(Week Four) May 23, 2008 – In My Instructions
Reading for the week: Leviticus 26:3 – 27:34; Jerimiah 16:19 – 17:14; II Corinthians 6: 14-18; 1 Peter 1:13 -16
In My Instructions…are your vows
The one phrase that continuously sticks out to me in the book of Jonah is, “That which I vowed, I will surely pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord.” Jonah knew something about vowing to God.
On Mount Sinaii God made his instructions clear. Before he even tells us what he expects, he tells us the terms of the instructions. If you follow his instructions, then you will be happy. If you do not follow his instructions, you will become hostile. So what can be so challenging about instructions that he first sets the guidelines before revealing what they are? God gives you the opportunity to come into contract with him soberly because once you sign on the dotted line, there is no getting out. We are talking about vows, commitments, pledges, promises, and oaths. An agreement that one makes with God is binding. That is why it is cruicial that one understands the reprecussions in not keeping agreements made with God, before signing their rights away.
Some Vows Must Be Kept
There are times when God causes us, or allows us to make a vow that he will honor. When we make a vow that God honors, the vow stands. There is no way out of it. The sacrifice must be made one way or another, because when the vow was made, God accepted the terms of the agreement. It was a gentlemen’s agreement and God seals the deal because in heaven he already kept the terms on his part.
The Pledge To Serve
For Jonah he had pledged that he would “save” whomever God told him to save. When he found out that one particular assignment was to save his enemy, he was beside himself, visibly in disagreement with God. But God didn’t let him out of the service. Jonah had pledged unto the Lord that he would keep the terms of the agreement before he knew entirely what that could possibly mean.
The Oath To Sacrifice
For the warrior (Jephthah) in the book of Judges, it was his daughter. He had vowed that whatever came out of the house to greet him for the first time he would sacrifice unto the Lord, after a victorious battle. Imagine his horror when he saw the apple of his eye come out.
When Broken Promises Are Allowed, God Calls The Shots
Some promises we make in the sincereity of our heart but truly we cannot fulfill, it is not within our power. This is why some promises are allowed to be canceled. One example is a woman whose vow is cancelled by her husband, or a daughter whose vow is canceled by her father. Other times the vow is not permitted by God himself, because the vow would cost the object more than the one who made the vow to sacrifice it, like King Saul vowing to kill whoever ate before battle and it turned out to be Jonathan (his son). Saul was more eager to impress the people than he was to make a binding agreement with God. God did not allow him to sacrifice Jonathan at that time. It would not have cost Saul anything because he was at odds with Jonathan. But Jonathan was sacrificed later. Saul and his son would collapse on the open battle field of defeat. Then Saul’s vow was acceptable because he not only lost the throne but he had no son to sit upon it, leaving an open space for King David. This was honorable and truly self sacrificing.
The Vow To Follow Instructions
David said it best. He said, “I will not sacrifice unto the Lord that which cost me nothing.” And God took him up on it. For David, the sacrifice was to follow God’s instructions even when it made no logical sense to him whatsoever. David had vowed to keep God’s instructions and God expected him to honor his vow, simply because it was the right thing to do. His vow was in the very center of God’s will. David made a lifetime vow with God and that is the best kind. It keeps you from going down a path that is wicked. David’s vow, kept him not only connected to his relationship with God, but actually ensured that he was following the right path for his life. In essence, David agreed to what God wanted from him before even hearing the instructions. That way, no matter how difficult the instructions would seem to be, David would have to follow them through because he committed to the process ahead of time.
In My Instructions…are your health
“Heal me, O Lord, and let me be healed; save me, and let me be saved; for you are my glory.”
The truth is that if we trust our own hearts, they will lead us astray. If we trust our own minds, they are conniving wicked plans even as we speak. It is better to be obedient to the word of the Lord and be hidden from evil, to not even know or understand the depths of it, than it is to know just how corrupt we are inside.
The Hidden Illness Is Bitter
Jonah learned something about himself. The Lord allowed him to truly take a glimpse at his own condition. Jonah wanted to work for God in order to bring good news to those whom he felt deserved it. Honah wanted to teach, correct, and minister to nations whom he felt wre beneficial to Israel. Lastly and probably most importantly, Jonah wanted to preserve his own reputation above and behond the reputation fo God. But I like Jonah and this is why:
1. Jonah committed his life in service to God ahead of time
2. Even though Jonah disagreed with God, he obeyed God’s instructions
3. Jonah allowed himself to be taught by the experience and to teach others by telling the story
4. Jonah did not allow disobedience to continue. His assignment ended in obedience and as a result, his hostility towards the assignment faded away.
If Jonah had continued in disobedience, his hostility towards the assignment would have turned to hostillity towards God. Instead of having his corrupt thoughts corrected, his corrupt thoughts would have taken him further and further down a path that he would not have chosen if he had know better. It was bitter. He would have been like a “bush in the desert who does not sense the coming of good”, rather than a tree planted by the waters that does not sense the coming of heat because it knows that every little thing…is gonna be alright.
Doing Good God’s Way Restores Health
It is good to follow God’s instructions even if (and even more so) at the very root of us our thoughts are entangled by corruption. Jonah was thinking bad but he did good because he followed God’s instructions. Then, after the assignment was completed, God healed Jonah’s thinking.
In My Instructions…are your freedom
New Testament Commentary
II Corinthians 6:14-18
“Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing: and I will recieve you, and be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.” Said the Lord Almighty.
Why doesn’t God want us to be yoked together with unbelievers? When you don’t believe anymore, you are in lock down. You can not hear instruction, never mind following it. It is hard enough to maintain your belief when you are surrounded by people who walk by faith, let alone trying to survive amongst those who deny the very existence of God and his Messiah. Disbelief is the unclean thing because of the prison it creates in your thought life. It limits your choices, puts on you a heavier burden than you can carry, saps your joy, and renders you useless:
1. The unbeliever follows the path that is left (the last option). The believer follows the path that is right. The believer can not choose last if he is already chosen first.
2. The uneven weight of the burden of being last will constantly cause a believer to stand without balance, in discomfort because the believer is not supported in last place. God has not called him to be there.
3. When you are last, there is no joy. The uneven position causes stagnant purpose, a stalemate direction, and general immobility. Furthermore, what starts off as basic discomfort becomes misery and eventrually hostility because the believer knows how to be first but is teamed up with someone who will not move to get there.
4. Sooner or later the stalemate turns to a lockdown. Try locking down a race horse and see what happens. It becomes hostile. When a horse becomes hostile, it is impossible to train. Now it must be broken all over again. When it needs to be continuously broken, it never actually works and the horse becomes a loss.
A Believer Is Free Because He Believes He Is Free
When a person is trapped with unbelievers, disbelief is dominating. The person will begin to believe in something new…disbelief. Disbelief arises not in the other person, but in your own self and eventually in every instruction that is given to you. If you are unevenly yoked with an unbeliever, your thinking will become contaminated. You will think that there are no more options when all the choices are before you. The worst thing about a believer who is contaminated with disbelief is they become unwilling and unable to follow instructions; even the instructions that will help them to break the prison they have created.
There is nothing worse than a person or a beast who has the inability to follow instructions. It keeps them savage. Following instructions is a demonstration of one who is civilized. The lack of ability to follow instructions is what separates man from beast. A beast moves by instinct; a person by reason. But even a beast listens to the inner voice that guides him. A man can not be handled like a beast because he knows who he should be and the division within him causes him insanity. One settles down long enough to listen and think, while the other bucks about wildly trying to free itself from a restraint that is no longer there. In the end, both will be subdued. One is trained by the master’s voice, the other is broken by his staff. One finds the path because he vowed to it. The other is pushed in a cart as meat for dogs.
TURN UP THE VOLUME!
In My Instructions…is your pleasure!
“Give Me Springs Of Water.”
There comes a time when the vow has been paid. Thank God. Wouldn’t it be terrible if there were no endings until heaven?
Anyone who participated in the corss was entitled to a portion: some tribes inherited the wilderness, some Canaan, some the Lord, some the hills, some the vallies, and for an elite few, all of the above. Some got up the courage to ask for it.
The women inhertited springs of water, and an alottment among their brothers. Whosever participated in the battle of the cross over Jordan acquired a portion and if they wanted more, all they had to do was ask. When a person keeps their vow to God, he opens the land before them. He opens his hidden treasure box and says: “Pick whatever you want because everything in the box is good.”
There is something about the cross. For Jews, it means the cross over Jordan. For Christians it means the crucifixion. But when we come together, it means the whole ‘kit n’ kabootle’. For Zion, it means the world.