Title:  Caricature or Reality?

Focus:  In order to pray, worship and serve God effectively, we need to understand who
he is.  This begins with an understanding that he is first of all holy.  Only when we get a
handle on his holiness can everything else fall into place.

Function:  To teach the hearers that God is holy so they can get rid of incorrect
assumptions they may have of God

Text:  Jud 6:11-27
Scripture Reading:  Revelation 4:8-11
	(further reading:  Isa 12:6;  Hos 11:9)

Full Text Version

1.  Do you know what a caricature is?  See them in newspapers and fairs
2.  There are caricatures of God
	a.  J.B. Phillips book - Your God is too small - limited views of God
	b.  Resident policeman, divine grandfather, god in a box, managing 
3.  Who is God anyway?

I.  The Main Characteristic of God
	A.  What is his main characteristic?  Love, light, good, eternal, etc.
		1.  There is one stated in triplicate
		2.  He is Holy Holy Holy - Most prominent
			- Never says he is love love love, or wrath wrath wrath
		3.  All other characteristics flow from this one
	B.  What does it mean to be holy?
		1.  Idea of "different"
			a.  Holy "to" the Lord means set apart for or dedicated to
			b.  We have been cleaned up and dedicated
		2.  What does it mean to say God is holy?  How is he set apart?
			a.  This speaks of his other-ness
			b.  1 Sam 2:2 - There is no one holy like the Lord
			c.  He is God and not a man
		3.  How can you describe his holiness?  Not sure you can
	C.  Song #267
		1.  Oh boundless love divine, how shall this tongue of mine to 
		      wondering mortals tell the matchless grace divine
		2.  How can we express or understand God's holiness? 
		3.  At best, our understanding and telling with be only imperfect 
		     glimpse of what it really is
	D.  A few times God reveals his holy glory in scripture
		1.  It was hard to put into words
		2.  It was usually a traumatic experience
		3.  Let's look at one of those...

II.  Learning from Other's encounters with His holiness (Isa 6:1-5)
	A.  Try and picture the scene in your mind
		1.  Ever seen a seraph?
			a.  Hebrew - Means either burning or serpent
			b.  Probably a burning winged creature of some sort
			c.  Several flying around
		2.  Covered God's face and feet.  Why?
			a.  For Isaiah's protection
			b.  If he saw his face, he would die
		3.  Imagine the smoke, the ground shaking, the angelic voice
		4.  Pretty scary
	B.  What was Isaiah's reaction?
		1.  Not - "Oh wow, what a great privilege"  but fear
			a.  How else could he act?
			b.  He was unholy, God was infinitely holy
		2.  This is typical reaction
			a.  Base of mount Sinai - People afraid
			b.  Mount of Transfiguration - They were so afraid
			c.  John at Patmos when Christ appeared - fell on face
			d.  Why?
		3.  (Exo 33:18) - Show me your glory!  What a bold request!
			a.  Moses could not see God's face and live
			b.  Our little mortal bodies cannot take God's holiness at
			      full strength
			c.  So Moses had to see backside from a crack in the rock
	C.  Have you ever noticed fire is often involved when God appears
		1.  Burning bush, fire on Sinai, Fiery Seraphim, burning eyes of 
		     Christ on Patmos
		2.  Heb 12:29 - Our God is a consuming fire.  Why fire?
		3.  Rudolph Otto - Awful mystery which we drawn and repelled by 
		     the holiness of God
		4.  We are drawn to fire, especially when dark and cold
			a.  Don't want to get too close
			b.  Fire is not like us
			c.  Cannot stand the fire and full strength
			d.  It can burn us
	D.  Is it any wonder they were afraid when confronted with God's holiness?
		1.  Why all this talk about God and his holiness?
		2.  I thought this supposed to be series on prayer.
		3.  Before can talk about prayer, need to talk about God
			a.  Our theology will affect how we serve him
			b.  Out theology will affect how we pray to him

III.  Correcting the Caricatures
	A.  Need to ensure we serving and worshipping God and not some
	      caricature of him
	B.  There are two extremes when it comes to caricatures
		1.  God the tyrant, angry, wrathful god waiting to destroy you
			a.  God of Nadab, Abihu and Uzzah
			b.  When bad happens, God punishing you
			c.  God of the Great Awakening
			d.  Famous sermon - Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
		2.  The grandpa god who is not capable of violent thought
			a.  Never condemns anyone, there is no Hell
			b.  Bails us out when we need him
			c.  His goal for you to have happy comfortable life
			d.  Never ask you to do anything uncomfortable
		3.  The grandpa god does more harm than tyrant god
			a.  Tyrant at least inspires SOMETHING in us
			b.  The grandpa god inspires nothing
				- Not drive our knees to prayer
				- Not inspire awe
				- Not move us to shout from rooftops
				- Not motivate us to sacrifice for him
		4.  In order to serve God effectively, must start with holiness
			a.  Cannot get handle on mercy, grace, love without it
			b.  Cannot understand what it means to love others as God 
			      loved us without understanding His holiness
			c.  Can't know what it means to be holy until we understand 
			     what it means that he is holy
			d.  Can't correct caricatures unless start with his holiness
	C.  Passage help us do this -(Jud 6:11-24)- Midians defeated with only 300
		1.  Gideons reaction show he understand God's holiness
		2.  Something we often overlook (Jud 6:25-27)
			a.  Before Gideon fit to serve God, had to do something
			b.  There were idols in the back yard he had to destroy
		3.  Gideon was afraid of family and men of the city
			a.  So he did it at night
			b.  But he had more fear of God
		4.  Terrifying thing to fall in hands of the living God
			a.  Only thing more terrifying is NOT to fall into his hands
			b.  Tozer - "The only way to take refuge from God is in God"
			c.  Best place to be is in God's hands
	D.  What does all this mean?

1.  If serving a caricature of God, then we are guilty of idolatry
	a.  People comfortable with idol - can touch it, move it, etc. - It's safe
	b.  We don't make idols of stone, but we make them in our minds when we serve
	    a caricature of God that we are comfortable with
	c We may have idols in our back yard we need to smash
2.  How do we know if we have idols in our back yard?
	a.  Consider the God you serve carefully.  
	b.  What do your daily actions say he is like?
	c.  What does your prayer life say he is like?
3.  We may have unholy idols to smash
	a.  The grandpa god, god in a box, tyrant, managing director
	b.  These idols are your worst enemy - As long as you have them you will 
	      fall into something other than God's hands, that is really bad
	c.  Only when we smash idols can we begin to truly serve God
4.  Like Gideon, God calls us to holiness
	a.  May put as at odds with family and friends
	b.  God calls us out of the wine press and onto the battle field with nothing 
	      more than faith in him
5.  Only response to holiness we have seen so far is fear
	a.  Fear, Reverence, and Service are all appropriate
	b.  Does this mean we are robbed of joy, peace and security?
	c.  More on that next time

1.  Have you become Holy to God
2.  Do you serve God, or some caricature of Him?  Smash your idols.

Questions for Small Group Study