Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Idolatry is trusting in anything else or anything less than God who made us. So you trust in your money; you trust in your children; you trust in your husband; you trust in the economy; you trust in the government; you trust in yourself—it makes you an idol worshiper. You trust in your own creation, and the point here is: How stupid is that? How foolish is it?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, October 20. You probably don't make a habit out of bowing down in front of a statue made of wood or stone, but idols abound in your world, tempting you to come worship all the time. Here's Nancy to continue in a series called Habakkuk: Moving from Fear to Faith.

Nancy: Well, if the only day that you've heard in this series on Habakkuk was the last session, then you probably think this is a really depressing study because we were looking at a pretty heavy passage in Habakkuk chapter 2 where God is pronouncing woes and divine judgments against the nation of Babylon for their sins.

He's telling them they're going to reap what they have sown, and it was a pretty hard-to-swallow passage—a lot of negative stuff in there. As you read those passages in the Scripture, remember they're inspired, too. The glories and the beauties and the wonders of the Gospel and the grace of Christ are never as precious to us if we have not seen them against the backdrop of the utter depravity and sinfulness of human flesh.

When we've seen ourselves as we really are and we've seen the judgment that we deserve for our sins, then when God says, “I sent Christ to be the substitution for your sin, to take the judgment that you deserved,” we go, “Wow! That's good news! That's a Gospel worth sharing.”

I think one of the reasons that the Gospel is not wondrous and precious to so many, even professing believers today, is because they've only ever focused on the good news. They don't know what they're being saved from. They don't know what they're being delivered from. So it's important to study those passages about the wrath of God and the justice and the judgment of God and the sinfulness of man because then when we come to passages like what we're going to see today, they become even more precious and beautiful to us.

Now, we're still in Habakkuk chapter 2. Most of this chapter is this lengthy description of the wickedness of Babylon and the woes pronounced against them, but in this passage, we find two references to God in contrast to the wickedness of man. We find two references to God, one in the middle of this long passage and one at the end, and these two references stand in sharp relief or contrast to what we're seeing in the rest of the chapter.

Just to give us some context here, we're in Habakkuk chapter 2. Let me back up to verse 12.

Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity! Behold, is it not from the LORD of hosts that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing? (through verse 13).

We have there a description of Babylon building the kingdom of man, the kingdom of man, and that's what people on this earth are trying to do today. They're building a town with blood, founding the city on iniquity, trying hard to use all their energy and creativity and ingenuity to build, if you will, a Babel, a modern-day town or city that can exist without God. Initially, man's efforts to build his own kingdoms are impressive.

Man can do a lot of impressive things with the abilities God's given him, but all man's attempts to build his own kingdom will be short-lived. When our kingdoms are built on corruption and violence and pride and arrogance, they will come to nothing.

You think of the great empires of the earth in the past. Some of them were splendid—Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. You go to those parts of the world today, and you can find the most splendid evidences of those civilizations are buried under a heap of ruins. The kingdom of man—it will not last.

Now, having just read about the kingdom of man, we come to verse 14, which is a whole other side of the story. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea”—one of my favorite verses in all of God's Word. That's a verse that gives us hope.

"The righteous shall live by his faith" (verse 4). What do we have faith in? Faith that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. It's coming someday.

We have here a reference to the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of man that's short-lived, but the kingdom of God that is eternal—the kingdom of God that is yet to be fully revealed, the kingdom of God that is indestructible, that will cover the whole earth. The Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Romans—they tried to cover the whole earth, and some of them did conquer the entire, known earth, but the kingdom of God will cover forever and ever the entire earth.

He will reign. He will rule. He will overcome all earthly kingdoms. We see here the absolute, eternal, final, ultimate triumph of the kingdom of God.

No matter what men do, no matter how strong their kingdoms may be, no matter how fierce they may seem, and we could name kingdoms of the earth today that seem to be fierce. We worry about nuclear proliferation and other things that we can't even pronounce or understand, and there are so many things you could be afraid of today if you were just looking at things from the human perspective.

You can't look at the earth from a human perspective. You need to look at it through eyes of faith and what God is doing in building His kingdom. Yes, the enemies of God may flourish for awhile. They may rage against God. They will, but they will be short-lived.

Their doom is sealed. Remember that when you see Babylonian-like people taking over parts of the earth today. Their doom is sealed.

One commentator says of this passage, “The wearisome toil of a whole generation of boasting Babylonians provided a little fire and ended up as a heap of ashes in one corner of the earth, but God's everlasting glory will fill the entire earth.” There's no comparison between the kingdom of man and the kingdom of God.

“The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD.” That phrase, by the way, should be familiar to you if you've read the New Testament, “the knowledge of the glory of the LORD.”

Second Corinthians chapter 4,

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (verse 6).

That's what Habakkuk is foreshadowing here.

Habakkuk had never seen Christ. He didn't know Christ. He was looking forward to Christ. He could only see dimly. We look back now, and we can see clearly that what God was talking about here was the day when Christ would come.

He would die and shed His blood for sinners. He would give His life, and the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, seen in the face of Jesus Christ—we beheld the glory of God in the face of Christ. That knowledge will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Listen, there are whole parts of the world today that have never heard the name of Christ, but one day they will. There are whole parts of the earth today—there are whole parts of continents—that reject the God of the universe, that reject Jehovah, that have their own, false, evil religions.

They're building their own kingdoms, but one day the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ will shine. God's light will cover and expel all the darkness of the whole world. Somebody say, “Amen.”

We have here, foreshadowed for us, the ultimate, worldwide spread of the Gospel of Christ and the reign of Christ, the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God.

Some of you are familiar with that old hymn by Isaac Watts. We don't sing it much anymore, but I love those words,

Jesus shall reign where're the sun,
Does its successive journeys run.
[from east to west]
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

That's an old fashioned way of saying forever—and He shall reign forever and ever and ever. I looked that hymn up on the Internet last night, and I found some other stanzas that I had not heard before. When I quote them to you, you'll know why we don't sing them. They're a little stilted in their language, but I think the words make the point of this passage.

Listen to these next two stanzas. We're saying that Jesus shall reign across the whole earth, and then Watts goes on to say:

Behold the islands with their kings,
And Europe her best tribute brings;
From north to south the princes meet,
To pay their homage at His feet.

There Persia, glorious to behold,
There India shines in eastern gold.
And barb'rous nations at His word
Submit, and bow, and own their Lord.

That's kind of old English. We don't really speak much that way anymore, but you get the picture? All across the world, all around the world, from shore to shore, from continent to continent all the nations of the world—nations of the world that today it's illegal to be a Christian. It's illegal to go and share the Gospel—those nations will come and bow before Christ as Lord, and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

No wonder we can live in hope. No wonder we don't have to walk in fear. The righteous shall live by his faith. So today when you feel overwhelmed—maybe you're not concerned about world wars, but you're concerned about the little war going on in your own home or in your church or in your work place. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Now, we didn't come in the last session to the fifth of five woes in this passage, and we need to just touch on that because it brings us to the last verse of this chapter, which again is one that gives us such hope. The first four woes we saw were pronounced on the Babylonians because of their relational sins, sins they committed against other people.

When we come to the fifth woe, beginning in verse 18, it's not based on a relational sin. It's based on a violation of the first commandment. It's a God-ward sin. It's a woe pronounced against the sin of idolatry, and I think that perhaps that sin is the root of all the other sins that are named in this chapter—idolatry.

Let me read beginning in verse 18. For,

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!

This man makes idols out of metal or wood or whatever, and he trusts in his own creation.

See that word trust? How do righteous people live? By faith, by trust, but not trust in something they have made—trust in the one who made them, trust in the Creator, not trust in the creature.

Idolatry is trusting in anything else or anything less than God who made us. So you trust in your money; you trust in your children; you trust in your husband; you trust in the economy; you trust in the government; you trust in yourself—it makes you an idol worshiper. You trust in your own creation, and the point here is: How stupid is that? How foolish is it?

Verse 19,

Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it.

The foolishness of making something with your hands, an inanimate object, and then bowing down and saying, “Help me. Help my crops. Help my fertility. Help my problems. Give me decisions. Tell me what to do.” How foolish is that?

Woe to those who speak to idols and say, “Do this or that.” There's no breath at all in that thing that you have made, that thing that you trust in.

Now we come to verse 20, and see the contrast here. “But the LORD,” no idol here, no metal image, nothing overlaid with silver and gold. “The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

“The LORD is in his holy temple.” You see this sometimes at the entrance to a church, or you'll see it on a church bulletin. It's not talking about your church building here. Now, I believe it's appropriate to be reverent when we come to worship with the people of God because we're together in the presence of God, but this is talking about something much more magnificent than the most magnificent church building.

“The LORD is in his holy temple.” Psalm 11 tells us where His temple is. “The LORD's throne is in heaven” (verse 4). God is high and holy and exalted and lifted up on His holy throne in His holy temple in heaven, and so here Habakkuk is given a view of God Every person in the Scripture and in history who's ever gotten this kind of view of God is transformed. You don't see God and end up the same.

His majesty—a view of Him and who He is—it changes our perspective on everything. It changes how you see yourself. It changes how you see your circumstances. I love that quote, and I'm sure I've used it on Revive Our Hearts before, but that quote by Campbell Morgan, who was a great Bible teacher of the last generation. He said,

The supreme need in every hour of difficulty and distress, is for a fresh vision of God. Seeing Him, all else takes on proper perspective and proportion.

You think you're so big? You think you're so hot? You think you're so cool? You think your life is so messed up? You think your world is so complicated?

Get your eyes off of yourself and your circumstances and the people around you and lift your eyes up and see the Lord. “Seeing Him, all else takes on proper perspective and proportion.”

We have a contrast here between idols that are made by men and God who is on His throne in His holy temple. Men try to breathe life into the idols they create, but those idols are lifeless.

They speak to their idols, “Awake! Arise! Do something!” but those idols are speechless. They have no response.

There's something wrong with that picture, speaking to idols, trying to breathe life into a lifeless object. The picture should be that God breathes life into us. He speaks to us, and we are speechless in response.

We keep silence. We're still. We're quiet before Him, listening in awe, in reverence of God on His throne.

We saw in verse 18 that the idol has a maker, but God is our maker. The creature should be worshiping the Creator, not worshiping another creature. So the point here in verse 20, “The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him,” the point is hush!

Worship God. Trust Him. Let Him teach you. Let Him speak.

Stop complaining. Stop wrestling. Stop doubting. Stop questioning God.

God is not indifferent, as Habakkuk had thought that maybe He was. God is not insensitive. God is not impotent. God is not passive.

God is in His holy temple. God is on His throne. God is in control, and God isn't just this great, cosmic God in control of the universe who somehow is letting the little details and circumstances of your life slip through.

He's not asleep. He's awake. He's alert. He's alive. He's active.

He's working in your life, on your behalf, in your circumstances, in your home, in your church, in your world. God is on His throne, so be quiet.

Don't fret. Don't be perturbed. Don't be disturbed. Don't be anxious.

In His perfect time, He will accomplish His purposes, so in the meantime, stand before Him in humble silence, in reverence, in awe. Trust in Him. The righteous shall live by his faith.

When, you make an idol—and I know we don't carve idols or make them out of gold and silver, but we make them out of other things. We make them out of people. We make them out of jobs. We make them out of our health. We make idols out of anything, anyone that we trust in other than God.

When we make an idol, we're dictating what kind of god we think it should be. We want to fashion idols after our specifications, so we tell it what it should do and what it should be like and how it should serve us and how it should treat us.

The problem is we try to do that with God. We don't like sovereignty. We don't like someone else telling us what to do. We want to be God.

We want to be in charge, so we tell God what we think He should be like, what we think He should do, how He should solve our marriage problems, how He should change our husband, how He should change our children, how He should change our circumstances, how He should give our health back to us, how we shouldn't have to have this financial problem. "How can you be just, God, and allow things to go on this way?"

"How can You be good? If You're so good, why are You doing this?" And we contend with our Maker. That's because we're trying to fashion God into an idol after our own likeness. We're trying to be sovereign over God.

I just want to remind us that God does not need your input or mine on His purposes or His plans. Now, He tells us to cast our anxieties on Him, to tell Him our requests, to pray, to intercede, and to do it boldly, but we are not in a position to dictate how God should act.

Job tried to do that at one point. “God, if I could just come before You and plead my case, I know You'd see that I'm right.” We look at it, and we laugh, but don't we act the same way? "God, I know things shouldn't be this way." When Job finally sees God as He is, Job says, “I put my hand on my mouth. I wish I had never spoken.”

You know what? When a lot of us see God the way He really is, we're going to say the same thing. “Why did I open my big mouth? Why wasn't I just silent before God in wonder and awe and worship and submission?”

“The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

  • He's on His throne.
  • He's holy.
  • He's perfect.
  • He's eternal.
  • He's good.
  • He's righteous.

If you remember that when you find yourself in the midst of the storms and the stresses and the adversities and challenges of life, then you can be silent. You can be free from worry. You can trust God, and you know what else? You can sing, and you can rejoice.

We're going to see that ultimately that's where Habakkuk ends up, but how does he get there? By taking a trip to God's temple. “The LORD is in his holy temple.” Be still. Hush. Be silent before Him.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray with us. She’s been helping us identify the idols that keep us from worshiping God. That teaching is part of a series called Habakkuk: Moving from Fear to Faith.

We've been looking at the serious questions Habakkuk raised, but as this teaching for women progresses over the next couple of weeks, we'll find out why Habakkuk was able to shift his focus and start to worship God. If you've been fearful, anxious, or doubtful, I hope you'll study Habakkuk during this radio series.

To begin that study, get a copy of the booklet Worry, Woes, and Worship. It's a daily Bible study that'll take you through Habakkuk.

Read more about the prophet's questions and complaints. Discover how God responded. Let the words open up places in your own life. This booklet will walk you through all these steps, and it's yours when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts.

You can give your much-needed donation at, or call and ask for Worry, Woes, and Worship. The number is 1-800-569-5959.

When God answers prayer, the results might be far different than you expected. That's what Habakkuk discovered, and it’s what we’ll discover when we pick up the topic on Friday. But tomorrow, we’ll take a pause in this series to hear how God worked in thousands of hearts as women gathered this past weekend for True Woman in Fort Worth.

Now, let's pray with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: Thank You, Lord, for giving us just a glimpse of how great and awesome You are. Today, You are on Your throne in Your temple. You are in charge.

I know it's easy for us to have quiet hearts while we're sitting in this place, and we're in this protected, secure, safe environment. Some of us are going out into a whirlwind. We're going out to face storms and problems and challenges and real life.

Thank You that when we go there, it's still true that You are on Your holy throne, so rather than ranting, striving, contending, challenging, fretting, being perturbed, give us a quiet spirit to worship and to live our lives in awe of You. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.