Day 4: Rebellion’s Results

Lamentations 1:15-18 :

“The Lord has set at nothing all my mighty men within me.
He has called a solemn assembly against me to crush my young men.
The Lord has trodden the virgin daughter of Judah as in a wine press.

“For these things I weep.
My eye, my eye runs down with water,
because the comforter who should refresh my soul is far from me.
My children are desolate,
because the enemy has prevailed.”

Zion spreads out her hands.
There is no one to comfort her.
Yahweh has commanded concerning Jacob,
that those who are around him should be his adversaries.
Jerusalem is among them as an unclean thing.

“Yahweh is righteous,
for I have rebelled against his commandment.
Please hear all you peoples,
and see my sorrow.
My virgins and my young men have gone into captivity.

One of the surprising things about the Law of Moses, to me, was the harsh sentence that God imposed on rebellious children. It makes rebellion a capitol offense. A child that rebels is to be put to death. I will admit that this seemed a bit extreme to me, but now I have come to realize that the reason it seemed extreme was because I failed to see the seriousness of it.

As I consider rebellion’s history, I realize that it was rebellion that got us into this mess in the first place. Satan was one of God’s “children” and he rebelled against God, becoming the originator of sin. He, then, convinced Adam and Eve to rebel against God too. This resulted in the death of the entire human race. If God had killed Satan the moment he rebelled, Adam and Eve would not have sinned. From that point-of-view, killing a rebel is a protection against the spread of rebellion. It’s not healthy for me to go on thinking that rebellion isn’t really that bad. God chooses to correct my thinking and I believe that one way He does that is by giving me this passage from Lamentations.

In this passage, Judah is personified. She is explaining the horror of her circumstances to “all peoples” and that would include you and I at this point. She describes her continual sorrow and explains that her people have been crushed like grapes in a wine press. She explains that she has no one to comfort her and probably the worst thing of all is that she is being opposed by God Himself. Her people have become slaves to foreigners and all of this because she rebelled against God. I think that it is safe to say that rebellion is the main problem we all have. It sums up all sin with one word. God calls us to repent of it and in order to do that, we need to see it for the horror it is. One good thing that came out of Judah’s fall was the fact that you and I can now see more clearly what rebellion will cost us if we continue in it.

Day 140: Phase One: God’s Wrath

Jeremiah 32:28-35

Therefore Yahweh says: Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will take it. The Chaldeans, who fight against this city, will come and set this city on fire, and burn it with the houses on whose roofs they have offered incense to Baal, and poured out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.

“For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have done only that which was evil in my sight from their youth; for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, says Yahweh. For this city has been to me a provocation of my anger and of my wrath from the day that they built it even to this day, so that I should remove it from before my face, because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger—they, their kings, their princes, their priests, their prophets, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned their backs to me, and not their faces. Although I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not listened to receive instruction. But they set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to defile it. They built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through fire to Molech, which I didn’t command them. It didn’t even come into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”

As Jeremiah expresses his confusion, God responds by repeating what He had been saying. There are two phases to what God is doing, not just one. The first phase is what Jeremiah was now witnessing. Because Israel and Judah had made God so angry by their defiant sin, God was going to punish them using the Chaldeans and king Nebuchadnezzar. This was just the first phase of His plan, though. We look at the next phase in the next passage. Everything God has said will happen even though there are two extremes.

As I read through this passage, I thought of some things I would like to share. First, God says here that Israel and Judah never did anything right. Instead, they were just rebellious all the time. That sounds like a horrible thing to say. It sure seemed like they were doing good things some of the time, but God tells us that they weren’t. This is actually an important thing for us to consider. What this tells me is that the law of God didn’t save a single person in Israel. Even Moses, Aaron and David didn’t make the cut. I would argue that Elijah sinned when He ran away to the cave and complained that he was the only one left. If the law of Moses couldn’t save Moses and the Proverbs of Solomon couldn’t make Solomon wise, then how can there be hope for anyone? I believe that this is the question that God intends for us to start asking. We can’t expect the Proverbs to save us. We can’t expect to follow the Law and build a good relationship with God. The only provision that the Bible shows us is Jesus the Messiah. He was able to be wise and to follow the Law. If we come to Him, we can be saved.

I also noticed that God repeats certain sins He hates over and over again. I consider this to be a warning to other nations that practice the same things. God says here, again, that they burned their children to Molech. He says again that not only did He not command this, it didn’t even come into His mind! He calls it an “abomination!” Somehow, the people were thinking that sacrificing their children was actually a good thing that God approved of. As I write this, government officials are arguing that abortion is a right that must be protected by the government. In other words, sacrificing your children is a good thing that must be defended. Let it be known that God has not commanded these government officials to do this, neither has it come into His mind. It is an abomination and it causes the nation to sin.

Day 43: Life from a Stone?

John 5:39-40 : “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me. Yet you will not come to me, that you may have life.”

The Law of Moses was a legal system of religion. It provided a set of rules for how to live life on earth with God and gain merit with Him in this world. Here Jesus says that the Law is unable to provide eternal life. In the end, a Jew still dies. Evidently, these leaders were seeking the Scriptures for rules that would give them eternal life. The way to eternal life was written there, but it wasn’t by rules but by the sacrifice of a Man. The sacrificial system in the Law of Moses was always pointing to Jesus and many prophets predicted Jesus’ coming. Here is one famous prediction that was made hundreds years before Jesus’ birth in the Bible of that time (the Old Testament):

Isaiah 53:5-6 : But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

These words were in their Bible before they actually happened. As Jesus spoke with them, they were there for the reading. It was to be by the sacrifice of a future Man that God’s righteous judgments would be satisfied and eternal life would be, again, offered to man.

Rules would not be enough because rules have to be kept by sinful men. As we have already talked about, men cannot be good enough. If there was to be salvation, it would have to come from God. This idea of self-healing is really the basic problem. The sacrifices of the Old Testament speak of the death that is required as payment for sin. If these were not required, then maybe there would be a kind of man-made righteousness, but they were required because mankind was unable to keep the law.

We are no different than the Jews were. We make our own laws about not lying and taking care of our environment, etc. And we don’t keep our own rules either. We accuse others and then do the same thing. This is hipocracy and it is a sin. Before God we are guilty of not taking care of our world, not loving our neighbors, telling lies to protect our own selfish interests and more.

Although it is commonly attributed to the Bible, the quote: “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible at all. On top of that, it really doesn’t make sense. Why would a person need help if they have already helped themselves? Evidently, someone looked so intently at the scriptures looking for eternal life by rules and just decided to make up a verse. This is very much like a thing that would come from mankind.

We had to look outside of our own ability to be good to find a way to God. That is why we need Jesus.