Yesterday I was reflecting on how Abram set up an altar to worship God for the promise God made, even before it happened. Abram had great faith. I then reflected that I have less faith, and I wondered how many promise cheques am I trying to cash early?
2 King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my fellow Israelites, my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. 3 But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’
12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
David longed to build a temple for the Lord and was told by God that his son, Solomon, would be its builder, because David was a warrior who had shed much blood. Therefore, David’s hands were not clean enough for the purpose of God in the building of the temple.
Moses and Aaron, who had been God’s chosen people to lead Israel out of Egypt to the promised land, were now disqualified from entering the land of promise. They didn’t trust God or honour him as holy in the sight of the people (at the waters of Meribah) and therefore they were both excluded.
These two stories are reminders for me that, particularly after yesterday, in which I promote the idea of praising God for his promises, we also cannot take promises for granted. If you had asked these men whether they would be the ones to bring the people into the land or to build the temple, I expect the answer would be a resounding yes, as they had no reason to doubt what God was laying before them.
And then something got in the way, and God’s plan (which perhaps was always in place and simply invisible to our earthly eyes) was to change directions.
The promises of God to be with us, and to place us in the world as his witnesses, and to carry our burdens – these are promises which are sure and steadfast. I think we can set our watches by these promises of God.
Yet, when we put promises into the mouth of God, like the future greatness of our children, the certain promotion we long for, that person being the one, or the security of our wealth and financial position, we put ourselves into a risky position. God may not have those certain things in his certain plan.
Some things may be in our plan, and not in his.
I spent most of yesterday realizing that my assumptions about God’s promises in my own life are not always God’s plan for my life. And therefore, I am humbly stepping back and re-affirming that God is God. James 4:13-16 comes to mind:
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
Today I will boast in knowing God,
And I will go with God where he leads,
And through doors he opens.
I will respect those he closes,
Believing with no doubt,
He knows best for me,
And more importantly for his glory…