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Text: 2 Kings 21:1-18


Introduction: Warning signs tell us to watch out for something. They are written in big letters and are decorated with bright colors so we don’t miss them. Too often, however, people will be so occupied with the every day business of life that they don’t see the signs or notice the brilliant flash of color. In 2 Kings 21 there is a sign put up for us, and we dare not miss it. Like many warning signs, if we miss it, our lives could be in danger.


I.        Beware Of Surrendering God’s Place In Worship

A.      Through Competition With Many Gods

***O senseless man who cannot make a worm, and yet makes gods by dozens.

   Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592)

***   A Hasidic story tells of a little boy playing hide-and-seek with his friends. For some unknown reason they stopped playing while he was hiding. He began to cry. His old grandfather came out of the house to see what was troubling him. After learning what had happened, the grandfather said, "Do not weep, my child, because the boys did not come to find you. Perhaps you can learn a lesson from this disappointment. All of life is like a game between God and us. Only it is God who is weeping, for we are not playing the game fairly. God is waiting to be found, but many have gone in search of other things."

   --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 447.

***Whenever we take what God has done and put it in the place of himself, we become idolators.

   Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

***A budget is a theological document. It indicates who or what we worship.

   --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 375.

***   It's hard to imagine:

 -Paul having the gift of entertainment.

 -Barnabas being the minister of entertainment, rather than the minister of encouragement.

 -Jesus selling tickets to the feeding of the 5,000.

 -James begging money for "tickle the ear and emotion programs" of people in his church who had developed wrong expectations.

 -Peter peddling his "Feed My Sheep" seminars.

   Far too often, we've tried to bring ministry, music, and entertainment together, and in so doing, we've lost the integrity and true meaning of the music of the church. No one can honestly say they've been "called by God to entertain."

   -- Glen W. Harrell in Creator (April 1988). Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 13.

B.      Through Elevation Of False Gods

***Whatever a man seeks, honors, or exalts more than God, is idolatry.

   William Bernard Ullanthorne (1806-1889)

***Whenever we take what God has done and put it in the place of himself, we become idolators.

   Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

C.      Through Degradation Of The True God

***The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of him.

   A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)


***Worship is seeing what God is worth and giving him what he's worth.

   -- Tim Keller, Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 2.

II.      Beware Of Sacrificing God’s Privileges To his People

A.      Deprived Of The Rule Of God’s Word

***   While sitting next to my first grade daughter during our morning worship service one Sunday, I noticed her look down at my open Bible. In a low whisper, she asked, "Did God really write that?"

   "Yes," I quietly whispered back.

   Looking down at my Bible again, she said in amazement, "Wow! He really has neat handwriting!"

   -- Susan Wright, DeBary, FL. "Heart to Heart," Today's Christian Woman.

***God is an omniscient Creator who knows which rules are best for mankind; and these moral laws are a reflection of his nature, imposed on a universe which he created-a universe which functions best when his laws are obeyed.

   Erwin W. Lutzer (1941- )

B.      Deprived Of The Reality Of God’s Presence

***My family and I have lived in the same house for seventeen years. We've lived there more than twice as long as I have lived at any other address in my entire life. I'll sometimes refer to it as "our house," but more often I refer to it as "home." What makes it home isn't the address or the lot or the garage or the architecture. What makes it home is the people.

   You may live in a bigger or newer or better house than we live in, but as nice as your house may be, I would never refer to your house as home because the people who are most important to me don't live there. So what makes home home is the people in the relationships.

   And what makes heaven heaven is not streets made out of gold, great fountains, lots of fun, and no smog. That all may well be. Actually, I think that heaven is far greater than our wildest imagination. The same God who designed the best of everything in this world, also designed heaven, only he took it to a far greater extent than anything we've ever seen. Yet, that's still not what makes heaven heaven.

   What makes heaven heaven is God. It is being there with him. With his presence comes peace and contentment, a fulfillment, a sense that all is well. That is also a contentment that bubbles over into the rest of life. We can anticipate this future in the presence of God, we can be with him in a place where everything he wants happens the way he wants it to happen. And that affects this life as well.

   -- Leith Anderson "Next Life in the House of the Lord," Preaching Today, Tape No. 157.

C.      Deprived Of The Refuge Of God’s Sanctuary

***   Several months ago our family went to a swimming pool. I was down in the deep end by the diving board swimming around, and my four-year-old, Savannah, came tottering into the shallow end of the pool. She can't swim yet, but she wears these big orange "floaties." She can't sink with these huge orange floaties on.

   Savannah came down the steps, and as soon as she got out there in the water, she said "Daddy, I'm scared. I want to come where you are."

   I chuckled at her naivete and said, "Savannah, it's a lot deeper down here."

   She said, "I don't care. I want to be where you are."

   "Okay, come on," I said.

   She began dog-paddling across the pool ... three-foot ... six-foot ... nine-foot ... 12-foot-deep water. When she came up to me she grabbed my neck, and her look of panic gave way to relief. Next to her father she felt secure, and it made very little difference how deep or how dangerous the water was.

   -- Dave Stone, "Keep the Dust Off the Highchair," Preaching Today, Tape No. 143.

III.   Beware Of Securing God’s Punishment For Sin

A.      God’s Punishment is Predictable

***   The May 1984 National Geographic showed through color photos and drawings the swift and terrible destruction that wiped out the Roman Cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D. 79. The explosion of Mount Vesuvius was so sudden, the residents were killed while in their routine: men and women were at the market, the rich in their luxurious baths, slaves at toil. They died amid volcanic ash and superheated gasses. Even family pets suffered the same quick and final fate. It takes little imagination to picture the panic of that terrible day.

   The saddest part is that these people did not have to die. Scientists confirm what ancient Roman writers record--weeks of rumblings and shakings preceded the actual explosion. Even an ominous plume of smoke was clearly visible from the mountain days before the eruption. If only they had been able to read and respond to Vesuvius's warning!

   There are similar "rumblings" in our world: warfare, earthquakes, the nuclear threat, economic woes, breakdown of the family and moral standards. While not exactly new, these things do point to a coming day of Judgment (Matt. 24). People need not be caught unprepared. God warns and provides an escape to those who will heed the rumblings.

   -- Michael Bogart, Lemoore, California. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 4.

***  The Winter 1991 issue of the University of Pacific Review offers a chilling description of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster:

   There were two electrical engineers in the control room that night, and the best thing that could be said for what they were doing is they were "playing around" with the machine. They were performing what the Soviets later described as an unauthorized experiment. They were trying to see how long a turbine would "free wheel" when they took the power off it.

   Now, taking the power off that kind of a nuclear reactor is a difficult, dangerous thing to do, because these reactors are very unstable in their lower ranges. In order to get the reactor down to that kind of power, where they could perform the test they were interested in performing, they had to override manually six separate computer-driven alarm systems.

   One by one the computers would come up and say, "Stop! Dangerous! Go no further!" And one by one, rather than shutting off the experiment, they shut off the alarms and kept going. You know the results: nuclear fallout that was recorded all around the world, from the largest industrial accident ever to occur in the world.

   The instructions and warnings in Scripture are just as clear. We ignore them at our own peril, and tragically, at the peril of innocent others.

   -- Tom Tripp in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.

B.      God’s Punishment is Powerful

*** I think we are now living in the very decade when God may thunder his awesome "paradidomai" (I abandon, or I give [them] up) (Rom. 1:24 ff.) over America's professed greatness.  Our massacre of a million fetuses a year; our deliberate flight from the monogamous family; our normalizing of fornication and of homosexuality and other sexual perversions; our programming of self-indulgence above social and familial concerns--all represent a quantum leap in moral deterioration, a leap more awesome than even the supposed qualitative gulf between conventional weapons and nuclear missiles.  Our nation has all but tripped the worst ratings on God's Richter scale of fully deserved moral judgement.

   -- Carl F.H. Henry, The Christian Century (Nov. 5, 1980). Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 8.

C.      God’s Punishment is painful

***Evil is sweet in the beginning but bitter in the end.


***   The sins you do by two and two, ye must pay for, one by one.

   -- Rudyard Kipling, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 1.

***   A very skillful bowman went to the mountains in search of game. All the beasts of the forest fled at his approach. The lion alone challenged him to combat. The bowman immediately let fly an arrow and said to the lion, "I send you my messenger, that from him you might learn what I myself will be when I assail you." The lion thus wounded rushed away in great fear, and when a fox exhorted him to be of good courage and not to run away at the first attack, he said, "You counsel me in vain, for if he sends so fearful a messenger, how shall I abide the attack of the man himself?"

   If the warning admonitions of God's ministers fill the conscience with terror, what must it be to face the Lord himself? If one bolt of judgment brings a man into a cold sweat, what will it be to stand before an angry God in the last great day?

   -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)

Conclusion: Avoid the punishment of God by listening to the warning signs. Watch out for anything that takes the place of God in your life. Beware of forfeiting the privileges of God and experiencing his anger. Listen to the warning signs. God does not want you to feel the weight of His punishment. That is why He gave us this warning sign. Learn from Manasseh. Take heed!

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