Monday, October 24, 2016

"hay una idiota!"

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: 2 Chronicles 11 & 12
mark this: 2 Chronicles 12:8
My all time favorite commercial appeared some years ago.
It featured a Spanish speaking bartender, cleaning dishes on a rainy night, watching the end of an American game show. On the the game show, a man name Jim had won, and now was choosing his prize- between a week at of supposed "fun in the sun" at "El Paradiso Iluvioso" or a new Volkswagen car. Jim seems torn for a few moments, and you hear the bartender muttering more and more emphatically to the television:
"Jim, the Volkswagen! Jim, the Volkswagen! Take the Volkswagen!"
But alas, Jim has made his decision. He cries out enthusiastically:
"Paradiso Iluvioso! I'll take fun in the sun baby! Yeah!"
The bartender throws down his towel in disgust and cries out "hay una idiota" (what an idiot) only to see that the only customer inside his bar that rainy night is good old Jim.
Jim was an idiot, not only because he turned down the much more valuable & practical car, but even more so because how was he ever to expect to have "fun in the sun" when Paradiso Iluvioiso means Rain Paradise.
As I read the story of Rehoboam, I do so with the same angst the bartender felt as Jim was making his decision. I keep muttering under my breath to Rehoboam to accept the advice of the elders (1), to not follow in Solomon's footsteps with polygamy (2), to remain faithful to the God of Israel (3). But, alas, every single time I read it, he keeps making the same stupid choices, and I cry out in despair "hay una idiota!"
We can go on and on with the stupidity of Rehoboam, (though when you consider him, he's really not that much different than most of us, especially apart from God), but we'll stop here. There is a greater principle at work here, that applies to all of us, princes and paupers, alike.
It's found in how God handles the semi-genuine repentance of Rehoboam.
It's amazing how suddenly people with no interest in God can get "religious." Rehoboam and his people are in trouble. Pharaoh Shishak and the Egyptian forces have Jerusalem in a stranglehold, and only then does Rehoboam humble himself and actually listen to the word of the Lord. He's hoping for the classical "In Case of Emergency, Break Here god" that has been the deity of choice for countless people for centuries. In more modern times, he is our "Bailout god", who's only purpose is to get us out of the disasters we've brought on ourselves, and then to conveniently fade away into obscurity.
God, in His great mercy, responds to the cry of even a knucklehead like Rehoboam. But God, in His great wisdom, also sees to it that Rehoboam, and all of us, learn a lesson the hard way. He says "Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands." (4)
God does not allow Rehoboam to be killed or Jerusalem to be destroyed, but He does put Judah in a place of subservience to Egypt and He does allow much of the wealth of the Temple and palace to be plundered. God, like any good parent, allows for His children to experience natural consequences of their behavior.
Never forget that distinction! Jesus Christ has died for our sins, His death spares us from the wrath of God; but even if we are forgiven, the natural consequences of our sins and poor choices still have to be dealt with. Serving God often is difficult (5), but if we refuse to serve God, we will still serve something else. Our world is drowning in the insane demands of harsh and cruel taskmasters (governments, false religions, empty traditions, media marketing etc.). Only God gives any relief from that bondage.
We can take the long, hard road of Rehoboam or we can trust God from the beginning and be spared much heartache and regret.
The choice is yours- my advice is this: don't be una idiota!
(1) 2 Chronicles 10:8
(2) 2 Chronicles 11:21
(3) 2 Chronicles 12:1
(4) 2 Chronicles 12:7-8
(5) Luke 9:23

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