A sermon by Dr Donald T. Williams - donaldtwilliams.com
Presented at Trinity Fellowhip on 5/14/00
It is about 900 BC. The pride, arrogance, and stupidity of Rehoboam son of Solomon split the kingdom about thirty years ago. The results were calf-worship in the North, and in the South, a compromised devotion to Jahweh which gave rise to a series of attempts at reformation. Ten years ago, the grandson of Rehoboam, Asa, a godly man, came to the throne in the South. His reign to date is chronicled in chp. 14. The reward for his faithfulness is the ultimate reward: a revelation of God's character. God reveals to him in 15:2 a basic, unalterable, and eternal principle which governs his relations with mankind. "If you seek me, I will let you find me." I am interested in that seemingly innocent little word "let." It reveals volumes about the God we seek and the process of seeking Him. For even those of us who have found Him are still seekers, longing for a fuller revelation of His person.
I. SCRIPTURAL ELABORATIONS OF THE PRINCIPLE
1. Prvb. 8:17 -- Wisdom personified says, "I love those that love me, and those that seek me diligently will find me." Wisdom is an attribute of God, who is its source in us. So what Solomon says of seeking wisdom applies to seeking God as well. It should be done with diligence, that is with sustained energy and focus.
2. Is. 55:6-7 -- "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found." There is an urgency to this search. Much of Scripture speaks of God's eagerness to receive us, like the prodigal son's father in the parable. The misuse of that truth is a kind of presumption in which God becomes a Commodity sitting on our spiritual shelf, which think we can pull off whenever we feel the need. These passages provide protection against that error. So gracious is our God that many even who seek Him thus are allowed to find. But we cannot presume on this. Even when the search is diligent and urgent, He must "let" us find Him. And the day of opportunity, the day of salvation is now. If we harden our hearts, the point comes at which He is no longer going to be there for us. And there is no flashing red light that says, "This is your last chance." Therefore we must recognize the urgency of this quest. It is not one that can safely be put off.
3. Jer. 29:13 -- "And ye shall seek me, and ye shall find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." The search should be not only diligent and urgent but wholehearted. For let not the double-minded man think he shall receive anything from the Lord.
4. Amos 5:4, 6 -- "Seek the Lord and ye shall live." It is a life-or-death issue, quite literally.
5. Mat. 6:33 -- "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God." The kind of search which God allows to succeed is one that re-orders our priorites.
6. Mat. 7:7-11 -- "Seek and ye shall find." We will not find God for all our seeking, however diligent, urgent, wholehearted,e tc. it may be, unless He lets us. But there is a promise, coming increasingly into focus as we move into the NT, that He will let us find Him if we truly seek Him.
7. Heb. 11:6 -- "For without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." A summary of this whole thread we have been seeing.
II. THEOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE PRINCIPLE
That little word "let" speaks volumes. It speaks, first, of the Love of God. Why would a perfect and holy Being want to be found by such as us? We can mean nothing but trouble. The only way such finding could work would involve the blood of His only Son. If such as we were seeking Him, why wouldn't He just run the other way? Because He has--in fact, is--a kind of love beyond anything we can conceive. So He lets us find Him.
Second, it speaks of the Greatness of God. He is not such a Being that He could be found by our searching, however diligent, urgent, and wholehearted. His ways are as far above ours as the heavens above the earth. When the first Russian Cosmonauts went into space, they came back pleasing the atheist communist state that had sent them by saying, "We did not find God." In one of the last writings before his death, C. S. Lewis commented, "We would really be in trouble if they had." If God were anything they were capable of finding, He would not be the infinite and transcendent God of the Bible. This too is involved in the fact that, however diligent our search, He must "let" us find Him, or it would all be in vain.
Thirdly, it speaks of the depravity of Man. For Paul insists in Rom. 3:11 that no one does seek for God. When we do, it is usually for the wrong motives, or we are looking for something different--more accomodating and less demanding--than the God of the Bible. So is 2 Chron. 15:2 an empty promise? No. Not only must He "let" us find Him, He does not even wait for us to look.
So this leads us to the fourth point, the Grace or Initiative of God. The passage that really caps off this whole thread of verses is Is. 65:1. "I permitted myself to be sought by those who did not ask for me, to be found by those who did not seek me." Before we even begin to seek, He has been seeking us. When we do seek, it is a sign that He has already been seeking us, has already been at work in us drawing us to Himself. Jonathan Edwards used to pray five times a day--before he was converted. John Wesley helped to found the Holy Club at Oxford and served as a missionary to the Colonies--before the Aldersgate experience when he first really understood the Gospel of Grace and felt his "heart strangely warmed." Warasa Wange of the Gedeo tribe of Ethiopia prayed that God would reveal himself, and had a vision of two white men setting up a tent under a sycamore tree near his village. Missionaries Albert Brant and Glen Cain wanted to start work in another, more centrally located village, but were not permitted. So they just happened to end up under a sycamore tree near Wange's village. What a coincidence! God let these men find Him. He did not let them find because of the diligence and quality of their seeking. The quality of their seeking, and its results, are the signs of the great work He was doing to draw them to himself.
III. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF THE PRINCIPLE
If you seek God He will let you find Him. First therefore, we should Seek. It is not hopeless. Even though our diligence and urgency and wholeheartedness are utterly inadequate to the task, we should seek thus because the Object of our search is worthy of such a search. And we are not the only ones seeking. Though we are utterly incapable and unworthy of finding Him, He will let us find Him anyway if indeed we seek Him with all our hearts.
Second, we should Worship. Surely this little word "let" should full us with awe at the Majesty of the God too big to find and the Grace of the God who lets us find Him.
Third, we should reexamine the pitiful lack of intensity in our own search. Edwards and Wesley were such great men of God because they knew how to seek in a way worthy of the Object, both before and after they found Him.
Finally, we should not grow weary in Witnessing. God is already seeking those around us, even as He sought us. You cannot always tell who is seeking Him as a result. Sometimes the sign of that preparatory work of the Spirit is running from God. At least such people are not ignoring Him! And sometimes there is no outward sign at all. But if we are diligent and faithful in presenting the Gospel, eventually God will let someone find Him through our witness.
"I fled Him down the nights and down the days; I fled Him down the arches of the years; I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears I hid from Him . . . >From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase And unperturbed pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, They beat--and a Voice beat More instant than the Feet-- 'All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.'
Halts by me that footfall: Is my gloom, after all, Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly? "Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He , whom thou seekest! Thou dravest Love from thee, who dravest Me.'"
Here endeth the lesson.