• Rev. Mark Tews

Humble Yourself Before God

If I told you not to touch a stovetop because it is hot, and you saw the burner glowing red, would you touch it? Of course not, because you can see that it is hot. What if I told you not to touch it because it is hot but you could not see the glow of the burner? Would you heed my warning, or would you have to touch it to see if I was telling the truth? How often do we get burnt because we fail to heed warnings and we have to check it out for ourselves? Most of us at some point in our lives just had to touch the burner.

When you were younger, you may have touched a hot burner because you didn’t know any better. But as you got older, hopefully you smartened up enough to learn from other people’s mistakes and not make them yourself. It is better, wiser, and faster if we learn from someone else’s mistakes than to make them ourselves. Mistakes take many forms: bad information, poor choices, or bad judgment. Mistakes are not necessarily sin, but they can become sin if we allow them to snowball and take us into sin and away from God and the values that He wants us to hold.

In the first chapter of 2 Kings, the nation of Israel was divided and had two kings, even though this was not God’s will for His people. One kingdom was called Israel and one Judah. Ahaziah was king in the kingdom of Israel. He was the son of the evil king Ahab who was killed in battle. Ahaziah was just like his father and led the nation away from God. He introduced idolatry by making golden calves and he led the nation to worship Baal and Asherah, thus provoking the Lord to anger. It is important for us to note that God can be provoked to anger. We don’t often hear this truth.

King Ahaziah was hurt at home falling through his roof, not in battle like most kings of the day. He sent for counsel to the pagan god Baal to find out if the injury was life-threatening and if he would recover. His messengers quickly returned and said they met a man (Elijah) on the road who told them to tell the king: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” (2 Kings 1:6).

Here’s where the burner began to glow red hot. “Then he sent to Elijah a captain with his company of fifty men. The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, ‘Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down!’ Elijah answered the captain, ‘If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!’ Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men. At this the king sent to Elijah another captain with his fifty men. The captain said to him, ‘Man of god, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once!’ ‘If I am a man of God,’ Elijah replied, ‘may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!’ Then the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men. So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. ‘Man of God,’ he begged, ‘please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants.’ See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!” (2 Kings 1:9–14).

Finally, someone heeded the warnings and believed that God would do what He said He would do. The third captain was not arrogant and proud as the first two, and he learned from what happened to them. Can you imagine the tension in those moments just before the captain would either be spared or lose his life? Yet, Elijah also had reason to pause before following the messenger. However, “the angel of the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.’ So, Elijah got up and went with him to the king.” (2 Kings 1:15). King Ahaziah didn’t believe in God despite the proof of fire rained down upon his messengers. He had hardened his heart to God and put his faith in the wrong things. So, what God declared through Elijah came true, and the king died from his injury.

God has shown Himself throughout history as faithful to the people of Israel. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to show Himself as faithful to them and us today. When God speaks, He delivers on His promises, including when his promise is a stark warning.

I saw a t-shirt recently that caught my attention: “I am acting like I’m listening!” My friends, we cannot only act like it; WE NEED TO BE LISTENING! We need to heed the warnings contained in God’s Word. Jesus Christ is coming again and He is coming to judge the living and the dead. It is God’s desire that we don’t burn in hell. He warns the whole world not to touch the hot burner; you and I just need to listen to what He has said. We need to turn our lives fully over to the Lord because there is coming a time that we will stand before God and answer for what we have and have not done. This is not supposed to be a gloomy message; it is a message of Hope. It is a warning out of Scripture and hope in the promises of God through Jesus Christ.

Today, it seems that many people are testing God. There is an increasing number of people who we could call “Nones.” They are the people who check the box “None” on any form that asks for their religious preference. They have no association with any religious organization and they proudly claim no affiliation with God. If someone were to stand out on a corner and proclaim the Word of God along with the consequences, doom, and wrath of God that comes with ignoring and denying His warnings, they would be met with opposition and labeled as “intolerant.” Nevertheless, the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. God is still giving the “Nones” the chance to hear His warnings and change how they think. What God thinks is the final authority on every matter and every decision you have to make.

You have a choice, but it does not change the authority of God’s Word. When you have to make a decision, the best place to look for answers is in the His Word. If the Word says one thing and you do another, then know that there will be consequences for your decisions. Our society today puts a lot of stock in polls and surveys. Surveys may say what society is thinking, but if society isn’t thinking what God is thinking then society is wrong. God is the majority all by Himself, so His way matters more. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9). So, do not fear people and things that are worldly. But love and respect God such that you fear His warnings and heed them.