Subject 27 : God's letters to us in the age of coronavirus

[27-5] I Will Not Give My Praise to Carved Images (Isaiah 42:8)

( Isaiah 42:8 )
“I am the LORD, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images.”

Today’s Scripture reading is what God is saying to us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. When we read the Bible, many of us tend to think rather simply, “God has blotted out just our sins by bearing them through His baptism, and He has not only made us His children but also blessed us to enter and live in Heaven. That’s all there is to it!” However, here in verse 8, God says He will not give His glory to anyone else. There is a profound meaning hidden in this passage. When God created the heavens and the earth, He also created angels, and one of these angels stood against God trying to usurp His throne. We need to realize here that from ancient times to this very day, the angel who rebelled against God and his underlings have stood against God ceaselessly by entering into the hearts of God-made human beings. Even today, unable to give up his desire to become like God, the evil spirit of this fallen angel is still trying to achieve his goal through people. Having turned into an evil Devil, he is misleading mankind with all kinds of deceptions to this day trying to take the glory that belongs to God. 
Even though the fallen angel is still standing against God like this, God did not stamp him out by His power. Instead, He bestowed His righteous love on sinful human beings, brought salvation to those who believed in this love, and made them praise and glorify Him. And God has shown this to the fallen angel. God wanted to demonstrate through this work of salvation that He is indeed the true God, and that He lacks nothing to receive glory from all His creatures. In other words, by giving the justice of salvation to mankind on this earth through the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, God has saved us from all our sins and made us praise Him. With this work, God has made it manifest that He is the true God. God has revealed His divine glory, omnipotence, and justice, and He has demonstrated that He is the true King of love, the true Shepherd, and the true Lord. He has shown that no one can take His place by force. Through you and me the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God has demonstrated His greatness to His opponents. As such, God now wants to receive glory from all His creatures. 

God Has Fulfilled His Plan of Salvation to Perfection

Our God is so powerful that to save mankind from sins, He planned everlasting salvation and fulfilled it quietly. Even though God worked quietly to achieve His plan, He completed it so perfectly that there is nothing to rework. 
The salvation of humankind was achieved through the work Jesus Christ carried out with His water and blood through His 33 years of life on this earth. So much of what human beings do runs into so many problems that they have to do it again. In contrast, the fulfillment of God’s plan was totally flawless to a T. When Jesus came to this earth 2,020 years ago, He bore all the sins of this world once and for all, and He did this by being baptized by John the Baptist. Due to the baptism that Jesus Christ, God Himself, received from John the Baptist, it became impossible for human beings to have sin in their hearts. That is because Jesus Christ bore all the sins of humanity through His baptism and took them away from our hearts. Not everyone realizes this because people are now being deceived by the angel who stood against and challenged God long ago. This angel is threatening mankind, saying to them, “You are guilty. You will be condemned for your sins.” Ultimately, this is a deception. However, while God’s opponent may be able to deceive people into thinking that their sins remain intact even though God has blotted them all out, he cannot make the sinless guilty again. That is because God is alive. 
Because God Himself has blotted out the sins of mankind, as its evidence He has given us the Bible, His Word. Therefore, for human beings to resolve the problem of sin in their hearts, they must read the Word of God and listen to the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Only then can they discover that they are sinless. It is because Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist that He was not only tried in the court of Pilate but also crucified, shedding His blood to death to bear the condemnation of all the sins of mankind. He did this because the Law of God says that “the wages of sin is death.” By being crucified to death and rising from the dead again, Jesus completed His work of blotting out our sins. And God has ensured that this salvation and the remission of sins that God Himself fulfilled would be forever effective for the believers. 
Jesus Christ is fundamentally God Himself. This means that God planned and achieved all these things for mankind to perfection. There is therefore nothing else for us to do except to receive the blessings of salvation by believing in the God-fulfilled Truth of salvation with our hearts. There is no other way for us to be saved from our sins but to believe in God’s plan. And we have no choice but to praise God for His plan and the Truth of salvation He has fulfilled. We have nothing else to do but to praise God for all His plan and the righteous work He has done for us. We can only praise God as our true God, celebrate His goodness, honor Him, love Him, and give all glory to Him. The one thing that is immutable in this world is the fact that God Himself has saved us from all the sins of the world, and for this, God deserves nothing but glory forever. 

The Forever-unchanging Effectiveness of Salvation

Even as time goes by, it only makes the effectiveness of the God-fulfilled salvation shine even more brightly and makes us even more grateful. Time does not dull the light of salvation or wear off its effectiveness. For some of us, it has been, 30, 40, and even 50 years since we first received the remission of sins, but the blessings of salvation God bestowed on us are still effective to this day. You and I have committed many sins even after receiving the remission of sins. But, has this ever changed the fact that God has blotted out our sins? If the effectiveness of the salvation God has fulfilled for us is somehow diluted now, its cause lies with us. It is because we love the world more than God, and therefore our hearts have no room for God’s love. It is also because we are weak, and our faith turns momentarily weak when we sin, making us wonder, “Does this make me guilty of sin again?” 
However, because the blessed work of salvation God has done for us is forever unchanging in His eyes, your heart and mine still have no sin, and thanks to the God-given Truth of salvation, we are able to praise God and glorify Him always. And because we believe in God’s love and the Truth of His just salvation, we are practicing His commandments by faith. Even at this very moment, for those who have accepted into their hearts the God-given gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, it is impossible for there to be any sin in their hearts. The God-given blessings of salvation therefore make us praise Him. That is because the faith of salvation that God has blessed us with still remains effective. Do you then have any sin in your heart? No, there is no sin. The blessed work of salvation God has done for mankind is unchanging. 

God Is Worthy of All Glory and Praise

The Bible says: “My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images” (Isaiah 42:8). Satan still thinks he is the best and is inciting many people to stand against God. For example, a sorcerer is, as you know, someone who mediates between the living and the dead. While conjuring up the dead, the sorcerer might say something like this: “Don’t you have someone in your family who suffered wrongful death? That dead ancestor wants you to acknowledge his unjust death and is bringing suffering to your household. Since you didn’t care about him while he was alive in this world, you should comfort his soul right away. The troubles besieging your household will then disappear.” People then put food on the altar for the spirit of the dead and burn incense. Like this, for many people sorcerers play the role of a medium between dead ancestors and their living descendants, but in reality, they are actually standing against God. Even today, God’s opponent is misleading people into worshiping demons rather than God and surrendering to them. However, God does not want any of His glory and praise to be given to the fallen angel. 
God is saying to us now, “I am Jehovah. There is no other god but I. I have saved you from all your sins perfectly in the most just and righteous way. I am therefore bestowing blessings and eternal life on those of you who believe in My love. I want to give My blessings to all of you who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And I want to receive all praise and glory through you the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.” Accordingly, it is when we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit praise God’s work and pray to Him that He is glorified and answers us. And we are glorifying God for answering our prayers. God is such a glorious God to us. 
God is still not breaking bruised reeds. All human beings sin, do bad things, and are dying under the yoke of their iniquities, but God does not break them. He instead looks for such people and heals them with the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). God is saying to us, “I will take away the burden of your sins. I have solved the problem of your sins completely with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Look toward Me. Realize the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit that I have given you. And believe in it. There is no other true God to you but I. I am your true God.” 
We should neither praise nor exalt anyone else but God. The young musicians of these days are becoming idols. In fact, in Korea these pop singers are literally called idols. When they are on stage dancing and singing, the crowd cheers and raves. However, God abhors when people worship another human being like an idol. So, I don’t idolize any human beings, who are all made by God. God detests when human beings are venerated and acclaimed as if they were divine. God also detests founders and leaders of worldly religions. These worldly religions often make carved images that are visible to people as the objects of their worship. God has commanded us not to make any carved images, nor bow before them, far less live for them or praise them. Such idolatry is an abomination to God. In ancient times, the people of Israel were prone to call on the name of Baal, a pagan god, and pray to him instead of God. Baal was an idol, established by the natives of the land of Canaan as the god of farming. When they had a good harvest, they would pray to the pagan god Baal and thank him for the bountiful harvest, saying, “Thank you for blessing us with a good farming season.” Since the people of Israel were also praying to the pagan god Baal, God was angered by their insolence and rebuked them, saying, “You are so ungrateful! Why are you thanking Baal when it is I who brought down the rain?” 
The pagans also prayed to an Asherah pole when they had trouble conceiving children. They carved wooden images with dozens of breasts. When their wives couldn’t bear children, they would touch the breasts of Asherah, bow before it, burn incense, and offer sacrifices. God abhorred such religious rituals the pagans practiced by worshiping carved images. So He commanded the people of Israel to cast out those carved images, but they actually worshiped idols even more than the pagans. God said to them, “It is I who have blessed you and protected you from your enemies. When I am your God, why are you practicing the Canaanites’ pagan religion? Why are you bowing and praying to these idols? Do not do this, or I will punish you!” Like this, God is a jealous God. However, as the people of Israel continued to be drawn to pagan idols and kept on worshiping them, they ended up tarnishing God’s glory and praise, and therefore God brought His wrath upon them. 
Today also, there are those who seek to test the realm of God. Since the 1960s mankind has been sending numerous rockets into space for exploration. One of the space shuttle orbiters used in the 1980s was named Challenger. In the field of genetics, some scientists are working on human cloning, but such attempts are the biggest mistakes that mankind is making before God. To challenge the Creator like this is to stand against God Almighty, and therefore God hates it. Recently I read in the news that scientists have successfully experimented with extracting a cow’s stem cells and growing them in petri dishes into beef. So, it’s said that in about a decade, it would be possible to buy and eat lab-grown meat cultured from stem cells. This kind of meat will be produced in factories. A lab in China was also successful at making artificially grown meat from stem cells and is planning to commercialize it. It’s said the taste is the same as the real meat. But, would it really taste the same? Since mankind was made out of dust, it is best for human beings to eat naturally grown vegetables, fruits, and meat. 
God said in Isaiah 42:8-9: “I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images. Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
The Prophet Isaiah had prophesied to the people of Israel, “For your iniquities, you will live in captivity. You will be dragged to a foreign nation. And you will live as slaves there. But thanks to God’s mercy, you will be freed from captivity and return home.” About 4,000 years ago, God said, “New things I declare, Before they spring forth I tell you of them.” God told the people of Israel that they would return from the slavery of sin and live in His house.
To all of us who are living in this present age, God is saying that He will give us His Kingdom of Heaven. God had promised that Jesus Christ would reveal His righteousness to this world and save all those who believe in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit from sin and condemnation, and God is now saying that even more people than today’s believers will come to believe in His work and praise Him. “New things I declare, Before they spring forth I tell you of them.” This means that even though you and I believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit in the present, God had already promised us about 4,000 years ago through the Prophet Isaiah that He would save us from our sins through the water, the blood, and the Spirit. 
“Before they spring forth I tell you of them.” God is truly a powerful God. He already knew what would happen 4,000 years later, and He is now speaking to us in the present age also. He said to you and me that He would save us from all the sins of the world through His righteousness, justice, and Truth. Our God came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and we praise Him and give all glory and thanksgiving to Him. God our Savior is worthy of receiving all glory and praise from the beginning to eternity. God alone is worthy of receiving our praise. Is there anyone else for us to praise other than God? No, of course not! God has given you and me the blessings of salvation to be delivered from all our sins, and we have become instruments to be used by such a God. It is therefore only fitting and proper for you and me, who now believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, to give all thanks and glory to God. 

God Is Powerful

Jesus Christ is the God of the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He is truly befitting of God Almighty to all of us. Isn’t this marvelous? Even when the Antichrist appears in this world down the road and tries to kill us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we can never betray our God. Even at this moment of martyrdom our God will never give up on us. God has told us, “I am God. I am glorified and exalted through My beloved people. I will therefore have My beloved people sit next to Me, and bless them to enjoy My glory.” God will show to the fallen angel and his minions that God’s people, having taken over their former places, will give glory and praise to Him. And the fallen angel, seeing the faithfulness of the saints, will be thrown to the bottom of hell and cry out, “Woe to me! God, You truly are the Lord God!” It is God’s justice for His opponent and his followers to be cast into hell. 
God has saved you and me from all our sins. God has the power to make us His own children. Although He is more powerful than anyone else, He has fulfilled our salvation very quietly. You need to realize this. And you need to believe in it. Now, God is working through you and me to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit to the entire human race. He carries out His work quietly. He does not break those who are saddened by the fact that they have no choice but to be cast into hell for their sins. Nor does He rebuke them harshly. Instead, He is offering to save them through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. God is almighty, and He is saying to us, “You are sad because you were deceived. You are miserable because of your sins. You have committed so many sins. But that is why I have taken care of your sins. I have saved you through the water, the blood, and the Spirit. I have saved you from all your sins. Do not worry anymore. You will be saved the moment you believe with your heart in the gospel of the water and the Spirit I have fulfilled. All you need to do is just come to Me and believe.” My fellow believers, we believe in the God who has come by the water and the Spirit. We are preaching this God who came to this earth by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The whole humanity will therefore come to realize what Jesus Christ spoke of. The entire human race will come to know God’s work, believe in it, and revere Him. We were sinners, but we now believe that Jesus Christ is our God and our Savior. Many others will come to glorify God and praise Him by the same faith. Those who do not do so before God, on the other hand, will fall into the quagmire of destruction. 
In this hour, we ruminated on the Word of God showing us how powerful He is. How wonderful is it that our God is full of power? How much peace and rest does this bring to our hearts? It is so marvelous. It is absolutely important for us to realize that our God has given all of us not only salvation, but also the blessings of everlasting glory. What would happen to us if our enemy were to try to find us and torment us? That is why our God has become not only our Savior but also our King. He is our Absolute Ruler. God is the King of love and our Shepherd. As a hymn sings: “A mighty fortress is our God, A bulkwark never failing; Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.” This is the God in whom we believe. Words cannot express just how grateful I am that God Almighty has saved us from all our sins. 
I am so happy. Because I believe in such a God as my God, I am living in this world in peace. I consider myself so fortunate to have met the Almighty God, and I live my every day thanking my God. I trust that you are doing the same. Like a mother holding her baby tightly, God is embracing in His arms all of us who have received the remission of sins, protecting us, and blessing us. With our faith we give all our thanks to God, and we entrust our future to Him. We believe that God will lead all of us to Heaven and take complete care of us. Hallelujah!
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