Monday, February 06, 2006

The Corruptible Image

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:4 NASB

In the deliverance of the Sinai Covenant, where God promised His blessings to Israel conditional upon their obedience to His commands, He includes the command to abstain from setting up an image as a replica of the things in the heavens. Somewhat ironically, as this command was being given, the people of Israel were at the bottom of the mountain wondering what had happened to their leader, Moses, and in need of the assurance that comes from physical sight. Therefore, Aaron created a golden calf for them and said plainly “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD” (Ex 32:5). Aaron was not attempting to undermine the authority of God or to lead the people of Israel into false worship, but he thought he was establishing an image that they could cast their comforts on. However, the image, as pretty as it may have been, was wrong.

And thus is the crux of the second commandment. Do not attempt to formulate a picture of who God is inconsistent with His character that He has revealed in Scripture, because it will be wrong. I make an image of who I want God to be every day. I want Him to be lenient, to overlook my sin, and to allow me to continue along a path of unrighteousness because it is much more convenient for me and I somehow think that I am above His commandments. I want Him to act in accordance with my timeframe and in the way in which I think is best for all creation because in my limited focus, that is all I know. But the image that I want and the image that I need are oftentimes at the opposite ends of the spectrum. I want Him to overlook sin, but I need for Him to hate sin so much that He provides atonement for it. I want Him to act in the way that I see fit, but I need Him to act in the best interest of His Church and the rest of His creation for only then will I truly see His glory and His fame.

I want to want to see Him as my ultimate need. Augustine understood this great delight in the Father. He said, “I call ‘charity’ [i.e., love for God] the motion of the soul toward the enjoyment of God for His own sake, and the enjoyment of one’s self and of one’s neighbor for the sake of God”(1). Basically, that nothing less than a true, pure image (or concept) of who God is should be able to satisfy the truest longing of my soul. Or as John Piper declares, “Grace is God’s giving us sovereign joy in God that triumphs over joy in sin”(2). That my desire for Him would far exceed any conceptual desire that I have for the things of this world, things that are in rebellion to His character, things that are not for my spiritual benefit or betterment but only possess the present-day, momentary, fleeting, and empty value that they offer. Presented with the choice of Sovereign Joy in knowing Christ and Him crucified and the offer of a tiny taste of what I know will not satisfy, apart from grace, I will always choose the morsel of disobedience.

Lord, may I truly have a right understanding of who You are and Your redemption plan that You have enacted for Your people. May I rightly see You as You have revealed Yourself in recorded truth and that I may consistently seek Your grace to allow me to choose You over all things. To choose You over me. I confess that I choose me all too many times, and I exchange the glory of God for the corruptible image of man. Help me to understand that I am in Your image, and I am in Your name, and there is more to life than the here-and-now, and there is more to life than me. Move me past myself so that I may see You fully and accurately. Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” (Psalm 119:18).

1 Aurelius Augustine of Hippo. On Christian Doctrine, translated by D.W. Robertson, Jr. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1958. 88. Quoted by John Piper, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000. 56

2 John Piper. The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000. 57

1 comment:

Amy said...

Just found your blog! I meant to tell you how cool it was to hear you preach...untold blessings! Ames