Friday, April 22, 2011

The God of Hills and Valleys

Ben-hadad had made a huge mistake.  After being soundly defeated by the Lord when he attacked Israel, he listens to some bad advice.  He is told by his counselors that no doubt Israel's gods were the gods of the hills but not the valleys and so they surely would be able to defeat Israel if they met them on the plains.  Of course, God took exception to that,  1 Kings 20:28, "Thus says the LORD, 'Because the Syrians have said, "The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys," therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.'" 

It was bad theology.  Those who think theology is a term used by lifeless theologians and it doesn't have anything to do with serving the Lord show they have much to learn.  Theology matters because if you don't know what God says about himself, you don't know God.  Theology is the truths God conveys in his Word.  Without a thorough knowledge of theology one cannot know how life works.  These poor saps had no idea who the only true and living God was and so their only recourse was to make bad decisions that would not only cause them to be unsuccessful in life but unsuccessful in death as well.

It is particularly distressing when God's people make the same mistakes about theology as the lost do.  Oh, we know that God is the only God and that he is Lord over all the earth, hills and valley, country and city and so on, but it is one thing to know truth, it is another to live in light of it.

We have all sorts of ways of regulating the Lord so that he can be Lord here but not there.  Some have past experiences that have left some rather severe emotional scars and this becomes an excuse to opt out of being a strong, victorious Christian in the present.  They use the excuse that this event in my life has caused too many problems so that I am unable to be a good wife or husband or parent or stable church member; all the while giving lip service to the truth that God was and is in control of everything that has happened to them.

The problem here is that they are selling the Holy Spirit short.  They say, "He is fully capable of making that brother a strong testimony for the Lord or He can give that sister a joyful, emotionally consistent personality but I just have too many problems to overcome. God cannot change me but just a bit.  He gave me the faith to believe enough to be saved but he can't really make me a new creation so that I can live as I couldn't live before.  He is the God of this, but not that!  I know that my brothers and sisters in the Lord have solid, loving homes and are able to suffer trials and remain strong in the Lord, but not me; I have an excuse.  I am off the hook when it comes to being conformed to the image of Christ.  There are times when I don't have to by joyful and times when I can be a bitter, complaining, depressed, narcissistic basket case and everyone should just understand, including God.  There is just so much the Lord can expect of me."  Maybe it isn't always quite that extreme but living in daily depression while acting like everything is fine can't be a pleasant way to live.  How do these words differ in essence to the counselors of Ben-hadad?

In the end it sells God short and sets our self up as the one who decides what life should look like.  It sees self at the center of life and not service to the glory of God.  Is your God the same sovereign in the deep valley as he is while on the mountain top?  If so there should be a consistency in his people in every circumstance of life.

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