Human beings are just not that bright. O, I know, I’m a human saying that, so I have my own issues. But the truth is, when we are left to ourselves, we make self-destructive decisions even as we turn away from what would do us good.
In many ways, the entirety of the Old Testament of the Bible is a live enactment of the folly of humanity in the face of the commands of God. The Lord God chooses a people to be his special possession. He gives them simple commands, rules that are not complicated. He shows them the path to blessing. He promises them life and even glorious rule if they will but obey his word. And the people prove time and time again that they simply will not and in fact cannot follow the basic instructions that the Lord has given.
How clear is God with his people?
Deuteronomy 11:26-28 – 26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.
How is that for clarity? God tells the people that, if they obey him, they will have life and success. If they reject him, they will have death and curses. This is not confusing. This is not rocket-science. This is simply yes or no, black or white, obey or disobey.
Note that this summary from God about what the people are to do is not him commanding people who have not experienced his presence and power. God is speaking to the people he led up out of Egypt. He is talking to a people who have seen him provide for them through the four decades in the desert. They have watched God judge the wicked and provide supernatural blessing for those who follow him. They know. They do not doubt the existence or the power of the Lord.
But the people still do not obey. The Old Testament shows us that mankind, in our sinfulness, simply will not obey the smallest of commands of God. We are rebels by nature. We are rebels by nurture. We are rebels in our hearts and minds. And we run headlong toward destruction.
This is where we should stop and praise god for the gospel. Jesus came to fulfill the righteousness that we will never live. Jesus came to suffer for the sins we have already committed and the ones we will commit in the future. Jesus came to rescue a people for God, because none of us, if left to ourselves, would be able to come to God on our own. The fact that God would save any of us, even one of us, is truly a mind-boggling miracle of grace.
And once we are rescued, the concept of what God said to Israel must still stand out in our minds. God blesses his children, doing us good, when we follow his ways. May we never be so foolish as to think that we can challenge him or change his word. God is holy. God’s ways are perfect. And God promises life and goodness to all who follow him. May we make it the business of our lives to obey the Lord in all things for his glory and our good.