Manhandling God

Clements 20190306 Manhandling.jpg

When a person “manhandles” something, they treat it roughly, or move it by mere human strength. The title, “Manhandling God” is not meant to suggest that anyone could ever move the true God by his or her own strength. What the title suggests is that there are gods of human design that can be manipulated. A little “g” god—the lord of one’s own persuasion—the figment of a person’s imagination—can definitely be manhandled.

The Bible uses the most interesting satire to expose the absurdity of worshiping little “g” gods (idols). The Scriptures leave no doubt about whom God is, and why He is to be worshipped.

Through Jeremiah God commands His people: “do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens…for the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool” (Jeremiah 10:2-3).

Then the prophet points out the fallacies of man-made-gods: “They decorate it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot walk! Do not fear them” (verses 4-5).

The prophet Isaiah also portrayed the foolishness of idolaters when he wrote: “Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house” (Isaiah 44:13).

After that insight, God’s prophet revealed the folly of worshiping a god made from a tree: “Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of the them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, ‘Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.’ But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships: he also prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god.’ They do not know, nor do they understand….No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, ‘I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!’” (Isaiah 44:15-19).

Jeremiah contrasts the true God and gods—the Creator and the created—the Maker and the made: “They are all the work of skilled men. But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King… It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens” (Jeremiah 10:9-10, 12).

The prophet’s summary in verses 6 and 7 gives an accurate picture of the true God:

  1. He is unique, “There is none like You, O LORD…” The God of the Bible, His attributes, character and being are exclusive in human history. “For among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You” (verse 6). Among world religions and theological beliefs, none compares to the God of the Bible. “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
  2. He is great, “You are great and great is Your name in might….” Nehemiah rallied his workers on the walls of Jerusalem, as they were fearful of enemies, he said, “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome” (Nehemiah 4:14). Later he encouraged their faith in God by pointing to “Our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness” (Nehemiah 9:32). God’s greatness will only increase. “For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations” (Malachi 1:11).
  3. He is King over all, “Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?” It is only the Lord God of Scripture who will be King over all the nations. Though every attempt at world peace has failed, true peace will only come under one King over all, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Psalmist wrote, “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and they shall glorify Your name” (Psalm 86:9). Isaiah prophesied Christ’s kingship, “And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshears and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war” (Isaiah 2:4).
  4. He is worthy of all praise, “Who would not fear You…Indeed it is Your due! For among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You.” Because the Lord is God of all mankind, history and eternity, He is due our greatest praise and worship!

Don’t fall for a cheap imitation! There is only one God, one Lord, and one Savior. Only the true God can comfort your heart and speak to your soul. All our worship and service should go to Him! “To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 16:27).

 

 

Author: Larry E. Clements

Follower of Christ, fortunate to be husband to Pat, father of 5, grandfather of 12, writer, associate pastor of Pauline Baptist Church

3 thoughts on “Manhandling God”

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