The priority of giving to the Church is replaced by the priority of giving to Self. We cannot give God the firstfruits of our money because we have allowed Self to spend us into debt; we cannot give God the firstfruits of our time because we have allowed Self to convince us that there are other "more important" things that take us away from worship/ Bible study!

4. Note: How did we lose the reverence? The answer is simple but disturbing. In fact some angrily deny the answer; stubbornly refuse to look at the facts. The answer -- IDOLATRY! Modern man has taken the biblical God and re-designed Him to fit today's culture. This re-vamped "god" is used to sanction the idolatry of causes, biblical ignorance, experiences, comfort, success, and national sins. The subtly of this is frightening -- few recognize it; fewer confess it! Such is sinful because Self is in control (Col 3:5b). How disturbing is it to hear that modern worshipers approach the Almighty with a "casual nod" or a "yawn of familiarity"? Such should stir with in each a zeal to correct this failing (Ac 17:23b; Ps 135:5; 33:22; 40:22-23; Jere 10:10). The failure to offer correction and the willingness to accept the re-designed "god" causes us to ask troubling questions -- "Why are we silent? Why do we allow the biblical God to be re-designed? Have we lost the reverence/awe for the biblical God?" (Ezek 33:7).

II. The road to recovery of reverence is mapped by two points (Ezek 14:6):
1. A process of repentance -- we must turn away from idolatry and return to biblical awe. This is accomplished by:
a. Remembering the majesty of God (Is 40:22-23).

b. Focusing upon God-centered worship/living (2 Ti 3:4b; Mal 3:13-18).

c. Structuring our worship/living according to God's direct- ions (1 Co 4:6; 15:58).

2. A guide offering infallible instructions -- we must follow the 
commands of God if we are to revere God (Jn 4:24; Dt 12:31-32).


Critical to the process of repentance is the standard by which repentance is commanded. One may turn from one idol but turn to another idol unless s/he has the right directions (1 Ki 20:23). Thus there must be a standard by which one can turn from idols and toward the Almighty (1 Ths 1:9b). Ezekiel 18:30-32 -- There is a definite standard that will judge conduct (v. 30a); requires a turning (v. 30b); identifies certain things as wrong (v. 30c); leads to newness (v. 31); and, that condemns if ignored (v. 32). As critical as the process of repentance is to restoring the lost reverence, there is something MORE critical -- that which directs our religious actions! 

I. The infallible guide for restoring the lost reverence is the Word of God (Scripture). Our modern age has experienced an explosion of words. We are bombarded with so many words, from so many places, by so many methods that words have lost their significance. Words today have lost the sense of absolute -- they are "plastic" and can be molded to fit any individual's purpose. There is lacking any sense of universal meaning. So we are told today, "There is no language of truth." Those who accept a plastic vocabulary are prime targets for idolatry because "god" can be re-defined, re-vamped, and re-designed with a few plastic words. Any sense of absolute authority in religious faith is denied. Mankind is left with o certainty in faith, confounded in practice, and miserable in idolatry!

The answer to the modern muddle of meaningless words is the Word of God (1 Co 1:25; Hb 4:12). Here are words that could never come from the idols of man's desires. Here are words with absolute meaning and specific application. How can we "hear" God's Word today? Some say, "God led me to this ..." Is this how God's directions are made known? How can we distinguish between what God's actually says and what our selfish desires wish? We are told to "test" religious instructions (1 Jn 4:1). Thankfully God has provided an absolute way by which His Word can be known -- the Bible! All desires, feelings, intuitions, dreams, inner-voices, etc., must be evaluated by this Word.

How do we "hear" God's Word today? There are 3 primary ways:

A. The WRITTEN Word -- The Scriptures.

The Bible is God's Word that tells us exactly what God desires. A written Word is the best method of communicating God's will and it alone is capable of directing us in repentance from the idols we desire. When people follow God's Word they turn from idolatry (cf 1 Ths 1:9; 2:13). There is a pblm -- people will not read it!

Biblical illiteracy allows idolatry. Such happened to Israel (Ps 97:7) and it will happen to Christians (2 Ti 2:15). Why has biblical illiteracy grown to such amazing proportions? 

1. "Bible studies have given way to support groups and classes on 'practical' topics, such as parenting or coping with stress. Even pastors shy away from conferences offering serious biblical/theological reflection in favor of learning the latest techniques for church growth" (DMc, 123).

2. Another reason is found in the impact of idolatry. People look at the Bible as something to be studied in Bible class but not as the rule for life. They thus can accept the Bible, re-design God to fit their individual tastes, and live contrary to everything the Bible teaches! When they see something in Scripture that is uncomfortable or that does not fit "their" Christianity, they quickly dismiss it or try to re-discover the "real meaning" of the passage.

3. Many today are unwilling to study the Scriptures and come to understand what it teaches. Most are willing to study it with a neutral, all-permissive approach that bows down to their "god of understanding." To these the "god of personal experience" is much more comfortable than the Jehovah of Scripture. Too many are willing to talk "about " the Bible but never talk "from" the Bible -- generalizations, not specifics, are cherished because generalizations can be as plastic as our modern vocabulary!

4. When the Word of God is present it rebukes idolatry. We MUST restore reverence by knowing the written Word! (Cf 1 Ki 22:9-23).

B. The PROCLAIMED Word -- The Teachings.
The absolute Word of God is proclaimed in many ways: private teaching, classrooms, the pulpit. There ought to be a reverent awe that accompanies any proclamation of God's Word -- "Thus saith the Lord" identifies the proclamation as deserving special honor. How tragic that some do not reverence God's Word in this way (2 Pt 3:16b).

Biblical proclamation involves much more than sharing experiences or talking in generalities. "It is as itself the Word, the power sharper than any two-edge sword, the power of the universe-creating, history-making, truth-telling, sin-annulling, death-defeating, life-giving, grace-granting, Kingdom-bringing Word" (DMc, 125). 

Biblical proclamation is the speaking of God's Word! Modern culture has re-designed this. Huck Finn commented on the preacher-farmer, Mr. Phelps, that he "never charged nothing for his preaching. And it was worth it too.'" 

The Word proclaimed is a powerful force (Ro 1:16; 1 Ths 2:13) but it faces the opposition of our idolatrous culture. Today's idolatry is not satisfied with the simple gospel (1 Co 1:18-29).

As you proclaim the Gospel, are you reverent? "May God deliver us from preachers insensible of the dangers. Those who are full of beans and confident in their gifts, who project an image of smooth certainty and easy familiarity with the Almighty, who demonstrate no agony of spirit or terror before the holy, had best start doing something more useful ... for the sort of god they preach is a god too trivial to take seriously" (DMc, 128).

The only way for true repentance, that will restore the lost reverence, to be known is for the Word to be proclaimed. This will not lead one to win popularity; it will bring confrontations; it will even cause one to doubt/question absolute Truth, but it must be done (2 Ti 4:2-5)! Beware! Idolatry seeks to persuade you to re-design the proclamation so that it is less than (or more than) what God commands.

C. The PRACTICED Word -- The Obedience.

As one encounters God's Word there will be change. That which is read, understood, and believed, becomes practiced. The power of the Word invades every part of our being and changes our lives (Ep 5:1-21). No longer will the individual idols be our cherished gods. They will be cast out as repentance turns us back to the Holy God. We will once again crucify self. We will refuse to twist the Scriptures. We will admit God's sovereignty over all. We will experience reverence/awe. We will worship in joy, knowing that the Holy God has commanded and we are honoring His wishes not entertaining our wants.
II. There is a biblical illustration that fits this lesson (Exodus 19:8).

For 400 yrs Israel had been exposed to idolatry. The evil had invaded her religious practices. Now she had reached Mt. Sinai and was faced with a sobering fact -- there is no god except Jehovah God!

Israel's understanding led her to reject all gods except for Jehovah. This response illustrates that which ought to be seen as God's Word brings repentance:

1. It was prompt! They did not hesitate.

2. It was sincere! They had no reservations.

3. It was unanimous! All together -- no individualistic tastes!

4. Israel thus responded because she had no other option. She stood face-to-face with the Sovereign Lord God. How could she re-design Him? How could she re-vamp His character? How could she re-write His commands? She was uncomfortable before this God, but she dared not change Him. Such modifications were intolerable (Ex 20:22-23). You would think Israel would forever recall this event but she promised more than she was willing to perform.


I. Ex 19:17a -- Moses brought Israel out to "meet" God. The root word "denotes a planned encounter wherein the subject intentionally confronts the object ... can represent friendly encounters ... or going out to meet someone in order to recognize or gain him as an ally ... Such mtgs are purposeful and intentional" (TWOTOT, Vol. 2, 811).

Moses knew Israel must reverence the Almighty God and she must reject her idols. He thus brought her information and urged upon her the action that was necessary. She then determined to reverence and awe God.

II. Each of us stands where Moses stood -- We know there is no other god except Jehovah God. Has our reverence/awe of The Almighty been compromised? Have we re-designed God? Have we modified God's commands so they are more "comfortable"? Have we lessened our proclamation of God's Word and softened the absolutes of God's Truth? When you bring people to "meet" God, what kind of God do they meet?

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

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