David and his men faced their worst nightmare when they arrived home and found a burned-out village and that their wives and children were gone. Thankfully, they didn’t come home to dead bodies, too. There was hope they were alive.
David’s men were furious and blamed David for this misfortune. It was time for David to turn to God rather than try and take matters into his own hands. He called for the ephod from the priest so he could be sure the word was truly from God. And God said, “Go!”
You may be thinking, I’m sure glad I wasn’t in Israel then! God’s rage seems to have been unleashed. For Isaiah’s audience in Judah, they must be thinking the same thing. Instead, they should be thinking, “Are we next? Are we immune to God’s anger?” For us today, it’s almost difficult to imagine the wrath of God coming down in such a forceful way. We are probably in a bit of denial that our loving God could be so ruthless.
We shouldn’t get too complacent in our comfortable lives. God’s compassion is powerful and strong, but so is his wrath. It isn’t like God just decided one day to be angry at his people. It took years, generations of sinfulness to bring them to this moment. God has given his people one chance after the other to be reconciled to him. In sending Jesus, that was his most loving attempt to bring us back to him. Yet for those who ignore God, turn their backs on him and do things their own way, can we assume his fury will not follow them as it did those people in Israel who have done the same?
You’re seeing it right. Smack dab in the middle of this
Chapter, we see a new list of “30 Wise Sayings.” These are all designed to
teach us so we will trust in the Lord. Solomon’s words are meant to
help us navigate this life and avoid the common problems that often plague us
and keep us separated from God. Today’s selection is particularly helpful.
We all know angry people. What counsel do we have?
“Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will
learn to be like them and endanger your soul.” That’s pretty harsh. Don’t
befriend or even associate with angry people. I suppose it’s true that we often
take on the characteristics of those we hang around with. We start talking with
an accent or using phrases we hear our friends use. It’s a natural occurrence. If
we want to avoid negative behaviors, it makes sense that we should stay away
from people who have them.
Anger is an emotion that can quickly escalate into something very ugly. When left unrestrained, anger can become rage leaving many hurts in its wake. Anger is also dangerous when it’s bottled up inside. It can be devastating when it finally lets loose. I suppose that’s why Jesus is warning us against it. While murder is clearly sinful, Jesus knows that anger is oftentimes the root reason leading to murder. He didn’t want us to think that it was just the killing part that was wrong.
We are bound to feel anger from time to time. Disappointment that something doesn’t go our way, or frustration when another’s mistake has caused us some discomfort. It is how we handle our anger that matters. That takes a lot of control. We need to recognize the signs leading up to this strong emotion and make sure we are redirecting our frustration in a healthy way.
When we think about how the world began, Adam and Even no doubt come to mind. The names Cain and Abel may also be familiar to us as the first two sons born of the first couple. Sibling rivalry at it’s worst. If you’ve had children or had siblings growing up, you know that there are times when kids don’t get along. Since each of us is gifted differently, there are bound to be issues. For instance, the musically inclined may wish they were athletic and visa versa. Perhaps the oldest (or the youngest) gets more attention. It’s when jealousy gets so overpowering that it can be dangerous.
In our Biblical account, the jealousy turned deadly. We’re not told why Cain’s sacrifice wasn’t accepted, but that was a big deal for him. We did hear that Abel brought “choice” lambs from the “best” of his flock for his sacrifice. It didn’t say Cain’s was bad, but it didn’t indicate it was his “best” stuff. God could clearly see the heart. In Cain’s despair, God cautioned him, “Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Obviously, Cain was not able or willing to be a master over this evil. Continue reading “Genesis 4:1-16 – Jealousy”