Study 1 HOW TO FIND THE TRUE GOD
Key Verses: “For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought Him, and He was found by them.” (2 Chronicles 15: 3-4)
In this series we are to consider some of the Secrets of Successful Living. Of course, no one can begin to live successfully without knowing God, and first of all we must understand how we can come to know Him for ourselves. The subject is brought before us in 2 Chronicles 15:1-19, and it is pin-pointed in the above key verses. There is only one true God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3), and the greatest blessing which anyone can experience in this life is to find the true God, but the greatest tragedy is to pass through life without ever finding Him. In our key verses we have a brief description of one phase of Israel’s history, but it also describes thousands of people throughout the world. Notice how this brief portion of scripture unfolds to give us a sequence of teaching.
1. THEY WERE WITHOUT THE TRUE GOD
Verse 3 tells us that this had been true of them “for a long time”. They were Godless, less God – look up Ephesians 2:12. This is a perfect description of multitudes of people today; they are living without God. He does not enter into their thoughts, except in times of emergency, and He has not been welcomed into their lives. The Israelites still believed in the existence of God, and they experienced and benefited from His providences, but for all that they were “without the true God”. We are not told they were without a god, for everyone worships a god of some kind – the god of self, money, pleasure or ambition. These words in verse 3, therefore, are descriptive of many people – “for a long time…without the true God”.
2. THEY WERE WITHOUT A TEACHING PRIEST
A “teaching priest” was one whose duty it was to teach the people the truth of God. Who are the teaching priests today? Every faithful preacher and teacher of the Word of God is one of God’s teaching priests. But the majority of people are outside the influence of these teachers and preachers; they do not attend church or listen to an exposition of the scriptures, and they do not read the Bible or the kind of literature which would inform them about the truths of God. In consequence of this, there is an appalling ignorance of the things of God, and the average person knows nothing of God’s way of salvation – look up Ephesians 2:8-10. Many have experienced a taste of “churchianity” or “religiosity”, but very few know the way of salvation as it is revealed in the person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – compare John 14:6; Acts 4:12 and Romans 1:16.
3. THEY WERE WITHOUT LAW
Verse 3 tells us this. The priests were the guardians of the law, and to be without a priest meant, therefore, to be without the law. If anyone wanted to know the law in those days he had to go to a priest; but today, thank God! we have His law, His Word, in the Bible. However, the majority of people do not read the Bible, and therefore they are “without (the) law”. The law is God’s standard of what is right and wrong, but the vast majority of people take their standard from the media: (1) the newspaper; (2) the radio; (3) the television; (4) the cinema. Therefore, because God’s standard has been rejected and the world’s, or man’s or the Devil’s standard has been substituted, our civilisation has become increasingly corrupted. The great need today is to get back to the Bible, the true standard, the only book which contains the authentic revelation of God and of His love, His grace, His Son and of His way of saving men and women.
4. WHEN TROUBLE CAME THEY TURNED TO THE LORD
Verse 4 tells us this, and from verses 5 and 6 we find that the trouble came because they had left God out of their reckoning and out of their lives. Trouble will always come to nations and to individuals if they reject the Lord. Notice that it was the Lord who sent the trouble; it was His judgment on sin and His loving method of causing them to turn back to Him – see what it says at the end of verse 6. Does God work like this today? He does! He often sends trouble into a man’s life in order that that man, who for many years has lived only for himself, might turn back to the Lord and find Him. The Prodigal had to come to himself before he was ready to come to his father (Luke 15:11-24). For a further illustration of this truth read Psalm 106, where we see that when these people had been severely chastened they turned to the Lord. Then what happened?
5. THEY FOUND THE TRUE GOD
In verse 4 there are three words which tell us how to find God, or, more correctly, how to be found of Him. We must:
TURN from sin and from self (1 Thessalonians 1:9);
SEEK the Lord and His pardon (Isaiah 55:6-7); and
FIND the true God (2 Chronicles 15:2,4 and 15).
How wonderfully this little bit of ancient history ends – “He was found by them” (2 Chronicles 15:4 and 15)! Have you found Him? – look up Proverbs 8:17.