June 5, 2011
Watch Your Step – Part 3
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Ecclesiastes 5: 1-7

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Well, I invite you to take your Bible and turn to Ecclesiastes chapter five. If you’re with us this morning, welcome. If you’re here for the first time, well, we wanted to give you a special welcome and we’re going through the book of Ecclesiastes and we’ve really put the car in park here. We’re digging down into Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 because here we have Solomon giving us a philosophy of worship and he encourages us not to do certain things so that we might do certain things. He’s troubled by the fact that there are those in Israel, who in the act of seeking though honor God are actually by their behavior and attitudes dishonoring God. And so, he encourages them to walk prudently. And so we’ve been in a series of sermons here in the book, but we’re drilling down into Ecclesiastes 5:1-7.
The sermon is entitled, Watch Your Step, and we come to look at this passage for a third time. “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God and draw near to here rather than to give the sacrifice of fools for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven and you on Earth. Therefore, let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity and a fool’s voice is known by his many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed, better not to vow than to vow and not pay. Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin nor say before the messenger of God that it was a error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? For in the multitude of dreams, in many words, there is also vanity, but fear God.”
For many years John Stott exercised quite a wide ministry and leadership among British evangelicals in some way. He was the Archbishop of British evangelicalism, and I, along with many have benefited from his writings and his ministry. At the moment, I’m enjoying a book entitled John Stott: A Portrait by His Friends. They’re looking back over his life and I was struck this week in reading something of the reflections of a man who was his assistant at All Souls Langham London. His name was Ted Schroeder and he says that one of the unforgettable memories of John Stott was the Saturday nights they spent in prayer along with some other Church of England ministers preparing for the Lord’s Day services.
Many of these men stood in awe of John Stott, his heart, his mind, his ministry, and yet he said, “What left the lasting impression in me was the way in which this great man who inspired such admiration and not a little awe began his prayer. He would echo the words of Abraham. Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes.” As great as John Stott was, Ted Schroeder was taken by his humility, his sense of littleness before God’s greatness. That’s a great verses from Genesis 18:27 where Abraham says, “I’ve been so bold to speak to God, me a mere man who’s come from the dirt of the Earth.” In fact, Ted Schroeder goes on to tell of another time when they were preparing to go out to preach in All Souls pulpit, and he said this, he was a reserved Englishman of the old school tie type.
“I wasn’t a [inaudible 00:03:51] kiwi who never left a thought unsaid once. When I was preparing to process with John and all souls at a service in which I was to preach, I said to him, John, ‘I’m praying for liberty.’ To which he replied, ‘I’m praying for restraint.'” As I reflected on those two incidents that Ted Schroeder reflects on in relation to the life of John Stott, John Stott models before us where we’re at in our text because John Stott’s worship of God and prayers and prayers before God were marked by humility and restraint. And if you have been with us in the last two studies, Solomon is dealing with what I call the vices of improper worship. We’ve already looked at one of those. Their worship lacked proper preparation. But secondly and thirdly, and this is where we’re at this morning, their worship lacked proper pause and proper perspective.
If you’ve got your outline before you then start to write some notes and follow along, their worship lacked humility. Their worship lacked restraint. So let’s look at this second vice. Their worship lacked proper pause. Solomon is bothered not only by their lack of preparation, but their lack of pause. Their worship was marred by haste and rashness in God’s presence. Look at verse two. “Do not be rash with your mouth and do not let your heart utter anything hastily before God.” The verb do not be rash is used by Solomon in Ecclesiastes seven, nine to speak of someone who’s hot, short-tempered, who’s emotionally got a short fuse. Elsewhere in the Old Testament, the idea of rashness carries the idea of mindless conduct. It’s used in Proverbs 1:16 of those who make haste to shed blood or those who are impulsive in litigation and go hastily to the court.
Proverbs 25:8, Solomon is warning them not to go heedlessly and hurriedly to where angels fear to tread. Their worship lacked pause. They were too quick to shoot their mouths off in God’s presence, they were kind of trigger-happy, so to speak, when it came to praising God and praying to God, they would fire off a prayer here and fire off a prayers there. But as with aimless bullets, they become stray bullets and that’s the dangerous and aimless prayers and prayers are dangerous. And Solomon warns them here that their worship needs to be marked by pause, brevity and quietness. They were too precipitous in their words and in their worship, and so Solomon tells them to slow down, to take time to pause. Because let’s remind ourselves this morning, I mean we come here to worship. We’re passionate about that. We assume that of each other.
We love the Lord. We want to praise him. We want to serve him. We want to offer to him worship acceptable to him. Well, let’s remind ourselves in a very fast and noisy world that it takes time, it takes thought, it takes reflection to prepare your heart properly, to sing the high praises of the high king of heaven. This congregation suffered from a diminished ability to reflect, meditate, and listen to God. Their worship was like their lives, busy, hurried and noisy. And I think that’s a challenge, isn’t it? Surely that’s a word to us.
Surely that’s a challenge to every modern evangelical church. We too live in a noisy, fast-paced busy world. We don’t take a lot of time to reflect. We don’t take a lot of time to be quiet, do we? As Americans, we’re obsessed by a need for never ending noise. Sounds accompany us every waking hour we wake to the sound of the radio, we listen to our iPods all day long, we go to bed to the sound of the television. Silence is deafening to us. Silence is disturbing to us. We’ve got music in our elevators. You’re sitting at a traffic light and you think, is this an earthquake but it’s some kid driving up beside you and his car is shaking.
You know? That generation ago there was that phrase from the old movie Christmas story, “Watch out kid, you’ll shoot your eye out.” We have to tell them, “Watch out, you’re going to blow your eardrums out.” That’s where we’re at. Music is everywhere. Noise is everywhere and in its proper place and in its proper proportion, that’s great. We like to be in the company of other people and the buzz of conversation or the noise of life. I know it can be offputting, but to me there’s still something cool about the noise and the blaring of horns in a busy city, you feel you’re somewhere where life is really going on. But we’ve got to watch ourselves because we do need to be quiet if we’re to know ourselves and we do need to be quiet if we’re to know God. In fact, let’s be honest, even this whole thing of noise is spilling over into the church where the modern worship leader hasn’t escaped this and the modern worship service considers it a breach of etiquette if there’s dead spots, if there’s moments of quietness.
We pray even to the sound of background music. We worship to the sound of background music that didn’t happen a generation ago. There were, not dead spots but moments of pause, silence, quietness. It wouldn’t be a generation ago that the five minutes before the service things got quieter. Why? Because you’re coming into the house of God. Don’t be rash. Don’t be quick to speak. Don’t blubber on in the presence of almighty God who not only hears your words but sees your heart and if those things aren’t in tune, you are in trouble. That’s Solomon’s point. Their worship lacked proper pause. How often in the book of Psalms do you see that little word selah? Now, there’s a debate among lexicographers as to what that word means. It could mean a rest in the music. There’s a pause in the music so that the singing ceases and the instruments are heard, but more than likely it actually means to pause so that those who have just sang that song reflect on what they’ve just sang.
Okay. It’s kind of I think on that, we need to give ourselves time and we need to create an atmosphere where we think upon God and his word and his theology. I don’t know if it has ever struck you, but in 1 Kings 6:7, here’s what we read. “No harm or chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.” Isn’t that interesting? All the noise took place over in the quarry, but when they came to the Temple Mount, it was kind of ready-made and the stones were slotted in the place. That’s an amazing thought. If you’d have been at the erection of the temple of Solomon, you wouldn’t have heard the clanging of hammers or the noise of chisels. It seems to me that we who are now the temple of God, we need to create those spaces and those places in our life where there’s no noise, where we’re still and we know that he is God, that we’re not quick to speak, where we’re not trigger-happy, so to speak, verbally in God’s presence.
What do we read in Psalm 46:10, the very words that I quoted, “Be still and know that I am God.” Listen to the psalmist in Psalm 62:1, “Truly my soul silently waits for God, from him come salvation.” The same in verse five, “My soul waits silently for God alone for my expectation is from him.” What do we read in Isaiah 30:15, of verse, maybe we need to learn afresh. I love this verse, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” You want to be a strong person. Make sure you’ve got those quiet times away from the hurry and the hassle of life where you slow down, where you take it all in, where you get a sense of where you are before God and before the throne and before the cross and before the world. In quietness and confidence there’s strength. Over in Habakkuk we’re told that, “God in is his temple and let the earth be silent.” Habakkuk 2:20.
Now I’m going to make an application, but before I do, I need to make a qualification. I don’t want to overplay this because if you overplay this idea of quietness and silence and retreat, you can fall into an unbiblical monasticism and an unbiblical mysticism where you kind of end up contemplating your belly button and you detach yourself from life and you end up really not hearing from God, you just end up hearing from yourself, or worse you hear from a deceiving spirit. So I don’t want to overplay this because the Bible lets us know that our faith is a faith that is centered upon the fact that God has spoken and we according to Al Mohler and his book on the 10 Commandments, we are the speaking people of a speaking God, okay? The people of God are being marked not by silence, but by speech.
Our spirituality is not about contemplation, it’s about reading and meditating upon the word of God. It’s not about detached silence, it’s about passionate petition. A biblical spirituality is not a spirituality of withdrawal and detachment. So I want to be careful about that. While I’m encouraging silence, I do want to remember that ours is a religion of revelation. God has spoken which compels us to speak to the one who has spoken to us and speak to others about the one who has spoken to us. So silence can be golden, but if it becomes introverted, existential, mystical, separating worshiper from worshiper or ends up in of fanciful pursuit of some inner light, it’s unbiblical. But the qualification made, there is a place to be found for silence and quietness in our private lives and in our corporate worship. In fact, in a book I read, I was helped, where we’re encouraged to have those times of silence and certainly even in the worship time of the church for a number of reasons.
Listen to these helpful reflections. One, silence prevents worship from becoming a spectator sport. I think sometimes I fear that the noise and the speed of the modern worship service kind of covers a multitude of sins and we’ve got the worship team up front and everybody kind of comes and sits and for the most part they’re passive and there’s a lot of noise. But in the quietness you see then you are left with God and your own thoughts about God and you’ll soon find out how real your relationship with him is. So silence prevents worship from becoming a spectator sport. It prevents you from piggybacking as a passive observer on the prayers and hymns of other people. It throws the worshiper upon his own thoughts and responses. It personalizes worship. That’s a good thing. Secondly, silence draws worshipers closer together. Think about that. We are never so aware of each other than when we stop talking.
We are never so aware of each other than when we stop talking. And I think sometimes when there are those planned pauses or there’s a hush that’s brought about by God doing something among us, the silence doesn’t make us estranged from each other. It actually draws us where we become conscious of each other’s presence and especially God’s presence. And I think finally silence accommodates communion and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. While we want to avoid an unbiblical mysticism, there is those times personal to us and even among us when the spirit of God is striking up a conversation with our spirit causing us to cry Abba Father. In Romans 8, we read about that. And so as we wait upon each other and upon God, we allow the Holy Spirit to speak into each of our lives striking up that conversation. I don’t want to say much more than that, but I just want to remind ourselves of the fact that their worship lacked pause and so can ours.
And we need to hear this admonition from Solomon. Don’t be rash with your mouth. Don’t be hasty to utter anything before the Lord. Like the story of the Native American who was visiting one of our major cities and as you’re walking down a Broadway with a friend, he stopped and he said, “Do you hear that? Do you hear the chirping of the cricket?” And the guy said, “What?” He says, “All I hear is the blaring of taxis, the buzz of conversation, the sound of people’s feet pounding on the pavement.” He says, “But listen, listen.” And the guy began to listen and sure enough he heard the noise of the cricket and he said, “That’s amazing. Your ability to hear that cricket amidst the din of this bustling city.” To which the Native Americans said, “People hear what they listen for.” And then he put it to the test.
See, everybody had been walking by, they didn’t hear the cricket, but he took some coins out of his pocket and he threw them on the ground and you heard the clanging of the coins and everybody stopped and took a look to see what had gone on. You hear what you’re listening for. Guys, you and I can’t avoid noise. We live in a world, increasingly busy, increasingly noisy, and we have got to make sure that we’re cultivating working on this aspect of worship where we’re quiet enough and still enough to encounter the God who sometimes reveals himself as he did before Elijah, not in the noise of the whirlwind or the clap of thunder, but in that still small whispering wind.
Here’s the point I want to get to before we’re done this morning. Here’s the third thought. Their worship lacked proper perspective. Their worship lacked proper perspective. This takes us to the second half of verse two. “For God is in heaven and you on the earth, therefore let your words be few.” The fact that they nonchalantly prattled on in the presence of God reveals the sad reality that their worship not only lacked preparation, pause, but lacked perspective. They were deficient in their understanding of the distance between them and God, not only geographically, but character wise, nature wise, they were too familiar, way too frivolous. Their worship was shallow, their worship was hollow. They were forgetting the elevated and transcendent position of God. In fact, this is in the emphatic, in the Hebrew grammar, “For God is in heaven and you on the earth.” Okay? Get a perspective. All right? That’s the point here. Solomon was reminding him of the distinction and the distance between them, between earth and heaven, man and God, the immortal, over and against immortal.
I don’t know if you realize this, but worship is founded on contrast because at the heart of the word worship is the idea of worth and worth is always comparative, isn’t it? And I hope that you make that part of your worship experience, the study of contrast between you and God, holy, sinful, immortal, mortal, wise, silly, elevated. We’re the creatures of dust and Solomon wants to remind them of this contrast, this creator creature distinction. God’s in heaven, you’re on the earth, which should bring about a proper reverence which would cause us to be a little careful with how we go running into God’s presence. I love Psalm 48:1, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.” All right. We’ve got to get there before there can be great worship. There’s got to be a great understanding of his greatness. But you see, we’re a shallow culture.
We don’t take a lot of time to think. So how are you going to get to thinking great things about God? If you spend most of your day listening to trashy talk and superfluous conversation that jams up the airwaves and the television channels got to be working in that, don’t we? This congregation had stopped the worshiping the God of wonders beyond our galaxy. Now we know that God is near us. Solomon is emphasizing here God’s transcendence over against God’s imminence. All right, let me just refresh you on those two ideas. When we talk about God being imminent, we’re talking about the fact that God is near us. The Bible talks about him being at our elbow. The Lord is at hand, Philippians 4:3, he’s at our right hand. We read in Isaiah 55:6 that he’s near to anyone who calls on him. According to Acts 17:27, he’s not far from any one of us. It’s a marvelous thought that God lives in your neighborhood, that God is at your elbow, that we can’t get away from us all encompassing presence even if we took the wings of the mourning and flew to the uttermost parts of the Earth. I’m quoting Psalm 139.
And if we go into the New Testament, you’ve got the radical doctrine of the indwelling permanently of the Holy Spirit in each believer’s life. We’re the temple of the living God. He dwells in us. He is with us. He’s imminent, but he is transcendent. And even when he’s near us, to some degree, he’s still far from us. And the Bible brings those truths out that God is in heaven. Never forget that there’s an aspect of God’s character that you and I need to remind ourselves of. Listen to a Psalm 113:5, “Who is like the Lord our God who dwells on high?” What do we read in Psalm 115:3, we read, “But our God is in heaven, he does whatever pleases him.” And what do Jesus teach us to pray in that prayer? Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. And so we’re reminded of God’s exalted position and we must not drag him down to our level.
He has condescended, Jesus humbled himself. What a thought he has condescended to come down to our level and in that he didn’t surrender his transcendence. And that’s one of the reminders that you and I need to be conscious of that we’ve always got a whole doctrine’s intention. We’ve got to live with things in balance. God is high, God is low, God is far, God is near. And we need to strike that balance because especially when it comes to the transcendence of God and the imminence of God, if there’s an imbalance, then that leads to fear God too much or to fear God too little. But we’ve got to strike the balance there. I like what a friend of my daughter Angela wrote, a young girl from Master’s College, listen to these words. These are one encouraging from the reflections of the heart of a young woman.
And it’s a challenge to all of us. “Too often I go to God as the eternal giver and not the consuming fire. Granted, most people prefer to approach a God that forgives over a God that damns. Makes sense. But I don’t want to fall into that. I don’t want to fall into the habit of treating God like a reversible jacket.” Love that thought. Isn’t that good? You’ve got a reversible jacket. You can turn it one way and turn it the other way. And sometimes we treat God like that. Listen to what she says. “Some days you wear the red side because it matches your outfit other days you turn it inside out. So everyone will see the nifty striped pattern. God is everything he says he is all the time. And I want to remember everything about him, his strength, his jealousy, his mercy, his compassion, his sufficiency, his glory, his power. Every time I approach him, I don’t want to pray to a God the softly when I’m feeling sheepish. I want to pray to the God of the Bible who despises sin but loves his son and his son said, let her sins fall on me. I want to accept his forgiveness while feeling the weight of his wrath drop on my shoulders like a thousand bricks. If I cannot accept his anger, I cannot appreciate his mercy.”
Praise the Lord. Let’s not get too discouraged about the next generation if that’s what we’re producing. This is good stuff. I like that. Don’t treat God like a reversible jacket. He’s all of those things at the one time. And Solomon’s just reminded us, not that he’s not near, but he is far, he is holy, he is separate. He’s up above us. And clearly there was an imbalance in the life of the nation of Israel.
Their worship of God was too horizontal. They were profaning the name of the Lord by their shallow backslapping worship. Now let me make one point and we’ll leave some of this for next week, but I thought about this, okay, I’m sitting pondering the text. I think I’ve exegeted the thought. All right, here’s the thought. God’s highness, make sure you’ve got the creature creator distinction going on here. Don’t get too slappy happy with God. All right? He is loving, he’s gracious, he’s merciful. Yes, but he’s a fire. He’s holy. You don’t play with him. Are they contradictions? No, they’re contrasts and they are not in competition with each other. Hold them in tension. So let’s hold for a minute this whole thought of the sovereign God, let’s not run from it. It may put us in our place and make us uncomfortable, okay? But that’s okay. Sit there for a while.
You are on the Earth and he’s in heaven and he does whatever pleases him. All right, so I come up with two thoughts. I’ll touch on one of them and we’ll leave the other one for next week. Here’s the first thought. They worshiped a sovereign God and so must we. And the second thought is for next week, if God is sovereign then in worship, he must be sovereign. That is he must be the center of our worship. He must be the one who has our full gaze. Our worship services are not to be man-centered. They’re to be God-centered. He’s sovereign in worship because he’s sovereign and we worship him as so. But let’s get back to this one thought. I want to make a very practical pastoral application for you, I think will help you this week. The God they worshiped and the God we worship is sovereign.
Let’s remind ourselves that means he dwells on high, he sits on the throne of the universe. In him we move and we have our being. He is the history maker and the history mover, we saw that in Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, right? That God appoints to everything a season and gives to everything a purpose, the good and the bad and even the ugly, he’s sovereign. And according to Ecclesiastes 3:11, he’s working it all together for good. Now, if that’s true and it is, here’s an application and we’ll make a point by it. That means if God is in heaven, he’s sovereign, holy, all powerful, he is beyond scrutiny. He’s beyond your judgment. He’s beyond our opinion of him. We need to remind ourselves, what does Isaiah 40 say? God says it. It’s a rhetorical question. Who has been my counselor? Job tried that, read the book of Job.
He actually tried that and God put him in his place until the point that Job put his hand over his mouth and said, “Why did I even open my cheeper in the first place? Should have kept my cake hole closed. This is almighty God.” God says, “Were you there when I formed the foundations of the Earth and the angels began to sing? Were you there when I stretched the neck of the giraffe and filled the ocean with fish? And you dare come into my presence and tell me what to do.” You got the same thing going on in Romans 9 and the whole mystery of the doctrine of election and God seems to have mercy in one and overlook another and somebody says that’s not fair. And what does Paul say? Who are you to back chat to God? That’s like the pot saying to the potter, it doesn’t work. Same thought. God is sovereign, therefore, he’s beyond our scrutiny, beyond our judgments. Why then does Solomon say what he says? Because he’s understood this. For God is in heaven and you are on the Earth, therefore, let your words be few.
I’ve always struggled. Remember this. I’m going off my notes here, so I need to get back on to finish where I want to be. It just comes to mind. Remember this, the [inaudible 00:31:48] in prayer, we certainly want to share our heart with God, but at the same time, we don’t need to go into every piece of trivia as if we’re informing God. We’re not being impervious. “Lord, did you see the newspaper yesterday?” And you go, “What? The all knowing God, you need to tell them did He see the newspaper yesterday.” And I know what they mean. I don’t don’t want to put that down and be misunderstood. We need to be human. Bear our hearts before God. But even in burying our hearts, remember who you’re talking to. You don’t need to multiply your words. Your words can be few and God can read between the lines and even when you can’t express it, thank God the Holy Spirit’s doing it for you.
We’ve got the bases covered. It’s a wonderful thing. But here’s what I said to myself Friday afternoon in the study. Let your words be few and then I added this. I’m not adding to scripture, I’m adding to the thought. And let your questions be fewer. Let your words be fewer and let your questions be fewer, based on those verses I read. Who’s being God’s counselor? According to Romans 11, his ways are unsearchable. And that’s a challenge because there’s not a soul. There’s not a woman, there’s not a man in this service this morning who hasn’t dealt with some bitter providence. We haven’t gone through the wringer in life and come up against something that has crushed your heart, has stymied your thinking and has wounded your soul. And if we believe in a sovereign God, we believe that he purpose something in all of that, there’s a time and a purpose to everything that dark clouds.
When God allows the angel of death to strike our homes, when evil seems to prosper and injustice seems to reign, then at that point I’ve got to step back even in my woundedness and remind myself, but his ways are not my ways and his thoughts are higher than my thoughts, his ways are unsearchable. So while I’m tempted to question his ways and I’m tempted to doubt his love and I’m tempted to question his wisdom, just say, “Oh God, help me not to do that. Help me to remember you’re in heaven and I’m on the earth and my words need to be few and my questions need to be fewer.” The last thing we ever want to do with our tongues is to give God a tongue lashing. This whole idea of forgiving God is complete nonsense because inferred in this is the idea God made a mistake, that God transgressed some human or divine law.
Be careful about accusing God of doing something wrong, of taking the place of God’s counselor. It’s tempting, believe me, we’ve all been there and some of us have been rashed with our mouth and are God’s big enough to take that like a parent dealing with an impetuous child? But it’s not right. We need to be silent. Our words need to be few. There is a place to probe God’s ways and to plumb the depths of God’s mind. But we need to be careful. To become angry with God is wrong because it implies that God is wrong and that is wrong. Listen to Deuteronomy 32:4. I love it. “God’s ways are perfect and all his paths are just.” That’s a fact. Okay? Get that verse down. And you know that when things are going wrong, God’s not acting wrong. It’s just our finite mind. It’s our unwillingness to submit and allow the pain to take place because God may bring greater glory to himself or he may be disciplining us for our good.
But you see, we have brought God down to such a level, we don’t fear in our generation talking about him, tackling him, mocking him. Solomon says, “Listen.” I like what John Piper says, “As painful as his providence can be, we should trust that he is good, not get angry with him. That would be like getting angry at the surgeon who cuts us. It might be right if the surgeon slips and makes a mistake, but God never slips.” Praise the Lord for that and you and I can live in the good of that. Corey Ten Boom tells of a time when she was making a journey with her father to an aunt in Holland and she was on the train and she picked up a magazine or some paper. And for the first time as a young child, she came across the word sex and she turned the word dad and she says, daddy, what does the word sex mean?
Corrie Ten Boom was 10 years old. Now usually her dad would give her a reasonably quick answer, but all of a sudden he went silent, looked at her, and after a moment or two he got up, he was in the train carriage and he pulled down a large suitcase and he put it on the ground and he asked Corrie to lift it up. And she tried. He says, “Dad, that’s too heavy. I can’t carry that.” And he says, “Corrie, as a young girl, there are some things about life, there are some aspects of knowledge that are too heavy for you to bear at the moment, too much for you to carry. And Dad will talk about those things at the appropriate time when you can bear to understand them.” It’s a wise father, isn’t it? And she looked back on that with all the trouble she went through at a concentration camp in Germany.
She said, “You know, I had to learn that also as a child of God, that there are just some things too heavy for me to carry.” Who has been his counselor. His ways are unsearchable. And as we transition to the Lord’s table, I do want to remind you of this, and this is just my thought for the Lord’s table in all of what I’ve said, Solomon is emphasizing God’s supremacy, not God’s indifference. Let me say that again. Solomon is emphasizing God’s supremacy, not God’s indifference. Yes, he’s in heaven and we are on the Earth, and yes, there’s a distance and yes, there’s a difference, but we’re not to read into that a view of God that’s distant and unsearchable and inaccessible. It’s not that God is uninterested in human life. This distance is intended to cause wonder, not worry. It’s intended to cause adoration, not anxiety.
You know, the lovely thing is the biblical record reminds us that while God is in heaven and we are on the Earth, mercifully God didn’t stay in heaven. Amen? For the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. God pitched his tent in our neighborhood, God came in the form of the Lord Jesus Christ. God in human flesh, God incarnate. Someone put it like this, “Jesus Christ is the incarnate friendliness of God.” There is a thought for the table. Jesus Christ is the incarnate fleshliness of God reminding us that while God is someone we must buy before, he is not someone we must run from because God came to us, that we might go to Him. Jesus Christ is God’s ladder that bridges the contrast, that bridges the distance.
AW Tozer said, “The awful majesty of the Godhead was mercifully sheathed in the soft envelope of human nature to protect mankind.” Listen, the Son of God became the son of man so that the sons of men might become the sons of God. Amen. Let’s pray.
Lord, we love your house and we love this day. The first day of the week, the Lord’s Day. It’s a sabbath to our souls. It’s an oasis. We get away from the busyness and the noise of life, and we come to enjoy fellowship with your people, to hear your word, to encounter your spirit. And oh God, we want to make sure we’re not dishonoring you in seeking to honor you. So help us to work on our preparation. Help us to work on our pause. Help us to work on our perspective. Lord, you’ve allowed something to go on in someone’s life this morning and it has tempted them to question your wisdom, doubt your love, oh God, help them to be still and know that you are God. Help them to put their hand over their mouth. Help them to trust their wise Father Lord. For those who have not yet come into a relationship with you, perhaps they have a view of you that’s just one side of the jacket, holy, wrathful, distant. Lord, help them to see that Jesus Christ is the incarnate friendliness of God, the other side of the jacket. There’s mercy in the face of such majesty. May they put their faith in Jesus Christ today. Amen.