Posted by: Mark | October 25, 2010

God gives us what we want

Have you ever wondered why sometimes those who reject God seem to get what they want? People who are dishonest seem to get the money they desire? People who are mean or even evil seem to get ahead in leadership?

I wonder if it is because God lets people get what they want because they don’t know what they are missing. I have been looking at two different passages lately that seem to very much say just this.

So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.” But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.” 1 Samuel 8.10-20

Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. Romans 1.22-32

In the first passage we see that the children of Israel wanted a king. Samuel then passes on the message from God of all the terrible things that will happen to them (all of which came true) if they choose a king over God. However, the children of Israel ignore Samuel’s (or in fact God’s) advice and choose a king anyways. What does God decide to do – let them have what they want. He lets them walk the less happy path of having a king and not being led directly by God. And we can see from how history plays itself out that within three kings things were well and truly messed up.

In the second passage we start by seeing how people have exchanged what was truly brilliant (God) for something that was not as good (something God had created). What is God’s response to this, he let them have what they wanted. He gave them over to their passions. They exchanged the glory of God for something that didn’t make people happy. Or as Jeremiah puts it they exchanged God (the source of all true happiness) for broken cisterns that can’t even hold happiness.

The bottom line is be careful what you ask for. Make sure you seek God in all things and don’t settle for second best.


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