“Ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God.” – 1 Thessalonians i, 9.
The apostle tells us in 1 Corinthians viii, 5: “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many;) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we by Him.” How forcible indeed is the testimony applicable to the world around us, there are gods many and lords many, which can well be written as the apostle writes the word with a lower case letter, “g”; for these gods are helpless, as their devotees freely admit, continually requiring assistance as Dagon (I Samuel v, 2 -11) to set them up, to execute their work, &c.
We presume that the religious orders around us are somewhat capable of describing the character of the gods whom men worship today, and according to their description, these gods are fickle, short sighted, changeable, governed by the prayers, intercessions, and counsels of frail feeble polluted man, “whose breath is in his nostrils.”
In former days the worshipper of a false god “hewed him down cedars * * * for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and fallety down thereto. He burneth part thereof in the fire. * * * and the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me, for thou art my god.” – Isaiah xliv, 9-17.
In modern days, idol worshippers carve from their own imagination characteristics of the god whom they propose to worship; a false, imaginary idol set up in their own carnal and depraved minds, having no existence in fact. After setting up this imaginary god, they proceed to enact laws and develop customs for the government of his imaginary “kingdom;” changing such laws continually year in and year out to suit their own little minds, and creating newer holy books to make them conform to their own imagination; arranging just as the notion or fancy strikes them, and gravely announcing the results of their little brain, as the Divine rule and practice.
Such modern gods are not a whit more powerful than the gods of old. Such idols, are as the apostle terms “called” gods by mortal men; existing only in imagination; without ability to bless or to curse, as was once well written of the effort of the Pope, Cardinals, or Bishops of Rome.
“What a terrible thing is the Cardinal’s curse,
Yet nobody is ever any the worse.”
It is indeed ridiculous, and looks like a reflection even upon human intelligence to see whole congregations of otherwise intelligent people bow apparently in worship to a god who, according to their own description, continually needs their help, who is unable to save a sinner without that sinner’s assistance: who requires their advice and counsel; who is really but a puppet in the hands of man to execute his own will.
Brushing aside all such idol gods and idol worship the Psalmist inquires: “who is so great a God as our God! Thou art the God that doest wonders.” – Psalm Lxxvii, 13, 41. Here is a God that does without assistance. “I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me.” – Deuteronomy xxxii, 39. “He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” – Psalm xxxiii, 9.
This God is self existent; He exists independent of all other beings; the only self existent being: “I am that I am.” – Exodus iii, 14. “I AM hath sent me unto you.”
This God is a predestinarian: “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” – Isaiah xlvi, 10. If He declares the end from the beginning, necessarily He must direct in certainty all that comes between the end and beginning.
This God does not work on lines of human wisdom and reason for He declares, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.” – Isaiah lv, 8. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out.” – Romans xi, 33.
This God is not changed by men’s petitions and pleadings; suggestions, or counsel. “Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.” – Hebrews i, 12. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever.” – Hebrews xiii, 8. “He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? And what His soul desireth, even that He doeth.” – Job xxiii, 13.
Time and space forbid our effort to hint at His glorious perfections and attributes. The testimony quoted declares Him to be “the living God.”
“All other gods we disavow,
Deny their claim, renounce their sway.”
“This is the true God, and eternal life.” – John v, 20. He is Omniscient as knowing all things; Omnipresent as being present everywhere. This is the revelation of His life. He works and none can hinder.
When it is His good pleasure to hide the face of His throne none can behold Him, for: “Verily Thou art God that hideth Thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior.” – Isaiah xlv, 15. He is not like the gods of this world who can be changed like the idol gods of old from one position to another; who can be approached, and moved upon just at men’s will. In the darkness and gloom of His absence Job exclaims, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him! That I might come even to His seat.” – Job xxiii, 3.
Human reason cannot trace the way o’er which He moves, for His way is in the sea, and His path in the great waters, and His footsteps are not known. – Psalm lxxvii, 19. He does business in “deep waters” beyond the sight of man, for the “foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” – 1 Corinthians i, 25. The greatest stretch of human intellect can never comprehend His being; “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God.” – 1 Corinthians i, 21. We reach such knowledge, only as He is pleased to reveal Himself.
The God of Israel is known only by revelation. A knowledge of godliness is not taught in the schools of men. “No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” – Luke x, 22.
His people are Divinely led and sustained by Him, through all their dark and trying path.
“They neither know nor trace the way
But trusting to His piercing eye,
None of their feet to ruin stray
Nor shall the weakest fail or die.”
He leads them on through the “one day (Zechariah xiv, 7.) which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night; but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.”
Here then is a glimpse of some of the characteristics, as He has been pleased to reveal them in His holy word, of the living and true God, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and of whose government there shall be no end. And of whom it is well said, “Why do the heathens rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” – Psalm ii, 1-4.
“Ye little flock whom Jesus feeds,
Dismiss your anxious cares;
Look to the Shepherd of your souls,
And smile away your fears.”
Elder William M. Smoot