I apologize I haven’t written one of these posts in several weeks! I keep waiting for the right creative urges, but instead I get conflicting scheduling or health issues cropping up, so I have decided to plow through and HOPE that God communicates something useful to you through lil’ ol’ me 🙂
I’m going to revisit one of our MIQVEH verses from an earlier post: I call it a MIQVEH verse, because the original Old Testament texts in the Bible were written in Hebrew. MIQVEH is one of several Hebrew words for hope; it means a collection or gathering, sometimes used to describe the ocean or other sources of water, but for the point of this meandering study (!) sources of hope.
Jeremiah the prophet announced the following verse during a time of terrible drought; it was so bad that all social classes were affected and even animals could not survive in the land.
O Hope [MIQVEH] of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble,
why are you like a stranger to us?
Why are you like a traveler passing through the land,
stopping only for the night?
Jeremiah 14:8 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.
Even though Israel believed in God and identified itself as His people, it had taken advantage of its special status and used it as a free license to pursue its own agenda: worshiping idols and following along with the surrounding culture. This behavior invited ruin in the form of a drought. This is very similar to the situation we have in America today: plenty of people identify with the God of the Bible as the same God our nation is under, with some interpretive leeway for those of other faiths. Many Americans would describe themselves as Christian. Even though the God of the Bible plays a major part of American identity–to the extent that even the President keeps insisting He is Christian to protect his public image from cultural attack–Americans do not study or follow His teachings. We replace His specific instructions with generalities like “God is love/forgiving/merciful”, etc. (which He is), and use that as an excuse to do whatever we want to, with no sense of obligation to Him whatsoever. We’ve abandoned Him.
So it is very interesting that after years of abandoning the Fountain of Living Water (God), that Israel should be in such a terrible, physical drought. Even when they correctly called upon God to save them, He returned their coldness back to them. God had enough of their idol-addiction. He knew that if He ended the drought, Israel would go right back to doing things their own way, expecting Him to foot the bill:
So this is what the Lord says to his people:
“You love to wander far from me
and do not restrain yourselves.
Therefore, I will no longer accept you as my people.
Now I will remember all your wickedness
and will punish you for your sins
Jeremiah 14:10 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.
This isn’t sounding very hopeful, is it? God explained to Jeremiah that Israel had stopped listening. Therefore, the only thing that would change their nation was war, famine, and disease that they invited upon themselves by wandering away from God’s provision and protection. It didn’t matter that they knew who God was or that they considered themselves to be His people: they had broken the terms of their covenant with Him, so He was no longer obligated to bless or protect them.
Now I want to make an important distinction: America is not Israel. I think there are a lot of similarities, especially in the founding of this nation; this concept certainly resonated with many of our founders and still carries significance today. However, I have already discussed that because of Jesus’ work on the cross, God’s people consists of all believers regardless of nationality–Jew and Gentile (non-Jew). Israel is featured in end times prophecy so it still has a role to play. The remnant of ethnic Jews at the end of the age are going to put their faith in their Messiah, Jesus, so the promise to them isn’t due to their ethnicity alone (i.e. salvation by Grace through faith is the only way to heaven; there is no “side-door” entry for being born a Jew).
It is because of the difference of the New Covenant–a covenant confirmed by God’s Spirit in us instead of writing on tablets of stone–that we are not in the dire straights that Israel was; we have hope of national renewal by the power of the Spirit as He works through the Church. However, God is still the same God and the spiritual principles involved are the same. We already see all kinds of drought in America: spiritual drought, familial drought, economic drought…despite the “false-prophet” hype that things can get better, there is every indication that they are going to get worse as every human institution is shaken due to our “wandering feet”.
It is easy to get discouraged when we see addiction all around us. Who can stop our crazy culture for spiraling into more debt, having sex with more sub-categories of person or thing, easing internal pain with more methods of escape, insisting on more and more government intervention, etc. Is there any hope for a Culture of Addicts? Yes. The Hope of Israel knows how to bring an end to addiction: allow nature to take its course until people connect their behavior with its consequences. Once we stop making sin seem so glamorous and see it for how destructive it is, there is every hope that we will make better choices and turn the corner. The Church can present the alternative we have in Christ, which is forgiveness, healing, blessing and equipping. Sometimes we have to allow God to “undress sin” so others are properly repulsed by it. Half the battle is in seeing clearly!
I’ll leave you with a frequently misunderstood verse from the same prophet:
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.
Most people take this verse to mean God won’t allow disaster to happen, but that’s not what this verse is saying. It means God will allow natural consequences to hit us so we can have a hopeful future. God doesn’t discipline us for the sake of causing disaster–He isn’t a celestial “Tim the Enchanter”, blowing things up for no reason–He allows consequences into our lives so we can become reacquainted with the truth and find the healing and restoration we so desperately need to fulfill His good plan for us. In our hunger we can seek out the Source of our Hope and blessings, and experience full restoration not just of our “stuff”, but full restoration of a relationship with the One we had forgotten is so good to us and in whose presence there is joy and pleasure forever.
There is hope for our addiction! We don’t have to wait for negative consequences; we can cry out to God for help with our problems now. He can heal us and send us to help heal a culture gone mad! What are you addicted to that you know does not honor God? Ask Him to deliver you and confess you cannot do it without His help. He will meet you where you are at 🙂
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