“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!
“For the Lord has spoken:
“I have nourished and brought up children,
“And they have rebelled against Me;
“The ox knows its owner
“And the donkey its master’s crib;
“But Israel does not know,
“My people do not consider. ” (Isaiah 1:2-3).
Through this great prophet, God communicates His extreme displeasure for the way His people have responded to Him and to His will. In spite of the fact that God has had such care and concern for His people, they have turned against Him.
Their rebellion against God has included refusing to follow His instruction about how they should worship Him and how they should live according to the moral principles He has taught them. As well, they have even dipped into idolatry time and again.
Because of their refusing to listen, God’s judgment is pronounced against them—His decision was that punishment must come.
Our lesson from this tragic situation is profound: as our Creator, God has every right to demand our obedience to His word and our allegiance to Him. He has required the same from people living in every age of time; so, we must, as Paul, present our bodies a living sacrifice to be acceptable to God.
Three Rules for Living
“He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
Because the people have highly displeased God by their rebellious, sinful lives, the two previous verses pose questions that probe what kind of punishment God will require for them to re-establish their relationship with Him.
Micah first points out that God has shown them what He requires. In other words, they should already know what God wants them to do: “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
“To do justly” means they are fair and unbiased in their dealing with others, “to love mercy” means they are guided by loving kindness as they interact with their fellows, and “to walk humbly with your God” means they humbly live according to God’s instructions to them.
No better instruction could be given to people of any biblical age. When we follow these three rules, we are living as God wants us to.
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:13-14).
Temptation is a natural part of life; the word means “the desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.” In a spiritual context, it refers to a desire to do something that is a violation of scripture.
James makes it clear that temptation does not come from God but rather from within the heart of an individual as he or she responds to the stimulus of everyday life. We develop a desire for something around us, and we allow it to develop into an “over desire.” And, if we allow it to conceive, it can become a controlling factor in our lives.
It is not a sin to be tempted: even the Savior of the universe suffered temptation. It is a sin, however, to allow a temptation to stay within our hearts long enough to develop into an “over desire.” To prevent such from happening, we follow Jesus’ example in that we call to mind scriptures that are designed to pull us away from the temptation; and, then, we get ourselves away from the source of the temptation.
The scriptures describe Satan as one who walks about seeking all who will give in to his enticements. His desire is for us to give in to temptation so that we can be drawn away from God and operate our lives independently of God—then he can claim success.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
“Those who sow in tears
“Shall reap in joy.
“He who continually goes forth weeping,
“Bearing seed for sowing,
“Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
“Bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6).
Written shortly after their return from Babylon captivity, this psalm pictures the mixed emotions God’s people feel as they return to their homeland: both sadness and joy.
They sowed the tears of sorrow when they were captives of the Babylonians, but they are now reaping the joy of freedom after returning to their homeland. They are, however, feeling some continuing sadness because not all of their countrymen have been allowed to return.
This verse has been used, rightfully so, to picture a natural sequence of emotions and consequences in the human experience; but, for the Christian, it can serve as an especially powerful source of encouragement in any generation.
Even under Christianity, we are not always going to experience the joyful side of our salvation: life can throw us some curve balls of hurt and suffering along the way. But, if we maintain a faithful relationship with God, there will be those days of joy promised in the scriptures—either in this life or in the life to come.
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