“And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?’ then you shall say to them: ‘Because your fathers have forsaken me, declares the LORD, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law, and because you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, every one of you follows his stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to me.’”
Two things strike me as I read these verses. First, the blindness of unbelievers to their own sin. That they can be steeped in it and yet not able to comprehend how God could possibly hold anything against them. And how very reflective that is of our culture, where so many are entirely blinded to their sins against a just, holy, righteous God who sent His Son to redeem them in mercy at great cost to Himself, if they will only see and believe and turn to Him. This state of unbelievers should break our hearts and drive us to our knees in prayers characterized by humility, grace, and love.
The second aspect that stands out is the one I want to focus on today. The fathers of those who questioned the Lord had turned against Him to other (false and lifeless) gods. Yet the sin of these people was stated as worse. And that sin? Following their own “stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen” to the Lord. Refusing to listen. This is what the Lord highlights in this passage as grievous. A very serious offense.
And that’s convicting to process.
Oh, may we never be in this camp. Those refusing to listen to the Lord and instead following their own stubborn, evil will. Because a will stubbornly set on one’s own course in refusal to listen to the God of wisdom and love and grace and all authority is a will that is evil.
Strong words. But to refuse to listen to the Lord – whether a disregard of how His Word commands us to act, speak, and live or a silencing of the movement of His Spirit in our hearts when we know He is leading us to a certain path or conversation – this refusal places us on dark, dangerous ground. Ground that makes us very, very vulnerable to other temptations to sin. Because we are choosing to silence the voice of God within us as we set ourselves above Him.
Let us not take this lightly. It is true that if we have chosen to believe and trust in Christ for salvation, repenting of our sin and being made alive in Him, we cannot lose that, because “God will not let us lose Him.” That phrase is one my brother once wrote, and I love the hope in it, grounded in John 10:28-29. But assurance of salvation does not free us to then go our own way. It frees us to walk joyfully in the path of light and beauty, the path of righteous obedience down which God will lead us.
May we determine to be those who declare with the Promised One of whom Isaiah wrote, “The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward…the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:5, 7).
The Lord’s commands, the way He outlines us to live and give of ourselves in humility and grace, the directions He may lead us in this life, and how He calls us to respond to trial and offenses against us can be very difficult to hear and obey in faith.
But oh, let us trust Him here. Let us trust that His way is not just life, but life abundant. His way is joy. His way is peace. We will not find those elsewhere. Only in Him. Only by opening ourselves up to hear Him, receive His Word, and follow faithfully. He will not let us down. We will not be put to shame. Because we are not alone here.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
“Seek the LORD while He may be found;
call upon Him while He is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.”