(7/12) When I was a boy, I often spent 2-4 hours 3-4 days a week grading, candling, and boxing eggs for my dad. I also had to bag and weigh various fruits and vegetables for my dad to sell while he worked the evening shift at Black and Deckerís. To keep me company, dad bought me an A.M. radio. There were not many top 40 songs from the late 50ís and
entire 60ís that I couldnít sing along with as I worked.
This morning I am not going to sing but I want to remind you of two of those songs that I hope you will remember whenever you pick up your Bible.
The first was written by Phil Spector and first sung by his trio, The Teddy Bears. The first 2 verses go like this:
"To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him, Just to see him smile makes my life worthwhile To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him and I do
I'll be good to him, I'll bring love to him
Everyone says there'll come a day when I'll walk alongside of him
Yes, just to know him is to love, love, love him and I do."
Okay, do you have that going on in your head?
Here is the second, near the same time period of late 50ís early 60ís, written and sung by the great Ray Charles:
You give your hand to me And then you say, "Hello" And I can hardly speak My heart is beating so And anyone can tell
You think you know me well, Well, you don't know me no
No you don't know the one Who dreams of you each night
And longs to kiss your lips And longs to hold you tight
To you I'm just a friend That's all I've ever been No you don't know me
You give your hand to me And then you say, "Goodbye"
And I watched you walk away Beside the lucky guy Oh, you'll never ever know The one who loved you so No you don't know me
I say you never ever know The one who loved you so
No you don't know me No you don't love me.
I hope that whenever you listen to an Oldie station and hear those songs that you think about this life lesson. Or, find them on You Tube.
So what does this have to do with the sermon series, My God, Why? Here is the answer. One of the reasons that we tend to ask God, "Why?" and, one of the reasons we wonder why God is tolerating Americaís embrace of unholy actions is simply this. We donít know God! We have picked out one of Godís attributes and used it as a qualifier for all that our God
is and does. That is, that God is Love and/ or God is Good. We suppose that Godís desire is for our happiness and prosperity. But when questions like these that we spoke of two weeks ago hit us, we donít understand and we question God. How could a loving GodÖ?
I believe with all my heart that one of the biggest problems in America both in in the nation and in the church, is that we donít know God. We think we do, but we donít. When we hear the Gospel of Jesus we hear John 3:16 and the word love. Several gospel presentations like the Four Spiritual Laws and Billy Grahamís Steps to Peace With God, begin by
reminding us of the truth that, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." While that is true, it is just one aspect of who God is, and we seldom get past it. When bad things happen or things that we donít understand, we suppose that perhaps God is not all that good or all that loving or God is not all that powerful.
I love being a grandfather. Sometimes I wish I were able to retire and just be a full time grandfather. I love playing with my grandchildren, reading to them, giving them candy and ice cream when their parents arenít around and protecting them. Sometimes when they do something wrong and their parents want to discipline them, I will jump in and say, "Aww,
they are just children, they didnít mean it. They are just acting like children. Come here, children and let Gaga hold you." Sadly far, too many people have that image of God in their minds, as a kind, but old, grandfather with a long white beard who loves us all and says, "Aww, they are just acting like children, they will be alright." But God says, "No, you donít know me.
Still others see God as an angry police officer daring you to violate the law so he can arrest you. In fact, these kinds of concepts are heresy. Neither is true. We have made God in our own image.
Please use your Bibles and turn to Jeremiah 9. Jeremiah had just heard the latest Supreme Court decision and his heart was broken. Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. Remember that I told you that Luke 19:41 tells us that Jesus wept over Jerusalem? He stopped before that entry on Palm Sunday and wept uncontrollably because Jerusalem had rejected
the grace He came to offer them. Well, if you read Jeremiah and his follow-up book Lamentations, you find this man weeping often because of the moral corruption of his country and the people who are supposed to know God and their Bibles.
Vv. 1-2, "Oh, that my head were waters, And my eyes a fountain of tears,
That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people!
2 Oh, that I had in the wilderness A lodging place for travelers;
That I might leave my people, And go from them!
For they are all adulterers, An assembly of treacherous men."
After the Supreme Court decision my wife responded like Jeremiah, "Where can we go," she asked. I wish I had a place to go, a cabin in the woods, a condo by the beach, Texas, Mexico, somewhere to get away from this insanity. That is exactly what Jeremiah wanted. He wanted to get away. And there was no SWA.
Read verse 3 and notice that God cuts in on Jeremiahís lament. A lot of Jeremiahís book is a running dialogue between the Lord and Jeremiah.
"And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, And they do not know Me," says the Lord. They follow and teach the 8 great lies and more. They donít stand up for truth. They teach that truth is relevant and they donít know God. "No they donít me," says God.
In fact, in verse 6, it says, Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit; Through deceit they refuse to know Me," says the Lord.
The word, know, does not mean to be acquainted with. I know the Methodist pastor up the street. I know that teacher, or that politician. No, the word, Yada, means to know intuitively, personally, experientially. It is the way a husband and wife know each other. Debbie and I know each other physically, experientially, but we also know each other
personally, and intuitively. Sometimes I just say one word and she finishes the whole thought. Sometimes, I donít even speak and she knows what I am thinking (and that is scary). We know what each other likes and enjoys and what each hates. We know each otherís hearts. We know each otherís strengths and weaknesses. God wants to be known that way.
But He says, "You donít know me; in fact, you refuse to know me."
Turn to and look at the following: Sounds like our country right now.
Jer. 2:8; The priests did not say, ĎWhere is the Lord?í And those who handle the law did not know Me; The rulers also transgressed against Me; The prophets prophesied by Baal, And walked after things that do not profit.
4:22; "For My people are foolish, They have not known Me. They are silly children, And they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil,
But to do good they have no knowledge."
Hosea 4:1; Hear the word of the Lord, You children of Israel, For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: "There is no truth or mercy Or knowledge of God in the land.
4:6; My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
5:4; "They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, For the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, And they do not know the Lord.
6:6; For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
What is the problem in all these verses? They didnít know God!
Listen, not only is this an indictment on the people of Israel and the people of America, it is also an indictment on the church. Church people donít know God.
Back to Jeremiah 9. The rest of the chapter is about the forthcoming judgment on Jerusalem-The Babylonian conquest that would take place in Jeremiahís life time. Look at verses 13-14, "And the Lord said, "Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, 14 but they have walked
according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them,"
Look at verse 23, "Thus says the Lord: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his richesÖ" There used to be an old saying, "You are too big for your britches." It meant you have an exaggerated sense of your own importance, influence, or knowledge. You think that you are more
than you are. Or, you are trying to act older and wiser than you are. The people of Jerusalem thought they were more important and more secure than they were. They thought they were something when they were nothing.
The Teachers were taking security in their knowledge. They knew philosophy, and the secrets of the universe, they didnít need or acknowledge God. Nor did they teach about God and His ways.
The Politicians, and Judges took security in their power over people and didnít acknowledge God
The Wealthy were taking security in their wealth and didnít need or acknowledge God. Maybe like Deut. 8 says, they thought their own ability, brains, and brawn had gotten them their diploma, purse, or position.
So, here is Godís admonition in verse 24, because verses 25-26 are coming, and He wants you to see something America. Judgment and Sentencing are coming. America is part of the, "and all who are in the farthest corners Ö"
Verse 24, But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the Lord. The word glory, means to boast, to take pride in. It refers to accomplishing oneís pursuit and displaying the diplomas and trophies. I did it.
I got it. I conquered it.
Now I am not going to tell you everything you need to know about God today. Neither am I going to tell you that if you will read the Bible, you will know everything you need to know about God. That would take years of teaching, meditating, and tests, just to get the basics. We are just going to focus on verse 24 and some related verses.
We already told you what the word Know means. The word Yada, means to know intuitively, personally, experientially. The way a husband and wife know each other. So, letís look at the word Understands. It means, to have correct insight into a particular thing (here, God), and conforming your character, conduct, and life accordingly. (Repeat) Whatever God
is like, I am supposed to be like. I am supposed to model my life after Him. I am supposed to follow Him. Paul said it well in Ephesians 5:1: "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children." I want insight into God and live my life accordingly. I want to have insight and knowledge into His heart, His desires, His character, and His will. I want to know what He loves, what He
hates, and what He would do in my place. What are His purposes, His goals, etc.? He is my Shepherd. What does He want me to do?
Notice four things here.
1. He is the LORD. He is Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai. The God who spoke to Moses. He is the eternal one. He is God and we are not. He is the creator, we are the creature. He is the potter and we are the clay. This is His world, not ours. And He is the judge to whom all will give an account. Here, all the theology you can think of fits. He is the Sovereign
of the universe. He is the All Powerful, All Knowing, Everywhere Present, Holy, Righteous, Just, Loving Good, Merciful, Graceful God. No man, and no false deity is His equal. No nation can stand against His judgments. He is the Great I Am; the only Savior. He is worthy of all worship and all praise. The Apostle Paul sums it up this way. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the
wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His
counselor?" 35 "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?"
36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory
forever. Amen. (Rom. 11:33-36) He is the Lord.
2. He displays or exercises loving kindness. The Hebrew for loving-kindness has no English equivalent. It is a word that means, to show kindness apart from any constraint of law, whether it is deserved or not. It is grace. It is to show grace beyond what is expected. But the word goes even deeper. It means committed loyalty. God is committed to His
covenant promises. He is committed to His people. His commitment goes beyond just reciprocating love or obedience. Again, He is loyal to us, He loves us, even when we donít show love or obedience or trust to Him. Sometimes the word is translated as, Loyalty, Loving Kindness, Covenant loyalty, Merciful love, or Mercy. When you are unfaithful, God is faithful When you are
unloving, God is loving, When you are grace-less, God is Graceful, when you are un-kind, God is kind, and when you are without mercy, God is merciful. And He wants to see that in us. Do you understand this? Is it in your heart to imitate this?
3. He Exercises Judgment, or Justice. When Solomon finished his journal he wrote this in Eccl. 12:13-14; "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is manís all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil."
a. Listen carefully, this will be true for Christ Followers at the Judgment seat of Christ, " For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10). Our rewards or lack thereof will be just and fair and based on our faithfulness
to our Lord.
b. It will be true for the lost. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead
who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. (Rev. 20:12-13)
c. It will be true of Nations (vv. 25-26, 18:6-12*). We will look at this more in 3 weeks. God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible as a Holy God. Separate and distinct from sin and evil and anything that can defile. He has given us a guide book, a Life for Dummies book, an ownerís manual to show us how to live, good and right. He has shown us what
is right and what is wrong and what the reward is for right and what the penalty is for wrong and when we decide to follow our own desires and live as we want instead of the way that is right, He will eventually bring us to trial and deliver the proper punishment. Look at 18:12 again, and 7:23-24. Jerusalem is being judged because they rejected the ways of God and choose
their own ways instead. Though God wants to extend grace and loving kindness, those who refuse to follow it will receive justice. His holiness demands it. In fact, listen to me, unless you understand this you cannot understand the cross of Jesus. Justice and mercy met at the cross. Sin must, must, must be punished and God punished sin Ė your sin, my sin, by substituting Jesus
for you and laying your charges on Him. The repentant sinner will receive grace, the unrepentant and rebellious will receive justice. And it doesnít matter what flag they fly. You will reap what you sow, whether you are an individual or a nation, or a continent.
d. Societal laws are supposed to reflect Godís character and Godís laws and for almost 200 years Americaís laws did. But since the 1960ís we began to impose unholy laws and we will reap the results and it scares me for my children and grandchildren, because God is a just God. Jefferson said it, "His justice cannot sleep forever." Do you understand
4. He exercises Righteousness. This word Righteousness, is a word signifying several things, like honesty, truthfulness, fairness, rightness, with a bent towards mercy and grace. The Prodigal Dad was right to give a party for his son. It was the right thing to do. Helping the poor is the right thing to do. Loving the unlovely is the right thing to do.
Forgiving those who hurt you is the right thing to do. But so is testifying truthfully in court, and so is paying wages and salaries fairly. So is keeping your word, honoring your promises, vows, and oaths, regardless of the cost. So is helping people and praying for them whether you like them or not. It is always doing what is right, not what is popular, and not what is
legal by human law. Abraham asked this rhetorical question, "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25)
When God spoke to Hosea he said this, For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings (6:6). Micah reports this, He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (6:8)
Our nation does not know or understand God. Many, Many Church goers do not know or understand God. Do You. To Know Him is to Love Him and to emulate Him. If God were to access you right now would He say with Ray Charles, "You think you know me well, but you donít know me!"
I close with 4 points of Application.
1. Make it your purpose and goal for your life, to know and understand God. Your diploma is important, your job is important, your position is important, but none of it is as important as your character being like your Fatherís and displaying that for your children. It will be your legacy and your primary influence on generations to come.
Paul understood this. This is what he said in Phil. 3:7-10, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in
Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."
J.I. Packer said, "When a man knows God losses and crosses cease to matter to him, what he has gained simply banishes these things from his mind."
2. Start Reading through your Bible and try reading it as if you were looking down from Heaven. Feel what God feels, listen to His heartbeat, and hear His passion for you to be like Him. What may be known of Godís character is revealed in Godís Bible (2 Tim. 3:14-17; Ps. 119).
3. Follow Jesus. John says this about Jesus, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, ĎHe who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.í" 16 And of
His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him," (John 1:14-18; cp. 14:7-11).
4. Be Bold and Honest and share the Gospel of Jesus (John 17:3). It is the only hope for America and Americans. Our military, our money, and our influence will not be able to save us from a just and righteous God when we have rejected His loving-kindnesses and grace. Verse 26 and 18:6-12, are given to warn us of the consequences if we do not repent and
return to our God. Politics and power cannot save us, the hope of America lies now in the people who know and understand God as He is and not as we have made Him to be. Praying for America is not enough, we must be about the business of our Father and showing and telling people the truth of Jesus and of a Father in Heaven whose name is Holy.
Will people reject your word? Yes! Will some reject you? Yes! They rejected Jesus and Jeremiah. But some will believe and change. And who knows, the next Moses, Jeremiah, Paul, Billy Graham, Christian Cole, or Abraham Lincoln might be the next person you share the truth with.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman