Yes, I know, this post is REALLY late. I am pulling a late night in the office because I have so much to do today: besides “normal” work, I’m preparing to run a week-long arts camp next week as part of the outreach of Soli Deo Gloria Ballet. I am scheduling, arranging travel for, and confirming various workshop teachers, volunteers, and students.
The job requires perseverance. But I’m not actually going to draw today’s post from it :).
As I was reading the Bible this morning, a phrase jumped out at me. When God delivered his people from Egypt by the hand of Moses and gave them the law, he commanded them not to “depart from it,” but to keep it in their mouths, their hearts, and their lives always. If you know Old Testament history, you know how well that went! The people departed from God’s ways within two generations of entering the Promised Land. And ever after, God sent judges, prophets, and the occasional righteous king to bring them back.
In 1 Kings, the people of God were split into the nations of Israel and Judah after Solomon died, with David’s grandson Rehoboam ruling Judah and a military leader named Jeroboam taking over the kingship in Israel. Jeroboam was actually called and anointed by God to head this rebellion–it was a judgment on Solomon’s idolatry (and, one can’t help but feel, Rehoboam’s nitwittyness). But God called him to walk after God’s ways, to “not depart” from the law.
Well, Jeroboam looked at circumstances and got scared. He figured that the people would continue to go to Jerusalem to sacrifice at the temple as God had commanded they do, and that, since Jerusalem was the capital of Judah and the Davidic kings were ruling there, this would eventually cause him to lose his kingdom. So he set up two golden calves (hints of the exodus, no?) in Bethel, anointed a lot of non-Levites as priests, and declared “There are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.”
Well, Jeroboam lost his throne via another rebellion. And while the Davidic line continued steadily on, Israel went through generation after generation of coups, rebellions, and new dynasties, all until the day they were completely conquered and sent into exile by the Assyrians.
And here is why the Bible says Israel was judged so harshly: because in all of that time, in all of that upheaval, and with the witness of some of the mightiest prophets ever to live, Israel “did not depart” from the sin of Jeroboam in worshiping the false gods in Bethel.
Think about that! For generation . . . after generation . . . after generation . . . after generation . . . the people did not depart from idolatry and sin. But God’s law? That, they departed from almost as soon as Moses and Joshua died.
What do I learn from this? A couple of things: first, that sin is not something to mess around with. It’s addictive and enslaving. God will let us exercise free will and walk away; sin will not–not without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
And two, perseverance only counts if you’re persevering in the right things.
With that, good night. I’m back to work.