The Lord made the heavens

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Psalm 96:5 (ESV)

I’ve been thinking about this verse for a couple of days. There are many places in Scripture where we are reminded of the utter helplessness and impotence of man-made objects of worship. These are “idols” that become “gods” to us. These are objects that we fashion ourselves, as in Psalm 115:4-8:

Their idols are silver and gold,

the work of human hands.

They have mouths, but do not speak;

eyes, but do not see.

They have ears, but do not hear;

noses, but do not smell.

They have hands, but do not feel;

feet, but do not walk;

and they do not make a sound in their throat.

Those who make them become like them;

so do all who trust in them.

Impotent, powerless, insensitive, empty. Made of precious materials, but of no value whatsoever.

But why in the immediate context, does the psalmist compare the “gods” to the Lord as the maker of “the heavens”?

This is what I’ve been thinking about. The Lord of my life “made the heavens.” This echoes Genesis 1:1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Out of nothing, God created everything. What has an idol created? It had to be fashioned, either as a physical object, as with the “worthless idols” referred to in the psalm, or as an object in my mind, such as my sense of self-worth, pride, desire, passion, or self-confidence.

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

Oh, foolish heart! Why do I continue to trust in myself? Why do I continue to put myself as the greatest idol of my life? All worthless idols are just means to an end: self-exaltation. I don’t even want the idols or want to worship the idols for what they are. I want what they can give me, make me–how they can satisfy my never-ending need for what I want: glory.

And I resist God’s glorious call to me because I know that God will not serve me. I must come to him and worship him for who he is, and that alone. Though the phrase, “who he is”, is full of everything that was, is and is to come. He will not be confined by my limited knowledge of him.

I want to be known! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want fame! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want to be esteemed and revered! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want to be loved on my terms! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

I want my desires to be fulfilled! “But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

“But the LORD made the heavens.”

I am crushed into surrendered sweetness by the weight of his glory.

“All that I have commanded you…”

Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV): Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The process of making disciples is ongoing. We continue to do it until the end of the age. I’m confident that Jesus is with me, with us, in this process because he promised that he would be. “…behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So we know that he is with us, our “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27), helping us in the process of making disciples. We can have great joy even in the midst of difficulty because of his abiding presence with us. There is no doubt that he is with me through the presence of his spirit, our great power of the Holy Spirit. But I would say also that he is with us in the very things that he has commanded us to do. That is, he is with us in “all that I have commanded you.” He is with us in the Holy Scriptures.

All that Jesus trusted and quoted and promised to fulfill of the Law and the Prophets, as well as what the Holy Spirit inspired in the New Testament writers, all of that is imbued with his very living presence. As we abide in the Scriptures, we abide in him. As we use the Scriptures as the foundation of our “teaching (disciples) to observe”, he is with us.

And his power in teaching is so much greater than our power. His wisdom so much greater than our wisdom.

If you grow weary in your efforts in making disciples, return again to trusting and believing in the power of Christ, working through his testimonies, to do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” (Eph. 3:20)