I think that many proclaimed Christians want to forget part of God’s Character, perhaps thinking of Him as a grandfatherly Santa Claus in the sky doling out gifts or the wrathful destroyer of evil. But when we ignore parts of who God is, we do not worship The LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we worship an idol, a god of our own making. But God is holy, and God is the creator of the entire universe. It is His, and He is judge over every soul in it. Verses 1-2 read,
“The Mighty One, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.”
Asaph, the psalmist, priest, and temple singer begins this Psalm by identifying The Lord by His names The Mighty One and God the Lord. He establishes the power, strength, and sovereignty of The Lord with these names. The Lord speaks His will and His will is manifested. That is how great He is. He spoke and the world was created. His Word became law. His Word became flesh and lived among us, showed us who God is, lived for us, died for us, and resurrected for us. (John 1:1-18). The Lord summons, calls all the earth, not just one race of people, but everyone. He never stops calling people to Him. To those who don’t know Him, He says, “Come and know Me.” to those who call Him Father and Lord, He says, “Come and know Me.” He doesn’t only call with words, He speaks through His work, His perfect beauty is evident through creation, through Jesus life, death, and resurrection, through the Holy Spirit, through the storm, the sun, troubles, and peace. Verses 3-6 say,
“Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
4 He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 “Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
6 The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge! Selah”
Righteous Holy God judges the whole earth but first He judges those who have made a covenant with Him, those who claim to follow Him, love Him, and be His. Those who represent Him to the rest of the world have a higher calling and responsibility to holiness. Verses 7-15 read,
“Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
9 I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.
12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
God is always aware of the rituals of our religion. He ordained some of them and He is not displeased with our sincere offerings, sacrifices, and prayers. But He doesn’t need them. When Israel sacrificed bulls and goats, they were not giving them to God although they viewed it that way. When we give money in the offering, we are not giving our money to God. It is His money we offer back to Him in faith and thanksgiving. God has no needs. We have needs. He doesn’t need us. We need Him. We aren’t doing God any favors when we obey Him or otherwise worship Him. He is The Mighty One, God our Lord.
What displeases our Lord is disingenuous religion and insincere sacrifice. The pious person who recites verse after verse without a relationship with Him, the sanctimonious person who heals the sick without love, and the moralizing person who demands people follow all the laws but leaves out love may as well be a cacophony. They leave the Lord out. Their religiosity is futile. Their god is themselves. They lead people to Hell. They forget that God is their judge. Verses 16-21 read,
“But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes
or take my covenant on your lips?
17 For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
and you keep company with adulterers.
19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
20 You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother's son.
21 These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.”
So many people claim to be Christians but do not call Jesus Christ Lord. They spout God’s laws but the law is not written on their hearts. They are religious but ignore the wholeness of God. They do not rejoice in suffering, knowing God uses it to mature. They hate discipline and refuse to think God might allow trials and tribulations. They are the ones who speak hate against others. They talk themselves into believing God is pleased by their insincere piety and arrogance. God judges us. We will all be judged. Those who have not formed a friendship with Him through Christ and been sealed by the Holy Spirit, no matter how religious they are, no matter the miracles they perform or the scriptures they preach will go to the eternal pit of Hell. Verses 22-23 read,
“Mark this, then, you who forget God,
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
Do you know The LORD or do you know a god of your imagination and wishes? Do you depend on God or does your god depend on you? Who is exalted by your life? Who is glorified by your testimony? We need to examine our hearts and lives and be sure we know God for who He is. He is not only Love or only Avenger or Justice, He is God our Almighty Loving Father, Savior, Peace, and Creator. He desires for us to know Him and love Him. He wants a relationship with us not a religion with us. In Mark Chapter 12 Jesus had a conversation with a scribe Verses 28-34 recorded it.
“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.”
God wants you, not your religiosity. God doesn’t need you, He desires you. He loves you and wants you to know the joy of knowing Him.