Believing people tend to look at God’s acts as an investment. People have a difficult time abandoning anything that represents an extraordinary effort or a huge infusion of personal funds. Literally, people can reach a point of investment that declares, “We have too much involved—we cannot abandon this effort and loose all we put in it.” It is possible for people to invest so much that they will continue a doomed effort in an attempt to salvage the investment. In such cases, success changes definitions—saving the investment becomes the definition of success.
People assume God also can have too much involved. They assume God has invested so much effort, so much power, or so much “time” that He could not possibly abandon the effort. Thus we think, for example, that God “has to bless the church,” or “has to save me” because He has too much invested. The point IS NOT that God seeks for ways to abandon His attempts to bless His people. The point IS that we can consider God’s involvement to be so great that our behavior or obedience is irrelevant. Thus we can behave and act without regard to God’s ways because God has too much involved to abandon us. “God could not possibly let that happen—He has too much to lose with all He has invested.”
With that reasoning, some conclude that God could never allow hard times to come to His people. “We are too valuable to God for God to let that happen.” The reasoning: God has to act favorably because He has too much invested. He must protect His investment!”
As an example, consider God’s relationship with Israel. In Exodus 32, Moses was on the mountain a long time with God. In Moses’ absence, Aaron made a golden calf to serve as an idolatrous object of worship. God was insulted by Aaron’s act and Israel’s idolatrous worship, and Moses was deeply angered by Israel’s idolatrous act. God was so insulted by Israel’s idolatrous act, He wanted to destroy the people of Israel AND BEGIN AGAIN WITH MOSES (Exodus 32:10). Moses intercession spared the people. In the intercession, Moses appealed to God’s character, not the people’s worth.
Consider. God (in a difficult effort) sent Moses to rescue these slaves. God performed ten powerful miracles to humble Pharaoh. God led Israel across the sea on dry land. God defeated the Egyptian army. God gave them water at Elim and at Rephidim. God gave quail and manna to eat. God enabled them to defeat the forces of the Amalek. Does all this sound like a major investment? Yet, God was willing to begin again with one man to fulfill His promise to Abraham! In spite of what seems a major investment to us, that investment meant nothing to God. The insult of ingratitude was more significant than the investment!
Continue the example by looking beyond of the Exodus 32 incident to the incident in Numbers 14. A few months have passed. Israel was brought to Canaan’s border and could enter the land God promised. Israelite spies entered Canaan. Upon return, most of them report that the territory was fertile, but it was too difficult for Israel to conquer. The Israelite people were discouraged by the report, and they refused to enter the land God promised.
God reacted to Israel’s lack of faith in Him in disgust and anger. Read Numbers 14:11, 12. God was incensed that Israel rejected Him by having no faith in Him in spite of all He did for them. God’s solution was to do as He wished to do in Exodus 32. He would destroy Israel, and begin again with Moses. The end result would be a greater and mightier nation. Moses interceded again by appealing to God’s character. With all God had done for Israel, He had not done so much that beginning again was not an option.
Do not think you can obligate God or manipulate God on the basis of what you consider obligations to achieve some type of protection against hard times. Christians do not belong to God in order to escape difficulties. They belong to God to cope with difficulties.
Read 2 Peter 2:20-22. Peter spoke of people who had come to Christ and turned away from Christ. These people exercised their power of choice to come to Christ, and they exercised their power of choice to leave Christ. The consequences of their leaving Christ included (1) they are “again entangled” and “are overcome” (2) with the result that their condition became worse than it was before they came to Christ.
Three things leap out. (1)They needed to be on guard lest they fall from their own steadfastness. (Do not take God for granted—it can happen to you!) (2) You can be led away from Christ by unprincipled people. (In an environment of no principles, it is easy to become an unprincipled person) (3) It is easy again to do what you knew how to do before being a Christian. (What one did before knowing Christ can easily seem natural and desirable.)
Beware of holding God responsible for your poor judgment! May God give us wisdom when we determine causes!
FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION
1. Believing people tend to look at God’s acts how?
2. People have a difficult time abandoning what? Why?
3. Some conclude that God would never allow what? Why?
4. What was the incident in Exodus 32 that insulted God and angered Moses?
5. State God’s “investment” in Israel at that time? What was God willing to do?
6. What was the incident in Numbers 13 and 14?
7. How did God react to Israel’s lack of faith? What did God wish to do? What would be the end result?
9. What should we never think?
10. In 2 Peter 2:20-22, what people did Peter write about? The consequences of such people leaving Christ included what?
11. State three things that leap out?
12. Christians should beware of what?
13. For what wisdom should Christians pray?
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 4
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