We’ve started a series lately in our church based on the first 500 years of the kingdom of Israel. When thumbing through these pages, we see quite the opposite of what God had promised to their Patriarch, Abraham. We see murder, adultery, temple prostitutes, idolatry, the worship of other gods, etc.
God tried to use behavioral modification by utilizing deductive reasoning: the If/Then statement. This is based on a hypothesis (an informed prediction) and a conclusion. IF you obey me…I’ll bless you among the nations, THEN you’ll be fruitful and fertile, healthy and strong. IF you don’t obey me: THEN you’ll be cursed, barren, hungry, sickly, and weak. We all start on the right course in the beginning but then life happens:
- God doesn’t move within our timetables
- He doesn’t move in the way we want
- He doesn’t give us what we want or think we deserve
- He doesn’t do it fast enough
- We think He’s forgotten us
Then we get tempted to take matters into our own hands, or even “help” God. Let’s ask how Sarai (Sarah) and the birth of Ishmael worked out. We start to doubt if the Promiser is actually the Provider and Producer. The Bible is full of well-intentioned people who ran out of patience and trust when it came to the Lord. We can say we’ve seen enough people in our lives, and even our own circumstances where we can attest to that.
My heart breaks for our younger guys who have that know-it-all attitude. I was there and still am to a degree. We have everything all figured out, we’re going to sidestep our mentors’ hardships (which were actually classrooms of learning), we’ve found shortcuts, and we’re going to do it “right” and do it better. Oh how pride, ambition, and success clouds godly wisdom and counsel. Worse yet, we try to cloak our stubbornness and insecurity in spirituality. We pull out the trump card, “God said. I feel led to do this.” This is problematic:
- It’s spoken through the filter of our desire, emotion, and fear
- Who would want to “go up against” God?
- It’s manipulative
I highly doubt that God tells us to act foolishly and then blame Him for it. It’s funny, it seems as if though God speaks a great deal to people who can’t even listen to the authorities He’s place in their lives. We might be wrong: embrace it!
Yet the kings of Israel did what they thought best. It resulted in many people getting hurt and then losing out on the amazing blessings He had planned for them. Proverbs 2:2-12 is a great explanation of the benefits of receiving wisdom:
God broadcasts 24/7
“Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding” (v. 2). Tap into the source. Like a radio, God’s Word is constantly being broadcast; we just have to tune in. People say God isn’t talking. It’s probably a problem of us not listening.
God gives us what we need
“God gives out Wisdom free, is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding” (v. 6). He doesn’t hide from us nor does He hand us encrypted cyphers to solve. Following Christ is not meant to be confusing. The answers might be more apparent than we realize, just hidden behind our distractions.
God looks out for us
“He keeps his eye on all who live honestly, and pays special attention to his loyally committed ones” (v.8). God doesn’t set us up for failure. If we do stumble, we can trust Him to work it out. God isn’t expecting perfection but He is attracted to humility, availability and obedience.
God equips us to make wise decisions
“So now you can pick out what’s true and fair, find all the good trails!” (v. 9). We already have the tools we need to find the answer: the Word, Prayer, and godly counsel. Here’s some warnings though:
- Revelations will never contradict Scripture
- Pray like crazy. But our prayer must be based on intimacy, not emergency.
- Seek the counsel of God-given authorities: parents, pastors, even older more mature friends. These are people who must have the courage to point out our blindspots and be empowered to say “NO!” It’s too easy to avoid those who we know will help us discern properly and surround ourselves with the Yes-speaking optimists who would always encourage us. Receiving a “NO” isn’t as much a locked door as it is a speedbump.
God trumps human logic and intellect
“They’ll keep you from making wrong turns, or following the bad directions” (v.12). God’s direction might defy human understanding, sensibility and rationale, but it’s ok. He knows all. He does, doesn’t He?
I would say that the majority of the kings already knew what to do, and were willfully disobeying and rebelling against God. Their desires and personal agendas were too important to follow Yahweh’s perfect plan. And as we see, disobedience was their downfall.
My spiritual mentor has taught me a great deal in the last quarter century (UGH). Probably among the greatest has been to be “teachable and correctable, and open and broken.” I have never forgotten that and it continues to be the leading criteria for decision-making and disciple-making. I’ve heard him say it hundreds of times, “Wisdom is God revealing to us what to do next.” I won’t say he’s wrong, but I will say that statement is incomplete. It’s “knowing what to do next…and then doing it.”