Journal Ps 80-82 (all references are from the ESV unless noted otherwise; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: (God speaking through the Psalmist in a prophetic word) “In distress you called, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. (selah)
Hear, O my people, while I admonish you!
O Israel: if you would but listen to me! There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So, I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.
Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! (Ps 81:7-13)
Observation: While I want to think that the Lord is giving what for to the wayward people of Israel, I need to remember that Israel is somewhat a metaphor for the Church.
Reading this with the Church in mind, and therefore the Face in the Mirror specifically, puts a different spin on the text.
Analysis: Fierce personal transparency: that is what reading a text like this requires.
It is easy to read this for another person, another local church assembly, but easiest to read this for the World. But God isn’t addressing the world in this passage—He is addressing those whom He has called. This stuff is about me!
There are two passages that have caught my eye this morning: 1) “In distress you called, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder…”, specifically, “I answered you in the secret place of thunder…”
I am good at calling (whining?) to God about my distresses. I can have big distress, medium distress, or those small distresses that seem to be the ones I shoot up to God in prayer the most (“Oh, God!! Teach that person how to drive!! They just about killed me…”) Joking aside, it is interesting and worthy of meditation that my answers are “in the secret place of thunder…” I have no clue what that means but it is worthy of serious thinking, meditation, and prayer.
2) And this one to me is of imminent importance: “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So, I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.” So,
- Do I listen to his voice?
- Am I actively submitting to Him?
- Do I have a stubborn heart?
- Do I follow my own counsel?
There isn’t a clear “pro-God” answer on these four points. Just like Israel, Believers can go in and out, depending on the time of day or time of life. No matter how hard I study, how much I glean, how determined I am to follow and not fall, it is inevitable that my heart and purpose will fail from time to time.
It is why it is important that Believers cultivate:
- Humility before God by preaching the Gospel to ourselves; the whole Gospel, not just John 3:16.
- In preaching the Gospel to ourselves, I must make emphasis on my complete dependence on God alone. It is He that saved us from His Judgement and corresponding Wrath, not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
- I must continually PURSUE Him every day, to seek His face. See 2 Chronicles 7:14 or Ps 27:8, but this one seems to be most relevant: “I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.” (Hosea 5:15)
Prayer: Lord God, it is the above stuff that I think Americans have the most problems with…I know I do. So much rhetoric about being independent leads to thinking that I am autonomous, just like the Serpent enticed Eve about (…you’ll be just like God, knowing Good from Evil).
Turn my heart from that evil way of thinking. Make my heart earnestly seek you.
Ricky Two Shoes