|Vol. 16 No. 2 February 2014||
There was an article written some years ago, and the first line stated, “Just suppose that the Lord should begin next Sunday to make the people as sick as they say they are on Sunday and Wednesday.” The focus of this article will have a slightly different slant.
Let’s just suppose that God began today to keep a record of our sins in thought, word and deed. It would not matter to Him how many times we genuinely asked His forgiveness. What a horrifying position to become aware of—our sins mounting by the second—and held against us for life! Unlimited forgiveness is available to the penitent through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Without Him, our sin debt exceeds all of our power, desire or ability to rescind. However, our forgiveness is predicated on our willingness to continually forgive those that sin against us. Jesus taught His disciples to pray as He responded to their request in Luke 11:1-13. Praying for forgiveness and extending it to others was part of that teaching. Verse 4 says, “And forgives us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.”
Let’s just suppose that God began today to treat us the way we sometimes treat others. Could we, would we take that kind of treatment from anybody? Would we be planning our retaliation? The world’s attitude is one of getting even, looking out for number one and stepping on others to get what you want. The way of the Lord is diametrically opposed to such foul thinking. Jesus said, “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:30-31). As one good preacher said, “God’s commands are not in the Bible just to make it thick.”
Let’s just suppose that God began today to strike every person dead who used His name in vain. As Jesus began to teach His disciples to pray, He said in Luke 11:2a, “When you pray, say: ‘Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” Hallowed means we are to give the highest reverence and respect to God’s spoken name. It forbids our using His name in an irreverent way. Whenever we use God’s name, we had better be genuinely referring to Him, not merely expressing our frustration or anger! If this is not our intent, we need to understand that we will not be held guiltless. God speaking in Exodus 20:7 said, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
Let’s just suppose that God began today to rid the world of all those who are greedy for money. In a TV show from the 1970’s, a father made this statement to his son who had become a victim of greed. “Greed victimizes all who fall into its trap! That has been the secret of our success. We have made greed our ally. It’s a two-edged sword; live by the greed of others or die by your own!” Paul told Timothy, his son in the faith, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10 emphasis added). It is truly a weeping pity that this biblical admonition is daily unheeded virtually all over the world!
Let’s just suppose that God began today to kill all children who were disobedient and disrespectful to their parents/guardians. In the United States alone, what would be the drop in population numbers in just one day? Under the Law of Moses, a stubborn and rebellious son was stoned to death! Deuteronomy 21:18-21 says, “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones, so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear (emphasis added).”
We now live in a society where children tell their parents how things are going to be done. Children tell their parents what they will and will not do! The Bible still reads, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-2).
Space will not permit elaboration on the numerous lifestyles and behaviors of the masses. The following list makes the point to some degree. Let’s just suppose that God began today to rebuke and correct:
Let’s just suppose that we all could honestly admit that God’s love and God’s wrath are in perfect balance.
We read in 2 Kings Chapter Five about the biblical account of the healing of Naaman, a captain in the Syrian army. This man was a mighty man of valor who was plagued with leprosy. When we study this passage of Scripture, we concentrate on the miraculous healing of Naaman. We emphasize the importance of following God’s instructions. We see the fallacy of pride and the arrogance and the anger that goes hand in hand with pride. However, in this study, I want us to consider verses two and three, “And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, ‘If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.’”
The Hebrew word for “maid” in this passage can mean a child from infancy to adolescence. This young girl was old enough to serve as a maid to Naaman’s wife, but she was not a young adult. Please consider the following ideas gleaned from this young, Hebrew slave.
She listened to the instruction of her parents. This youthful maiden was blessed with parents who taught her the about the one true God – the God of the Israelites (Deuteronomy 4:39). Her parents took to heart the teachings of Moses in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. They must have used every waking moment to instill a love for God in her. She carried a love and a faith that went with her when she was abducted by the Syrian army and transported as a slave to Naaman’s household.
She understood the power of God and His servants. Although Elisha had not healed a person with leprosy (Luke 4:27), this maid believed in the power of God to do so. She understood the power of God as He created the world (Genesis 1). She believed the words of 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all.” This young maid knew that God could heal Naaman through His prophet, Elisha.
She carried her faith with her into a strange new land. This youthful servant girl did not allow the idolatrous nation to rob her of her belief in God. She maintained her faith in spite of her surroundings.
Even though she found herself in difficult circumstances, she praised God. The young girl was snatched from her family and her country and forced into slavery. Yet, she did not bemoan her lot in life. She did not blame God or say, “Woe is me.” Instead she seized the opportunity afforded her to show the power of the God she served. She suggested that if Naaman were to meet the prophet in Samaria he would be healed. She did not say he could, but had the confidence that Elisha would heal him.
She showed respect to her captors and fulfilled her assigned duties. The maiden desired the best for those with whom she served. She wanted Naaman’s health to be restored. Undoubtedly, she fulfilled her assigned duties with diligence and without complaint evidenced by the relationship she had with Naaman’s wife. Advice from a surly, uncooperative slave would have been ignored, whereas information from a productive servant was heeded. Naaman’s wife told her husband the suggestion from this young, Israelite, slave girl.
Because a young Israelite girl maintained her faith in God and properly served her mistress, an idolater became a believer in the one true God of the universe. Because a young girl had the courage to speak out about the one true God, a non-believer accepted God.
Each Christian – young and old – can learn much from this unnamed, youthful girl. We need to imitate the actions and attitude of this young girl. We need seize the opportunities afforded us to speak out about the God we claim to serve. We need to overcome our difficulties and use the trying times to teach someone about the one true God. Let us follow the example of this young girl and many other people of the Bible who stood the test of time to serve their Lord.