“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)
One of the most basic desires of the human heart is to be taken seriously. Men long to feel that life has a meaning and that existence has a purpose. Perhaps you have seen the television commercial where a leading cult addresses this very issue. The audience is invited to write for a free video explaining the plan of a heavenly father. Unfortunately, the god of the Mormons is not the Lord God omnipotent of the universe. The god of the Mormons is nothing more than an exalted man. Their doctrine can be summarized. “As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may become.” At least the Mormons are trying to find a meaning to life, just like all other people including those who deny the existence of God. And yet the truth of the matter is that life is more than just the sum total of the best meaning that men can ascribe to it.
The real meaning to life is bound up in a relationship with the Living God. Francis Shaffer use to talk to young people about the God who is there. He is real and He is not silent. The old divines realized that “The chief end of man is to know God and to enjoy Him forever.” Life takes on definition, and meaning beyond description as the soul discovers the Wonderful Being who spoke and worlds sprang into existence. The Bible begins very simply, and declares “In the beginning God”. There is no easy way to explain God, though some have tried, such as Anselm (c. 1033-1109). This theologian, philosopher and church leader, proposed an argument for God’’ existence called the Ontological Argument. “Since man can think of no greater being than God” said Anselm, “He must exist.”
Another theologian and philosopher, was Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Known as the Cosmological Argument, this position contends that to explain the existence of the universe it is essential to conceive a necessary Being as the First Cause. This Being is One whose existence is not contingent on anything else. This Necessary Being is God. If you were asked where the pew came from you sit on in church you could explain a possible cause, there was a carpenter who made the pew. But where did the carpenter come from who made the pew? Eventually the questioning leads to a First Cause, and that First Cause was God. In the eighteenth century a theologian named William Paley set forth-Teleological Argument for the existence of God—also known as the argument from design. Far greater than a pew is the complexity of the universe. Surely there must be a Creator, or all of life is a cosmic accident.
The Moral Argument for the existence of God was developed also in the eighteenth century by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who maintained that the highest good includes moral virtue. Inner happiness is the appropriate reward for this virtue. Kant believed that a person’s duty is to seek the highest good in life, believing that it is possible to realize it. Furthermore, Kant claimed this highest good cannot be realized unless there is “a Supreme Cause of nature”, one that has the power to bring about harmony between happiness and virtue. Such a Cause could only be God.
Another well-known argument for the existence of God contends that even if God’s existence cannot be known through reason, it is still practically advantageous to believe in God. The seventeenth century French philosopher Blaise Pascal held that belief in God is a better position to hold than non-belief. There are infinite rewards to receive, and nothing to lose if God exits.
As interesting, and helpful as some of these arguments for the existence of God might be they are limited. God never tries to prove His existence, nor does He have to. He simply exists and invites individuals to believe that, and have fellowship with Him in Spirit and in truth.
Initially the Bible tells us that for a time man did have perfect fellowship with God in spirit and in truth in a place called Eden. Located somewhere between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers, Eden was a fixed geographical location. There in Eden man worked, and there in the Garden, in the cool of the day, the Lord appeared to man to commune with him face to face. This splendid fellowship continued until one dark day when sin entered into the world.
Sin already existed in the universe, for the angelic host had already known rebellion. Lucifer fought against God, and was cast out of heaven. Now the question was whether or not man, created lower than the angels, would also rebel. Transforming himself into the form of a subtle serpent, the sin saturated satanic being enticed man to sin.
It was an awful moment, more devastating in effect than the discovery of the atomic energy which is now able to literally destroy all of mankind. Nuclear weapons can only kill the bodies of men in mass. The sin of Adam destroyed the souls of all mankind forever. There is hope only in the regeneration of the soul.
Even nature was affected, and seemed to realize a change, for Paul speaks of creation groaning in agony waiting to be delivered. Thistles and thorns appeared, and the reign of death began. There was a new sound in the air. It was the sound of the screams of fear and terror.
After his first sin, and his expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the descendants of man found it rather easy to go off and explore the wonders of creation. Soon, it was forgotten that there was a Creator, and the creation itself began to be exalted and transformed into an object worthy of worship in and of itself.
Trying to break through the moral and intellectual fog that clouds the reason of fallen man, God in matchless grace raised up holy writers to call souls back to Himself.
“You who worship nature,” called the Lord through the prophets, “be still and know that I am God.”
The call of God has not changed. To modern man the Lord still cries out, “Be still and know that I am God.”
The problem with man is that he is too busy when it comes to spiritual things. With modern technology one would think that the workload would become easier, but it has not. We can all identify with the complexity of maintaining a house, keeping up a car, putting in time at work, meeting social obligations, trying to rear a family.
The demands are placed upon our time so that the average man in the mirror is stretched to the limit, and by age forty is goring through a mid-life crises. God says, “Be still.”
“I can’t!” cries the man.
“You must, answers God.” In spiritual terms, what does it mean to be still?
First, it means to find a time and place in which to become quite. The search for solitude must be made. For some it may mean staying up later. For others, it may mean getting up earlier. The Bible says that Jesus would rise early in the morning to pray. Some have a special room in the house to withdraw into.
Second, to be still means to stop physical activity in order to concentrate on God, and enter into communion with Him. There is a myth that the busy person is the best person, or the most successful. In God’s economy, to be still is to be successful. Martin Luther once said, “I have so much to do I must spend several hours a day in prayer.”
The Lord knows what a challenge man has in being still in order to enhance the spirituality of the soul. That is why He wrote into the moral code of civilization that there was to be a sabbath, a day of rest.
There, in the stillness of a day the command can be obeyed to know God, for the text as it stands is a command. This may be somewhat of a surprise, for the popular notion is that religion is a private affair. I have actually heard parents say that they were going to rear their children in a non religious environment so that the child can choose to be religious, or not, as an adult. It sounds very modern but from a Divine perspective the Creator has issued a command.
The children are to know God. Adults are to know God. Young people are to know God. Knowledge of God is not so much a personal decision as it is a Divine mandate. But what does it mean to know God?
First, to know God means to have accurate information. There are certain things said about God, and either these statements are true or not. For example, the Mormons teach that God is really an exalted man. The Jehovah Witnesses teach that God was never a true man, but was Michael an archangel. Still other religions such as the Christian Science, teach God is not personal, but rather the Cosmic Consciousness of reality.
The Bible tells us something far different. The Bible tells us that God is real and personal, with distinct attributes. For example, the Bible tells us that God is good. “Good and upright is the Lord. (Psalm 25:8) “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. O taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)
The Bible declares that God is holy. “There is none holy as the Lord. Psalm 60:6 God hath spoken in His holiness.” (1 Sam. 2:2)
Again, the Bible says that God is just. He watches and weighs the affairs of men. Psalm 58:11 Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.
The Bible tells us that God is merciful. “The Lord is long suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression.” (Num. 14:18) There are many other things that can be said, and all of them about God are true. To know God is to have accurate information about His character.
Second, to know God means to comprehend what is true about God. It is possible to have an intellectual understanding of God, without fully appreciating or comprehending the consequences of those facts. For example, there are people who will agree that God is just, and yet revolt at the biblical revelation of eternal punishment for the unrepentant.
There are some who will concede that God is a Friend, a best Friend who will stick closer than a brother, and yet these same people will not think that God is moral enough to declare certain lifestyles sinful, as if God never condemns wickedness. Not only does God condemn sinful men He defines the sin which He passes judgment upon.
Third, to know God means to close with Him in an intimate way. This longing of God for fellowship is a great mystery. From a theological perspective an argument has been made that God has no feeling, or passion, as we understand them. And yet, there is this great fact that only a few thousand years ago God Almighty made a decision to create a world knowing full well that the perfection of His creation would be marred by rebellion and ruin. We can only stand amazed that Go still so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should never perish but have eternal life. There are some practical implications of this command to be still.
First, God means what He says. God really wants us to be still long enough to come to know Him. Wonderful things happen when people wait upon the Lord. There is sometimes the sound of a mighty wind. Thousands of souls are saved, and people begin to share the gospel in wonderful ways.
Second, those who are the most still know God the very best. One of the hardest lessons that the Church can learn is that the ministry that is biggest may not be the best. Budgets and buildings cannot measure spiritual success. Eternity alone will reveal the greatest saints were the most obscure and quietest souls. In the Church of Christ are countless unsung heroes of the faith who are burdened to pray so that God might work. If Christians do not commit to searching out God, and becoming intimate with Him, there will be some negative results.
First, Satan will move to divert attention, and consume the time allowed for spiritual activity.
Second, thoughts of unworthiness, and a sense of guilt will intensify.
Third, a feeling of hopelessness will be experienced.
Because of these things, Christians must confess the sin of inattentiveness to God, make a fixed determination to have an appointed time to be with God, and then keep that appointment, make use of the support materials God has given to the church, and bow in the heart before the Lord. Oh that the heavens would open and God would come down. It can happen for the promise is given, “You shall find me when you search for me with all your heart.” Let us make knowing God our number one objective as a Christian. For this reason Christ died and rose again the third day. The Lord would have us to know the Father. “Be still and know God.”