For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV
The promise of a future and hope to the nation of Israel was a profound demonstration of God’s never-ending grace and mercy. Still, their attention remained on the worldly pleasures, which they loved more than God. In His long-suffering, God gave many warnings regarding their consistent disobedience. Why were they drawn to the pagan practices of idol worship?
The Real Reason for Idol Worship–An Issue of the Heart
“But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV)
From Egypt to the journey in the wilderness, their hearts were dedicated to idols that could be seen. The elaborate decorations and sensual heathen worship practices enticed and permeated their entire being. The addiction to perverse pagan practices was the cause of their refusal to enter the Promised land. In Canaan, they would be required to live holy, according to God’s laws.
And the “stiff-necked people” were not ready to surrender their hearts, souls, and mind to obey God. Read Deuteronomy 1:19-46. Sadly, only two individuals, Joshua and Caleb [from that generation] and those younger than 20 years old were allowed to enter the Promised land.
The Historical Overview
For many who view God as merciless in the Old Testament, they do not know the scriptures or God’s character. Moses was a dedicated man of God who interceded for the disobedient Israelites when God was ready to destroy the entire nation. Moses had great favor upon His life because of his love for God and the people he led out of Egypt.
Through Divine appointment and anointment, God breathed the words of the first five books of the Bible to Moses. “The five books making up the Torah, which in the English Bible correspond to Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy,” were written by Moses. https://equip.sbts.edu/article/moses-write-pentateuch-even-obituary/
Evidence of God’s Love, Grace, and Mercy: “For forty years I led you through the wilderness, yet your clothes and sandals did not wear out.” (Deuteronomy 29:5 NLT). “I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, but with him who stands here with us today before the Lord our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today.” (Deuteronomy 29:14-15 NLT). Despite the Israelites abject disobedience, God made a new covenant vow with them at Moab.
God As Judge: After tolerating generations of Israel’s sinful behaviors, God said, “Enough is enough!” “‘But you would not listen to me,’ says the Lord. ‘You made me furious by worshiping idols you made with your own hands, bringing on yourselves all the disasters you now suffer.'” (Jeremiah 25:7 NLT)
The Sentence and Promise of Deliverance: “I will take away your happy singing and laughter. Then, after the seventy years of captivity are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his people for their sins,” says the Lord. “I will make the country of the Babylonians a wasteland forever.” (Jeremiah 25:10, 12 NLT)
Forward to 2022, believers, we are spiritual Israel living in perilous times of abject wickedness. It is a struggle to remain loyal to God when we desire the temptations of pleasure. We have been forewarned.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV).
And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12 NKJV).
The distractions of prosperity have caused many believers to make themselves idols. Yes, we worship ourselves by pursuing financial wealth, comfortable lifestyles, and recreational activities. The movies, music, and social circles represent our heart’s loyalty or disloyalty to God, leading us to follow Jesus or turn us away from discipleship.
The Holy Spirit’s Intervention
The first time we willingly fall into temptation, the Holy Spirit pricks our conscience. We feel guilt and repent, promising to never do it again. But Satan, our greatest enemy, is aware of our weaknesses and will attempt to take a stronghold on our hearts–turning us against the requirement of faithfully obeying God. Remember, sin places us into a state of spiritual bankruptcy.
But in His mercy, God does not desire for any of us to perish. Divine intervention happens in many ways, always designed to bring us back to righteousness. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” (James 1:2 ESV). Yes, our Heavenly Father allows us to experience trials, sorrows, and hardships as a wake-up call that we have lost our spiritual focus.
Now we can understand why Paul tells us, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…” (Romans 5:3 ESV). The love that our Father has for us is beyond our comprehension. Jesus died for us to receive Eternal life.
Never Give Up! Tough Times Never Last
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12 ESV).
It is not only the disobedient who suffer. Still, they suffer from the consequences of sins against God. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'” (Matthew 16:24 NKJV), which refers to His disciples. Yes, the faithful, the obedient followers of Christ, must also suffer because Jesus suffered.
Feeling defeated when suffering is a natural response. Even so, suffering is always temporary. The longevity of our hardships will make us feel as if struggle will become a permanent part of our lives. Have the confidence that God never leaves us alone in our battle! Every challenge we face has Divine approval and purpose. God desires that we hit the brick wall–no more options, for us to know that we must turn to Him for resolution.
God’s Divine Mercy
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10 ESV)
Contrary to popular belief, God does not expect us to live a life of misery and suffering. His plans include eternal life, a perfect future, and hope. Even so, God desires for us to have joy, peace, and happiness right now. By remaining obedient and loyal to our Heavenly Father, He opens the windows of heaven to bless His faithful ones. ” And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).
Live with great expectations that God will do great things in your life! His promises are “Yes and Amen.”
Prayer: God, we pray for the strength and an increase in faith to trust you all under every challenge. Thank you, Jesus, for your great sacrifice. For the many blessings, we anticipate and thank you in advance. This prayer we ask in Jesus’ Worthy name. Amen. © 2022 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers, and Woman, You Are Loved by God Ministries