What Does It Mean To Have a God?

What Does It Mean To Have a God?

"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord." (Isaiah 31:1)

In the days of Isaiah, many in Israel had turned from the Lord to the worship of idols. They worshiped Baal and Asherah, silver and gold, wood and stone. When mighty foes appeared they did not call upon the Lord to save; they looked to horses, chariots, and allies for deliverance. They trusted their idols. Their idols did not save them.

What does it mean to have a God? Martin Luther, in his Large Catechism explains the difference between trusting God and trusting in idols. He writes, "So, to have a God is nothing other than trusting and believing Him with the heart. I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol." He further explains, "Many a person thinks that he has God and everything in abundance when he has money and possessions. He trusts in them and boasts about them with such firmness and assurance as to care for no one. Such a person has a god by the name of 'Mammon' (money and possessions) on which he sets all his heart. This is the most common idol on earth." Luther continues, "So, too, whoever trusts and boasts that he has great skill, prudence, power, favor, friendship, and honor also has a god. But it is not the true and only God. This truth reappears when you notice how arrogant, secure, and proud people are because of such possessions, and how despondent they are when the possessions no longer exist or are withdrawn. Therefore, I repeat that the chief explanation of this point is that to 'have a god' is to have something in which the heart entirely trusts." If you look to God for your good and take refuge in Jesus, then you are keeping the commandment, “You shall have no other gods.” If you look first to your possessions, friends, and abilities, then you have a host of idols none of which will be able to help you on the Judgment Day.

What then are we to do? We should look to God for every good thing! For example, when good king Hezekiah was threatened by powerful enemies he called upon the Lord, and the Lord rescued him from his enemies. (Isaiah 37) Consider Hannah. When she was barren she called upon the Lord. The Lord heard her prayer and granted her a son. (1 Samuel 1) When a criminal was hanging on a cross he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23) God knows your every need. He is able to help you, save you, and on your last day, bring you home through faith in Jesus.

In this world of difficulties, dangers, and deprivations, trust in the Lord. Luther taught us that to have a god is to trust in that One with all our hearts. The prophet Isaiah teaches us who alone is worthy of such trust. For, "The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:28-31)

 

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