Friday, September 13, 2013

Aggressive Blessing

Being a pessimist makes it easy to whip out Deuteronomy's list of curses if people don't follow God's will.....but what about the dire consequences of actually following it?

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God" (Deut 28: 1-2).

There's those qualifiers, like "diligently obey" and "observe carefully"....but normally, when God says "come upon you", He means some sort of disaster. What He seems to be saying is, if you put time and effort into really paying attention to what He says and how to please Him, you can't help but be blessed. 

I'd like blessing to overwhelm me like a flood, and all my crops to come into my barns (working on a herb garden), and my enemies to be defeated before me. That's an attractive thought. So is the dual idea of (a) being holy so that (b) the nations are afraid of us. (It would be great if my country had enough money to lend instead of borrow, but that isn't the case.)

If some of our more flagrantly defiant leaders had justice dealt out to them, I would rejoice. But replacing one wolf with a slightly tamer wolf doesn't really decrease the danger to the sheep, it just makes them more complacent. "Well, that one's gone! Now we can get back to life as usual."

Blessings are wonderful, life-changing events. Nehemiah wasn't afraid to either pray repentance for himself and his people, OR for success in speaking to his employer. Only God could really make a king (a) give up his trusted cupbearer for who-knows-how-long, (b) fund the journey to a beaten kingdom, so that said cupbearer could (c) build a temple to his Lord God and (d) possibly become the king's worst betrayer. And He did. And we have a book about the fastest restoration work of all time - 52 days - prefaced by a lot of tears and broken walls and despair. 

Nehemiah is one of my favorite books, because it's about God's blessings. It's not that God made their enemies vanish, or magically restored the burned walls. It's not that people weren't trying to rebuild walls and the temple and their lives in Jerusalem before. But when God's ready to bless you, He'll bless you - even in the midst of people sending sly letters to the king and trying to block your efforts with fear and gossip. Satan never wants God's people to be blessed, He wants them either sinning, complacent, or ready to give up. Holding on to God's promises with both hands, keeping His commandments firmly in mind, won't always mean that blessing is around the corner. But once He decides it's blessing time, you can't get away! I look forward to that.

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