Under the reign of King Hezekiah, “the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and brought out all the debris that they found in the temple of the Lord … and carried it to the Brook Kidron … and they took away all the incense altars and cast them into the Brook Kidron” (2 Chronicles 29:16; 30:14). While these kings are remembered for destroying idols from the land of Israel, none of them could purge the hearts of the people. The righteous kings of Israel may have temporarily purged the land of idols, but King Jesus removes them from our hearts forever. As He made His way to Calvary, Jesus crossed over the Brook Kidron (John 18:1) to symbolize everything He had come to do. He was burnt, crushed, and ground by the wrath of God on the cross.
Jesus is the cure for our idolatry. God the Son took to Himself flesh and blood, so that He might bear the penalty for our idolatry in His own body on the tree. Then He rose bodily from the dead. The Father now commands us to worship a man — even the God-Man, Jesus Christ.
France’s foremost preacher of the nineteenth century, Adolphe Monod, explained the mystery of this truth in a most profound way: “I strive to live in the communion of Jesus Christ — praying to Him, waiting for Him, speaking to Him, hearing Him, and, in a word, constantly bearing witness to Him day and night; all which would be idolatry if He were not God, and God in the highest sense of the word, the highest that the human mind is capable of giving to that sublime name.”
What idols are you harboring in your heart? Are you giving affections and labors to created things? How are we to keep ourselves from idols? The remedy is only to be found in the person and finished work of Christ. He has destroyed the idols of His people, once and for all, by His death on the cross. Our sins have been washed away in His blood. He has “cast them into the depths of the sea,” even as the righteous kings cast the crushed idols into the Brook Kidron. Praise God for His righteous King and His righteous rule in our hearts!
The term “amen” was used in the corporate worship of ancient Israel in two distinct ways. It served first as a response to praise given to God and second as a response to prayer. Those same usages of the term are still in vogue among Christians. The term itself is rooted in a Semitic word that means “truth,” and the utterance of “amen” is an acknowledgment that the word that has been heard, whether a word of praise, a word of prayer, or a sermonic exhortation, is valid, that is, sure and binding. Even in antiquity, the word “amen” was used in order to express a pledge to fulfill the terms of a vow. So, this little word is one that is centered on the idea of the truth of God.
The truth of God is such a remarkable element of Christian faith that it cannot be overlooked. There are those who think that truth is negotiable or, even worse, divisive, and it therefore should not be a matter of passionate concern among believers. But if we are not concerned about truth, then we have no reason to have Bibles in our homes. The Bible is God’s Word, and God’s Word is true. It is not just true but is truth itself. This is the assessment made of it by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (John 17:17).
Therefore, when we sing a hymn that reflects biblical truth and end it with the sung word “amen”, we are giving our approbation of the content of the praise in the hymn. When we have a choral “amen” at the end of the pastoral prayer, again we are emphasizing our agreement with the validity and surety of the content of the prayer itself.
Worship in biblical terms is a corporate matter. The corporate body is made up of individuals, and when an individual sounds the “amen,” the individual is connecting to the corporate expression of worship and praise. However, we are told in the Scriptures that the truths of God are “yea” and “amen” (2 Cor. 1:20), which simply means that the Word of God is valid, it is certain, and it is binding. Therefore, the expression “amen” is not simply an acknowledgment of personal agreement with what has been stated; it is an expression of willingness to submit to the implications of that word, to indeed be bound by it, as if the Word of God would put ropes around us not to strangle or retard us but to hold us firmly in place.
There is, perhaps, no more remarkable use of the term “amen” in the New Testament than on the lips of Jesus. Older translations render statements of our Lord with the preparatory words, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” Later translations update that to “Truly, truly, I say unto you.” In such passages, the Greek word that is translated as “verily” or “truly” is the word “amen”. Jesus does not wait for the disciples to nod their agreement or submission to His teaching at the end of His saying; rather, He begins by saying, “Amen, amen, I say unto you.” What is the significance of this? Namely, that Jesus never uttered a desultory word; every word that came from His lips was true and important. Each word was, as “amen” suggests, valid, sure, and binding.
Furthermore, even in His own pedagogy, Jesus took the opportunity on occasion to call strict attention to something He was about to say by giving it tremendous emphasis. His practice was somewhat akin to the sounding of a whistle and an announcement over a loudspeaker on a ship: “Now hear this, this is the captain speaking.” When that announcement is made on a ship, everyone listens, realizing that when the captain speaks to the entire crew, what he is saying is of the utmost importance and urgency. However, the authority of Jesus far transcends that of a captain of a seagoing vessel. Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth by the Father. So when He gives a preface to a teaching and says, “Amen, amen, I say unto you,” our listening ears should be fine-tuned to take note instantly of what our Lord is going to say following the preface, for it is of the utmost importance.
We also notice that Jesus uses the Hebrew technique of repetition by saying not merely, “Amen, I say unto you,” but “Amen, amen.” This form of repetition underlines the importance of the words that are to follow. Whenever we read in the text of Scripture our Lord giving a statement that is prefaced by the double “amen,” it is a time to pay close attention and be ready to give our response with a double “amen” to it. He says “amen” to indicate truth; we say it to receive that truth and to submit to it.