My daughter has big dreams.
She wants to attend Cambridge and become a World-Famous author. But to finance herself until she gets her book contract, she wants to be a teacher.
When she was little, I bought her this very same “Play School” kit, with all sorts of “teacher-y” things. She still has that playset, and though it’s beat up and has lost some parts, she still gets it out once in awhile, even though she is 13.
Everyone remembers their favorite teacher. Mine was Ms. Trotter, who was my second grade teacher. She was pretty, never yelled, and very kind to this shy, backwards little girl. Plus she always had candy on her desk to give out. I loved Ms Trotter. We all loved Ms. Trotter.
While doing some studying on other scripture, I stumbled across two verses that really made me stop and think. These verses are found in Habakkuk 2:19-20.
It took me awhile to think and write through these verses; mulling over their meaning. But once I finally got somewhere, I came to see these verses as beautiful and important. Especially because I like to learn. Especially because I’ve restarted seminary again.
Verses 18 (which I didn’t include here–go look it up) and 19,–well, never mind looking it up, I’ll add it here. 🙂 You’re welcome:
Do you see that verses 18 and 19 are about idols? “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies?” What is an idol? Anything that takes the place of God in your life. Anything. There is much–MUCH–that could become idols in a person’s life. I know that I would have a list a mile long, depending on the year or season of my life. I’m sitting in Georgia as I write this, on a business trip. And it is interesting to be quiet and just listen to the way people talk about their material possessions. Pools. Boats. Cars. Not saying that it’s wrong to own or like these things, but are they in a higher position in your life than God? Then that’s an idol.
Verse 18 calls an idol a “teacher of lies”. What an accurate description! I’ve heard idols referred to as many things, but this is the first time I’ve heard this phrase used. The maker of the idol “trusts” what he has made; this teacher of lies. But then take a look at verse 19…
Can this teach?
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it.
In looking at the “Woe’s” of Jesus recently in Matthew 23, I discovered that the word “woe” is serious stuff. Grievous distress, affliction or trouble. The “Woe’s” of life are not to be taken lightly.
And so here it is in Habakkuk, in verse 19: WOE. Woe to the person who worships a piece of wood. Woe to the person who worships a silent stone.
Can this teach?
GREAT question. Perfectly placed in scripture. LOVE that question. That piece of wood, that silent stone, that money, that boat you worship? Can these teach? Can they teach you about salvation? Can they teach you how to care for people, how to love people, how to be a follower of Christ? No. No. These can not teach. Even if it is overlaid with gold; with silver–there is no breath at all in it.
But then comes verse 20. Verse 20 is amazing–watch this:
Do you see? “The Lord is in his holy temple.” What is a temple? A place of worship. A place of teaching about our God. A place where Jesus, Himself taught:
Luke 21:37 37 And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. 38 And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.
The “He” referred to in these verses is my Jesus—every day He was teaching in the temple. And early in the morning, all of the people would go to the temple to hear Him teach. Just imagine what it must have been like, to sit under Jesus’ teaching! The one that all of scripture—that of before his birth and that following his birth—points to Him. Points to Jesus.
Remember, though, that the verse in Habakkuk is before the birth of Jesus. And yet, if you read it in context, we find that the LORD, God is in His Holy Temple. The place of worship. The place of the teaching. The place of teaching about God.. “The Lord is in His holy temple”.
This is not nothing.
I was once a substitute teacher. I loved the challenge of the job, even with the tough classes (well, usually–some days were much worse than others). Of course, like any teacher, keeping the children silent so they could learn was a chore. A nearly impossible chore.
I never quite managed to keep them completely quiet during teaching time, but I was able to get them absolutely silent before the end of the class. This was because I told them that I would not release them when the bell rang until they had been silent–completely silent–for 2 minutes straight.
Take a bunch of middle schoolers and challenge them to be silent–for 2 minutes! They would squirm and fret, and then inevitably someone would just have to say something–which meant me keeping them another minute into their break between classes. They hated it. I loved it.
But you know what? When I imagine sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him teach, I can’t imagine uttering a single word. I can’t imagine anyone talking. No, what I imagine is what we see in the rest of Habakkuk 2:20: “Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Silence. All the earth.
I don’t know what heaven will be like, or what it will be like when Jesus returns, or any of that kind of stuff. All I know is that someday I will go home—-and I hope that part of being home will be sitting at the feet of Jesus, in a holy hush; in a silence; while He teaches me–and you–all that He would have us learn about Him.