Thursday, 14 February 2013
Consequences...Why did you do that?
In last week's Blog I wrote about how we can work out our Salvation with fear and trembling by keeping His Commandments on the Sabbath, His Feasts, and His instructions on food....and by keeping our relationships with our family and friends!!
Step 3 of working out our Salvation with fear and trembling is to understand, concentrate on, and be conscious of, the consequences of our behaviour in our relationships with God, and with each other.
In the Torah, the Law of Moses, there are a number of biographies of varying length and detail; brief ones of Adam and Eve, Cain, and Noah....but much longer ones of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Leah, and Rachel, Joseph, and Moses and Aaron.
These biographies are not written just as an historical record, although they are accurate in their historical details; but rather, their main purpose is to provide us with examples and lessons in how to, and how not to, behave in our relationships with God and with each other.
For example, the questions that follow each Bible passage are intended to provide you with the opportunity to assess how you might have behaved in the same situations:
1. The serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.
And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’ ?' And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’
Then the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Genesis 3.1-6
Would you have believed the serpent?
Were the serpent's comments correct?
Should Eve have consulted Adam before eating? Would you have done so?
Did Eve consider the possible consequences of her action? Would you have done so?
What were the consequences that followed in the relationship between Adam and Eve, and between Adam, Eve, and God?
2. When Abram was close to entering Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, 'Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance.Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.' Genesis 12.11-13
Would you have suggested the same action as Abram did?
Would you have agreed to lie as Sarai did?
Did Abram and Sarai consider the possible consequences of their lie? Would you have done so? What emotion prompted Abram's suggestion?
Have you ever been tempted to lie because of the same emotion of fear?
What were the actual consequences that followed in the relationship between Abram and Sarai, between Abram, Sarai, and Pharoah, and between Abram, Sarai, and God?
3. Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.' And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. Genesis 16.1-4
Would you have suggested the same action as Sarai did?
Did Abram and Sarai consider the possible consequences of their action? Would you have done so?
What were the actual consequences that followed in the relationship between Abram and Sarai, between Sarai and Hagar, and between Abram, Sarai, and God?
4. Jacob .. made Joseph a tunic of many colours. ...Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; ...so he said to them, 'Please hear this dream which I have dreamed:There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.' .. Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, 'Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.' Genesis 37.3-9
Would you have conspicuously favoured Joseph as Jacob did?
Have you ever favoured one of your children over the others?
Would you have recounted your dreams as Joseph did?
What prompted Joseph to recount his dreams?
What was the effect of Joseph's action?
What were the consequences of Jacob's favouritism and Joseph's pride?
5. It came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, 'Lie with me.' But Joseph refused and said to his master’s wife, 'Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand....How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?'.....
And it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, 'Lie with me.' But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside......So she kept his garment with her until his master came home.Then she spoke to him, 'The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me to mock me; so it happened, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside.' ...When his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him,...he took Joseph and put him into the prison.. Genesis 39.7-20
Would you have reacted to the attempted seduction as Joseph did?
Would you have reacted as her husband did?
Have you ever judged another without hearing their defence?
What were the consequences of the actions of Potiphar and his wife for Joseph, and for the realationship between Potiphar and his wife?
The consistent results in each of the 5 incidents outlined above, were that relationships between the participants were damaged or broken, and in some cases irretrievably so.
Because all the participants, with the exception of Pharoah, Potiphar and his wife, were believers in God, the primary relationship that was damaged was between them and God.
Therefore, at least one participant in their relationship needed to begin the repair of the damage. In each of the 5 incidents it was God who began the repair and restoration process.......but, sadly, because of the extent of the damage, the repair and restoration in all 5 incidents took many years.
In fact, the repair and restoration of the consequences of the action of Adam and Eve is still going on!!
Do you and I ever stop to consider the consequences of our greed, our lies, our pride, our envy, our favouritism, our judgment of others, or ......??
This is Step 3 of working out our salvation with fear and trembling.....to consider, concentrate on, and be conscious of, the consequences of our behaviour in our relationships with God, and with each other. The advice and instructions in how to do this are in the biographies in the Torah.
To learn from them is not easy because it requires a change in our behaviour; a change in behaviour that has deep roots in us. Fortunately, we can share Pauls' confidence in Romans 7.15-25 and 2Timothy 4:18:
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do...... For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice....
O wretched man that I am!
Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our LORD! ....who will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.
To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!
He will do it....try it and see!! Until next week....and the consequences of getting it right in Him...