Repaid with Rebellion

Nehemiah 9:25-26
And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness.  Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations.

Hadn’t they come from slavery where nothing was their own and nothing was had in abundance?  Hadn’t they come from a place of toil and misery where they’d had to work so hard for so little gain?  Hadn’t they felt that heavy weight of oppression and longed to be free, to be delivered?  And God had done that.  He had brought them out.  And now here they were.  This is what God gave to them, what He prepared for them—strong cities so they would always be protected, a fat land so they would always have plenty, houses full of goods so they had everything they needed, plenty of food and water so they would never lack.

And look what happens when they get so full of all of the good stuff God gave to them.  They got what they wanted and they didn’t need Him anymore.  They didn’t want to obey God; they had just wanted their freedom.  And now free to do what they want, they turn away from God and cast His law aside as if it never mattered to them at all.  They didn’t want any reminders of God or His righteousness, His expectations.  They were fat and happy because of God, and yet they got to a place where they wanted no part of Him.

Have we ever gotten to a place like that?  Maybe we walked closely with the Lord while He led us to victory over some thorn in our side and then abandoned Him when we had the freedom that we sought.  Maybe we followed Him until we became successful in our job and then turned away when we had everything we really wanted.  Maybe we only followed as long as we thought we could gain something and scoffed when He asked for something in return—like our whole heart or our life or our time.

It’s easy to see in the nation of Israel the folly of what they had done, but do we recognize it so easily in ourselves?  It’s easy to think of them as ungrateful for rebelling after all God had done for them, but do we see our own rebellion the same way?  Hasn’t the Lord led us along to a place of great good into the waiting arms of our Savior Jesus Christ?  And have we repaid Him for this land of plenty with a spirit of rebellion?  May it never be so.  May we not abandon the Giver for the gift, but stick close to His side always and serve Him with a grateful heart.

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