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Series Theme:   "Why?" Meditations

Meditation No.

Meditation Title: Introduction & Overview


Gen 4:6   Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?


I've chosen this verse as an introduction to this series, because it is sufficiently well known that we can use it to illustrate something important. This verse is about God questioning Cain. When we read it, we know that God knows the answer to His questions, and Cain is in the wrong. God doesn't ask nasty questions without a good reason, and it is that He is wanting us to face the truth. He's not in the wrong; we are!


Now this series is all about the questions that people ask in the Bible and unlike our verse above, they ask them because they don't know what is going on, but like the situation above, there are reasons for asking and there are answers to the question.

The world is full of people asking questions - and that includes Christians!  Life is not always straight forward, which is why we ask questions. As we go through this series I hope you will find that the Bible has answers to your questions. You may not always like those answers but it is up to us to conform our thinking to God's, not His to ours!


As I've already indicated, human questions always arise out of tricky circumstances and so I hope you will find great value observing the circumstances that create the various questions we'll be looking at, and the answers that arise as we look more deeply into what is going on. Hopefully, as we allow God's word to speak to us, we may come to a new understanding of how to cope with the difficulties of life.




Gen 25:22

The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?"

When things seem upsetting


Gen 32:29

Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.

Questioning God


Exo 5:22

Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me?

When God's direction seem to go wrong


Exo 6:12

But Moses said to the LORD, "If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?"

When past experience challenges future faith


Exo 6:30

But Moses said to the LORD, "Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?"

When present limitations challenge future faith


Exo 14:15

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.

When we need provoking into faith


Exo 32:11

But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. "O LORD," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?

When God's intentions seem harsh


Num 11:13

Where can I get meat for all these people?

When God's resources seem inadequate


Num 12:8

Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"

When we are challenged as to our lack of respect


Num 14:3

Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?

When God's plan seems to be working out badly


Deut 29:24

All the nations will ask: "Why has the LORD done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?"

When God's judgement comes on His people


Psa 2:1

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?

Why nations seem to stand against God


Jud 5:13

But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?

When present circumstances seem to deny the Lord's presence


Jud 21:3

O LORD, the God of Israel," they cried, "why has this happened to Israel ? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?"

When circumstances seem perplexing


1 Sam 4:3

Why did the LORD bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines?

When we suffer defeat at the hands of the enemy


Psa 10:1

Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

When God seems distant


Psa 10:13

Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, "He won't call me to account"?

When evil men seem to get away with it?


Psa 22:1

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

When God seems to have left us


Psa 42:5

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?

Why we are upset


Psa 42:9

I say to God my Rock, "Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?"

When God seems to have forgotten us


Psa 44:23

Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.

When God seems to be asleep


Psa 44:24

Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?

When God seems to be hiding Himself


Psa 52:1

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man? Why do you boast all day long?

Why the pride of man boasts


Psa 68:16

Why gaze in envy, O rugged mountains, at the mountain where God chooses to reign, where the LORD himself will dwell forever?

Why people are envious of us


Psa 74:1

Why have you rejected us forever, O God? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?

When God seems to have pushed us away


Psa 74:11

Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!

When God seems reticent to destroy evil


Psa 79:10

Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?"

Why people are atheistic


Psa 80:12

Why have you broken down its walls so that all who pass by pick its grapes?

When God seems to have destroyed His own people







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Series Theme:   "Why?" Meditations

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Meditation No. 1

Meditation Title: When things seem Upsetting


Gen 25:22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?"


Life in this Fallen World often seems a roller coaster. One minute it is the slow climb to the heights of blessing, which is followed by a period of peace and you rejoice in the goodness of God and how wonderful life is. The next minute you are on the downward rush and everything seems out of control and you find yourself screaming (inwardly at least), “God where are you? Why is this happening to me?” Uncertainty is a most common characteristic of this world. This is not being pessimistic to say this; it is just being realistic, for this is just how life is. It is a mix of ups and downs.


Gen 25:21-24 reveals a classic ‘roller coaster of events. Let's check it out. It's the story of Isaac and his wife Rebekah. Isaac is forty when he marries Rebekah (v.20) and sixty when she has her children (v.26), so they waited twenty years for her to conceive. That's a long time and in that time it is easy to lose hope and give up the thought of ever having children. Now we are not told a great deal about Isaac in the Bible but one thing we should note: “Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren.” (v.21a). We aren't told when he started praying but it would appear that he probably prayed for a long time before we find, “The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant (v.21b). Now these two things put this pregnancy on a special footing. As far as they were possibly concerned, it was just a nuisance to have to wait that long, but the reality was that this was not just a normal, casual pregnancy; this was a pregnancy that for some reason had been held back until God stepped in and enabled Rebekah to conceive. There has now a divine element to it which is significant.


Now we have to remember that this was not a day when they had scans and were able to see what was going on in the womb. All Rebekah knows is that she is now pregnant and then suddenly it's not just a case of “The baby is kicking” but there seems total turmoil within her. Suddenly she is concerned and suddenly we arrive at the question with which we start this series: “ Why is this happening to me? ” Unfortunately it is so easy to read these things and skim over the words without taking in what is going on.

It is the cry in the face of unexpected and upsetting circumstances. We are not omniscient like God, and so we don't know everything; we don't know why this is happening and we don't know where it is leading, so it leaves us in a place of concern. That is a very gentle way of putting it! Actually sometimes the circumstances can bring extreme anxiety with them. It's funny really, when we cry, “Why?” it almost assumes there has got to be a clear reason or purpose behind what it going on. We actually don't think things happen randomly. We believe that actions have consequences and if we are suffering the consequences we want to know what brought this about.


If the circumstances are illness, accident, infirmity etc. our cry might be, “Why me?” which implies, why I have I been picked out for this to happen to? Now do you see that there is implied here, a hand behind what is happening. If life was pure blind chance, such questions are meaningless, but we ask them because we don't want it to be that. Solomon had a sense of this when he wrote: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end(Eccles 3:11). What he was saying was that God has put something in us that has a sense that there is more to life than this materialistic moment. We have a sense that there is something much more yet, when we struggle to reason it out on our own, we cannot see it. Oh yes, every cry of “Why?” implies a rational reason, a reason that suggests there is a purpose to what is going on – and I don't know what it is!


Now Rebekah is an excellent example to us. If we can face the implications of our cry, then Rebekah's response is the only response, the logical response: “So she went to inquire of the LORD(v.22). If God is behind this, why not ask Him what He's doing? Then see something beautiful: “The LORD said to her… (v.23). She gets an answer. The Lord explains to her, somehow, what is going on. There are two boys struggling within her, not one. Suddenly Rebekah is no longer on the outside, she is on the inside of understanding, she knows what God knows, she knows this is God's activity. He's on her case!


So, can we recap? When circumstances occur that are unexpected and upsetting, and we cry, “Why?” realize that you are assuming there is a rational explanation for them, there is a hand behind them, and that hand must be God. Now if that is true and God has a purpose for my life, then it must include what is going on, and the obvious thing to do is ask Him about what is happening. And if you ask what is happening, expect an answer. Take time to sit quietly before the Lord and ask and listen, and dare to believe you are getting an answer. Sometimes the answer may take a while to come, or perhaps it may take a while for your way of thinking to be changed so that you can hear and take in God's answer, but it will come. How do I know that? Because he's said so! “Ask (and go on asking) and it will be given to you.” (Mt 7:7). So, talk to the Lord about your, “Why?” and expect an answer!








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Meditation No. 2

Meditation Title: Questioning God


Gen 32:29    Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.


There are times in life when everyone wonders about God. For many people I suspect it is only a brief thought. For a good number of others they will think longer, but perhaps only see the questions as some juvenile intellectual wonderings, and move on to some other mind exercises. But a question that must arise in many people's minds must be, if there is a God, what sort of person is he? Millions across the globe have very confused ideas about the answer to this question, and many are unable to put a definite description to His character, and many worship idols made by man's hands, as if they contain some form of deity. But it is a natural and right question to ask. Moses in his first encounter with the Lord at the burning bush asked, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, `The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, `What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?” (Ex 3:13). In this he was following in Jacob's footsteps.


For the Hebrews, names were significant. Names meant something. Names conveyed something about a person. For instance consider the first called-out relationship with God in the Bible, that of Abraham: “Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations(Gen 17:3-5). The notes at the bottom of the page in your Bible will tell you that Abram means exalted father and Abraham means father of many. Then his son, “Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac” (Gen 17:19) and the note tells you that Isaac means he laughs, a constant reminder to them that Sarah laughed at the thought of having a child in her old age. Following Isaac we find: “When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob” (Gen 25:24-26) and your notes will tell you Esau simply means hairy or red and Jacob means he deceives or twister. (What a name to get over!). After the encounter above, we find, “ Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel , because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome (Gen 32:28) and Israel means he struggled with God or he overcame. Following them we find, “She named him Joseph, and said, "May the LORD add to me another son (Gen 30:24) and Joseph means he adds, a name of future hope once she had at last has a child.


Prophetic names, names that spoke of who they were or what they would do. Even Moses: “When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water” (Ex 2:10) and Moses means draws out . Abraham was a name declaring God's purpose, Isaac was a reminder of God's sovereignty, Jacob was a reminder was a reminder of a nature to be overcome, Israel, that with God's help he had overcome, Joseph a prophetic declaration that God would add salvation through him, and Moses a prophetic declaration that God would draw out Israel from Egypt. Significant stuff!


Thus Jacob, the twister, wrestles all night with a man (32:24), God in human form. What do you do when you wrestle? You try to get the other person to submit, thus we find God wresting with Jacob to get him to submit to him – be he won't. They wrestle through the night. The future of the Hebrews hangs on the outcome. Will Jacob submit to God? Will God be able to get Jacob to let Him lead his life and his future family? So they wrestle. Jacob wouldn't give way so God puts his hip out of joint. He is now struggling in great pain and weakness. The outcome becomes more sure. Jacob can't you see that you can't overcome God? Submit! The man tells him, “Let me gobut he won't. Jacob is beginning to realize who it is (if he hadn't known before), who it was he was wrestling with and so says, “I will not let you go unless you bless me (v.26) So the man asks Jacob his name. He makes him face up to who he is, the sort of person that this name accurately described. The start of blessing is facing who we are. Jacob confesses it and is renamed, but carries on wrestling. Now there are other issues at stake. Now he asks, “ Please tell me your name Note the ‘please'. He is saying, I want to know you. Now the interesting thing here is that God doesn't give him an answer. For Jacob it was to be a life of faith, working out who this Almighty God is. It wasn't until Moses asked the question that we find the answer, “I AM”, or the eternal One, the One who always is.


We can short circuit your question by “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8) and if you want to put content to that look at Jesus, but the truth is that when any one of us wonders, we need a personal answer, we need to know for ourselves just who God is. You can know it in your mind as you read these notes and you read the Bible, but you need to hear the Lord Himself express to you, who He is for you. He needs to be personal for you. Ask Him, seek Him and know Him.






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Series Theme:  "Why?" Meditations

Meditation No. 3

Meditation Title: When God's Directions seem Wrong?


Ex 5:22      Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me?


Trying to understand the circumstances of life is a major human preoccupation! Guidance is a subject that has helped fill bookshelves. Likewise prophecy! It's perhaps the reason there are so many “Why?” questions in the Bible. The bad news – and let's state it from the outset – is that even the people who seemed to have the closest walk with God were not immune from “Why?” questions. Our problem, I believe, is that we can't see the whole picture. We can't see the end! I think the best illustration I've heard of this is to do with the football or rugby game on TV. If you are watching it live, the outcome is unknown and so it is tense as you watch ‘your' team's ups and downs during the match. However supposing you recorded it because you were out, and when you came back you were greeted by someone who saw it and couldn't help themselves telling you the high points and the outcome. Nevertheless, you sit down and watch the recorded match – but now you know the outcome, you know that your team won. That makes watching it a completely different experience. All the tension has gone – you know the end!


The tricky bit about walking with the Lord is that He only seems to give us an overview of what was going to happen and so we come to this point in time when all is not going well and so Moses complains to the Lord and asks, “why have you brought trouble upon this people?” To catch the full import of this we need to backtrack and see what had gone before.


At the encounter at the burning bush, the Lord had told Moses that He had a task for him: “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt (Ex 3:10). Seems fairly simple if you don't think about it, but hold on, Pharaoh is the big all-powerful ruler of Egypt . Perhaps he may not take kindly to this. To be fair, the Lord did explain to Moses that it would not be straight forward: “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go” (Ex 3:19 ,20) but Moses was so busy telling God why he couldn't go that he seemed to miss that bit. That had been in the early part of the conversation, and later on the Lord had said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt , see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.” (Ex 4:21) Now that was clear!


So, when Moses comes the first time to Pharaoh, Pharaoh doesn't respond positively. In fact we find, “That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people: "You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don't reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, `Let us go and sacrifice to our God.' Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies." (Ex 5:6-9) Naturally the Israelite people did not take kindly to this and the leaders complained to Moses: “May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Ex 5:21) They were not happy! It's bad enough that the world is not happy with you when you are a leader of God's people, but when the people themselves start turning against you, it becomes a very lonely place!


Thus we now find Moses crying out, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me?” Moses, you didn't take note of what God said would happen. Just like us! Paul warned us about “ the devil's schemes ” (Eph 6:11 ) and the need to put on the armour of God because there is a spiritual battle going on, but we still seem to get surprised by it! Jesus warned about persecution (Mt 5:11,44, Lk 21:12, Jn 15:20) but we still get surprised when people are nasty to us because we are Christians! How naïve we are when we think, “Lord, was it supposed to be like this?” This side of heaven and the Second Coming it will be!


Of course the thing that Moses had to learn was that this was God's battle. Yes, the Lord would use Moses to speak into the situation but He, the Lord, would be the one exercising His power to deal with Pharaoh. Again and again we have to learn the same lesson – it's the Lord who has got to do it! It's His grace that is available for us, His power that will uphold us and see us through. That's what this is all about – learning to see that it's all about Him! It's His plans being worked out, and His power that is available for us, and His word to be spoken through us.


Perhaps, before we finish, we should add one rider: don't blame the enemy for things you bring upon yourself by your own sin. There will be times when we bring upon ourselves the wrath of the world, because of our lack of wisdom or graciousness. Don't blame the Lord for that, and don't give Satan the glory for that. That was just a part of our immaturity showing through, something we've yet to learn, something we've yet to deal with. So that makes three things we have to learn to cope with: Satan, nasty people, and our own folly. Well, there's one of those we can do something about straight away, and as for the first two, the Lord's grace is there to cope. So, let's learn not to grumble and complain; it's all part of living in the Fallen World, and it's of limited duration, so let's make the most of it. Have fun!







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Series Theme:  "Why?" Meditations

Meditation No. 4

Meditation Title: When Past Experience Challenges Future Faith


Ex 6:12    But Moses said to the LORD, "If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?"


It's so easy to let the past dominate the present and the future. When the past has involved pain, we remember. We remember what it was that caused the pain and we resolve not to let it happen again. We don't like pain and so when we see it coming we want to jump aside to avoid it. It may have been literal pain, or it may have been the pain of rejection, or of embarrassment or simply of failure. Whatever it was, it hurt us, and we don't want to go through it again! Life is as simple as that, but unfortunately the Christian life isn't!


So here we have Moses. He has just been given harsh words by the Israelites who are being pressurised even more by Pharaoh following Moses' words to him. Moses doesn't like rejection. He's a frail individual in so many ways – just like us. He can just about remember forty years ago in Egypt , totally blowing it by killing an Egyptian and having to flee the land. He can look back at forty pointless years where, instead of being a Prince in Egypt he had been a lonely shepherd in the wilderness. Failure is something he knows all about. In fact if God wanted to choose the world's biggest failure to make a point to the rest of us, He couldn't have done better in choosing Moses. He knows all about failure and he's got a low self-esteem. He's sensitive to failure and he's sensitive to rejection. He didn't like either.


He had actually been obedient and gone and faced Pharaoh the first time, and that had been an amazing achievement, but it had gone wrong. That's why he complained as we saw yesterday. So the Lord encourages him: “Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country (Ex 6:1). Right! But he doesn't stop there: “God also said to Moses, "I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.” (Ex 6:2-5). He gives Moses a lot of background information, some of which he might have known before. But it establishes the background for belief. We've got a lot of that.


The Lord then gives him more to say to his own people, and he goes and tells them, only to find, “but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.” (Ex 6:9). They are under so much pressure it doesn't allow for faith. But the Lord is not put off: “Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.” (Ex 6:10,11). I suspect Moses might feel like saying, “Excuse me Lord, have you not been listening to a word I've been saying and seeing what's been happening to me?” Instead he says the words of our verse today.


On every front Moses is faced with failure. Pharaoh didn't want to know and his own people didn't want to know – but God still does! Do you see this, how Moses' past, and very recent past, failures make it very difficult for him to have faith and believe God? We have to go down to chapter 7 to see the Lord's answer: “Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country(Ex 7:1,2). Well the instructions are fairly simple. Just speak. That's all. But then more bad news: “But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt , he will not listen to you (Ex 7:3,4). Oh no!


So there we are, enjoying the Sunday morning worship and the preacher starts talking about us being witnesses for Jesus, and you sit there thinking, “Yes, I've been there, done it and been rejected by my friends.” Yes, so? Is that your fault? No! You just responded to the Spirit's prompting and spoke to them and at first they listened, but as they became convicted they got angry and rejected you. It's all right; they've some way to go with God yet, just like Pharaoh. Just hang in there and love them whenever you have the opportunity. Leave it up to God to deal with their hearts. That's not your business, it's His.


Or maybe one morning you're reading your Bible and you start thinking about a family member from whom you've been estranged for a number of years, and you get this uneasy thought that you need to go to them and seek reconciliation. Then you find yourself thinking, “No, that's crazy! The last time I did that they completely rejected me again.” Yes, so? If God's nudging, trust that He's there on their case. This may be the moment of reconciliation – or not! It may need another couple of attempts, but don't worry, they've some way to go with God yet, just like Pharaoh. All you're called to do is turn up when the Lord nudges and leave the rest to Him. And if it doesn't all work out perfectly this time, don't worry, they've some way to go with God yet, just like Pharaoh!







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Series Theme:   "Why?" Meditations

Meditation No. 5

Meditation Title: When Present Limitations Challenges Future Faith


Ex 6:30    But Moses said to the LORD, "Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?"


You may be tempted to think we are covering the same verse as yesterday. Look again, this is a repeat of the content of v.12 that we looked at yesterday, but today we have a different emphasis. Yesterday we considered how we sometimes allow the past to hinder our present or future faith. Now we focus on what we feel about our own abilities.


There are those fairly rare individuals who feel they can do anything, but mostly most of us are diffident about our abilities, especially when it involves something ‘out front' in life or in church. Ask someone to come out front at church and speak about something and so often there is a very diffident response. “Oh, I'm not sure what I could say,” or “well I haven't anything worth saying that people would find interesting,” or “suppose I make a mess of it.” All of these responses say, “Well, I'm not very good, I'd much rather you asked someone else to do it.” How very much like Moses we are. Sometimes we read about Moses and think how weak and washy he was with all of his excuses to God, but the truth is that when we start thinking about doing something that is not overtly easy, many of us immediately look to our own inabilities. “I can't do this,” or “I'm not very good at this,” are common responses in the average Christian.


This is the third time Moses is recorded as saying this. We've already noted v.12 of this same chapter and back in 4:10 we find, “Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue It may be that lacking social contact for forty years wandering in the wilderness with sheep meant that Moses just felt utterly out of his depth at being asked to do this thing. It is perhaps the equivalent of asking a Trappist monk who has lived with a vow of silence, to go to the big board room of a major corporation and argue with the Managing Director. He is genuinely out of his depth. At this point you might be starting to think, so why ever did God send Moses? Surely there must have been other people? I believe there are three answers to that and they all apply to you and me.


The first answer is that the Lord knew Moses' potential. Yes, his previous experience was not going to help a great deal when it came to arguing with the world's number one despot, but there's a lot more to the future than just Pharaoh; there are going to be forty years of wandering in the wilderness looking after the people of Israel, and the wilderness is the place where Moses is most at home now and, more than that, looking after silly sheep is his forte. So, yes, the Lord knows his potential in the bigger picture.


The second reason is that the Lord seems to love choosing the weak to confound the wise, as Paul said, “think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Cor 1:26 -29). God wants the world to know that this was His activity. God wants Israel to realize and remember this. Yes, Moses came through as the great law-giver, but all he was really, was an obedient messenger boy. God was the boss, God was the one who would do the mighty things that would sort Pharaoh and Egypt out, not Moses.


The third answer is that God can enable us to do whatever He places before us. After Moses first query about his ability to speak, the Lord said, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say(Ex 4:12). Now, in our present context, the Lord tells Moses to use Aaron has his mouthpiece and He, the Lord, will back up all they say by signs and wonders. Jesus taught, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say (Lk 12:11,12). The apostle Paul knew this very well: “ And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8) You can't get more positive about it than that! Also – “my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19 ), and, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Phil 4:13). The promises of God for provision to enable you to do what He calls you to do, are there in abundance.


So, to answer Moses question, why would Pharaoh listen to me? , the answer is because God will enable you to speak and keep on speaking and God will back up what you say by what He does. The issue is not our ability, but His!  







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Series Theme:   "Why?" Meditations

Meditation No. 6

Meditation Title: When we need provoking into Faith


Ex 14:15   Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.


Distractions in life are many. Have you ever had the experience of being at a conference at the weekend, or simply in a Sunday morning Service when the Lord has spoken so clearly to you, that you made a serious commitment to move into a new area of faith? Then comes Monday with work or college or whatever it was, and suddenly it seems as if the world is falling on you, and for a few days it seems you are fighting for survival and by the end of the week all of the glory of the previous weekend seems a blurred dream, and faith seems to be scrabbling around on the floor! Even at the heart of receiving salvation, Jesus knew that the matter of distractions were a problem. Do you remember the parable of the Sower and the Seed when he said, “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.” (Mt 13:7) and later explained, “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” (Mt 13:22). There he identified two things that distract us so that we can fail to let the word grow in us and bring full salvation. The first was “the worries of this life”. When we struggle without the Lord's grace, then worries overwhelm us and we lose what we had. The second was “the deceitfulness of wealth.” We focus on possessions, personal comfort and affluence, and we allow it to quench the work of the Spirit and we are distracted from the main purpose.


Our question today isn't actually a question from man, it is from God. Again, to catch the import of it we need to look back at what has been happening. Israel have actually been delivered from Egypt . They are on the edge of the land, about to leave the country and have arrived at the Red (Reed) Sea. God had done exactly what He had said He would do and had dealt with Pharaoh and Egypt , and Israel were now free. The only trouble is that Pharaoh has got over his initial grief at the loss of his son and is now pursuing Israel with his army, intent on vengeance. Then we find, “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD (Ex 14:10). Their cry was one of total distress and they expressed it to Moses as, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” (v.11). They were certain they were going to die. The sea was before them and the enemy were behind them. They are locked in. We could have made this question the focus of today's meditation, but considering the Lord's question is more profitable.


So why does the Lord say, “Why are you crying out to me? It's fairly obvious isn't it? Well at a human level, yes, but this isn't only at a human level. This involves God. The Christian life isn't just about life at a human level; it's about living life with God. God adds a completely new dimension to everything! What seems odd about this story is that Moses speaks out in great faith: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still(Ex 14:13,14) – but apparently the people are still crying out. It must be that which prompts the Lord to ask this question of Israel .


If a dialogue had continued at this point I suspect it would have gone as follows: God – why are you crying out? People – because we're about to be killed! God – do you think that after all I have done against Pharaoh to get you this far, I won't look after you? People – so why don't you do something? God – I'm waiting for you to ask me what to do next! But that doesn't happen so the Lord simply tells Moses to get on with it. This is not a time for fine statements of faith; it's a time for action, divinely supernatural action!


We are called to be a people of faith, and faith means action and not just words (see James 3:14 ). Jesus taught, “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these” (Jn 14:12). The people of Israel had become distracted from the main purpose – that God had promised that He would completely deliver them and deal with Pharaoh. In their leaving and traveling, and possibly tiredness, they come to a place where they are suddenly confronted with an obstacle and instead of saying, “Well, what do you want to do now, Lord?” they panic. It's a very human thing to do, but there is this better way. God delights in doing the naturally impossible, but He does want our cooperation. He's wanting to teach us Sonship, which is all about sharing the Father's heart and understanding.


So here we are, having been taught so many fine things on a Sunday morning or at a conference, and then suddenly, when we weren't expecting it, an obstacle appears that threatens us. We can either forget all we've learnt and panic and cry out in terror, or we can learn to say, “OK Lord, how do you want this to go? What do you want me to do in this?” Let's start working on the latter option, shall we?






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Meditation No. 7

Meditation Title:  When God's intentions seem harsh


Ex 32:11    But Moses sought the favour of the LORD his God. "O LORD," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?


If it sometimes seems there are many questions about what God is doing or where He is, there are also questions about what He seems to feel about situations. Within Scripture at least, there are times when God's behaviour is questionable. Those of shallow disposition who refuse to think about these things, just criticise Him – but that is a reflection on them, not Him! Only recently someone said to me, “I prayed for my daughter for a job which I' sure would be just right for her, but she didn't get it.” We look at situations and wonder why God didn't turn up for us. We look at situations and wonder sometimes why everything seems to be going wrong. We look at situations which seem to be of God's making and wonder whatever He is doing. From our perspective it's often a confusing world – but then, as we've observed before, our perspective is a very limited one. But it's understanding what God is feeling, that is sometimes particularly difficult.


Let's see what is happening now with Moses in our verse today. Moses is still up the mountain with God. He's been there forty days and down below the people first became restive, then impatient and then worried, and the upshot of all that was that they persuaded Aaron to make an image of a golden calf that they could use to focus on in the absence of God and Moses. The Lord sees this and instructs Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt ” (Ex 32:7) and He explains what they have done, concluding with, “I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation


The Lord's intention is quite clear. He wants to completely destroy this nation and will start again with Moses and make a new nation out of him and his family. What an amazing opportunity for Moses. To be shot of this people who have already been a nuisance to lead, and to simply have a relationship with the Lord without them. What an opportunity! How will He respond to this? Not as we might expect. But Moses sought the favour of the LORD his God. Surely he's already got the Lord's favour by what the Lord has offered him. No, he's going to ask for something completely different. He's going to ask something that is completely the opposite to what the Lord has said He's going to do. He asks why the Lord will do this. He is obviously questioning or challenging the Lord as to His intentions. Already there is the implication, why destroy this people that you have taken so much trouble to deliver from Egypt ? But see how he continues.


“Why should the Egyptians say, `It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: `I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever. (Ex 32:12,13) What is he saying? Well first he is saying that if He destroys them, the Lord's reputation in the world will be nothing: Why should the Egyptians say . He doesn't want the Lord's name to be abused by the Egyptians – What a God! All He can do is destroy people! Second, he reminds the Lord of His stated covenant with the Patriarchs to whom He had promised the Land. If he destroys this people now, He will be throwing away that promise.


Now doesn't the Lord know this? Does He need Moses to remind Him of these things? No of course He doesn't! So why is it happening? Because He is testing Moses! He wants Moses to reveal his heart, a heart that is willing to lay down his glory for the reputation and glory of the Lord. The Lord always know how we would respond in given situations but sometimes we need to go through them to know ourselves how we would respond. The revelation will do things for us.


So why do we go through perplexing or difficult situations? To see how we will respond! James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (Jas 1:2-4) Yes, our faith is tested, we are proved, by such things and they work in us to change us and mature us in variety of ways. So a difficult and perplexing situation comes along and you cry out to the Lord – and He seems to remain silent. How will you respond? With faith, or if you like, faithfully. Will you remain faithful to God's heart and character when nothing else seems clear? When God's ways seem unclear and you are left wondering, will you still remain true to His heart of love, peace, gentleness and goodness? Whatever comes along, will you remain true to Him? That is what this is all about. That's what the Lord is working to achieve in Moses – and in you and me.







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Meditation No. 8

Meditation Title: When God's resources seem inadequate


Num 11:13     Where can I get meat for all these people?


In economics, the ‘economic problem' is often expressed as ‘how to use our limited resources'. For most people that is the ongoing problem of life, how can I get by with limited resources? Living in the most affluent period of history yet, we no longer worry about needs, but more about wants. The accepted standard of living in the West in the twenty-first century is dramatically higher than anywhere else in the world or anywhere in previous history. Yet we still worry. How can I provide for my family is still a concern of many parents. The welfare state buffers us from starvation, yet there is still the need to stretch the limited resources. It is a common problem for the human race. Spiritual leaders find it a spiritual problem as well, for a Christian congregation is a naturally hungry people and leaders have to find the resources from the Lord to ‘feed' the people otherwise their spiritual experience will be one of spiritual poverty rather than spiritual blessing. But is also applies to us as individuals. We go through a time when we begin to feel spiritually ‘dry' or spiritually ‘barren' and we realise we are not taking in, and the Christian life loses its zest and becomes ordinary, boring, humdrum and lifeless. We need ‘feeding' we realise. Where can I get ‘spiritual food'?


For Moses the problem is again not one of need but wants. The people are in the desert being led by God and the Lord has provided manna for them. It is clearly a miraculous provision. It appears every morning for six days each week. They can collect sufficient for the next twenty four hours. If they collect more it goes off. Except on the sixth day when they can collect two day's worth because on the Sabbath the Lord was not providing it – but this time every week, the extra amount did not go off! This happened week in, week out. It was a supernatural provision. It met their needs, but ‘needs' didn't seem enough. The people cried out for something more. They wanted meat. We read, “The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost--also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Num 11:4-6). Now what is bad about this is that this is history repeating itself. On the journey from Egypt to Sinai the Lord had provided the manna and quail (see Ex 16) after the people had grumbled, but at least that had been the early days of their experiences with the Lord. We are now a year later (see Num 10:11 ) and they have experienced the Lord at Sinai. They are now three days travel from Sinai towards the Promised Land (see Num 10:33 ) when they start grumbling again.


It's important to remember this: they had had experience of the Lord delivering them from Egypt, they had had experience of the Lord providing for them on the journey to Sinai, they had had the incredible experience of the Lord at Sinai, and with all that experience, they should have learnt by now that you don't have to grumble about God's provision – He is a provider!!!! Simply ask Him! But don't grumble; that's an indication of a bad attitude. So a question to be asked here is, when you are asking of the Lord, what is your attitude? Is your asking more of a demanding that is an expression of your grumbling, or is it the childlike request of the little child asking of their Father?


The Lord has already brought discipline on Israel in the form of fire that burnt up the outskirts of the camp. That was simply a gentle warning, but now with this ongoing bad attitude, we read, “The LORD became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled(Num 11:10). This people should not be responding like this. The Lord has every reason to be upset, and His upset makes Moses concerned. He can see the Lord wanting to destroy this people again. However his pleas to the Lord have a certain self-concern about them: “He asked the LORD, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? (i.e. me!) What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me ? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, `Give us meat to eat!' I cannot carry all these people by myself ; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now--if I have found favor in your eyes--and do not let me face my own ruin (Num 11:11-15). However the Lord does not scold him. Perhaps it is a recognition by Moses that he is not the answer to Israel 's problems, the Lord is. It's a place every leader has to come to!


What was the Lord's answer? It was a twofold answer. The first part was to put His spirit on seventy elders to share the load of leadership (Num 11:16,17, 24-30) and the second part was to provide quail in super-abundance (Num 11:18 -23, 31-33). Thus the Lord showed He could provide leadership and food to meet their desires.


The lessons here? First, make sure you have a right attitude towards the Lord at all times. Second, realize that as your loving heavenly Father He will provide for all your needs. That may not mean all your wants, but he will always provide for all your needs. Can we remember these things?








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Meditation No. 9

Meditation Title: When we are challenged as to our lack of Respect


Num 12:8      Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"


In Christian circles in the West, there often seems a poor attitude in respect of leaders. This seems far less so in churches in the Far East , where respect is often a national characteristic. Yet the Bible has a lot to say about respect for leaders, spiritual and non-spiritual. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul was very clear about this: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves (Rom 13:1,2)


In the day in which we live, authority often seems to have a bad name, because those in authority abuse their position. The example of the President of the United States seems to be a reasonable illustration. It appears that the position of the President is very highly respected, yet the individual who holds that position may have a poor public image. In England the position of Prime Minister doesn't seem to hold the same awe and respect, because the English system makes that person be seen more as simply a senior Member of Parliament. When Paul speaks of the authorities, he speaks of the position of one who is there to uphold God's Laws – although in a modern democracy it is rarely seen like that. Yet that is the role of authority, to maintain order and thus protect society from evil. Thus when Paul says to Titus, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient,” (Titus 3:1) his call is not to be obedient to the whims and fancies of men, but to the role of authority. That's why Peter was able to say, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 6:26) because where men opposed God, the call was to obey God.


In the situation in our verse today, the Lord is chastising Miriam and Aaron. We find, “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. "Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?" they asked. "Hasn't he also spoken through us?" And the LORD heard this(Num 12:1,2). No doubt the enemy nudged Moses' brother and sister and they began to think about what was happening and spoke against him. They didn't approve of Moses' wife, but it seems that the lord didn't have a problem with her!


Thus it is that the Lord challenges them about their lack of respect but first He points out to them something about Moses' position: “When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD (Num 12:6-8). What was the Lord saying? He was saying, look at what happens with Moses. He's not like an ordinary prophet of mine; he has a special position with me whereby we communicate face to face. Don't you realize this? The Lord's response was to bring public disgrace to Miriam (see v.9-15) who instigated this rebellion against Moses.


There is a general principle in Scripture which is very powerful: when God brings someone into leadership, heaven help you if you raise your hand against them. We see this principle being worked out, not only in the case of Moses, but years later in the case of David and Saul. Saul had been appointed by God at the people's request, but had acted badly and been rejected by the Lord – yet he was still king. The Lord then raised up David and Saul sought to kill him. A couple of times David had the opportunity to kill Saul but his response to the prompting of his men to do it was, “Don't destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD's anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the LORD lives," he said, "the LORD himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD's anointed (1 Sam 26:9-11). i.e. if Saul has to be removed, let the Lord do it!


In the New Testament, the writer to the Hebrews wrote, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you (Heb 13:17). What he is saying there is respect the authority that they have and realize that they are accountable to God and therefore (implied) God will deal with wayward leaders. Our response, if we have a problem with a leader, is to take it to the Lord. It is not to rise up against that leader. Obviously we need to be aware that if the leader is committing blatant sin, that is something different, and others in leadership should bring a challenge to repent, but that is rare.


The writer also implies that leadership can be a real burden in the kingdom of God, and the wise flock do what they can to bless their leaders not pull them down. Spiritual leaders are the first in line for attacks from the enemy, and the person or people rising up against God's leader, is simply becoming a tool in the hand of the enemy. As difficult as it may be sometimes, we must leave them in God's hands. This is what Miriam and Aaron should have learnt. This is what that was all about. Ultimately it is a basic question of belief. Do we believe the Lord can deal with those in spiritual authority? If we simply don't like the way our leader(s) is leading then our response is to go and talk it through with the Lord first, and then perhaps graciously share your concerns with that man or men. Remember, this is God's man, so treat him accordingly.









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Meditation No. 10

Meditation Title: When God's plan seems to be working out badly


Num 14:3   Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?


The trouble with this series, is that it's all about trouble, about when life doesn't seem to be working out as we feel it should. By necessity some of the studies will have distinct similarities, the biggest of which is that things aren't going right. Now perhaps we ought to be honest and say that sometimes things are not going right as far as we can see . Very often it is how we perceive things. The classic of this is found in James. Things go wrong and we get severely stressed but James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (Jas 1:2). Now if the first part wasn't bad enough, the Consider it pure joy, the thought of trials of many kinds makes it even worse. We'd much rather have a nice easy, smooth life, but life is filled with trials of many kinds! Yet James is suggesting a complete change of mind set when things go wrong. See it, he is saying, as a testing which will produce perseverance in you, and perseverance works to make you mature. Thus, be blessed when things don't work out easily, because that will be bringing you become to mature person. Right!


Perception is all important. Do you remember in the New Testament, the classic example of this is the blind man of John 9? The disciples saw him as a butt for theological discussion; Jesus saw him as an opportunity to glorify God, do His work and bless the man. Yes, it's all about perception and perception, in the kingdom of God , is so often about belief. It certainly is in the circumstances surrounding our verse today. There is a sequence of events leading up to this verse. The people of Israel are supposed to take the land of Canaan . It is their Promised Land. Before they actually enter it, they send in twelve spies. Two of them, Joshua and Caleb, bring back positive reports. The other ten are faint hearted and faint heartedness conveys itself to others. If you want people to step out in some new initiative that requires faith, don't choose the faint hearted!


Listen to the report of these ten: “But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them (Num 13:31-33). What were they saying about the land? There are people already living there, they are stronger than we are, and they are bigger than we are, so we can't deal with them. Well the first three parts were correct but the conclusion was a conclusion of the faint hearted who lack faith. Before we see any more of this, consider the situation. The people in the land may be big, but they are likely to be disorganized, self-centred and with no objective other than survival. Israel on the other hand, are well over a million people, well organized, God-centred and very purposeful. More than that, they are being led by The Almighty God who has shown His power by delivering them out of Egypt and providing for them in the wilderness. It's a ‘no contest'! But these ten, and then the people at large, forget all about God! “That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud(Num 14:1). These people have lost perspective.


How could they do that? It is only about a month since they left Sinai with all the incredible revelations of God there. How could they forget the Lord so easily? Perhaps a natural, human answer to that is to consider what took place in that period. They journeyed by foot for about a month. That is a long time to walk with your family, your tents and your sheep and all your worldly possessions. Those who have flown any distance know the experience of jet lag, which is a tiredness that leaves you feeling very other-worldish. Being fair to the Israelites, I suspect there was something of this feeling when they arrived at the Promised Land. The only problem with excusing them like that is that they had a forty day rest period (Num 13:25) while they waited for the spies to return. They are, surely, refreshed and should, surely, be full of expectancy. After all, it is the Lord who has told them to take the Land and He goes with them, so whatever report comes back, this really shouldn't matter. But it does! They allow themselves to lose perspective and so they fear and they wonder and they think negatively.


When a difficulty occurs, how will you view it? I once came across a little poem (which I've lost now) which talked about finding a fallen tree across your path. Now will you see it as an obstacle to encumber you, or will you see it as an opportunity to climb up and get a better view as you go forward? This cry – Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? ­ – is an inaccurate conclusion when faith has slipped. Yes, there are difficulties in the Land, but God is big enough to deal with them. Has He brought you to this point to kill you off? Of course not! He's brought you here to bless you as you overcome with His enabling. This is a place of blessing!







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Meditation No. 11

Meditation Title: When God's judgement comes on His people


Deut 29:24      All the nations will ask: "Why has the LORD done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?"


The question that is being asked in our verse today, is a question that the nations of the world will ask when they see something happening. The passage of Scripture that we are about to examine is particularly serious and sobering, but we need to look at it. Deuteronomy is all about Moses speaking to Israel before they finally enter the Promised Land and before he leaves them to go to be with the Lord. It is first a reminder of where they have come from, and then a call to be obedient to God in the future. It is, if you like, Moses closing words for the people he has led for forty years.


First of all here in this chapter, Moses reminds them how they have come from Egypt – by the mighty enabling of God (v.2-8). He then calls them to enter into covenant with God, “to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (v.13). Again he reminds them of the idols of Egypt and other lands that they have seen (v.16,17) and warns them against these ‘gods' (v.18). If someone does turn to them and thinks he is safe because of the blessings pronounced on Israel , the Lord will deal with him (v.19-21). Such apostasy will bring judgement on the land and future generations will see it (v.22,23) and at that point the nations around will see it as well and wonder why this has happened. The answer will be quite clear: because the people had abandoned the Lord (v.25-28).


Now that is the background and context for this rather sober section and so we now need to consider, what do we learn from it? The first rather obvious thing is that it is all about relationship with the Lord. The covenant that was referred to was, as we noted above, all about Israel being God's people, in relationship with the Lord. In the light of what we have noted so far, one might wonder, was a relationship with the Lord a good thing? The answer has to be, of course, for all we have considered so far has been what happens when things go wrong. The following chapter starts speaking about the blessing, about the prosperity, that follows a real relationship with the Lord. Prosperity and blessing was the good side of the covenant. But the key point here is that a relationship with God IS possible. The whole Bible is all about that. The New Testament and the coming of Jesus is all about that. The salvation that Jesus brings is all about that. It is almost so obvious that perhaps we take it for granted or even forget it. This is all about relationship.


The second thing to note is that the relationship really depends on the human side. God will be utterly consistent. He will not change. He purposes goodness and blessing on the people with whom He has a relationship. That is unchanging. But the people can change, and it is their behaviour that determines how the Lord will respond to them. We can't emphasise this enough. In a relationship with the Lord, He will not change and He is always purposing blessing for us but we, being sinful human beings, have the tendency to change and waver in our relationship with Him. We are sometimes compared to sheep in the Scriptures, because sheep have a tendency to wander away and get into trouble. If things go wrong, it will not be because of the Lord, but because we have drifted away from the Lord.


The third thing to note is that drifting away from the Lord, purposefully turning away from the Lord, brings consequences. Our actions always have consequences. With God there is always blessing, but once we turn away from God, we turn away from blessing and, in fact, we come into a place where the judgement of God is seen to be operating. Imagine two plots of land. On one of them there is worship of God and in the presence of God there means great blessing. On the other plot of land there is idol worship and the absence of God, because He has been rejected, but it is more than that, because if there is not blessing there is curse. A curse simply means that God has decreed the removal of blessing from that plot of land and therefore living there will be bad news. The reason it is like that is because God isn't there with His blessing and so all that is left is a cursed land which is bad news, and hopefully, as seen in the book of Judges, such a life will cause the people there to cry out to God and ask Him to restore them back to Himself. God doesn't just leave us in a wilderness; He makes it so that it is an unpleasant wilderness, so that like sheep we will be driven back to Him where we can again receive the blessing of His presence. Can you see this?


The world is under judgement all the time; the Bible is quite clear on this. However, the people of God only come under judgement when they leave the relationship with the Lord, but when they do the contrast will be so obvious that people will comment. One way or another we are called to be a witness to the world. Hopefully we will be a witness because we are so blessed by God's presence. Unfortunately, we can also be a witness should we fall from grace because of our own folly. Even then people will look and see and realize that something is happening. Don't take this passage as negative gloom. It is simply a warning of what can happen if we are foolish enough to abandon the wonderful grace and goodness of God that we have received when we came to Him. Prize and value that grace and goodness and never let it go!









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Meditation No. 12

Meditation Title: Why nations stand against God


Psa 2:1      Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?


This is a big question, because it involves whole nations apparently, whole peoples.   It reveals an unusual facet of the world, that of rebellion against God in a corporate way. Of course that isn't to mean that every single person of any particular nation is against God, because that is never true. There were times in the life of Israel when the Lord condemned them as a nation for their pagan worship, yet there were always that minority who remained faithful to the Lord. The United Kingdom in the early years of the twenty-first century is a nation that essentially rejects the Lord. A majority say they believe in God but only somewhere between 3 and 5% of the population worship Him on a Sunday morning. The United State so often declares itself a ‘nation under God' yet figures suggest only some 20 to 30% worship Him on a Sunday morning.


In the days when this psalm would have been written there were clearly nations surrounding Israel who were overtly against them and who clearly worshipped pagan idols. There are many prophetic rebukes in the Old Testament about the folly of worshipping wooden figures made by the hands of man. When there is a nation where the majority do this, then this is a nation against God, a nation ruled by superstition.


In a modern nation, listen to the main idea-makers, the politicians and the media, and that gives you an idea of the inclination of the nation. In the U.K. we have godless majorities in Parliament and in the media, so it is not surprising that this is the ethos that is pumped out to the nation. When the church has been ineffective in conveying the Gospel message it is no surprise that many people are led astray to worship of self, or worship comfort or affluence.


But why should a people conspire and plot against God. The psalmist gives us more detail: “Let us break their chains,' they say, ‘and throw off their fetters'” (v.3). They have this strange idea that to receive the love of God is enslaving. Why should they believe this strange idea? Is it because they have heard a wrong message conveyed? You ought to be holy, you ought to be good, you ought to give up all the things that bring you pleasure! Is that the message they have heard instead of “God loves you!” Instead of a message of freedom, they have heard, or believe, a message of slavery.


But there is more to this. Sin doesn't like being restrained. Sin likes to do whatever it wants, even if it is harmful, even if it is damaging, even if it is destructive. When God says, “Don't commit adultery,” sinful mankind says, “Why shouldn't I if I want to?” The fact that it destroys relationships, and destroys families is neither here nor there to sinful man. I don't want to be fettered by God's rules, says sinful man. If I want to take things from the company I work for, who cares, they can afford it, says sinful man. Don't fetter me with talk about stealing. No, this is the heart of the answer to why people reject God: Sin! It is that self-centred, godless nature that is the problem, the thing that makes people say, “Don't you tell me what to do!”


There is behind this attitude an arrogance which is almost unbelievable. Here are men and women the size of ants with brains to match, and they turn round and say we know better than Almighty God, the One who is all-wise and all-knowing, the One who designed and created this world and who knows how it best works. There is a blindness to the truth that the Bible refers to again and again that comes with sin. It is the inability to see the truth about ourselves. It is so often seen by atheistic men and women who bluster and shout, believing as long as they get in the most words, they will be right. This is the folly that accompanies this blindness.


But there is something more terrible about this which is seen in the rest of the psalm. The fact is that God is the Lord, the all-powerful One, and no one and nothing can stand against Him. The Bible has an example for every facet of life, and this one is no exception. Nebuchadnezzar was an incredibly powerful king but he suffered from pride. He made a great idol of himself and required everyone to bow down to it. (See Dan 3:16). He received a warning through the episode with the three Jewish young men that followed. The he started having bad dreams and was warned by Daniel that he would be driven mad. He disregarded the warning and even said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty (Dan 4:30). Immediately he became insane and was cast out for seven years until he acknowledged the Lord. It was a simple thing for the Lord to do. He is God and He is all-powerful. And puny human beings dare to raise their voices to him? So weak are we that we only need to catch a bad cold to feel down.


How easy it is to bring us down, and we think we are so great. In answer to this question, Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? the honest, simple answer is, because they are stupid, and stupidity is an expression of sin. That's not an insult; it is a simple statement of fact. To be stupid means to be slow witted, lacking in sense, and obtuse, and all these things describe the life and activity of the person who lives in Sin. When they leave this life they will come face to face with the One who is the Truth and they will know and regret. If only I could have seen, they will say, but they could have. All it needed was a hungry, searching heart that acknowledged its own state, a heart that said, “Show me!” and it would have all been very different. How tragic is this thing called Sin that people allow to dominate them.










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Meditation No. 13

Meditation Title: When circumstances seem to deny God's presence


Jud 5:13    But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?


There are times when the prophetic word has come for someone, “The Lord is with you.” Yes, it goes on more than that but that was the starting place, but even as it comes you watch the face of the person receiving it and you sense exactly the same response as Gideon gave in our verse today. Well let's check this out. Suppose I said to you the reader at this moment, “The Lord is with you!” I wonder what your reaction would be? I wonder if it would be a ‘worthiness-qualification' answer, “Oh I'm not good enough for the Lord to come to me,” or would it be a ‘situation-analysis' response like Gideon, “Well I can't see any signs of Him!”?


What does it mean, “The Lord is with you!”? Well, going on the times in Scripture when that is said, as with Gideon for instance, it means that God's presence is here to do stuff. Now surely, as Christians, there is a sense whereby that is true of us all the time, temples as we are of the Holy Spirit, but the truth is that God DOES make His presence more real at some times than at others.


But let's consider Gideon's situation and see why Gideon feels like this. It is a time in Israel 's history when, again and again, Israel seemed to drift away from God and so He disciplined them by simply stepping back and allowing enemy nations to overrun them. The present people oppressing them are the Midianites: “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites (Jud 6:1) In fact what follows show just how bad it was: “Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel , neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help (Jud 6:2-6) Now if you read that carefully you will realize just how bad it was!


The first mention of Gideon was, “Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.” (v.11) This shows you how bad it was. Normally you threshed wheat in an open exposed place where, after you have beaten it, the husks could be blown away. A winepress was, in fact, a dip in the ground, where he was hiding away. Suddenly a man turns up and declares, “ The LORD is with you, mighty warrior .” (v.12). If you wanted to be sarcastic about Gideon, this would be a good way of doing it! He is not a warrior and he certainly doesn't feel mighty and as for God, well! No wonder this prompts Gideon's response: “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, `Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt There is a simple logic here: God is a God of deliverance – as Egypt showed us – we need delivering but He's not doing it. Conclusion: God can't be with us!


Isn't that what we think sometimes? We read of Jesus' miraculous works in the Gospel, and then some enthusiast says, “This is the sort of life God wants us to live!” Oh yes? So where are the signs and wonders? Gideon's question is surely one that is in the minds of many Christians today. So what was the Lord's answer: “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?” (v.14). Pardon? Me? You've got to be joking. Isn't that what your response would be if the Lord said He was coming to change the world – through you? Listen to Gideon's response: “How can I save Israel ? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (v.15) i.e. I'm a nobody! Isn't that how so many of us feel when it comes down to it? How could I change the nation?


The answer is that you start by doing the next thing that the Lord puts before you to do – and don't start rationalizing what that might be. Wait on Him, seek His face and ask Him what He wants of you – and listen. The answer He puts into your mind may be something immediate or it may be a long term answer. It may be something apparently unspiritual – like the man who used to take a bunch of American kids to a church youth group each week, and one week managed to persuade a young man to come who subsequently came to the Lord there, who we know of as Billy Graham. You don't know what your small actions will achieve! It may be He puts something big in your heart – but it will take time. Be obedient, start with the small things and let them get bigger and bigger. You and I are the answer to the question.









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Meditation No. 14

Meditation Title: When circumstances seem perplexing


Jud 21:3     O LORD, the God of Israel," they cried, "why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?"


Because we live in a Fallen World, there are quite often times when circumstances seem perplexing and we wonder why things should actually be happening. The question, “Why?” is not uncommon. Ultimately though, we will suggest, such things boil down to just one or two ultimate reasons. Let's consider what was causing this cry in Israel at this particular time. To get to the root of it we have to go right back to the beginning of chapter 19 of Judges.


“Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah (Jud 19:1). There was, we see a man of the tribe of Levi who lived in the middle of the country in the area given to the tribe of Ephraim (Levites didn't have their own land; they lived all over the country). He took what we would call today a second wife, and she came from further south in Judah 's territory. As you read on we find she was unfaithful to him and returned to her home. After a while he followed her and persuaded her to return with him. Because his father-in-law kept delaying their leaving, eventually it wasn't until early evening that they left and so it was getting dark when they decided to stop off at Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin . Here they were given shelter in the home of an old man. However word got out that they were there and a bunch of homosexuals banged on the door demanding that the man come out and have sex, (Not a nice story!) Instead of the man going out, to appease these men, they sent the concubine out (possibly hoping perhaps that she wouldn't interest them) but they gang raped her and left her for dead.


So angered was the man that when he got home he cut her body into twelve and sent a part of it to each of the tribes of Israel demanding something be done. When the tribes gathered they determined to stand against Benjamin and demand justice. However, “The tribes of Israel sent men throughout the tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What about this awful crime that was committed among you? Now surrender those wicked men of Gibeah so that we may put them to death and purge the evil from Israel ."But the Benjamites would not listen to their fellow Israelites(Jud 20:12,13). Benjamin has obviously got to such a low moral state that they tolerated blatant sin and even defended it. To cut a long story short (read Judges 20) Israel basically destroyed Benjamin in the fighting that followed, with the exception of six hundred men who fled into the desert. Suddenly Israel realized that the twelve tribes were potentially now only eleven and the awfulness of this caused them to cry out in today's verse.


Why should such a thing happen? Ultimately the answer is sin! But more than that, it was unrestrained sin. In this low time of the Judges, there was no king, no one leader who called the nation to account, and so sin was allowed to prevail and got worse and worse, and so eventually this situation occurred. Not only was it the sin of the people of Gibeah, but it was the acceptance of it by the whole tribe of Benjamin. Sin had taken root in that part of the land. Where sin is accepted, we may accept it and allow it to get worse and worse. Unless God intervenes, sin never improves; it is always a downward spiral.


Whenever we look at grieving circumstances, the hard truth is that they are grieving because of sin. Some person or people are the cause of whatever grief there is. Linked with this always, is godlessness. Sin is one aspect of godlessness or godlessness is one aspect of sin. We sin because we have been deceived by Satan into believing that God's not around and we will get away with it. Ultimately all our sin is because we have come into the place of mistaken thinking – God's not here so I can do what I like. That is godless thinking and it leads to unrighteousness. Whatever the conflict, whatever the upset, whatever the perplexing situation, it is because there is sin involved and linked to that, godless attitudes.


Whenever we are seeking to be genuinely godly, there will never be anything less than peace and harmony. Now the one exception to that statement is where justice must prevail because sin has harmed. Justice is required within society and sometimes, as in the unpleasant situation we have just been considering, justice means punishment has to fall which still leaves us grieving. If you read chapter 20 of Judges you will see that the Lord was completely involved with this. This was no mere act of revenge; this was an act of justice to purge the land of sin, and as such it was heart rending.


A difficult and unpleasant part of Scripture, yet the truth is still there which needs to be heeded. Sin is waiting to rise up and spread. We must stand against it within ourselves individually and in society corporately. If we fail to do that it will grow and spread and be utterly destructive. We would really do well to heed this awful lesson.








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Meditation No. 15

Meditation Title: When God seems far off


Psa 10:1    Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?


Small children, child-rearing experts tell us, need the presence of their mother. As they grow, we're also told they do best when they have the presence of a father around as well. The reason is fairly obvious; you hardly need an expert to tell you this, but we get comfort and security as children when a loving adult is there for us, to protect us, care for us, and encourage us. It's all fairly obvious really. As God's children we naturally feel the same. Something within us expects God – especially when His word tells us that as Christians He has become our Father – to be there for us. This especially comes to the fore when we find ourselves getting ‘beaten up' by the enemy. It may be in the form of direct Satanic attack, or it may come in the form of people oppressing us, abusing us,. attacking us, or generally harming us. At that time we want to run to ‘daddy' and cry for Him to do something and redress the situation. Sometimes when this happens it seems like God is miles away.


The experience of God seeming like He is standing far off, is not uncommon. On a bad day it seems like He is in another universe and we are left with a sense of loneliness. Where is He, why doesn't He appear? These are the natural cries of the young children when troubles come. Where is my dad?


In this psalm, the reason for this cry is spelt out in the following verses all about the wicked who “hunts down the weak” (v.2), boasts about what he wants and speaks out against God (v.3) is proud (v.5,6), has a mouth full of abusive language (v.7), ambushes the innocent weak (v.8,9), knocks down his victims (v.10) and declares that God is helpless to do anything (v.11). This is the playground bully at his worst. But he's also the bully at work, or over the fence, or at college. This person is bigger and stronger and more powerful than you, and they abuse you, and so, as a Christian you pray and cry out to God, but He doesn't seem to answer. It doesn't seem like He's around, in fact it feels like He must be off visiting another universe! For some reason He's doesn't seem to care. He seems to stand at a distance. Why Lord?


Now the psalmist, frustratingly we might think, doesn't come up with an answer, and in this he is being absolutely true to life, for at the time at least we often don't seem to get answers. It is almost as if the Lord is waiting for us to declare truth anyway, which is what the psalmist does: “The LORD is King for ever and ever (v.16). Whatever the circumstances appear to be saying, he knows that ultimately God is THE ruler who is over everything. He may not understand why these things are happening or why God seems to be standing at a distance, but one thing he is sure about, one thing he is certain hasn't changed, and that is the God is the ruler of all things. There is a sense here, of needing to declare trust in who God is, even when we don't understand His apparent reticence to turn up on our behalf. I am personally convinced that when we get to heaven, if the Lord allows us to look back over our lives and see perfectly what happened and why it happened, we will not be able to find anything over which to criticize him. Nothing! If the Lord allows the sky to drop on me, I am convinced He will be allowing it for a reason. I am realistic enough to be sure that I will cry out, “Why Lord,” and feel deeply distressed by it all, but coming through the other side will know, He is “ King for ever and ever


But the psalmist says more: “You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry (v.17). He may be standing afar off (at least that's how it seems) but He still hears and He will encourage us. Somehow in the midst of it, His quiet whisper will come through in an encouraging way. We may not have a great sense of His presence, but somehow in ways we cannot define or even anticipate, He will speak to us and it will act as an encouragement to us.


But he adds more: “defending the fatherless and the oppressed” (v.18). Somehow in the midst of it all He will actually be defending us. We may not be aware of His presence, we may not have the comfort of His strong arm around us, yet He will defend us. ‘ Defending' speaks of standing against the enemy to protect us. ‘ Fatherless' speaks about the loneliness, the absence of relationship we feel. We feel we have no one there for us. ‘ Oppressed' speaks of the action of an enemy coming against us. When we feel lonely, without loving relationship, and in the sights of the enemy, somehow in some intangible way, the Lord will come through for us and defend us against these attacks against our vulnerable state. Have you noticed how these things seem to come upon us when we are feeling particularly weak and vulnerable?


So, the Lord may seem distant, but our role is simply to speak the truth: He is the Lord – still – nothing has changed, even though it feels like it. This is a time for speaking out in faith! Moreover, even though He seems to be miles away, that doesn't stop Him whispering simple words of encouragement into our hearts in the midst of it all, and it doesn't stop Him standing against the enemy and defending us while we feel down, weak and vulnerable. Thus far and no further! Take comfort in the truth.









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Meditation No. 16

Meditation Title: When we suffer defeat at the hands of the enemy


1 Sam 4:3     Why did the LORD bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines?


That the Christian life is a battle, there is little doubt. Some Christians aren't aware of it like that, but if you talked to them, they would express things which indicate the normal characteristics of a battle are there. So what is happening? Very simply, Satan or his demons use our old sinful nature to play on, to lead us astray, make us feel down, and make us want to give up our faith. The battle is largely in the mind and so they will whisper things in our minds that are lies: “You will get away with this, it's all right!” That's when they seek to lead us in temptation to do something wrong. Or there is, “You're a failure, you're a nobody, you're a bad Christian, I should give up!” That's when they want to reduce our effectiveness and stop us having impact on the world for Christ. Or it may be, “You're too tired. Don't bother to go to the prayer meeting,” or “You know who's preaching this morning. He's awful. I should stay in bed for the morning. The rest will do you good!”


Those are the sort of things that come to take us out of fellowship, to take us out of the place where we can encounter God through others in the church. Or perhaps it is, “You're too tired. I wouldn't bother with your Bible this morning. Don't bother to go on line and read a meditation. I shouldn't bother with praying. You know nothing happens anyway!” This is where they are trying to keep you out of direct contact with God. It is a battle, and sometimes we lose! Now on those occasions when give in and give up, what is the answer? Pick up and start again tomorrow!


But then there are times when all hell seems to break loose and people start getting hostile, and nasty words are spoken, threats are made and abuse is given, and so on. People rise against you. Jobs are lost, hopes are dashed and the future looks bleak and it seems like the enemy has had a field day! Even the apostle Paul knew this: “For we wanted to come to you--certainly I, Paul, did, again and again--but Satan stopped us” (1 Thess 2:18). Somehow the upsets of Satan thwarted his desires. When Daniel was praying for three weeks an angel came to him and said, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days.” (Dan 10:12,13) For three weeks the enemy thwarted the angel of God. This is a tough truth, that there are times when the freedom the Lord allows the enemy means that he does seem to get the upper hand for a while. So why should this be? Well if you go to Part 1 of the Warfare series on this site you will find in section 5 there, nine reasons why God allows Satan opportunity to come against us like this, so I'd encourage you to go to look at those reasons.


Here in our verse today, we find this cry – why should our enemy be allowed to overcome us? Let's look at the circumstances. Samuel was still a young boy when the Lord called him: “And the LORD said to Samuel, "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle” (1 Sam 3:11) Israel were not in a good spiritual state and Eli the priest had been allowing his sons to act badly before God, so the Lord spoke through Samuel warning that He was going to deal with this situation and bring His judgement on Eli's family and on Israel. Some time later we simply read, “Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines (1 Sam 4:1) There seems no specific reason for this apart from the ongoing hostility that prevailed between the two peoples. The outcome of the battle was declared: “as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield,” (v.2) which resulted in the people crying out as above. The answer was simple and obvious: God had said He would bring judgment and this is part of it. He knew what would follow. Superstitious Israel would call for the ark of the Lord, which came to be considered as synonymous with the presence of the Lord, to be taken out to battle Of course Eli's sons would have to accompany it and they would be killed by the enemy as the ark was taken captive. All this would be part of the outworking of God's plans to chastise Israel and bring them back to Himself.


Again and again, through adverse enemy circumstances, the Lord is working to bring about His purposes for His people. (Have you looked up the Warfare pages yet?) Yes, we live in a Fallen World and things go wrong, but behind the apparently mundane things, the Lord is moving to achieve His purposes. Please DO look up those NINE reasons why the Lord allows Satan freedom. They are very real.







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Meditation No. 17

Meditation Title: When evil men seem to get away with it


Psa 10:13    Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, "He won't call me to account"?


There is a mystery in many people's minds, a mystery about evil and specifically about evil in people. Why are people like they are? Why do dictators do the terrible things they do? Why do men and women murder, why do men rape, why do fathers abuse children, why do people steal from other people? I once led a law class where the whole class were unanimous that we needed laws to protect the weak “because people are nasty”. What an indictment of the human race!


There are two possible aspects to this verse today – the reason why men act like this, and the reason God lets them act like this. First of all, what is the reason men act like this? Why do people do wrong and then deny the presence of God? Why does the wicked man think he will get away with it?


Well there are two parts to the answer to that. Looking at Scripture, we see that we have an adversary, Satan, who comes against us to tempt us to do wrong, and he does that by getting us to think wrongly. We did consider this the other day but we will look at it more deeply now. At the Fall we find the following sequence of events: “He said to the woman, "Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” (Gen 3:1) This was Satan challenging the truth in Eve's mind as part of his endeavours to get her to go against God. That was followed by, “ You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman ” (Gen 3:4), his denial of the consequences of her actions. So we see he whispers into people's minds that it's all right to do this thing because who's to say it's wrong, and anyway, it will be all right. It is wrong and it won't be all right – “ A man reaps what he sows (Gal 6:7) There are always consequences to our wrong doing.


Now there is a second reason men now do wrong. It isn't only Satan; it is the fact that since the Fall, every man, woman and child has been tainted by this thing called Sin, this tendency towards self-centred godlessness which results in unrighteousness. Note that it is now a tendency within us. Once we become Christians we have a greater power within us, the Holy Spirit, who enables us to overcome the old tendency, the old nature. However until a person comes to Christ for salvation, that old nature prevails and Sin prevails in them. Godlessness is most natural; self-centredness is most natural, and unrighteousness is most natural. Now David didn't have this understanding when he wrote this psalm, but we have all the revelation of the New Testament teaching so we should understand it and we shouldn't be surprised when we see such things. Satan plus the old sinful nature means that evil is expressed in human beings.


But we said there is a second aspect to this verse – why God allows wicked men to act like this. This is so often the cry of lack of understanding, “Why doesn't God do something about it?” the ‘it' being the wrong doing of evil people. Well actually when you think about it there is an easy answer to this one. The Bible indicates quite clearly that God has given us free will. It would be a nonsense if God told us to do things if we did not have the capacity not to do them. The fact that Eve and then Adam ‘fell', were disobedient, is a clear example of this free will. A variety of other people in the Bible also clearly didn't do what God told them to do. No, free will is a capacity that God has obviously given us. So when we cry, “Why doesn't God do something?” we are in fact saying, “Why doesn't God override this person's free will?” and that's where it gets difficult.


Put simply, where should He stop? Obviously He should stop murderers and rapists and criminals, you might say. OK, but why stop with them for there are lots and lots of acts of wrongdoing that are not criminal acts? OK, you say, do away with all wrongdoing! Ah! Including in you? Including your wrong thoughts, wrong words and sometimes wrong acts? You want God to take away your free will and make you into a robot who can only do good, whose action will be severely curtailed, and whose human experience will be radically cut back? You want God to do that, because that is your only alternative?


As soon as we come to this point we see the awfulness of Sin and the awfulness of free will, but then we start seeing the wonder of salvation that wins sinful human beings to God's side to be good. That's what salvation does, but we have to have the other awful freedom first. Yes, God does act into this world and sometimes He does obviously move against evil men, and yes, men do reap the consequences of their actions, but in the meantime the terrible downside of free will is that man can be evil!


Never blame God for your wrong doing and never demand He takes away free will of other people – or you! Free will is the staggering responsibility that God has bestowed upon mankind. It is, if you like, a sign of His respect for us. He gives us our lives to live as we will, with the potential to achieve wonderful things, but also to do terrible things. The choice is ours. He will be there to help us achieve the former, and His wrath will be there against the latter, but the choice is still ours. Choose wisely.








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Meditation No. 18

Meditation Title: When God seems to have Abandoned us


Psa 22:1    My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?


Rejection is one of the most horrible of human experiences. Rejection occurs when someone you love and who has professed love to you, turns away from you and leaves you. In human terms it is usually linked with them turning to someone else, but it can simply be a giving up by the other on our relationship. It leaves a horrible feeling of loneliness, isolation and inner hurt. At the heart of rejection is the cry of “Why have you done this? What have I done to you that has made you treat me like this?”


Before we look at this verse, I want to take the unusual step in these meditations of stating from the outset my conclusion: God never abandons us! I have the feeling that I need to say that from early on for some who might read this. God has NOT abandoned you. As many of these meditations show, there are many times in life when God seems at a distance and the reasons behind that feeling vary. Your sense of being alone may not have anything to do with what I am just about to share. It is right and proper to ask the Lord why you are feeling as you are and seek answers and solutions.


This cry in today's verse is probably the most significant prophetic cry in the Old Testament, which is literally heard in the New when Jesus cried out to God on the Cross. (Mt 27:46, Mk 15:34). The whole of psalm 22 is littered with prophetic utterances in respect of Jesus and his redeeming work on the Cross. This, being the most significant of his words on the Cross, starts the psalm off, which then reflects other aspects of it.


Let's take it at face value first of all, as how it appears in the human sense. It is the cry of one who feels rejected and abandoned. In the psalm he cries, “O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent(v.2) He cries to God day and night and seems to get no answer. It seems like God has abandoned him. God has rejected and left him. For a moment, at least, that is how it seems. It is the worst of feelings. It is a real heart cry, this cry of anguish. There is no pretence about it; it is utterly genuine, this cry of anguish.


And of course that is exactly how it was with Jesus on the Cross. May we quote from meditation 44 from the Lent meditations series elsewhere on this site, to see the detail of what was happening here: Throughout the sacrificial law of Moses, is the picture of the one sacrificing the innocent creature placing their hands on its head in identification, with the idea of their sins being transferred to it. In 2 Cor 5:21 Paul said, “God made him who had no sin to be sin.” Even if we take the alternative here, “to be a sin offeringthe sense is the same: Jesus had your sin and my sin put on him! The writer to the Hebrews (Heb 9:28) wrote, “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for himIf you bear something, you carry it. The picture is of Jesus carrying the sins of the world as he hung there on the Cross. Imagine every individual sin as a little bit of blackness, and then imagine every sin that is every committed in the entire history of the world coming on Jesus in that three hours. It says that in that time, he was enveloped in the most horrible blackness imaginable.


Imagine this utter darkness of sin coming down upon Jesus, imagine him utterly surrounded by the hoards of hell. The Father has not moved; He is still there, nothing has changed, but for the man-God hanging on the Cross enveloped in this blackness, surrounded by the demonic world, it is impossible to see or sense anything else. All he can sense is blackness and evil. At that point the fullness of Sin put upon him means that his awareness of the Father's presence (which was still there) was denied to the man so that he cries out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” because that is exactly what it feels like.


That's why there was this terrible cry piercing history. It was the Son of God himself sensing the awful separation that sin causes. Sometimes it is like that for us. God hasn't moved, God hasn't abandoned us, He hasn't left us – but it feels like that because we are more conscious of other things. It may be our own failure; it may be the pain of attack by the enemy through others. All we know is that it feels, from our perspective, like God has gone away. He hasn't, He's still there for you with arms open wide to you.


Do you have a sense of failure and feel like the enemy is crucifying you? Don't let him! There is no sin, no failure that is too great to be able to be dealt with by Jesus' work on the Cross. Confession, the acknowledgement of it and the cry out to God for forgiveness, is the prayer that will always reach the Father's heart, and He responds instantly with words of love. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for sin so, as Paul said, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:38 ,39). Know that as a truth and experience it.