The Apostle Peter warned the early Church of the destructiveness of the devil, the great accuser of God and His people, the Chief instigator of evil, and opponent to the Will of God. But if we read in Job 1, the devil’s power is limited on earth. He’s not free to act in the affairs of mankind…he must ask permission from God. That’s because the devil is finite…a fallen angel lacking divinity. Granted, the devil has more power than earthly creatures, but infinitely less than the Lord. (I John 4:4) So that’s why Peter is telling us to be wary and exercise restraint over our own impulses, emotions, and desires…for this is the devil’s favorite playground…getting us to react impulsively…lacking wisdom or forethought.
The world doesn’t understand, when in the midst of present trouble, a Believer will respond with praise rather than pessimism. That we will hold on to hope, not giving up, allowing time for God to answer our prayers. Yes, this all seems rather silly to the world. But when we take our eyes off the situation and place them on God…when we respond to the pain with praise…His peace and comfort will fill our hearts as we wait. The world will never understand the Lord’s majestic holiness that is without equal and is completely perfect…but in Him is where our hope lies.
We can hear the Word of God preached for years, but never transition it from head knowledge to heart knowledge. We can acknowledge it as infallible and divine, but until we actually put it into practice in our life, it’s all just nice words. For God’s Words to make a profound difference we need to do what James 1:2 says, “Don’t merely listen to the Word…do what it says.” We can’t just acknowledge it, we need to receive it as the truth, embrace it as real, and obey it by conforming our actions. And when we do this, we are building our life not on the unstable, fickle, and erratic world view, but on the foundational bedrock of Jesus Christ. So when the storms of life come, (and we all know they will) we can stand strong against them because of Him.
The Jewish people wanted their cake & eat it too, and this extended to their worship. Baal was the dominant Canaanite god of rain and fertility of the land, so they thought they could hedge their bets by appeasing both God & Baal at the same time. But anytime you dabble in the occult, you’ll get sucked into things you don’t want. So before they knew it, the people found themselves worshipping Baal in the ritualistic dance around the altar, (called a limping dance). So Elijah had come to call them into account for prostituting themselves to foreign gods, forsaking their One true God, and breaking covenant with Him.
Deuteronomy 29:18 also makes this concept quite clear, warning of those whose heart turns away from the Lord, and making sure that there’s no root among you that produces such bitter poison. In other words, when a person no longer relies on God’s grace but themselves, they can become a root bearing bitter fruit…spreading doubt and disloyalty towards the Lord among fellow Believers. So we need to encourage one another to remain faithful… bring those who have turned away back to the Lord…but we also need to oppose any apostasy within the fellowship before there’s trouble and defilement.
Sometimes we look at our present circumstances… and then look at God’s promises, and the contrast is huge. The city of Jericho was a formidable stronghold…a fortified walled city…but God promised Joshua that it would be given into his hands…if he had faith and obeyed. And so for six days the people obeyed. But on the seventh day, God’s instructions were explicated, (and if we think about it, paralleled His creation work in Genesis). For when the battle cry came from the people’s mouth, the walls of Jericho violently and suddenly fell…sending a powerful message to the Canaanites that Israel’s victory wasn’t by any means mere human ability, but only by their God displaying His power and might. But it also graphically showed the Israelites that God was with them, and that they needed only to trust Him to claim the Promised Land.
It’s only through Jesus we have access to God the Father. It’s only by His blood that we can confidently enter the Most Holy Place…having obtained the priestly privilege…. not through the sacrifice of animals, but by the atoning precious blood of our Savior Jesus Christ. For it’s not in our merits we posses that we can do this, but only in the person and work of Him Who came to save the world from its sin. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 10:19) Let us today rejoice in that access with confidence and assurance.
Our great and benevolent Lord wants all men to be delivered and come to a saving knowledge of the Truth. He takes no delight when the wicked die in their sin. But neither does God happily bring affliction or grief to the children of men. (Lamentations 3:33) That’s because we’re pretty good at doing it to ourselves and then being forced to live with the consequences of our bad choices. His real delight comes in those who fear Him and put their hope in His unfailing love. (Psalm 147:11)…for His deepest desire is to pardon, forgive, and save us from ourselves and spiritual death.
John 1:12, ” Yet to all who received Him, to those who believe in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God.” You’ve been adopted into the Family of God if you have acknowledged Jesus as the Lord of your life, received Him as your personal Savior, and have determined within yourself to follow Him with all your heart, soul, and mind. But don’t expect the world to understand your confession of faith…for the world-order is a man-centered spirit relying on self-reliance and total independence from God. The world doesn’t understand Christians because they don’t know God…and what the world doesn’t understand, they usually react negatively to. But the world can learn about God…it’s called the Good News of the Gospel Message…and more Christians need to be professing their faith and proclaiming Jesus to those who have never heard.
Habakkuk was a prophet during the time that Babylon was invading and crushing all other nations. His Book is a dialogue between God and him where Habakkuk asks God why the tyrant, Babylon, is allowed to flourish…causing deliberate and brutal infringement upon others. Habakkuk’s questions for the Lord are both piercing and compassionate…”How can the wicked prosper at the expense of the righteous? How can You just sit there and act indifferently while Your people suffer? How can You even tolerate watching all this wrong doing?” Fast forward to today and we could be asking God the very same questions. That’s because around us everywhere seems to be misery, violence, and oppression and we may think like Habakkuk that God doesn’t care…but He does! For God is completely wise and sovereign…seeing all and hearing all…and at the appointed time He will act on behalf of His people.