The Rebellion

I remember as a kid at times wishing I was 18 and out of the house so there would be no rules or restrictions on my conduct.  18 was the magic number.

Of course, I wasn’t thinking about the rules I would have to follow in college, driving down the road, buying a house, or working a job.  I sure wasn’t thinking of the hidden requirements in public or social settings.

Although I have bucked authority at times in my life, I am a pleaser at heart and usually follow rules.  I never tried to steal as a kid, although once as a young adult I very nearly walked out of Wal-Mart with unpaid lipstick hidden in my shopping cart basket.  That scared me bad (even though I was the one who caught the mistake).  I pictured a police officer handcuffing me as the evening news did a bit on my shoplifting story.

You know, I didn’t think about it for a long time . . . because from the outside, I could keep people fooled . . . but I was in rebellion against God.

I could say the right things, even do the right things . . . but never for the right reasons.  In my heart, I struggled to trust God, even to love Him.  I was afraid of Him; I didn’t understand Him . . . and I didn’t understand His rules.

I was really like the Israelites who, after being led from Egypt with miracles from God, still chose rebellion.

“They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.  Therefore you did not desert them, even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies. 

“Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.  You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.” (Nehemiah 9:17-21, TNIV)

Wait a minute, I could say.  But God hasn’t performed any miracles for me!

Or has He?

Isn’t the greatest miracle of all time not the parting of the Red Sea or the manna falling from Heaven or even the pillar of cloud and fire . . . but the sacrifice of God on the cross?

The Israelites wanted to

return to their slavery

All those years I was in rebellion against God . . . I was asking to return to slavery.  I was wanting to appoint a new leader–Satan–over my life.  I tried to replace the love and gift of Christ with my own efforts to get into Heaven.  I was trying to get to the Promised Land, but I was heading back to the place of eternal slavery to sin.

Yet God, in His mercy, kept me breathing, as He sustained the Israelites in the wilderness.  Just as God didn’t abandon them, He didn’t abandon me.  He gave me what He gave them: more time.  Just as He gave them all they needed to survive more years in rebellion, He gave me all I needed to survive more years in my rebellion . . . because of His truly

great compassion

But the story of the Israelites in the wilderness ended for most of them in tragedy.  When God led them to the brink of the Promised Land, most of them threw one more rebellion.

I was angry with those people for forty years.
I said, ‘They are not loyal to me
and have not understood my ways.’
I was angry and made a promise,
‘They will never enter my rest.’ ” 
(Psalm 95:10-11, NCV)

Rebellion is a dangerous game that can end at any time.  At any time, God has the right to revoke the opportunity we have to receive His Son, to give us our last breath, to call us into account.

If we we enter the gates of death in rebellion, we, too, will never enter God’s rest.

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:8b-11, ESV)

God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,

“In my anger I took an oath:

‘They will never enter my place of rest,’”

even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. (Hebrews 4:1-3, NLT)


See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on September 24, 2011 at 7:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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