Where is your God and are you certain with where you believe your God is?  For those that might be confused by the question, what I want to know is this:  is your God down here on earth with us or does your God reign in heaven?  Not everybody is able to answer this question with certainty.  My God reigns from heaven – that is who I have faith in.  

In the first verse of my key verse today (Hab. 2:19), the prophet says, “Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’  To silent stone, ‘Arise!  It shall teach!’ ”  The prophet was speaking to the people whose god was down here on earth in the form of some idol – they were idol worshipers.  Idolatry is mankind’s greatest sin against God.  In the past couple of weeks I have witnessed a move towards something that I must about.  That something – idolatry in our society.

What Do You Have Faith In?

I want to say right away that I do not intend for this sermon to be political, but I cannot ignore some of the things that we see happening right now.  Have you ever heard of the saying, “desperate times call for desperate measures?”  Those desperate measures typically include throwing sound logic out the window and doing whatever it takes no matter the risks or consequences.  

Currently, we have leadership in this country and in our states that’s full of desperation that they are willing to say or do anything to get out of this crisis.  The governor here in Georgia re-opened our state from the shelter in place order this past Friday.  The decision, he claims to be one that was made to benefit all of those struggling to make it during this time of crisis.

Desperate and disturbing times

I understand greatly what many people are going through.  Times have gotten so desperate over just the past month.  Many people who never thought they would never need to visit a food bank, have had to do so just to put food on their table. There is also much panic over being able to pay rent and mortgages because the bills are still coming in even when there has been much stoppage of work.

The reaction to trying to restart the economy in a blink of an eye while the danger is still high is causing some folks to choose between life and death.  The notion of being so quick to restart the economy is causing some to question whether or not we as a nation are valuing the economy over life itself.  This should not be a question or a problem for a nation that prints “In God We Trust” on its currency.  Question:  are we truly trusting in God as a nation today?

It makes me wonder if our faith is truly in God or is our faith in the almighty dollar.  I tell you, this past week has truly troubled me because the actions of others seems to be leaning towards faith in the almighty dollar.  In times of desperation, people will often fall back onto what they truly believe in.  

In our nation and society, there are many folks who truly put their faith in the power of the dollar bill.  The almighty dollar can make things better and can make things go away!  It is truly a scary thought if your god has become the dollar bill and how many of them you have!  Again, I ask the question, where is your God/god?  Is the dollar bill ultimately what guides you in the decisions that you make?

Judah’s fall into sin

I want to show you where faith in idols can lead an entire nation.  The scripture that I am preaching from today comes out of the book of Habakkuk.  Habakkuk is considered a ‘minor’ prophet, but I don’t believe in such a thing as a minor prophet of God.  

Habakkuk prophesied at a time prior to Babylon’s destruction of Jerusalem.  This is shown to us in the first chapter of Habakkuk where God tells the prophet that He was raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to judge Judah (Hab. 1:5-6).  You may ask, why was God raising up an army to destroy His own people?  Let’s dive into that thought here for a moment. 

You will recall that a couple weeks ago, I preached about how Israel (the 10 northern tribes of Israel) had crossed a threshold of no return with God.  What had the northern tribes done?  Well, they had turned a deaf ear to listening to the Lord’s word and committed apostasy.  Apostasy:  an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith.

Judah, the southern kingdom, was now falling into the same sin.  They were sinning by praising and worshiping the wooden and stone images.  In other words, Judah was committing idolatry which is a very grave sin.  They, like their brothers to the north, were refusing to follow and obey the Lord – committing apostasy.

The great sin of idolatry

In my opinion, apostasy is the worst thing man can do.  When we choose to completely abandon God and turn to an idol instead that is a very great sin to commit!  It leaves me wondering, why would someone ever do that?  What good can a piece of wood or stone do for us when there is no life in it?

I suppose that the wood could keep us warm during the winter time if we are capable of burning it.  Again, if we are capable of burning the wood, we could cook something on top of it and the stone that would feed our belly.  Yet, in both examples, that solves a problem but only temporarily.  No good can come from worshiping an idol.  We see this time and time again in scripture, and we find that the repercussions of turning from God is never good for mankind.

For example:  the Israelites when at Mount Sinai (Ex. 32:1-35).  Moses had gone up into the mount to talk to the Lord and receive the commandments from Him.  The people turned to Aaron to make a calf of gold, because of how long it had taken Moses to come out of the mountain.  They rejoiced and danced around the golden calf in worship though it had done nothing for them.  

Moses referred to this as a great sin and God said that the people had corrupted themselves.  For this, God plagued the children of Israel because of their great sin against Him at the mount.  I want you to understand that act was a decided act of rebellion against God.  I wonder again today, are we ourselves as a nation starting to approach such a threshold with the Lord.  

Now I want you to understand, I am not talking about the decisions that leadership made this past week being an act of apostasy.  No, I am talking about how our society seemingly worships the dollar bill today!  We not only worship the dollar but we also worship ideas of great prosperity and wealth along with celebrity.  It honestly scares me how we, as a society, have become married to the religion of power.

Who is your God  

Not only do we live in a society whose apostasy is starting to grow more and more, but we live in a society whose morality slips further down the drain.  Scripture (Matt. 22:39) declares that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves instead, it seems, we do the most to cause harm to our neighbor.  From before the birth of this nation up until our time of today, one would have to wonder why we as a society are unable to love our fellow man.

As we saw in our Sunday school lesson last week, the second psalm opens with a question (Ps. 2:1):  “Why do the heathen rage?”  In that psalm, the heathen were in a rage against God and God’s anointed.  They were living in a decided rejection of God’s power and His authority – they did not care for Him being in charge!  I tell you, it seems we, as a society, live in the same manner today.

No, we do not dance around a calf of gold today but I tell you that the people are in a rage still today.  Some question where God is during this time of crisis.  Some question why it is taking so long for this crisis to end.  They go out and protest against wise counsel and wish to rush back to life as it was before.  Some are missing their massages, getting their nails done, eating out at fine restaurants, going to clubs, or being able to get their hair cut/done.

Worshiping the god of wood and stone

We give most of our time to the dollar bill or to things of pleasure.  I believe that the things that we give all our time too, those things that come first in our life – the things that we allow ourselves to be consumed with – are the things that we are giving ourselves to in worship.  Let me tell you, those things are our gods today and we have to be careful about this!  I warn all of us today:  Woe to us who are giving all of our energy over to those idols of “wood” and “stone” today.

In the book of Exodus, scripture says that the Lord’s name is Jealous because He is a jealous God and that we should worship no other god (Ex. 34:14).  I ask the question today:  Who is your God (god) and where is He/he?  This is a question that I ask with the utmost of seriousness.  Is your god down here with us or does He reign in heaven?

19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’

To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’

Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,

Yet in it there is no breath at all.

20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple.

Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

key verse(s) – habakkuk 2:19-20

In His Holy Temple

I believe in the God that Habakkuk spoke of when he says (Hab. 2:20), “The Lord is in His holy temple.”  In mankind’s apostasy and in his striving for power, we forget who it is that is sovereign over all things.  I tell you that my God is still in charge today and that all of the earth should keep silent before Him!

The problem that we face today is that there are many people who will say that they believe in God, but their actions go against Him and His way!  You can say that you believe in God but do you truly recognize Him because if you do, you would not do some of the things that you do.  If you truly recognized that the Lord is in His holy temple, then your eyes would first turn to heaven instead of turning to your pockets or your bank account!

You see, we as a society do not submit ourselves in silence before His throne.  Many of the problems we face in our society stem from ignoring His way which has caused things to get so much worse.  How much better could things be if we were to stop refusing to follow after His way?  How much better could things be if we simply shut our raging against Him up and followed after Him?

Looking and judging

God is in His holy temple, sitting on His throne watching us.  You see, God is watching over us just as He was watching over Judah during the time of Habakkuk when they were committing great sin against Him.  God is watching over us the same He was watching over the children of Israel when they were committing great sin by worshiping that golden calf.

As I said the other week, God is looking to see what we are going to do.  He is looking to see if we are going to ever love Him or if we are going to continue to be consumed in our worship of other things.  God is looking to see if we are going to ever truly be obedient to His way and love one another.  I believe God is looking to see if we are going to ever practice what we preach or simply live in our false religion.

God watches over this world and I often wonder what He thinks of His creation today. What do you think the Lord thinks of you today?  Are you acting in a way that He would be well pleased in?  This is the sort of thought that should make one do right or at least strive to want to get right with God.  I love that my God is in heaven and not something I can fold up and put in my pocket!  I love that He is there as the sovereign ruler who is still in control and in charge of His creation.

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