Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A passionate love: the relationship between God and you - The zeal of the Lord

Photo by JS Creatonzs.
Courtesy of
Welcome back to A Good Bible Study. We are passionate here - passionate about a passionate God!

This God of ours loves us with a love like no other. It never ends, it never dissipates, God never tells us "It's not you, it's me," is never too tired, too stressed, too angry to spend time with us, comfort us, listen to us, or advise us. He's passionate for us!

But, sometimes it seems like God is not listening to our prayers, not answering our prayers, not acting on our prayers. Sometimes we believe we are on our own and that we aren't even on God's radar.

This isn't some new phenomenon. People have been looking for the next sign since the beginning of time. Remember Adam and Eve? They had a unique relationship with God. God spent time with them physically in the Garden, walking, talking, and exchanging ideas. Can you imagine hanging out with God and having no doubt He is real? You would think that would make it easier to obey God, right?

God was cool. God was a lot of fun. Adam and God were good friends. In fact, God gave Adam only one rule, just one. Don't eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He didn't say take a little bite. He didn't say eat it if you think you've got a better plan. He didn't say check with the serpent for permission to eat it. He didn't say let your wife get confused about what God said and go along with it. He said, "Don't eat it. Don't. Eat. It. Don't touch it, don't smell it, don't hang around under it's branches, DON'T EAT IT."

Pretty clear, right? So how come it took about 5 minutes for Satan to convince Adam and Eve that God really didn't have their back and they should just go ahead and do whatever seemed right in their eyes? Of anyone in history, Adam and Eve should have been the ones to say, "Uh, I don't think so." Or how about, "I'm gonna double check with God because I know He said don't eat that." Now, I guess it is possible that Adam and Eve had never been exposed to a liar (kind of like that movie The Invention of Lying) so may be they were kind of gullible.

I'd like to let them off the hook like that and say that God sure is harsh. After all, He made them. . . So it's really His fault, right?

God did make them and He doesn't make stupid. So sorry, no dice. Consider this: Adam and Eve were created with the original DNA, uncontaminated and unmutated by chemical damage, environmental pollution, and poor diets. They were the most intelligent beings in the universe second to God. A far second, but still, they rocked.

Let's be honest. They wanted that fruit.

Satan only shows us what is in our own hearts. He dangles the bait, it's called temptation, and we either run to God, or we start trying to justify why we should go ahead and do what we know in our hearts is wrong.

Adam and Eve started playing the justification game. They deserved that fruit. After all, they did all the work in the Garden, Adam named all the animals and he and Eve tended the plants and oversaw the animals. God obviously didn't want what was best for them or He would share His precious Knowledge, right?

They were on their own and they needed to take what they wanted because God was never going to share the good stuff anyway! Besides, God hadn't even been to the Garden that day to talk with them so He probably wasn't even coming back. What happens in Eden stays in Eden . . . wrong.

Like most of our mistakes, the minute that fruit touched their lips, Adam and Eve got a whole lot of knowledge they wish they hadn't. Ever done that? Wished you had minded your own business and found out something you wish you hadn't? Ever wanted to turn back time and take it back? You and me and Adam and Eve and all the rest of us.

So, let's not kid ourselves that we are the first ones to feel like God is ignoring us. Let's not pretend we can take a time out from God and like a little one year-old child say, "If I can't see You, You can't see me." Let's get honest. Let's be real.

Now, about now you might be thinking that since Adam and Eve couldn't cut it, we are all doomed to fail. Let me tell you a story with a different ending.

In the time of Isaiah the prophet of God, there was a King of Assyria, named Sennacherib, who had conquered much of the land around Israel and was after the Israelites next. "The Assyrian Empire extended from Ur of Chaldes, up the Tigress-Euphrates valley toward Baghdad then across to the Mediterranean, taking in modern day Syria. So Assyria in the Bible included modern day Iraq and Syria" (Pat Robertson)

This guy had a lot of reason to be confident. He sent word to the King of Israel, Hezekiah, that he was coming down there to take care of business. Read 2 Kings 18 for the whole speech.

Reading this I had an image of this King's emissary doing a rap before the King of Israel, bragging about his King and talking smack against the God of Israel. Then he goes out and starts rapping to the people outside the palace, telling them in other words, "Who's your daddy?"

This emissary tells the Israelites not to believe their God will save them, because no one else's gods have saved any of the people King Sennacherib has conquered. He literally starts mocking God, saying what is a real insult in that time, "haven't you gotten the news", or "did you not hear", basically meaning, what, you didn't know I'm the biggest stick in the land? He was boasting that he, the King of Assyria was the only one with any power and they better get in line or be destroyed.

As you can imagine, the people of Israel were pretty concerned. I mean, they hadn't had a word from God for a while. May be God was out of the office.

So, King Hezekiah sent for word from Isaiah, the prophet of God.

God says through Isaiah, "Don't be afraid." I got this, God says. Don't you wish we had a prophet nowadays?

King Hezekiah is pretty relieved, and begins praising God. 

And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, LORD, and hear; open your eyes, LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.

17 “It is true, LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, LORD, are God.”

God answers the King's prayer with a promise, first to King Sennacherib, then to King Hezekiah.

To Sennacherib he says, and I am paraphrasing here, "Who do you think you are talking to? Let me tell you a little bit about the Holy One of Israel, son."

God reminds Sennacherib of all the ways he "reproached the Lord," bragging about how he was going to cut down all the trees and dry up all the waters of defense. Then God uses Sennacherib's own words against him, saying (paraphrase) "Did you not hear that I made this world, and that I allowed you to conquer these lands and made the people defenseless against you?"

God is in Sennacherib's face now, and God tells him He knows alllll about the smack he has been talking.

In fact, God uses Sennacherib's own methods of dealing with prisoner's of war against him, saying in 2 Kings 19:28, "I will put My hook into your nose and My bridle into your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came." Oh yeah, Sennacherib knew exactly what God was talking about. I love it. Nothin can set you down like a word from the Lord!

See, sometimes we read the Old Testament without any cultural references and we think, jeepers, God was harsh! We've got to look deeper, search out a study bible (I use the Nelson Study Bible, NKJV) and get the "whys" behind the "whats."

After this, God gives a promise to the Israelites. He says you are going to be fine. You are going to have plenty to eat and drink. You are going to rebuild and it's going to be good. I am going to make sure of this because "the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this."

Zeal, a synonym of passion.

See, the way in which Adam and Eve responded to temptation and the way in which King Hezekiah responded made all the difference. Adam and Eve assumed God wasn't looking and that God was keeping back something good from them. They went out on their own and we have been feeling alone ever since.

King Hezekiah was tempted to be afraid, to give in to the demands and the promises of the Assyrian King, but instead he went to the Lord. He prayed. He asked God to guide his decisions and believed God wanted the best for him. He waited for God's insight in the face of the taunting, demanding, ridiculing King.

What will you do today in the face of temptation? Will you seek God and believe He loves you passionately? Or will you hide your face and pretend He can't see you?

When I was at probably my lowest point in life, holding my son in my arms as he breathed out his last breath, I knew I had to make a decision. I was on the brink of temptation. My husband and I decided for our household, we would still serve the Lord.

I decided this in spite of the temptation to let my heart grow cold because He didn't answer my prayer to save my baby. I chose to believe God is good, even when my life seemed so bad; to believe in who He is, instead of what I could understand.

Soon after, I discovered I was pregnant again. I couldn't believe God would put me through this when I had just lost my boy. I prayed for a girl. I had a son. What was God thinking?

I will tell you. God is thinking about His zeal for you and me when we are only thinking about what we think we want and need. We are thinking about pain and He is thinking about restoration.

We named our son Joshua. I thank God for him every day. 

Joshua 24:15

New International Version (NIV)
15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

God, help me keep straight who is God and who is not. Amen

Love, Karen

What is the zeal of the Lord?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment.