Thursday, August 4, 2011
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Twice in a little over a year we were stunned by news of major earthquakes, and the images we won't soon forget. But they were in two very different parts of the world. The first one was in Haiti. When the ground was finished shaking...well, you remember. The homes, the businesses, even their President's palace were in total rubble. The second quake hit Japan, and for those areas that didn't get the tsunami—just got hit by the quake—most of their homes and businesses were left standing. What's the difference? The materials their structures were made of. You know, a quake has a way of exposing the strength or the weakness of what you're building on.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I wasn't to have A Word With You today about "What the Quake Exposes."
I saw my friend, Mike, not too long after the major tsunami that hit Wall Street two or three years ago. Mike's a dear brother and he's had a very long and successful career on Wall Street. But during those chaotic months in our economy, I think he felt like a Category 5 hurricane or an 8.0 earthquake had hit his life and his business. When I asked him how all the turbulence and uncertainty were affecting him, he responded with an answer that I had to think about. He said, "It exposed my idols."
Now, I'm pretty sure my friend does not have a graven image in his closet. But not all idols are carved out of stone. An idol is simply something we put our faith in to give us security, to give us identity, to give us significance, love. As Mike told me not long after that financial tsunami, "If you'd asked any of us marketplace Christians where our security was, we would have told you we were definitely trusting the Lord. But what has happened has shown us what we were really trusting in."
God will do what He has to do to "expose our idols" and show us what we're "really trusting in." It usually means shaking whatever we've trusted instead of trusting Him. In Old Testament times, the Philistines put their faith in a god they called Dagon.
Now, our word for today from the word of God tells us that when they captured the ark of God's covenant with Israel, Dagon had some problems. 1 Samuel 5, beginning in verse 1, says, "When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord!" Okay, they put old Dagon back in his place, but the next morning it says they found that "his head and hands had been broken off."
Now, you know what? Every "idol" will ultimately fall on its face. Every "idol" in our life will ultimately break. It doesn't matter if it's your career, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a house, a bank account, a ministry. Even very good things can become idols. Yeah, your children, your church, the work you're doing for God. They're false gods when we need them to give us our worth, to give us our identity, to give us our security.
But many times we can't recognize an idol until it's shaken or until it's gone. And the First Commandment is still first. "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3).
Jonah revealed the high price of diverting our trust from the true God to another god. He said, "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs" (Jonah 2:8). If we only knew all we could have from God...but for the idol.