A few weeks ago, my son came to me with an urgent plea “We need to move, dad. Like before the end of the month. I can’t take it anymore.”
I have friends who want to minimize the need. But, there is a mix of how much I want to share, and how much they want to listen. Like many times in scripture, and the example of Moses and Korah comes to mind, God will judge between us. I may be wrong. But then again, so may they. The thing to do is to fall on my face (Num 16:4-5)
So, from my perspective, it is like “I need a door right now” in the movie Sahara.
I have to say that I feared reactions that I have received. But, really, I have had nothing to fear, and really, a lot of them come down to Moses response in Num 16:5 “and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, “Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him.”
I know that Korah came with rebellion, arrogance, and accusation. I am not saying that that has been the attitude of my friends. What I am saying is that I want to be wise and humble enough to know that my son and I may have made mistakes. And, like Moses, want to hear God so badly that we will listen even when the person bringing the correction has a horrible attitude. Moses also cuts to the heart of the matter, it is also not as much about the complaint, as about being near to God.
To ask God for a house (which is where we started), and to assume that He is listening, and will act, is an intimate thing. I would only ask a close friend, and as you can tell as this story unfolds, it became obvious that I had reservations myself about getting that close to God. I wanted to ask rich acquaintances, or win the lottery, or something that didn’t involve God quite so directly. That made both of Us sad.
There was one other fear that is related, and that has to do with God’s favor is not fair. My resistance to allowing God to create a house and home for us, came from not wanting to hear “not fair.”
As Shawn Bolz says in the referenced clip on YouTube, Jewish people and others often refer to the blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 “The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” We even had a cross-stitch of this given to us at the occasion of our wedding, and it hung on our bedroom wall. Our hearts desire blessing for others, and that is part of being made in God’s image. But we balk when something outrageously good comes to friends of ours.
Can I talk plainly, when things like that happen to people who don’t know God, or maybe outright hate God, sometimes we comfort ourselves with the “they got theirs now, we will get better in heaven, and they will roast/rot in hell”.
We are not alone. Listen to Asaph in Psalm 73.
… But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else. They wear pride like a jeweled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty. These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. They boast against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. And so the people are dismayed and confused, drinking in all their words. “What does God know?” they ask. “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?” Look at these wicked people—enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain. If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked. Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning. Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart he is mine forever. Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do. (NLT)
Asaph voices his frustration, but sets it in the context of his own foolishness, and God’s graciousness. And if you think that “Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. ” is a fearful passage, it is. But don’t read it as the first time that we slip up, or that it is a trick. Set it in the context of Romans 5:8-10 ” But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (NKJV)
And for further context 2 Pet 3:9 “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (NLT)
God wants to give His favor to every single one of us, even before we know Him, because of His Son, and the covenant that was made at Jesus’ cross between The Father and The Son.
Sometimes, that favor is here. And God doesn’t always want it to be when we have run out of other options. But, sometimes He does let us run out of other options because He wants people to know that it is really Him.
One final question, that Shawn Bolz does address is “Why does God grant His favor” I will explore that in greater depth later. But for now, know that Ps 73, along with all the cited context doesn’t mean that God treats those who trust Him and those who don’t the same. Abraham asks the Lord as the Lord is on His way to see to the outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah Gen 18:25 “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”