Summary: Sermon which is suitable for Boy Scout Sunday, tying the text to Boy Scout promise to do duty to God.

The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he! Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Extol the LORD our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he! Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the LORD, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them. O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. Extol the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy. Psalms 99:1 - 9 (NRSVA)

Scout Sunday is always a wonderful day. All of the Scouting organizations are wonderful; they have great leadership and help teach a great message. The ideals of trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness, friendliness, courteousness, kindness sound like the list of the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:25,26.

The motto of Boy Scouting is to Be Prepared. The object of that preparation is primarily towards God; the Scouting promise says that on my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country…. First priority in that pledge is duty to God!

The text (particularly verse 9) teaches us how to be prepared to keep the Scouting pledge; we must extol, or worship God who is holy.

One of the church’s great hymns “Holy, Holy, Holy”[1] has, in part, a basis in Psalm 99 (as well as Revelation 4:8-11). This hymn, sung by the angels, cherubim and seraphim in Isaiah’s vision [2] expresses the way we can respond best to God’s holiness – which is to rearrange our thoughts and the way we live our lives to be in line with God’s will. He is the LORD, God, Almighty!

I. Prepare by Knowing Holy God

The hymn says all Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth and sky, and sea; we are His creation. As created beings on earth we have been given a special position and privilege to be very near the heart of God. He loves us; He is the best Father that one could imagine, and so much more.

Our job is to get to know our Creator. One of the ways we can do this is to worship. As we lift our praise God’s presence is made known to us, for God inhabits the praise of His people…

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3

Our job is to praise Him so we get to know Him. We can grow in our relationship to God by praising Him; He is also worthy of that praise. Our hymn teaches us that those praises belong to God, and we do well to lift our voices from early in the morning…

Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;

Bryce Canyon is a wonderful sight in the state of Utah. It was named for a 19th century farmer named Ebenezer Bryce. There are huge trees in the canyon over 700 years old. The views are breathtaking. God’s handiwork is awe-inspiring there, seen clearly in every direction. But some people don’t see so clearly. Ebenezer was asked what it was like to live in the midst of such a pristine canvas of God’s artistry; all he could say was, it’s a heck of a place to lose a cow. [3]

If you’re going to learn who God is, what He is like, and what He wants you to do with your life, you’ve got to spend more time praising Him than the time you spend thinking about how tough life is, and where you put your cows (or play-station cartridges or car keys).

…and as you get to know holy God, you will then understand that the task changes from knowing to doing as you…

II. Live Life Holy Before God

14Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. 15Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; 16for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14 - 16 (NRSVA)

Our hymn has several references to us changing our ways, what we do, in order to live a life of humility, or holiness as God observes us.

Holy, holy, holy! all the saints adore Thee,

Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;

Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,

Which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Notice the emphasized phrases, adoring God, putting our own successes in humility at His feet, watching the angels bow down in humble worship. It’s not about us at all; it’s ALL about HIM!

It is a powerful picture of the angels bowing down before God. Angels are not the insipid effeminate characters pop culture makes of them. Angels are fierce warriors. If an angel of God appeared in this building right now, you’d probably fall down in trembling fear. Unbelieving or un-informed people make angels sweet and non-threatening enough to hang them on our Christmas trees and print them on t-shirts. The Bible never does that; whenever an angel appears on earth or heaven it is a holy occasion filled with power and majesty.

Now, if those majestic angels bow down to the throne of God and constantly sing praise while flying in a display of humble praise before God, doing His bidding instantly and joyfully, what should OUR lives be like? Should we ignore God or live our life humbly attempting to please Him?

The Boy Scout Promise (oath) says on my honor…; to live a life holy before God means He trusts us to do just that. Jesus was proclaimed by the Gospel writer to be the light coming into the world. Yet, there is a great darkness in our land today. It was the same nearly two hundred years ago when the hymn was written:

Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,

Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;

Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,

Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Darkness has always stood for sin and separation from God. The eye of sinful man may try to hide God from view, but our job is to live life holy before God, to be people who stand up, even in the face of ridicule.

Many of us have a sense of embarrassment about being thought of as religious fanatics. We need to be more like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These Old Testament saints angered King Nebuchadnezzar by refusing to worship him. The king got so ticked at their holy lives that he had the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual. But even the fire was not able to touch these men of God. Honoring their God was more important to them than the king’s ego!

To Know and Honor our God

Jackie Mickels tells the story of the day after their wedding when the 4-year- old ring bearer asked his mother if he had gotten married the day before. “No,” she reassured him. Little Jerry’s reply: “Then what in the world was I doing up there?” [4]

Sometimes in this world we face things that make us wonder like that. Your best preparation to do your duty to God is to know Him, and live life holy before Him. For the LORD our God is a holy God!




1] WORDS: Reginald Heber, 1826, MUSIC: John B. Dykes, 1861

2] Isaiah 6

3] (Expletive deleted for our “G” rated audience).

4] Jackie Mickels, Madrid, Nebraska. Christian Reader, “Rolling Down the Aisle.”