Read His Words Before Ours!
The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord,
and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years.
And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel… (Judges 6:1-2)
Israel had been brought into the Promised Land. The place of refuge and bounty promised for centuries to Israel as their inheritance from the Lord.
Yet, here they were, oppressed by their enemies and starving for food.
Enemies they had been told would be given into their hand.
Once they had enjoyed abundance, now they lived in fear, and turned over whatever meager food they managed to grow to their oppressors.
But wasn’t this the Promised Land?
Where was the Promise?
What they, (and if we’re honest…we…) missed was the blessing.
Abundance. Wealth. Plenty of food. Fine houses. Peace from their enemies.
These were not the blessing.
But Israel had her eyes set on the gift rather than the giver.
Adam & Eve had it all.
A luxurious garden, perfect happiness, meaningful work, and satisfying relationships.
stress or conflict or hurt feelings or anger or brokenness.
But their exit scene consisted of flaming swords waving back and forth by two militant angels, preventing any future return and signaling a permanent, irreparable rift between Adam and Eve and……happiness.
Ever since the Garden drama, we (as in, all of humanity) have been busily attempting to recover this deeply tragic loss of happiness.
Plenty of money.
Deep, meaningful friendships.
Significance in work.
Why don’t we experience it in ongoing, continuous fashion?
Why is happiness so elusive?
Why does emptiness set in so quickly?
Where’s the Promised Land?
Why the flaming swords barring our return?
Doesn’t God want us to be happy?
Instead of fullness and rich satisfaction, we experience sibling rivalry, an unfaithful spouse, news of tragic death, depression, mental illness, destructive weather patterns, and deadly disease.
If we were made to deeply enjoy as Adam and Eve once did,
why would God remove the blessing?
Because the blessing is found only in one root: the triune God Almighty.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve enjoyed the pleasures around them
because they were already enjoying the greatest Pleasure: God Himself.
Flaming swords blocked the re-entry to happiness because God was honoring our choice to look beyond Himself for total delight.
He knew we wouldn’t find it.
He knew we would be replacing sheer pleasure with utter brokenness.
But because He loves us well, He allowed us to choose.
And we chose us.
BUT HE CHOSE US
So He pursued, right beside us, never forsaking, with hand outstretched as we walked through loneliness, painful wounds, tragic loss, endless sadness, weariness, and massive burdens we were never intended to bear. He stayed. He pursued.
While we kept looking for happiness.
As one blessing was removed after another for Israel, the Lord kept whittling down the pleasures they could see with their eyes and experience with their flesh, in order for them to finally see what they had been missing all along: God Almighty.
The Lord ached handing over Israel to their enemies.
The Lord grieved in sending Adam and Eve from the Garden.
The Lord mourned as He watched His beloved ones choose lesser loves again and again and yet again.
And His heart breaks when we do the same….
A baby to help fix our marriage.
An abortion to help fix my life.
Extra hours to help my bank account.
Another job to give my kids more gifts.
More food to fill my cravings.
Another cut in my flesh to make me feel something, anything.
More time at the gym as I obsess over my body.
More of this, more of that, and the chase for happiness continues
without ever quite grasping it.
All the while, True Delight is waiting for our eyes to adjust and finally see Him as He is:
There exists nothing beyond God Himself that will satisfy.
No well-manicured lawn.
No perfectly shaped body.
No precious child.
No loving spouse.
None is better or fuller or richer or deeper than God Almighty Himself.
We read Judges and we see Israel’s punishment.
We see a blessing removed.
We see a promise withheld.
But what we miss is the God who wanted Israel to see that HE was the blessed gift.
Look around, lovely friend.
See those blessings removed?
See that emptiness lying there?
See the frustration that grates against your soul?
See the wounds which tear your heart?
Yes, yes, we see those.
But do you see the truest Gift who waits for your return?
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!