Tim Johnson, editor
November 26, 2006
Displeased with God
Have you ever been displeased with God? We have all probably known folks who blamed God for the loss of a loved one or for some tragedy or circumstance in life. They would express their displeasure by asking questions like, "How could God allow this to happen?" or "How could He do this to me?"
But there are also those who are displeased with something God has said or required. You might remember the story of Naaman the leper in 2 Kings 5. When Naaman came to Elisha seeking healing, the prophet of God sent a messenger to Naaman who told him to "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean" (2 Kings 5:10). Naaman was none too pleased with these instructions from the Lord. In fact, he became "furious." Another example is found in the New Testament account of the rich young ruler; he was not pleased when Jesus told him, "Sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matthew 19:21). The text says that "he went away sorrowful" (Matthew 19:22). He wasn't pleased with God's requirements for his life.
Such displeasure with the will of God is dangerous to our souls. Displeasure leads to disobedience, and ultimately to eternal destruction.
Consider the following instructions from the Lord, and in each case ask yourself, "Does this displease me?" Also, notice with me why these commands displease some people.
Obviously, we could go on with a lot more commands of God that people don't like. But let's be clear. There is not one command of God that is not good for us to keep. They were all given for our benefit, not as burdens. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). And further, human creatures have no business being displeased with the commands and actions of their Creator. "But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?'" (Romans 9:20). "Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases" not whatever pleases us (Psalms 115:3). If we find ourselves being displeased with Him, we need to adjust our attitude.
The weeping prophet of Anathoth made it clear that refusing to walk in "the old paths" was a definite sign of apostasy on the part of Judah. "Thus saith Jehovah, 'Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls:' but they said, 'We will not walk therein'" (Jer. 6:16). Another prophet told his fellows to "leave the landmarks alone" (Hos. 5:10). Babylonian captivity was a harsh reality for thousands, because of rebellion in their hearts and spiritual apathy in their lives! And today, one can see the same trend within the Lord's church. Especially can we observe a disdain for God's plan regarding the purity of the church and the sanctity of the home.
Following the biblical criteria is more than some folk intend to do. When we read and compare the background of the problem in Jeremiah's day with the parallel situation of today, we learn again that human nature has not changed in all these centuries. A current lack of regard for divine mandates can be clearly detected by any honest student of the Scriptures. What caused the apostasy in Jeremiah's time? Why would his contemporaries reject "the old paths"? And why are these exact problems in our midst today?
Let us list eight clear-cut contributions to the folly of Judah in 600 B.C., and then see the sad application to our own spiritual decline. If we can gain insight into human weakness and thereby correct our back-sliding ways, our study shall be beneficial. If we do not have the wisdom and the fortitude to change, then something even worse than Babylonian captivity awaits us. The reasons God punished Israel and Judah can be found in Judges 2 and II Chronicles 36. Briefly, those passages tell us that Jehovah is tired of their: (1) Idolatry, (2) Ingratitude, (3) Immorality, (4) Disobedience, (5) Stubborn will, (6) Rebellion, (7) Flippant attitude toward worship, (8) Mocking of the prophets.
The form of idolatry that staggers many people today is the overwhelming sin of covetousness (Col. 3:5). In the church, we have many stingy givers who hinder the progress of the gospel due to an obsession with houses, lands, furs, jewelry, and other fancy, mundane concerns that war against the simplicity of "the old paths." Worldliness occupied the minds of Israel and Judah in the days of the prophets of old, and such carnality robs God of full allegiance from many professing Christians in our time.
Rebellion toward the word of the Lord is graphically portrayed in the lack of Bible knowledge so rampant among members of the body of Christ in this generation. We cannot walk in the old paths if we do not know even where they are (II Tim. 2:15)! We cannot teach what we do not know (Heb. 5:12)! When we procrastinate about improving our spiritual depth, this very delay becomes a tool of the devil in capturing our souls and leading us in the direction of bondage. Far too many of us seek out easy preaching that demands very little, because we "love to have it so" (Jer. 5:31).
One of the saddest scenes in Judah's doom is in Jeremiah 7:1-11 where the seed of Abraham made their sanctuary their cemetery! Yes, they put too much stress on the temple and forgot to cleanse their own hearts (Joel 2:13). Likewise, some brethren today refuse to walk in the old paths of personal devotion while they foolishly center their religion around a building, a paid "staff" and a program. When we try to guide ourselves (Jer. 10:23), we lose contact with our Maker (II Cor. 3:5) and the church crumbles. Such deterioration was carefully chronicled in Lamentations 4, where Jeremiah, weeping, reminded Judah of how the people who had been raised in scarlet now searched the garbage dumps looking for tiny reminders of the past!
Just as Judah mocked the prophets, some today chide faithful proclaimers of the gospel. Walking in the broad path that leads to perdition (Matt. 7:13-14) will prove to be a course we will live to regret. Deceptive human pride thwarts heaven's plan and causes us to fall (Prov. 16:18). Jeremiah impressed Judah that one must seek the old paths, and not avoid them. Therein is the key. When good and honest hearts desire to do right in the sight of heaven, the problem will be quickly solved. May God help us to point men in that direction, and may we also be sure that we also walk there, as well!
-- Johnny Ramsey