Imagine that you inherited a large sum of money and decided to buy an island for your friends and family. You built housing and provided anything they could ever need on the island. If a new need arose you met that need out of love for the people you chose to live there. They want for nothing because of your provision. Over time they forget about you and glorify themselves in the luxury you provide. They become arrogant and selfish, trying to store extra things for themselves to obtain status over the other people. None of the people recognize your name anymore. You feel sad and angry. Maybe you ask them to take one day per week and remember the source of their provision. That doesn’t get followed. You institute rules for them so that they have to regain an outward focus toward you. They fail at that as well. You finally have to travel to the island to explain what your reason for the island was, and that you want them to remember the love that built it and continues to provide for it. You want them to be thankful and love you in return. You become an example to them of how you desire for them to live. They reject you. They don’t like the idea of letting you change what they have established in your absence so they look for a way to kill you. Finally, you institute a message of love that encompasses all of the original rules and gives them hearts that resemble the heart that brought the island into existence.
I ask you to put yourself in that situation and imagine how you would feel. Would you be angry with your people? How sad would their selfishness make you? How would the rejection when you traveled to help them make you feel? I’ll let you have your own moment with the feelings that stir within you.
This is the frustration of God. He has more power and presence than we can imagine with this human example. God is far too big for us to ever understand Him or to fully see His plan. I wanted you to feel in your heart what we would see from His throne. Then imagine that He looks at you with unconditional love and accepted death to reconcile you to Him. He’s building a new island for those that choose to give Him the recognition and thanks. I don’t ask you to fully understand the infinite God. I hope you don’t let yourself become complacent and resemble the people who forget where their provision comes from.
Throughout the Old Testament (2 Kings specifically today) I see a trend in God’s people that continues to plague us. As we study, we see God ‘delivering’ those who don’t follow Him into the hands of His people. We see God ‘driving people out’ of lands He desires for His people. God’s provision in terms of land, both to live and farm, and dwell safely is clearly repeated many times. It’s only in the people’s disobedience and ‘turning away’ that His provisions are left unprotected to be taken by foreign kings. God must continually show His people that all they have is because of Him.
God physically set His people apart in the Old Testament. Today, as believers, we are set apart spiritually as we work toward Christ likeness. This Christ likeness is a process of becoming holy known as sanctification. The definition of holy is ‘set apart.’ As God’s chosen He sets us apart from the darkness of this world just as He set apart His people in their own lands long ago.
Just like then, we still seek the things that we are meant to be set apart from. At that time people continued to offer sacrifice to the gods of the previous inhabitants. They sought comfort in the ways that God had removed from them. These types of acts were evil in the sight of God. As we read these stories of God handing over armies and land, then His people building an altar to a god that had just been conquered, it seems absurd, and it is! Yet we do the exact same thing today. God delivers us from the sinful nature of the world, He gives us Jesus to reconcile us to Him and His Holy nature. Yet each of us returns to the comforts of this world in an attempt to sooth ourselves, whether it’s food, drugs, sex/pornography, wealth, status, control, etc. The list could go on. We all miss the facts shown the Old Testament that God is the source of all of our provision, a provision that is always better than the tainted versions found on earth. The fullness found in the holy provision of God is missed by those unwilling to let God have control of their life. We should take a moment to see the mistakes by those from long ago, learn from their mistake, and ask God to be our only provision. We should trust that His provision, in His timing, will bring us into His fullness and truly set us apart.
God could have easily walked His people directly out of Egypt and into The Promised Land. As His people stood at the border they doubted whether they could defeat those who already lived in the land. They only perceived what their frail human form could accomplish while underestimating the power and faithfulness of God. Today we are guilty of the same offense. We humanize God, His judgement and His ability. We choose to only obey the things we can understand. We are left in the wilderness of this world where the grace of God still provides provision but in a way that falls short of what God intended for us to have. Are you willing to have the faith of Joshua and Caleb? (Numbers 13:30) But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 14:6-9) Joshua … and Caleb …, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord.
Are you willing to walk in the guidance of a God that wants to lead you into His promised provision and eventually into His presence in Heaven? Live in communication with God and ask what His desired provision is for you. Present your questions to Him and allow His answer to guide your heart. Be willing to sit in silence and accept His answer spoken softly to your spirit. Live in Him and don’t follow the rest of the world in to a wilderness to parish apart from the light of your Lord.
The Wilderness –> Walk in reliance on God
The time God allows us to wander this earth acts as a filter for those who don’t want God. They seek themselves and the luxury of this world instead of trusting God. God has made a perfect place for His people to live through all eternity and wants the people to enter to do it by choice and in faith that He is good in His provision. The wilderness represents how we are supposed to live without worldly provision and influence. To truly live in reliance on God is to focus on Him and not seek the comfort of the world which gives gratification that falls exponentially short of God’s desire for us.
We have to remember that some of the people who wandered through the wilderness did so because they were led away from God’s promise by elders and leaders. Those leader were and still are human. We have to keep in mind how important our personal relationship with God is. He speaks individually to each of our hearts in union with His written word to clarify and guide His faithful.
Love over Jealousy
If you are jealous, you are lacking in love; for love does not envy. Love causes us to want more for those we care about. We should want them to grow and prosper even if it costs us a great deal. We should be willing to sacrifice our comfort to help others grow in their journey toward reconciliation with God. God has provided for people what He intends for them to have for their individual journey. He has done the same for you but in a different way because no two journeys are the same. Do not be jealous of their provision, love them and what God has given them for their walk. Love that God had provided for them appropriately according to His will. Love that God will provide all that you need for your journey as well.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.