THE LESSON OF ISRAEL
The church can learn much from a brief study of the history of Israel. The single most important thing for us to see in this quick look at history is that Israel's biggest problem was that they would not yield their will to the will of God. They would not accept God's reign in their lives .
There are many Christians who are the same. We expect Jesus to save us from all the messes we get into, but will not then accept him as our "Lord".
There is a profound verse in the Psalms: "The Lord executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel" (Psalm 103:6 - 7).
There seems to be a distinction here between Moses and the children of Israel. Moses knew the ways of God, while the children of Israel only saw his acts. The children of Israel did not understand the purpose of God as Moses did. They were only interested in the miracles God would do for them. Their hearts were hardened toward God's greater purpose for them. They were not really interested in what God had in mind for them. The children of Israel missed out on so much because they would not accept God as their Lord.
REJECTION OF GOD'S WORDIn the wilderness, at the foot of Mt Sinai, the Children of Israel heard the voice of God as He spoke to them from the mountain. Their response was to say to Moses, " You speak to us and we will hear you, but let not God speak with us, lest we die" (Exodus 20:19).
Shortly after this, even while Moses was on the mountain receiving the vision for the very tabernacle where God would dwell with the people, the Children of Israel were forming a golden calf to be their god. Therefore God said, "I will send My Angel before you ... for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff necked people" (Exodus 33:1-3).
REJECTION OF GOD'S RULE OVER THEMLater again the people of Israel came to Samuel, the Prophet of the Lord, and asked him for a king to rule over them as with the other nations. (1 Samuel Chapter 8). When Samuel went to the Lord about this the Lord said," It is not you they have rejected, but Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works that they have done since I have brought them up out of Egypt." (1 Samuel 8:7-8).
REJECTION OF GOD'S WARNINGSLater still when Israel had gone beyond redemption " God sent warnings to them by His messengers ... But they mocked them, despising His word, scoffing at His Prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy" (1 Chronicles 36:14-16).
Then Israel was over-run by the nations around them.
REJECTION OF GOD'S MESSIAHWhen Jesus came, the Elders of Israel rejected Him as their Messiah. Jesus lamented over the people saying, "Jerusalem, the one who kills her prophets and those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together .... But you were not willing. See. Your house is left to you desolate" (Matthew 23:37-38). Eventually they were destroyed as a nation, and the people scattered throughout all the earth. This came to pass in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.
THE LESSONIn this sad tale there is a progressive decline. In the beginning God Himself proposing to dwell among His people. But the people rejected this preferring to have a human leader (Moses).
Further down the track the people rejected even the Lord's human representatives and desired a political leader to rule over them, so that they would be like all the other nations.
This lead to further decay. The surrounding nations began to rule over God's people, until eventually they were "swallowed up" by the world and scattered through out all the earth.
This spiraling decline in the history of Israel has one source. As a
nation, from the very beginning, they had rejected God from ruling over
them, preferring rather to be ruled by men. Without the Lord in their midst
they were totally defenseless against the nations around them.
THE CHURCHThe real trouble is that the Church today has done the same thing. We would rather be ruled by men than by Jesus, personally. Jesus is more than able to manifest His personal presence to us if we were to allow Him. As it is written, "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and sup with him" (Revelation 3:20). Please note carefully, this was written to a CHURCH not to those who did not know the Lord.
We are only interested in the blessings and miracles of Jesus. We do
not understand him, nor his purpose. We very
seldom get beyond what he can do for us. We do not know "his ways" because
our hearts are full of self and not of him. Jesus said "Where your treasure
is, there your heart shall be also" (Matthew 6:21). For most of us, we
are our own treasure, so our heart is for ever focused on ourselves.
Oh, that Jesus could be our treasure, and our hearts could be focused on
Created: 23 - Jan - 1997.