irreverence No Comments

Leonard Pitts Jr. (Columbus Dispatch, January 22, 2012, p. G5) wrote an article titled, “These days in the U. S., absolutely nothing is held sacred.”  He illustrated his lamentation with the following words, “It seems that one Jeffrey Darnell Paul, a graphic artist from Miami Beach, had been tasked with creating a poster for a strip club’s “I Have a Dream Bash” last week in apparent “honor” of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.  So this genius concocts an image of the nation’s greatest human-rights leader holding up a fan of $100 bills like some low-rent “playa” while a scantily clad woman looks on.  And let the record show as African-Americans duck their heads in mortification, Paul is black.”  Pitts goes on to elaborate on the transgression of Paul.  He states that “Paul’s transgression speaks to more than just the shortcoming of the ignorant.  It speaks also to an overriding shallowness, an obsession with the superficial and trivial that seems unfortunately characteristic of this era.”  Pitts describes this as the tyranny of irreverence or the death of reverence.
If we can discern an irreverence for men, what about an irreverence for God?  Do you fear God?  In Genesis 20, Abraham sojourns in Gerar with his wife Sarah.  Abraham and Sarah have made an agreement to obscure her true identity as Abraham’s wife in order to secure Abraham’s safety.  Abraham tells Abimelech that Sarah is his sister.  While this is half-true is certainly is not the whole truth.  Abraham hid the fact that Sarah was his wife.  Abimelech took Sarah into his harem.
God intervenes to protect the purity of Sarah and preserve His promise to Abraham.  God spoke to Abimelech in a dream by night and told him “thou art a dead man for the woman thou hast taken unto thyself is another man’s wife.”  God closed up all of the wombs of the house of Abimelech by preventing conception.  Abimelech affirms the integrity of his heart and innocency of his hands.  Morally, he did what he thought was right.  God recognizes the king’s innocence and explains why He imposed a physical affliction upon him to prevent his laying hands on Sarah.  God ordered Abimelech to restore Sarah to Abraham and to ask Abraham to pray for him (Abraham was a prophet of God).
Abraham accounts for his actions on three grounds.  First, he surmised the fear of God had been lost here as in other places among the Canaanites.  Second, he had not been completely untruthful because Sarah was his half-sister.  (A half-truth is a whole lie!).  Third, he and Sarah agreed beforehand on the action they would take which would preserve Abraham’s life and sacrifice her purity.  God’s actions show He did not approve of this arrangement.
What did Abimelech do?  He carried out the divine instructions.  He gave Sarah back to Abraham.  He gave a present–an atoning gift–to Abraham as compensation for injury unwittingly committed.  He sought intercession from Abraham.  Abimelech did everything God told him to do.  This demonstrates that Abimelech feared God.
Do you fear God?  To fear God involves:  (1) respect for who God is and what God says.  When we take God’s name in vain, we manifest irreverence for who God is.  We profane the sacred.  (2) obedience to God.  Submission to God’s authority is a manifestation of reverence.  When we resist God and rebel against Him, we act with irreverence. (3)  restraint from sinning against God.  To restrain is to hold oneself back from participating in that which God forbids.  Self-control is generated by fearing God.  (4) desire for forgiveness.  When we know that we have sinned against God and need His mercy, we seek it immediately.  We know that God is a consuming fire and will judge the ungodly.  It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.