In the Old Testament, the Israelites FINALLY got settled into the Promised Land, only to enter into yet another period of restless discontent. I so get this. I have a history of obsessing over home improvement projects. As soon as one is completed, I immediately move onto the next desired thing. This has been very disappointing to my husband, who believed me for a long time when I said, “If we do this…I’ll be perfectly content!” He’s wised up to that line.
The Israelites looked around at their neighbors and found that these countries had kings and they wanted one too. God wasn’t too keen on the idea, seeing as how he wanted them to turn to him, not some random king. Eventually, God gave the people what they wanted, but it turned out that the kings brought with them plenty of woe.
Installing a king is no small thing; I imagine it brings with it much the same anxieties that were stirred in our last presidential election. Even King David, a man after God’s own heart according to the scriptures, had ISSUES. These issues eventually resulted in a giant time out for God’s chosen ones. Assyria and Babylon overtake the Promised Land and carry the people off into captivity. Resources and cities are destroyed; lives were lost and families splintered. People began to wonder about a God who would allow them to be oppressed.
And in spite of the fact that this all happened because these people had neither worshipped nor honored God, you know what those silly gooses did? They demanded that God give THEM an account of his actions. Sheesh!
Put that way, it sounds kind of….stupid. But don’t we do this all the time?
It happens when we choose to marry someone who shows up with so many red flags waving in the wind that it looks like the beach during a hurricane. But we ignore those red flags and head to the altar to wed in denial-soaked bliss. Sometimes we end up getting what we want, not what we need and it turns out to be bad news.
How does God respond? We catch a glimpse towards the end of the Old Testament, when those naughty Israelites demand a response from God. Here’s what he says. “I have loved you.” (Malachi 1:2) The people of Israel did not FEEL loved; they had no discernment about their situation. Tomorrow we will see how God responds to this bunch of people doing the best they can.