Holding God In Reverence — Johnny O. Trail

Much of what is seen in today’s world underscores the very problem that existed among the Israelites who lived during Old Testament times.  Namely, they did not revere God in the manner that He wanted them to in His covenant relationship.  If one does not respect God, God will not be honored and obeyed in an acceptable manner.  God said to Israel, “You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Ex. 20:3-4).

This was one of the problems that Isaiah deals with in his opening monologue.  Isaiah said, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me;  The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider.  Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward” (Is. 1:2-4  Their backsliding was continual in the relationship they had with Jehovah.

In these passages, some comparisons are made between Israel and God that need consideration.  First, they are pictured as rebellious children.  One of the most painful situations that a person can endure is the rebellion of a child; especially when the child’s parents have done all that they can for the nurturing of their child.  Many parents have sought the counsel of workers in the church to determine the best way of dealing with a child who has rebelled against the rules and training of their parents.

It is certain that God feels this way at times—like a loving, devoted parent who has been forsaken by a child.  He has provided all that we might have need of to live happy in this life and eternally happy with Him after the return of Christ.  James writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures” (James 1:17-18).  For whatever reason, some are still in rebellion to a loving God who has provided for all our needs.

Next, they are compared to unintelligent animals.  Animals do not have the same reasoning capabilities as human beings.  God gave humankind dominion over the animals, and we are created in a unique way—in the image of God.  The Bible says, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27).   The behavior of these Israelites leaves God with the image of a rebellious ox or donkey.

Consequently, these unintelligent animals know something that these ancient Israelites seem to have forgotten—the source of their blessings.  Even a rebellious animal knows who feeds, waters, and provides for its needs.  The rebellion of God’s people is so complete that they have even forgotten what He had provided for them throughout their tumultuous history with Jehovah. Jeremiah wrote, “Because My people have forgotten Me, they have burned incense to worthless idols. And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in pathways and not on a highway” (Jer. 18:15).

Jehovah further compares them to a “brood of evildoers.”  This phrase means that even their parents did evil things before their time.  Instead of learning from the mistakes of their lineages, the descendants of those who wandered and perished in the wilderness designed and practiced their own brand of iniquity.  Indeed, they became “children who are corrupters.”

This is somewhat like the language that Jesus uses to describe the religious leaders of His age when He calls them a “brood of vipers” (Matt. 23:33).  “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”   This unflattering description of the scribes and Pharisees was a true one.  Namely, they were the offspring of people who behaved as corruptly and as subtly as a viper waiting to claim its next victim!

Amid this rebuke, there was a note of tenderness.  Isaiah wrote, “So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, as a hut in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city” (Is. 1:8).  God wanted the events that were unraveling in the book of Isaiah to serve as a lesson of correction for Judah, but sadly they would not learn their lesson until sometime later.  Sennacherib and his armies would be defeated when all that remained was Jerusalem, but the Babylonians would serve as a chastening rod to let all of Israel know that God would not tolerate their idolatry and wickedness.  Isaiah wrote, “’For I will defend this city [Jerusalem—JOT], to save it For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’ ” Then the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead.  So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh” (Is. 37:35-37).

Even in the time of Jesus, God was still attempting to reach out to His people.  In a touching display of compassion, Jesus describes the care and love that He wanted to display to His covenant people:  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matt. 23:37-38).  God still has this same love for those who are His people.

Along these same lines of reasoning, God does not want to see any person lost (John 3.16).  However, by their own choices many will end up eternally lost.  Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).  Our God has provided for the salvation of our souls.  We should obey Him and inherit eternal life (Heb. 5.8-9).

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