Saturday, June 20, 2015

This is a Test. Do You Believe the God of the Shemitah?

Often God asks or suggests we do the radically weird – what we would never do. What God asks us to do sometimes seems counter-intuitive to human reasoning. (Tweet that!) For examples of this, see the Scripture verses in my June 6 post, "Does the Shemitah Turn things Upside Down or Right Side Up?" 

Why does God do this? Is it only to see if we will obey? That might be one reason, but it's not the only reason. God never tests us with busy work, work that means nothing.

Rather, He wants us to experience the fact that if we will obey Him, it always turns out right. (Tweet that!)

If we don't obey Him or won't submit to obedience to Him, what would have been a blessing turns ugly. Very ugly.

This principle was described in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. Here's an example:

All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you. (Deuteronomy 28:45-48).

But even the ugliness of blessings-turned-bad turns into God's grace and mercy and love when it steers us back to Him. (Tweet that!)

NOTE: We can take the notion of "weird" to extremes, beyond what I intend here. So here's a disclaimer: Not everything that is weird is of God. (Tweet that!)

At a church I used to attend, a group came in from out of town to conduct a spiritual retreat. The leaders told my congregation that if a thought to do something strange hit our minds we were to do it because God asks us to do crazy things.

There is some not-good reasoning in that.

When God asks us to do something, there is always good solid reasoning behind it if we're willing to look for it. The reasons will always line up with God's perfect personality expressed in the Bible. (Tweet that!)

Look carefully to make sure it's God's will.

What is counter-intuitive to humans isn't upside down. It's God turning things right side up. 

Another example of God doing something that seems counter-intuitive to human reasoning is the Shemitah. Cancelling all debts and setting all financial records back to zero is definitely radically weird and counter-intuitive to what seems productive to us. But God created the Shemitah, and when Israel obeyed, things went right. When Israel did not, God got His Shemitahs anyway.
15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God's messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the Lord's temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God's temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there. 
20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power.21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.  (2 Chronicles 36:15-21)

We'll explore this more in the next post.

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