Sunday, May 13, 2007

Don't trivialize God

An article in yesterday’s newspapers mocked all religions including Christianity. The writer said how ridiculous is a God who tells people to fly airplanes into buildings, or that the most powerful man on earth thinks he has a hotline to God, and was voted in by those who think “the son of a carpenter who died 2000 years ago sits in heaven advising presidents, fixing football games, and . . . will return to earth to brutally murder all unbelievers and erect a worldwide dictatorship." The author said a quiet faith was one thing, but “those who believe lives are limited to one per customer have a problem.”

He wandered around a bit, but the bottom line of the article was that people need to examine the evidence, and if there is none, then they are foolish and gullible. He assumed none of us have any evidence.

I thought of this article and the person who wrote it while reading about Pharaoh and his problems with Moses and the people of Israel. Moses was told by God (through a hotline?) to deliver His people from bondage. Pharaoh had other ideas. Chapter 14 describes what happened.

“Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, ‘Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?’ So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness. So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea . . . .” (Note: up until this point, Pharaoh kept hardening his own heart. Finally he pushed God too far.)

When I read that article, I felt anger and pity for the author, but also some annoyance at Christians in North America who have trivialized God. Think about it; how high on the divine priority list are football games? If that is all we can do to “proclaim the name of Jesus” then we have missed the grandeur of Almighty God.

The Israelites had faith issues too. They didn’t understand the way God worked. “When Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, ‘Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, “Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians”? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.’”

Here is an entire nation in trouble. Of course they are worried about their survival. They are questioning if they should be following God and Moses, or if they should have stayed in their bondage. It was oppressive and joyless, but at least they would not be fearing for their lives.

“Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’”

This is the grandeur of God. He did guide one man to lead an entire nation (but I am not endorsing the President of the United States, just saying it is possible for a leader to have a hotline to God). Moses had no intention of defeating the enemy army though; he was only interested in freeing God’s people from slavery. Other places in the Bible use this bondage to illustrate bondage to sin, so it is fair to say that Moses was more interested in the eternal well-being of those he led than he was in politics or winning an election. He was sent by God, not picked by ballot, and was highly unpopular among those he led.

Moses didn’t win the battle for them. This also is the grandeur of God; God did it. He organized the events of nature, time and place and defeated the Egyptian army. While skeptics mock the parting of the sea, the army did drown and the Israelites did escape Egypt and their bondage. They were set free to find their way to the land of promise.

Here is what I am hearing from the Holy Spirit about all this: Do not be afraid of mockers and skeptics. I told you they would come (2 Peter 2 and 3). Instead, be still, and see the salvation of the Lord, and His righteous outcome for all this. You know that those reject Me and the truth of My Word might look and sound powerful today, but their ‘wisdom’ will perish with them. I will take care of my people, and you shall hold your peace.

Hold my peace. He’s not talking about being silent, but means the peace of God that transcends understanding, that goes beyond human logic, that guards my heart through faith.

And faith, which is “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” is my proof. It will not satisfy those who mock because they do not have this gift from God. They cannot understand His being or what He does unless He reveals it to them.

But lest I start thinking I am special, I remember myself a few decades ago, before Christ, before He granted me faith. I also mocked God, the truth of the Bible, and those who believed in Jesus Christ. That my heart has done a one-eighty is also the grandeur of God.

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