Wednesday, 24 June 2009

plated with gold and silver or inhabited?

My attention was caught reading Habakkuk recently and his comments on idolatry. He describes the processes that were commonly used in creating an idol and ends with the comment; it is overlaid with gold and silver, Yet in it there is no breath at all. Hab 2:19 The Hebrew word used here and translated as 'breath' is the word ruwach, it can also be translated as 'wind' or 'spirit'. The thing that is without breath is without life and the thing that is without spirit-breath is without spirit-life. The description is used in contrast with a much better known verse; “But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Hab 2:20. The heathen nations had magnificent temples, as did Israel, but beauty is not a sign that God inhabits the place. It may be 'overlaid with gold and silver' and yet be missing that vital breath which is God's spirit.

If we take a snapshot of the creation we would have a point at which God had 'formed (literally 'potted') man of the dust of the ground... Gen 2:7 and yet had not breathed life into him. If the creation had stopped at that point I presume the man would have been a magnificent work of art. God, after all, is the supreme craftsman. All the animals could have filed by and wondered at this supreme creation and yet there would be... no breath in it at all; that distinctive likeness of God would have been absent.

It is sobering to consider how much energy and time and talent we can put into a methodology for worship only to create something in which there is no breath at all.

There is another comment that Habakkuk makes about the idol; he calls it a silent stone.Hab 2:19 Again it serves as a reminder that we can put so much energy and planning into the creation of a place where we expect God to speak only to discover we have created a silent stone.

In contrast the Lord is in his holy temple Hab 2:20.He is present in the midst of his people. Oh what a difference it makes when the Lord is in a place. It may have little earthly beauty and yet be vibrant with the life of God. The sermons may have little to commend them as works of art and yet the voice of God is heard in them.

There were many competing gods in the times of Israel's history but Israel's God had one simple distinguishing feature... he was, and is, the living God.

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