Monday, August 10, 2015

Be Careful What You Ask For

During my Bible reading over the past few weeks, I have come across three different passages that brought to my mind the old saying, "Be careful what you ask for."  On each occasion the characters asked for what they wanted but weren't satisfied when God told them "no."  So, they continued to ask, and finally God said, "Fine! Have it your way!"

The first one takes place in Numbers 11 where the children of Israel are complaining once again, this time with an attitude about the manna that God had so faithfully provided.  Rather than being grateful, they were tired of it and pleaded for meat, but they did so with great anger and bitterness.  And God's reply? And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the Lord, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the Lord will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the Lord which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt? (Numbers 11:18-20)

In other words, you want flesh to eat?  Fine, here.  Eat it until it makes you sick. . . and it did. And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague. (vs. 33)

The second event takes place after the twelve spies were sent out to survey the land which God had promised to them.  Once the ten spies gave their report, the complaints of the people started up again. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? (Numbers 14:2-3)

Not only were they doubting God's promise, but they were literally accusing Him of leading them to their deaths.  That was not God's initial plan, but since they were so determined that God's way was wrong and their way was best, God allowed them to have their way. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me. Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. (Numbers 14:28-30)  They asked for it, didn't they?

The third takes place in the story of Balaam.  At first, I was a bit confused by God's anger toward Balaam.  Without taking too much time, allow me to give you a brief summary.  Balak, the king of the Moabites, was afraid of Israel, so he wanted to hire Balaam (who was both a prophet and a sorcerer) to place a curse on Israel.  When King Balak's men came to fetch Balaam, the prophet asked the Lord what he should do, to which God replied, "Don't go with them."  After hearing Balaam's answer, the men returned to the king, but King Balak was not satisfied.  He sent more important men to fetch Balaam, and once again, the prophet (who had already received his answer from God) asked what he should do.  This is God's response:  And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.

After asking again, even though he knew the answer, Balaam got permission to go.  So, in the morning, he rose up, saddled his donkey and rode off with the king's men.  And look what happened: And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him. (Numbers 22:22)  Huh?  God gave him permission to go, then got mad about it.  Does that make sense?  It does when we realize that Balaam should have accepted God's resolute answer.  It was absolutely clear how God felt about this matter, but Balaam didn't care.  He did what he wanted to do, and God allowed him, but that doesn't mean that God approved.

It's easy to think that we know best about our situations in life.  I mean, after all, we're the ones living through it, right?  We're the ones having to make the decisions.  We're the ones having to face the difficulties and balance the schedules.  Nevertheless, we still don't see the whole picture as God does, so we might want to be careful what we ask for, particularly if God has already said, "no."  Otherwise, we may find that the consequences are much greater than we can bear.

Trust God's decisions in all areas of your life.  He knows what He's doing!

No comments: