On August 21, 2017, many of us in the continental United States had the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse. While I am told that eclipses occur frequently, there has not been a coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in the United States since 1918.
The moon cast a 70-mile wide shadow over the earth as it traversed between ourselves and the sun. How could the moon block out the sun? The numbers are easy to understand but incredible to comprehend. The sun is 400 times greater than the moon, but the moon is 400 times closer to the earth than the sun.
Even though you no longer can see the sun itself in the total solar eclipse, its power is impossible to contain as the corona emanates from the sun while the moon appears to linger on its journey. The corona is a superheated region of plasma located above the sun’s photosphere, and scientists assert that it extends for over five million kilometers. Staggering figures that give further evidence of the magnificence of our Creator God.
There are many who will write tomes about this eclipse, and my offering here will surely be rudimentary and simplistic, but, after seeing this heavenly event, I can only be in awe of God’s majesty and glory, repeating what the Psalmist said:
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
God has chosen to communicate Himself to us through the glory and majesty of His created order, nature. The theologians call this General Revelation or Natural Revelation – that is to say, these are the works or acts by which God reveals himself through nature.
The purpose of General Revelation is to make God’s eternal power and deity manifest to all mankind.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
The solar eclipse caused me to sing praises to my God and the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ. Truly His eternal power and divine nature were on clear display during the eclipse, confirming the truth that His majesty is above earth and heaven. His glorious splendor is apparent in His creation, and His works are, indeed, wondrous. Praise God that He has provided evidence of Himself in nature and in His created order.
Father, I thank You for the privilege of watching Your creation operate in such wondrous ways. I praise Your name for the gift of seeing Your power and majesty as they are exhibited in Your creation. You are God, and there is none like You. Praise and honor are due to You, and You alone.
Remember when you were young, and one of the questions you would ask when you met someone new was “What is your name and where do you live?”
Even as adults we ask the same questions, although we often add “What do you do for a living” and “How long have you lived in our city?”
I have been going through hundreds of slide pictures taken by my father before his death and I came across several that prompted thoughts about houses in which my forefathers lived. My grandparents’ house in California, for example.
Or my grandparents’ house in Wisconsin. I loved that front porch!
But then there are houses that I can’t even contemplate living in … houses that are so big that I don’t think I could count the rooms. This Louisiana plantation house is one such building.
To top it off, there is the house that is currently for sale in our city … a house with its own name, Villa Collina. The newspaper says that it is “glorious” with over 50 rooms and is 37,000 square feet. I simply cannot wrap my head around a single family residence that size.
But, all these houses are here, they are material, they are temporal, they are subject to rust and decay. While I don’t live in any type of house like that, I am confident that I will live in a truly glorious house one day … my Savior says so:
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Jesus is telling his disciples that he will be leaving them, not for a frivolous purpose or to get away from people who just did not get his mission in this world. No, He is going home to His Father and he will prepare a place for them in heaven.
This place will be massive because there is room enough for all the believers in the world. It is a place for those who shall be saved, who were ordained unto life through belief in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross. These mansions were to be sprinkled with His blood just as the tabernacle and all the ministry vessels were sprinkled by the blood of the sacrifice. Hebrews 9:21. By His resurrection from the dead, by His ascension into heaven as our forerunner [Hebrews 6:20], and by His sitting at the right hand of God interceding for us, He prepares our place in heaven.
Just pause for a moment and imagine the glory that will surround these dwellings and the incredible sound of millions of voices singing praise to the Father for the work that He did through Jesus Christ, His Son and our Savior, and to the Holy Spirit who sealed us for our salvation. Glory, power and praise is due to our God and we will participate in giving that glory to Him in eternity.
I pray that the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” as sung on the album Hymns for All Saints: Adoration, Praise, Comfort, from Concordia Publishing House was a blessing to you.
I don’t know if we will sing this in heaven, but I am sure that singing songs of thanksgiving that give honor to God will be as natural as breathing.
So, “Where do you live?” Or, more importantly, “Where will you live for all eternity?” Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and your answer will be certain … you will live in the place prepared for you before the foundation of the world together with the saints from all ages. Praise God for such hope and grace.
Father, if there is one who does not know You or your Son, I pray that the Holy Spirit would use these words to convict of sin and to comfort those who fear death. Thank You for sending your Son as our Savior and your Spirit to effect salvation in your people. Thank You too for the sure confidence of faith in Scripture and the truth of Your words.
We were getting ready for breakfast when my beloved said that he felt like having waffles.
Now, in our home, we never have waffles – I no longer have a waffle iron and when I did have one, the waffles were almost inedible because they either were burned to a crisp or stuck on the cooking surface so when you opened the waffle iron to retrieve the food, you had to scrape the stuff off onto the plate in a clump … not particularly waffle-like!
But, in looking through the freezer, I found a box of waffles that I had purchased for breakfast when the grandchildren were with us. Not exactly sure how long they had been under the vegetables in the freezer, but I got at least one “wife point” for having waffles when they were requested!
After I toasted them, I put them on the plate along with the syrup and apple butter and we were ready for breakfast.
One taste was all it took to know that these were not going to get a blue ribbon in the waffle baking competition. As we were eating them in silence, I looked at my beloved and said “at least the grandchildren like ‘em!”
His response was
“They like ‘em because they don’t know any better!”
That prompted me to remember the Lord’s Word when describing how often human-kind satisfies itself with something less than the best.
Scripture tells us that the Israelites in the wilderness did exactly this … they exchanged their relationship with the Holy God for idols of their own creation. Having never been to the Holy Land, when I think of the wilderness, I picture the terrain we saw as we approached Albuquerque, New Mexico. [I don’t know if this looks like what the Israelites experienced, but it gives me a visual image that helps when I read the Word.]
This incident is recorded in Exodus 32 where the people were tired of waiting for Moses who had gone up the mountain to speak with God. The people asked Aaron to make a god for them to worship, and he took their gold and made the calf.
And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf.
And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
God, of course, saw this and told Moses to go down the mountain and speak to the people before he destroyed them in his fury. Moses pleaded with God and total destruction was averted, but turning their backs on God to follow a man-made god is a pattern that repeated itself throughout the Old Testament.
In Psalm 106:20 we read:
“They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.”
We read this and think “How in the world could they do that? They had direct experience with the power of God as they were lead away from Pharaoh and as they wandered through the wilderness with ample provision of food and water. God lead them with the pillars of cloud and fire and His presence was resident in the tabernacle. How could they ignore all that and turn to idols that they, themselves, had created?”
But before we point fingers, we need to look at ourselves. We may not have seen God’s hand as they did, but Paul tells us that all people have knowledge of God and His power just by looking at creation. This is called general revelation. Some examples of the variety of our God’s creative powers can be seen here:
The exquisite detail of a butterfly.
The human newborn baby, a complete adult in miniature.
In Romans 1:20 we read:
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
The detail found in the myriad of beautiful flora and fauna in our world.
The majesty of mountain peaks, covered in snow even in June.
The ocean, peaceful power waiting to be unleashed.
Then, Paul tells what people have done, despite God’s creative general revelation that is available to all people.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
This exchange of the immortal for that which is mortal, finite and of minimal power is what was forbidden in Exodus 20:3-6 which are the first two of the Ten Commandments. We are to have no other gods and we are not to make any carved image to bow down to it or serve it.
Stonehenge in England is thought to be an ancient site for burial and for processions related to the sun.
In Isaiah, the prophet quotes the message that God has for the people and in Isaiah 42 and 43 there is the repeated statement that God is the LORD. See for example,
Isaiah 43 verses 11 through 13 assert:
“I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God. Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?”
Isaiah 42 verses 5 and 8 tell us:
Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: … “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”
While the grandchildren might be satisfied with old, frozen waffles because they have never had the fresh, hot and steaming with goodness real thing, we cannot say that our turning to idols is because we never had any knowledge of The Real Thing. God has given us every breath we take – God has created our universe and all that is in it. Each person, in their heart of hearts, knows that God is but this is a far cry from worshiping God in spirit and in truth. Even people in our 21st century who are too urbane to believe in God, have decided that our world was created by “an intelligent being”.
Idols that man creates for himself may be wood or stone, but, in this day and time, they are probably a bit more intangible:
Success in business
Big house, boat, car, whatever
Big bank account
Independence from anyone or anything
In comparison, the Living God who demands our worship:
is the one who created.
is the one who saves.
is the one who provides life.
is the one who is the Living God.
is the one who loves us with an everlasting love.
is the one who sent his Son to be our propitiation, our savior and our Lord.
is the omniscient, omnipresent, almighty God, and there is no other god before him.
When we worship our own gods, we are robbing God of what is rightfully his. We are unilaterally transferring honor, praise and glory to something far less than God. When we worship gods that cannot save or even reply, that cannot move or act on our behalf, that have no power over fire, wind or evil, we are guilty of sin against the Holy God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Let us repent and praise God for his grace, mercy and love, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Father, forgive me when I have traded my relationship with you for worshiping gods of my own making. When I have acted as though I am god, forgive me. When I have created gods of my own choosing, or when I am unintentionally worshiping something other than you, forgive me and point out my sin so that I may repent and be restored to a right relationship with you. I praise you and honor you, my Creator, my Savior, and my God.