“Go up to Lebanon, and cry.
Lift up your voice in Bashan,
and cry from Abarim;
for all your lovers have been destroyed.
I spoke to you in your prosperity;
but you said, ‘I will not listen.’
This has been your way from your youth,
that you didn’t obey my voice.
The wind will feed all your shepherds,
and your lovers will go into captivity.
Surely then you will be ashamed
and confounded for all your wickedness.
Inhabitant of Lebanon,
who makes your nest in the cedars,
how greatly to be pitied you will be when pangs come on you,
the pain as of a woman in travail!
It is true that when trouble comes it reveals something about us. When we are in trouble, we find out who we really call out to for help, but this passage shows us something else. What about how we handle prosperity?
Prosperity was Israel’s main problem and I think that it is ours as well. When God gives us prosperity, do we become proud and rebellious and stop trusting in God? That’s what God says about Israel here. Remember that Israel would cry out to God for help when they were in trouble, but as soon as things got good again, they went on with their sinning.
It’s pretty clear that times of prosperity reveal the desires of our hearts. When we have all that we need, what do we choose to do with what we have? As Christians, we choose to give. Our flesh, however, may rise up during times of prosperity and influence us to waste it. The Holy Spirit will bring that to mind and we need to listen and turn away from our fleshly desire to rebel against what God wants us to do. Times of prosperity can be times of temptation.
We have a great example of a man who chose to avoid the temptation of wealth and power. Instead of taking it for himself, he chose to help slaves. I’m talking about Moses. God tells us that he chose to take his reward from God and to lay down his right to become a king in Egypt on earth. Instead, he allowed God to use him to fight for his own people’s release from slavery. He had to run away and become a shepherd for 40 years and then at 80 had to take on a new career as a leader of a very rebellious people. He may not have become king of Egypt, but he did have the privilege of talking to God Himself as a friend and God remarks about it in the Bible.
Israel’s rebellion ultimately cost them their country. No wonder Moses had such a hard time with them. They were living in opposite ways. Because Israel chose to run after other gods and refused to listen to God, they ended up alone with nothing, but Moses ended up with a reward that no one could take away.