The Watchman on the Wall

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Photo credit to farm4.staticflickr.com

“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies?  For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols!”  Habakuk 2:1

Counting the cost is always a good idea.  Even Jesus promoted counting the cost, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28) But what are we supposed to take a stand for?  Anything?  When You shared this thought, Jesus, You were telling of the cost of discipleship.  People were starting to follow You.  And maybe You were telling them that just following wasn’t enough.  Maybe belief is a radical commitment.  Because not only did You attach it to the idea of counting the cost, but You started the crowd off by telling them that following You required radical thinking and radical living.  “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”  (Luke 14:26,27)  That is not mamby-pamby. 

So what does Habakuk have to do with counting the cost?  Here, Habakuk says, “I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”  (Habakuk 2:1)  Habakuk has counted the cost.  His life reflects that decision.  He is taking a stand and accepting the cross that God has chosen for him to carry.  He takes his position at his watch post and stations himself in his place on the tower.  He looks expectantly and carefully and listens to know his next command.

Habakkuk isn’t on that watch post because his family or friends are there or because they sent him there.  His family and friends probably thought him extreme and maybe a kill-joy.  He was there at that watch post because He had counted the cost of being a God follower.  He had chosen to take His stand in God, no matter the cost.  And because he did, You shared Your plans with him, Lord, in a way that he could warn others.  And he wasn’t just there to warn of wrath to come, but of hope in You, if others would count the cost of clinging to You more than their friends and family or lifestyles.  And it’s not really tough stuff that’s only for the elite.  You told Habakuk to “write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” (Habakuk 2:2)  It’s clear for everyone to understand, it’s plain, and easy.  It’s so easy that those who read will know how to respond and in this case, the proper response would be to run.

I’m not going to get into the destruction of the Chaldeans today as You bring judgment upon them.  Because it’s not only about the Chaldeans here.  Scripture isn’t just a historical account.  Paul reminds us “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  (Romans 15:4)  In 1 Corinthians 10:11 he tells us that things happened as an example and were written for our instruction.  And let’s acknowledge that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16)  Why?  That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

It’s not for every man.  It’s only for the benefit of the man or woman of God.  Well, that’s exclusive, isn’t it?  Not really.  You, Lord, offer the teaching to everyone.  You make it plain and simple and write it out for us so we can respond rightly to it.  The problem is, many of us don’t want to hear and we won’t even pick up the tablet and read.  And if you won’t even read it in the first place, how can you respond appropriately?  We’d rather write our own tablets and promote them before others.  We take the created and call it the creator.  We puff ourselves up.  You put it this way, “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies?  For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols!” 

The problem was, and still is that we won’t take a stand for our Creator.  We would rather puff ourselves up and think that we can do what You do.  We create idol after idol and think ourselves so brilliant.  We make knowledge an idol and yet, by it, refuse to educate ourselves and refuse to look at all the facts.  We make race an idol and in the name of equality and rights for one race hate another race.  We make relativity an idol and while we declare there is no particular truth, we stifle those who believe in a truth.  But if truth is relative then one should have the right to whatever truth they believe, at least that’s the pretense there.  But our idols are false.  They are life seen through the eyes of the created, like little idols creating little idols. 

You can take something like this Noah’s ark replica being built and make fun of it and mock it by showing a picture of a giant dinosaur and how it wouldn’t fit.  You can mock with all the things you believe to be false about it.  But if you never stopped to see even a little of the other side, to see any evidence of how it could work, then how intelligent an approach is that?  I certainly wouldn’t brag about it to my kids if you haven’t done your research honestly.  But, that’s a stand you can take.  You can weigh your research, even as a scientist, in whatever direction you want.  Sure, go ahead and skew your results to make them look good.  You can take that stand if you want.  But I want to be honest.  I want to know the truth and I want to help others to see the truth, not just my view.  You can take it or leave it.  We all can.

In the long run, we’re not accountable to any idol.  Idols have no power, no matter how much we want them to and no matter how much we invest in them.  Only God is God.  There is a Creator whether you choose to believe or not.  All the evidence is out there and easy to read if we only pick up the tablet and look.  Every one of us has the invitation to take a stand not only for the Creator but in the Creator.  We have this Creator who took a stand for us, these creatures who think so much of ourselves and yet we are really so little compared to the entirety of creation.  But the Creator of the universe sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from ourselves and our idols and to make a way to see Him again in His fulness in our lives today and into eternity.  Idols don’t love like that.  People with their own agendas don’t love like that.  But You do.

I know I didn’t create myself.  You created me and You have every right to me.  And I can’t think of anyone that I want to take a stand for and in, more than You, because before I ever took a stand for You, You took a stand for me.  I don’t want people to read what I write and compliment me or make much of me.  I want people to read what I write and see You.  I want You to write Yourself so clearly on this tablet that people respond rightly to You and to Your words.  I want to see the mocker stop mocking and rejoice in delighting in You.  I want to see the hater, intent on their agenda, let go and love Your ways because they love You and know how much You love them and how much You love those around them.  I want to see the self-righteous humbled and awed by Your glory and presence.  I want to just enjoy You and love You and sit at Your feet and walk with You and talk with You and enjoy those You created around me with You.  I want to be a watchman on the walls and I want others to want to stand with me, together, standing with You.

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