This article was first published in the Nov.1, 1996 issue of the Standard Bearer (vol.73, #3). Below is the introduction to this article, which places it in its context.
Rev. Haak is pastor of Bethel Protestant Reformed Church in Itasca, Illinois, and "radio voice" of the Reformed Witness Hour. *We publish here the message brought by Rev. Haak at the public celebration, earlier this year, of the 55th anniversary of the RWH broadcast.
That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.
I Kings 8:60
We come together tonight to thank God for His faithfulness to us in the Reformed Witness Hour. God's faithfulness always carries the note of His tenderness. It suggests that God knows our weaknesses and our lack of zeal, our disappointments and our discouragements. Yet we can confess tonight that for fifty-five years, over the peaks and valleys, God has proven His Word to us: "I will not leave thee nor forsake thee."
We praise Him tonight for giving to us dedicated men and women who have made this broadcast possible through the unnoticed, and often unappreciated, work which is performed week after week. We gather together to thank God for faithful pastors who have prepared messages mined from the Word of God. And, above all these things, we thank God tonight for His faithfulness in keeping our program faithful to the Bible. That is something which, to our eyes, is grand and glorious.
Specifically we praise Him for keeping the Reformed Witness Hour faithful to the one truth that stands as the core of all the truths of the Bible. It is a truth which breathes life into every truth of the Bible, and which unites all the truths of the Bible into one beautiful, majestic unity which is more radiant than the sun. That truth is this: Jehovah is God, the God who has made Himself known to us in the Bible, whom to know in His Son Jesus Christ is life eternal and peace and joy.
God has kept us faithful to the theme that God is God, and that the person who, by God's grace, has been given to know, love, trust, serve, and obey Him shall live. Apart from Him, the God of the Scriptures, and apart from faith in His Son Jesus, there is only death, woe, and ruin.
We do not gather tonight only to express our praise to God. We also gather tonight to rededicate ourselves to the work of the Reformed Witness Hour. We gather in order that we might warm and inspire our hearts - lest those hearts, after fifty-five years, become cold and complacent. We wish to warm those hearts with the Word of God.
It is not my intention tonight to try to move you with mere human emotions, to find some kind of human pry-bar to renew your zeal for the work of the Reformed Witness Hour. It is my purpose to bring to you the Word of God which, I trust, will produce rededication within sanctified hearts.
I Kings 8:60, "That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is none else." Solomon spoke these words at the dedication of the temple which he had built in Jerusalem. A great assembly had been gathered and had seen the ark of the covenant of God brought to its place of rest in the Holy Place. The ark was the symbol to Israel of the presence of God, the God who dwelt between the cherubim in all of His holiness and majesty, faithfulness and graciousness. It was His glory which now, we read, so filled the temple of Solomon that the brightness of it prevented the priests from standing before the Lord to minister.
There was one theme that was pulsating through the crowd that day. That was God's faithfulness. Solomon says in verses 15 and 56; "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it.... There hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant." This faithfulness of God prompts Solomon to fall upon his knees in order to lead the people in prayer, a prayer which expressed the felt need for God's continued graciousness. Now, arising from that prayer, and calling upon the people of God to walk in God's ways, Solomon goes back again to the theme of God's faithfulness. He says, "The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us" (v. 57). And again, he says, "... that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require" (v. 59).
Now we ask the question, Why? Why does Solomon plead for God to maintain the cause of His people, to maintain His people in the truth? Why does he ask that they be maintained in the true worship of the living God, and in a life of obedience to this God? Why does he plead this? For this reason: "That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God and there is none else." There is a principle here. That principle must be riveted to our souls. It is this, God maintains the cause of His people, and God maintains a people for Himself in His truth for this purpose: In order that all the earth might know that Jehovah is God. God's purpose in preserving a people, in preserving congregations, in preserving individuals who know, love, and worship Him is so that through them the world might know that He is God. Lay hold of that tonight in your heart!
Solomon brings the truth that God does maintain, and He must maintain, His truth in His people. He must maintain His cause as represented by His people. But why, what is the purpose of God in doing this? Is the purpose, perhaps, that we may settle down in sickly self-complacency and in spiritual smugness and say, "We are the people of God"? May God forbid that that be our response. Is it that God preserves His truth in order that we might enjoy and receive the benefit of that truth? Yes, that is true. That God preserves among us the truth that He is our God, the sovereign and sure Savior, is surely an evidence of His pure love and goodness to us and of His blessing on us.
But God's ways do not end with us. God's ways are higher, broader, than our enjoyment. His purpose is greater. God has made known His truth to us and given us to know and confess it so that we might be faithful witnesses of that truth. As Solomon says, "so that the world might know." When God makes known His truth, that congregation, that people, that person now exists for this purpose: In order that, now knowing God in all of His adequacy for sinners, in all of His purity, power, glory, and justice, they might make known this God as God gives them the opportunity to do it.
This is not an isolated passage of the Word of God. We read in Isaiah 43:21, "This people have I formed for myself." That is wonderful. God formed us, for Himself. But was there another purpose in God in forming a people for Himself? Yes, this people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise.
That is the principle that stands behind the Reformed Witness Hour. That is why we air the messages that we do: that all the earth may know the God who has made Himself known to us.
Herman Hoeksema, in the very first message of the Reformed Witness Hour on October 12, 1941, struck this note as the theme of our program. After demonstrating that the messages heard in his day and in the world around him centered in man, in man's inherent goodness and resiliency, he gave this passionate call: "The supreme and, in a sense, the only task of the church in the world is to preach the Word of God. But if there is a Word of God to be proclaimed by the church, it must needs be a Word which God Himself speaks and which He speaks concerning Himself. And if God speaks concerning Himself, the basic and all-pervading note of that speech must invariably be, I am God! God is God. Unless the church proclaims this truth in all of its implications, in all of its purity, and without compromise, she cannot preach. She has nothing to say. Unless she proclaims this truth, not as one of the tenets of her faith but as the truth of all truths, not occasionally but always, she forfeits the right and lacks the power to say anything at all about man, the world, Christ, salvation, life, and death. And, the Lord willing, we hope to make this theme the keynote of our radio broadcasts. Whatever may be the particular subject of our discussion, whether we speak of Him directly or of man, of Christ and salvation, of the church, of the world, of sin and grace, of life and death, we shall say, God is God!"
This was the keynote from the very first broadcast of the Reformed. Witness Hour. And God has kept us faithful to it. This is why we praise Him tonight.
But, perhaps, someone may ask the question, "Well, that means then that your program is somewhat abstract and somewhat irrelevant to man in his present situation. What about the unconverted whom we want to listen to our program? And what about the less skilled and trained in the Word of God? Would it not be better if we would, today, choose a different jumping-off point, something less dogmatic, less assertive, less accusatory, something a bit more negotiable than "Jehovah is God alone"?
Yes, the Reformed Witness Hour certainly wants to bring the Word of God to the need of man today! But there is nothing more practical, more urgent, for you and your neighbor and for anyone listening to our broadcast right now, than to know that Jehovah, He is God. For, first of all, the Bible will tell us that the Christian life does not begin with our standing as man to man or woman to woman, but the Bible is concerned, first of all, with our standing before God. The theme of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not, first, how to solve your problems in this life with your wife or husband, with your boss or friends, how to improve the quality of your earthly life. But its theme is, first of all, to teach us concerning the only way of standing before God who is God. It teaches us, first, not how to live on the horizontal, but how to live on the vertical. The gospel, thus, deals with the reality of God, our sin; our natural enmity against God, and God's grace in Jesus Christ. The gospel brings us to stand before God, who is God, in all His glory; and causes us to love Him. Then, and only then, will the Bible teach us how to live with each other.
The key to it all is this: Jehovah, He is God!
That is the knowledge that will bring you to a deep and personal acquaintance with your own sinfulness. Do not measure your sin by the standards of others, not even by the measurement of what damage it has caused you. But measure your sin by the holiness of God. It is the vision of the glory and the majesty of the eternal God that brings the devastating knowledge of one's own corruption of heart.
But it is the same knowledge of God that brings to us a personal acquaintance with and a true faith in forgiveness. The word "forgiveness" becomes an overpowering and wonderful word to those who know the majesty of God. The reason why the words "forgiveness" and "grace" are cheap today is that men think there is only half a step between themselves and God. But those who know and now stand in the light of the true God and His majesty are thrilled in their heart and awed that God would show grace to them and would forgive them.
Still more, it is the true knowledge of God which will bring us to an utter resignation before the great and the eternal God to do whatsoever He wills us to do. Those who know their God for who he is will be consumed with one question in all their living, namely: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?"
God is God.
Jehovah has maintained this knowledge among us.
Do you possess this knowledge? Has God made Himself known to you in the holy Bible? Has He brought you, through His Word, to the reality of your own sin, to humility, and to confession of sin? Has He brought you to utter submission before His sovereign throne? And are you filled with gratitude towards and joy and confidence in the God who reigns over all things through Jesus Christ?
If that is true for you personally, and if that is true for our churches, then we will declare to all around us, "Jehovah, He is God." Those who know God will be devoted to making Him known. Those who know Him best are the best equipped and will be the most zealous to do so.
Then the Reformed Witness Hour, as it serves that proclamation, will have a place in our hearts and in our prayers. Knowing Him who rides in His majesty in the heavens, and whose faithfulness stretches from age to age, the God of our salvation in Jesus Christ; we will let the world around us know that Jehovah, He is God.
Our Father, keep us faithful, in years to come, to this theme. May it be sounded in clarity and may it be used in power to bring sinners before the throne of God - in confession, in awe, and in love for Thee, the One true and eternal God. Amen.
Rev. Carl Haak: (Wife: Mary)
Ordained: September 1979
Pastorates: Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI - 1979; Lynden, WA - 1986; Bethel, Roselle, IL - 1994; Georgetown, Hudsonville, MI - 2004Website: georgetownprc.org/
Address4510 Bridgeville Ct.
State or ProvinceMI
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