In this series of bulletin articles, we’ve been examining the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. Lately we’ve been looking at the first commandment of the ten commandments: ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3). We saw the duties of the first commandment and have now reflected on the sins forbidden by the commandment.
The first commandment also forbids despising God.
Sadly people do despise God and treat him with contempt by what they think of him and the way that they reject him.
For example, the King of Assyria blasphemed God in his speech to the Israelites: ‘This is what the king of Assyria says…”Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”’ (2 Kings 18:31-35).
A modern example may be seen in the tirade in a book by the atheist Richard Dawkins that I won’t even dare to quote.
Yet the people of God can be guilty of despising God too. Moses says of the Israelites after they had wandered through the desert: ‘Jeshurun [Israel] grew fat and kicked; filled with food, he became heavy and sleek. He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior. They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to demons, which are not God-gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear. You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth’ (Deuteronomy 32:15-18).
The Psalmist also speaks of those who despise God’s words, which is to despise the speaker of the words: ‘Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High’ (Psalm 107:10-11).
The Psalmist then points out what happens to those who revile God: ‘So he [God] subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help’ (Ps. 107:12). It’s the same today. Many who despise God now will experience eternal suffering as a result of their rejection of God.
But the Psalmist offers hope for those who are guilty of spurning God. We read: ‘Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains’ (Psalm 107:13-14).
So, have you ever found yourself to be tempted to have evil thoughts of God? Have you ever considered him to be unkind or unloving? Have you ever grumbled at God for the circumstances he has brought into your life? Have you wandered away from him thinking he is not worthy of your attention?
Repent. Turn to him and ask for mercy. He will forgive all who love him, rather than despise him. Joel Radford