“This command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.'” Jeremiah 7:23-28
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Matthew 6:24; 12:30
As spectators, we can criticize and condemn the Israelites for being stubborn, for eschewing the God who graciously led and provided and did mighty works for them, for turning their rebellious backs on Him to craft their own worthless idols, for ignoring His commands. But before we feel too pompous, we must look to see how these accounts reveal our own similar tendencies, and where we do the same. We slide backward when we are not going forward with our Lord; there is no middle ground on devotion, commitment, or surrender.
We either obey, or we don’t. We can walk in only one direction at once. No matter how much we pride ourselves in multi-tasking, we can pay attention to only one conversation, one voice, at a time. We either yield to discipline or not, and can serve only one lord. God promises it will be well with us if He is our choice, and offers guidance with our every step, but it is up to us whether we stiffen our necks, or yield to His reins, whether our ears listen and heed, or ignore.
What will it be for me today? I begin with a one-way, one-lane road, and cannot make a U-turn. Whose voice will I follow? Whom will I serve? Do I believe that if I am not for God, I am against Him– in the way I speak, what I say, how I spend my time? Am I entertaining worldly affections that are hardening my heart toward God? (John 10:27)
Oh Father, incline my ears to listen to You, my heart to love You, and my feet to take Your road ever forward. Please prompt me away from thinking I can sit in the middle or on the side when it comes to Your truth, that I can flirt with foreign charms and put off devotion to You. You alone are worthy of my all.