Loving God for Himself Alone

This week I preached on the bigness of God from Isaiah 40:12-26. That because he is so big we can trust him with our lives. Now all of us that claim faith in Christ can on the surface agree to this and let it warm us on a Sunday morning, but how does it help us on a Monday afternoon?

Normal pressures of life punctuate the worship gathering and we swim back into the soup of the clamor of smaller things demanding to reign in our lives. We believe God is big enough to care for us, but how will the bills get paid? We believe God holds all of creation in his hand, but what if our adult children never speak to us again? We believe nations are emptiness before God, but what about the burden of our tax liability?

The list could go on, and sure it would be specific to you, external demands, responsibilities, emotions and the overall sense of exile without end weigh us down. Can we really turn to Jesus with all of this?

It is far too easy to turn faith into a transactional relationship. I believe in God so he gives me a job, or I pray hard and long enough and I will finally be delivered…etc. But is believing in and following Jesus worthwhile if none of the externals are dealt with? Do we love God for himself alone?

The thinking brings to mind one of the most popular of Bible stories. The fiery furnace. Disobedient to the cultural demands of worship at the golden image which would make their own faith in God private, the three Jewish young men are brought before the king.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16–18 (ESV)

They profess how big God is – big enough to deliver them out of the fire – but what’s more, they profess that even if he doesn’t they won’t bow to the fake gods. Even in the breakthrough doesn’t come, even if I remain in the valley, if I live and die in exile, I will still only worship God.

It is bold faith.

Yes, God delivers them. They are freed from the furnace and in many of our own “furnaces” God works to free us. But friends he is worth worshiping because of who he is. We don’t need the addition of circumstance or the change thereof.

Come what may, we will worship. Let’s say that. Let’s live that. Let’s rejoice when we come out the other side. Let’s look up and behold our God and gain an eager vision for eternity with him – the promise he is big enough to deliver. Let’s love God for himself alone.

Wherever I Go

OneRepublic has a new single out and I like it. Lead singer Ryan Tedder says the song is about obsession maybe even “almost an unnatural, unhealthy level of obsession, is what the song is about. But it feels very, to me – like we were looking for..”

Even beyond the direct reference to praying for this feeling, I wonder if the song speaks of deeper redemptive realities… hear for yourself

I know I could lie but I’m telling the truth
(Wherever I go there’s a shadow of you…)
I know I could try looking for something new
But wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you…

Some people lie but they’re looking for magic
Others are quietly going insane
I feel alive when I’m close to the madness
No easy love could ever make me feel the same

I know I could lie, but I won’t lie to you
Wherever I go, you’re the ghost in the room
I don’t even try looking for something new
Cause wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you

Some people try but they can’t find the magic
Others get down on their knees and they pray
I come alive when I’m close to the madness

(No easy love could ever make me feel the same…)
Make me feel the same
Make me feel the same, same, same

I know I could lie but I’m telling the truth
Wherever I go there’s a shadow of you
I know I could try looking for something new
But wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you
Wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you, you

Some people pray to their God for some magic
Cause no easy love could ever make them feel the same
No easy love could ever make me feel the same
Make me feel the same, same, same

I know I could lie but I’m telling the truth
Wherever I go there’s a shadow of you
I know I could try looking for something new
But wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you

You think it’s a lie when I’m telling the truth
Wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you
Wherever I go, I’ll be looking for you
Looking for you, looking for you, ah

Yahweh, Yahweh El

Working through the book of Exodus in class this last week and we spent some time in chapter 34 as it is the section in which God gives his own name and expresses his character to Moses. And while the character of God is importantly revealed here I have been focusing on his name, as he tells it.

I think in verse 6 we see God’s “James Bond” moment. Our English bibles have it as “Lord, Lord God” but the Hebrew here would be “Yahweh, Yahweh El” and while there has been a lot of analysis of why God repeats his name in this way I think we can learn a lot about it in recognizing why James Bond does the same thing.

Of course Bond is a fictional character and God is real but in reading or watch a Bond story the international man of mystery always introduces himself as “Bond, James Bond.” I am sure you can hear that being said and have probably at some time in your life repeated those words. That is part of the significance. In the stories Bond says his name to be remembered. The classic way to make sure you name sinks in is to repeat it (a trick to remember someone’s name is to repeat it back to them immediately.) Bond wants to be known so he has presented his name in a way that sticks.

There is another aspect to how Bond gives his name though. “Bond, James Bond,” is said with a tone that would inspire those it was directed at to recall and dwell on all that they have heard about him before. Letting “Bond” resonate allows those that have come across his reputation to realize who they are in the presence of. While this doesn’t always work out in Bond’s favor it certainly does for God.

In stating his name as “Yahweh, Yahweh El” God is giving us pause to remember that name and bringing to our minds everything we have heard about him, drawing us to a place of reverence. This name is no joke so hear it and remember it.

I think we all too often neglect the God we have heard about and refuse to hear his revelation of himself. We look past his name in search of the character trait that we need the most at the moment rather than the full disclosure of who God is. As we follow the Israelite wilderness journey we realize this is not a name we want to forget.

Jesus does something similar in Luke 6 and while commentaries don’t draw the comparison I think this is another place in which Christ is establishing his divine nature in presenting himself like he did in Exodus. In verse 46 Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” While this scripture most poignantly tells that confession without obedience is meaningless, it also has Jesus stating his name in that Bond fashion – with a remembrance and reverence required. We can not call God by his name “Lord” but treat him like anything less.

In response to God’s revelation in Exodus Moses immediately fell to the ground and worshiped. When was the last time we had such a posture when God revealed his name?