There is an interesting scenario in Psalm 81; 8-11. God here tells the children of Israel some home truth.
First he calls them to listen. The tone is of one almost in desperation. ‘I wish you could really listen to me. If you will really listen to me’. In other words this is important and deeply serious. It is not something to listen casually to. Listen. Really listen. Pay attention, not casually.
Then He goes; ‘what do you enjoy with these strange gods? What is the draw to them? Why are you so sold out to them? Why are you guys always attracted to alternatives to me? What is it about them that holds you captive to them, that makes you keep going after them while I sit here courting you? What is it about them?
And He continues; ‘Get rid of them my people, loose your appetite for the foreign god. Lose your taste for those alternatives to me, do away with them.
I actually qualify to hold your attention exclusively. I am the Lord your God. I brought you out of the land of Egypt. I gave you salvation. The deliverance from bondage you experienced was by me. These gods, where were they? They were lying around, but it was me that came and saved you. I brought you out, so why will you now cast me aside and go after these idols, these strange gods, these strange culture, these strange lifestyle. Why will I bring you out and you go embracing my enemies?
Is it that you believe they have more capacity than me? You think they are more generous than me? You really believe these gods care more than I do? That they will look out for you more than I ever will? You really believe these idols, these strange systems offer better things than I can ever give you? You think you have such wishes, desires, hunger, ambition, taste that I will be put off by them? You think you can imagine something so big, so great, so large, and so pre-eminent that I would feel intimidated or think you are too ambitious? You think I actually want to restrict you? To reduce your wish? Your ambition? Your dream? To curtail your drive? You think they can give you broader wings than I can ever allow you? That they will afford you broader space than you can have in me?
You are absolutely mistaken! Actually, open your mouth wide and I will fill it. Imagine the widest your mouth can be, then go ahead and open it. I will fill it. To the brim. Take a sit. Close your eyes. Open up your mind’s eyes. Dream the widest thing that you can ever imagine. I will do it. And more. I am immeasurable. I am beyond able. I am limitless. I invite you to dream. Look, put away the strange systems, acknowledge me as God. Then open your mouth. Wide. I will fill it.’
But Israel refused to listen. This is why God spent considerable time trying to get their attention first. He pleaded that they listen, that they give Him attention. They refused to listen. They refused to trust God. We refuse to trust God. We hold on to our choices, our idols, our strange cultures. Those things we have come to hold as alternatives to God. Israel would none of me, the Lord says.
Distrust, suspicion, wrong ideas, evil mindset, a heap of wrong teachings. Things have gone wrong with the understanding, and they have calcified. Hence trust in God has been eroded. Israel will have none of God. They preferred to hold on to their idols. We prefer to hold on to our idols. Of the mind. God hands them over to their lusts. Now things are at a very dangerous precipice.
We are now consumed by the things we have chosen. Our idols now own us. We are fully walking in our own counsel. We are now lords and masters of our lives. We wake up and decide what our lives are about and we go ahead and do it. Only the danger with that is, because we cannot fathom what will happen tomorrow, even if we thought about it with our fullest capacity. We do not even know for sure what the consequences will be of our choices. But we are now condemned to walk in our own counsel. We now believe in ourselves and have faith in ourselves and announce it boldly with some chest thumping. The Lord has become a distant memory, and perhaps a reference point if we feel pious at certain times as to consult Him. We walk fully in our own counsel (indeed in darkness). And we even rejoice. We have taken a full 180 degrees turn and back to the condemnation of Ephesians 2: 1 and 12. We are dead in our most advanced enlightenment, without God in the world. But we will hardly know, because in our obstinacy, we have been handed over to our own counsel. The Spirit of God in our hearts, that candle of God has not only gone dim, but has almost flickered out. Our conscience is dead and intimidated to silence. We only rejoice at the echo of those who are also at the mercy of their own counsel too. We find comradeship with them. We backslap ourselves and feel cool. We encourage each other in our descent to hell.
But the Lord is in agony. He declares; ‘oh that my people will harken unto me! That they will walk in my ways. That they have listened to the voice of my spirit in them in their innocence. That they have not argued against the clear impression of my spirit, the clear warnings of my word. That they have paid attention. Oh what I had in store for them.’
You see, we are so happy with what we have to enjoy; for the wine we have to drink and the bread we have to eat, for what we have to show for our personal conquests, but we do not know that these are not the best there are. God says in vs. 16; if you had listened, I would have sent you the finest wheat. We think we are enjoying the good? The Lord says, that thing you got in your disobedience and obstinacy to me is not the finest. He says, ever drank wine fresh from rock? I bet you haven’t. I will give you wine from rock. Who knows there is wine from rock? That must be the most matured wine there ever is. There is a level to satisfaction that only the Lord can grant.
If we only we can accept the Lord’s word, our best we would found out are the least of God’s blessings. He really intends to fill our mouths, when we open it wide.
SCRIPTURE REFERENCES: Psalm 81:8-16; Ephesians 2:1 &12