Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Forgetting God's provision 'while the food was in their mouths'

Free Will(y)
Regardless of which side of a blessing you're on, it's in our nature to forget God's goodness and instead wallow in our own doubts or self-aggrandizement.

Psalm 78 -- one of the many "contemplative" psalms (Hebrew: maskills) -- examines the recurring trend of how success can become the beginning of defeat if the focus is misplaced. In the case of the children of Israel fleeing Egypt, they went from one extreme to the other -- doubting God's ability "to provide a table in the wilderness" (v. 19)  to acknowledging God's power (the sending of manna, quails, favorable winds, water from a rock, etc.) but giving him mere lip-service and going as far as to lie to him (v. 36). God saw this change of heart "while the food was still in their mouths" (v. 30)!

You're probably familiar with the Exodus account. At points, the Israelites even preferred death or becoming re-captive to Egypt over continuing to wander (even with the most obvious and spectacular of God's miracles to guide them in the desert). Strange how even the greatest blessings can become curses based on how we react to them. It's not that the Israelites ever hated God, per se, but in their selfishness and forgetfulness inadvertently became the enemies of God at various times.

Breakpoint's blog had a creative way of explaining this phenomenon, relating it to a situation where a love for God's creation in our oceans morphed into a setback for those whose life mission it is to save the creatures in it.

Sea World was its own undoing — a victim of its own enormous success. A generation raised on the majesty of Shamu has done what it’s been taught to do. ...
... To the point of taking the next "evolutionary" step which is to "free" these noble creatures to their natural environments and shut down the institutions that brought them into the public conscience in the first place. Before, whales were thought of as Moby Dick.

The writer, G. Shane Morris, relates it to the success of a Christianity that, faced with the blessings of scientific knowledge and high culture, attempted rewrite what we knew of God according to modern philosophies. The result, the author contends, is a Christian liberal movement once co-existent with its evangelical moorings but now bent on destroying the reputations of those who zealously cling to the fundamentals of the faith.
A little over a century ago, Christians in liberal denominations allowed the admirable campaign for social justice to overshadow the worldview that justified it. Today their descendants are openly attacking that worldview. I’m reminded irresistibly of how Sea World allowed the push for public love and awareness of marine mammals to become too sentimental—to override that central commitment to the uniqueness of human beings that made it acceptable to have dominion. Today their own enraged catechumens are overrunning them. Sadly, the result for orcas will be less funding and manpower for conservation. The result for our civilization will be—has been—less real justice and freedom, even as our demands for both grow ever louder.
So are we much different than the Israelites, who forgot God's goodness while still chewing on it? Mr. Morris words it better than I can at:

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