Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meddle Not

Proverbs 24:21 (KJV)  My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:

Malachi 3:6 (KJV)  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Two different verses, in two different books of the Bible, written by two different writers.  Yet, they belong together when we consider the subject of change.  Here’s why:

When we look at the Bible from beginning to end, it’s clear that God set standards.  Those standards covered anything we could experience in life and how to deal with each circumstance.  Malachi 3:6 tells us that God is unchanging.  The problem comes in when man begins interpreting and bending those standards.  And that’s what Proverbs 24 warns about.  Because it’s influences other than God that bring in changes.  And those changes can come from those who follow God, think they’re following God, or reject Him outright.

A friend of mine, Elaine, posted a comment in a discussion recently that saving the earth has become the new religion.  At first, I thought that might be an overstatement.  The Merriam- Webster says religion is “commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance”, “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices”, “scrupulous conformity”, and “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”.  Only one other definition relates that to God.

When we think about Romans 1, There’s verse 23: “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”.  That certainly sounds a lot like those focused on saving the earth, but it goes deeper.  In Exodus 20:3, it says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”.  It’s not statuary that’s the problem, nor the concern for the earth.  The issues are these:
  1. putting anything else ahead of God,
  2. putting anything in place of God, and
  3. misrepresenting God.
When we place our own desires ahead of what God says, we’ve made them idols and placed them ahead of God.  And it doesn’t matter if we believe in the God of the Bible or not.  Our priorities would be wrong if God isn’t first.

If we say God doesn’t exist, then we fill that void with something else – our desires, sports, acquiring things or wealth, etc.  We’re made to focus on something and that something is supposed to be God.  If we ignore Him, then something else has to fill that gap.

The third issue is probably the worst – misrepresenting God.  There are those who take all the instances of “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” and turned them into a codified set of rules that they say are the only way to please God and get to heaven.  In other words, in their minds, obedience trumps love and worship.  And they conclude that, after God and the Bible clearly indicate that we can’t possibly, in our fallen state, ever get that right.  Further, God planned for that and sent Jesus to take our place in taking the punishment for our sins – all of them and for all of mankind (John 3:16). 

When we read what are termed the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, they boil down to love God, love people, and share the Gospel – the latter being a natural expression of the first two.  And they summarize what’s behind all the dos and don’ts.  Those weren’t originally intended as laws.  They were stated to give us boundaries, for our own benefit and for our own protection.

There’s one area where I’m not sure anyone understands the situation.  Some say the other religions are worshipping false gods.  Others say that other religions are different ways of finding and worshipping God.  I’m starting to think both are right.  The Bible says that even nature proclaims Him.  It also says that Satan will lead people away from God and one of the ways is through worship of false Gods.  So, some may be worshipping God as best they know how, while others are rejecting Him for something else.  We may not know which, in any given case.  But the only way to be sure that they have an opportunity to reach heaven is to share the Gospel with them.

The two verses we started with are obvious in pointing out that God’s thinking doesn’t change, but ours can change – away from God’s thoughts and away from God Himself.  That “given to change” is another don’t meant to protect us from the influence of the flesh – our own and others.  And it’s meant to keep us connected with God, the only one able to fully deal with all that comes our way.  Not a “you must or else”, but a “you should because I can deal with that for you”.

Are you meddling with change or are you resting in God’s stability?

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