This is my final post in a series of three posts about spiritual lessons we can learn from these difficult economic times.
In the first post (Wednesday) we learned that in biblical times God used difficult economic situations for His Glory. We looked at the story of Ruth to highlight that at times God will uproot, or physically move people during poor economic times with the end goal of fulfilling his plan. If you missed that post be sure to read it here first.
In the second post (Friday) we looked at the Prodigal Son and learned that at times God will use economic conditions to provide an environment for spiritual reflection. If you missed that post be sure to read it here.
Story Number Three: The Experiences of the Nation of Israel
“When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12, NIV)
Starting in Numbers 22 is the story of a prophet named Balaam. As the story concludes, we learn that God can turn a curse into a blessing. Unfortunately, we are talented in the opposite way. We often take blessings and turn them into a curse. This was exactly what God feared would happen to the nation of Israel. He feared that when he gave them wealth they would forget the Lord.
In 1 Kings 17:1 God put a plan into action. Through the mouth of the prophet Elijah God announces that there will be no rain or dew for the next few years. Once again, God reaches into his teaching tool box and pulls out the ever effective teaching tool – a famine. The hearts of his people had gone astray and God wanted to woo them back.
The landscape is now set for the well known stand off on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:16ff)
“Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.” (1 Kings 18:21, NIV)
The sin of the people was not removing God from their belief system. Rather, their sin was adding other gods to their belief system. Their hope and trust shifted away from a trust exclusively in God to a partial trust in God and a partial trust in the gods.
“Since you trust in your deeds and riches, you too will be taken captive, and Chemosh will go into exile, together with his priests and officials.” (Jeremiah 48:7, NIV)
In other words, because Israel misplaced their trust, (by trusting in their own ability and in other gods) God brought a difficult economic situation to solidify their trust once again.
What does this mean for us today?
How many of us felt the world crashing down in the midst of the 2008 ‘meltdown’? It challenged our hopes and dreams. It offended our sense of security. It assaulted our feelings of comfort. We were jolted.
Personally, one of the greatest blessings of the 2008 experience was the opportunity to ask myself where is my treasure? The severity of our reaction probably provided a glimpse into our truest trust.
God always feared that something else would be more comforting than Him. His righteous jealousy coils at the security we find in stuff. He is saddened when our hopes and dreams are anything beyond fellowship with him.
At times God will use difficult economic conditions to allow our trust to be exposed or even to reestablish our exclusive trust in him.