"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Friday, July 10, 2009

Raising The Standard: Determination Is Rejecting Any Distraction Which Could Hinder The Completion Of A Task

This will conclude Determination... next up, Orderliness (ugh... working on that one myself)... Blessings, The Albatross
God was grieved with the sin of a ruler and sent an unnamed prophet to rebuke him. The prophet courageously completed his dangerous task but failed to exercise determination on his return. Tragedy resulted because he allowed himself to be distracted.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Determination In Rejecting Distractions? The crowd watched as a proud king approached a golden calf which rested on a newly constructed altar. Suddenly a man boldly stepped in front of the king and proclaimed, "God's curse is upon this altar and all who would worship here." The king was furious. He shook his fist and shouted to his guards, "Arrest that man!" Instantly the king's arm became paralyzed. Then the alter broke apart.
Horrified, the king cried out to the prophet, "Please pray to your God to heal my arm." The prophet prayed, and the king's arm was healed immediately. The grateful king invited him to his palace to have some food and receive a reward. But the prophet refused his invitation. God had given him strict instructions not to eat any food or drink any water and to return home a different way than he had come. As he got on his donkey to ride away, tow young men slipped out of the crowd and ran home to their aged father. They reported all that had happened. He listened with eager interest, for he, too, used to be a prophet. "Quick! Saddle the donkey for me, " he said, "and point me in the direction the prophet went." He found him resting under the shade of an oak tree. The older man then invited him to a meal. "No," refused the younger prophet, "for God has instructed me not to eat or drink and to come home by a different way." The old man explained to him, "I too am prophet, and an angel gave me a message from the Lord that I am to take you home with me and give you food and water." He was hungry and thirsty and it was a long ride home. He thought about how refreshing the food and water would be. Distracted from obeying God's clear direction, he agreed to have a meal with the old prophet. But as they were eating, he received a message from the Lord through the old prophet, "The Lord says that because you have had food and water you will not be buried in your home country." After the meal the unnamed prophet resumed his journey. Just outside the city he was brutally and fatally attacked by a lion. The old prophet brought his body back and buried him in the foreign land as prophesied. The brave prophet had courageously carried out the most difficult part of his mission, but by not swiftly completing it, he exposed himself to an unnecessary consequence. (From 1 Kings 13)
Why Was The Prophet Not To Eat Or Drink On His Mission?
Because of the natural inclination to refuse food during a time of severe personal grief, fasting was considered a sign of mourning and deep distress (cf. Judges 20:26). On the other hand, eating and drinking with another person was normally the occasion for happiness and signified the desire for friendship (cf. Matthew 9:14-15; 1 Corinthians 5:11). For the prophet to fast was completely appropriate with the somber message he delivered to Jeroboam. To stop and enjoy the fellowship of even a godly friend would have completely misrepresented the message with which God had entrusted him.
How Could The Prophet Have Been So Easily Deceived?
This man of God had just stood alone against an entire nation and its king. He had walked many miles and still had to make the return trip home. He was so tired that he felt it necessary to rest, and it must have been hot because he sat under an oak tree (1 Kings 13:14). He was probably thirsty, hungry and very lonely after his recent physically and emotionally exhausting mission. After refusing Jeroboam's invitation to eat at his home, he may have felt that this exhausted the reason for the command to fast. His physical desire for nourishment and his emotional desire for fellowship with an old prophet overpowered his knowledge of God's specific command. He had become lazy in spirit and allowed the Adversary entrance (cf. Genesis 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8). When the old prophet reached him, he was already in a compromising position. In disobedience to the Lord, the unnamed prophet was found resting underneath a tree. Had he been determined to complete his mission he would not even have stopped to rest, and it is likely that the older prophet would never have caught up with him.
Why Did God Punish The Younger Prophet So Severely?
The sin of the prophet was deeper than just his natural desire for food and fellowship. As a spiritual leader, his duty was to protect the people from false religion and erroneous doctrine. His guiding principle was to be the fact that God does not contradict Himself. The sin of Jeroboam which the prophet condemned was the sin of modifying and disregarding God's commands because of changing circumstances and personal conveniences. Now he was doing the exact same thing by disregarding what God had commanded and believing instead that the word of another prophet could annul a former command.
How Does The Wolverine Illustrate Determination In Rejecting Distractions? Satisfying its voracious appetite, the wolverine dined on a freshly killed marmot. This rocky stream shoreline had provided it with many such meals.
The river was also a feeding area for bears. They feasted on salmon returning from ocean waters to their spawning grounds. Some salmon had already begun swimming by but the empty streams made them elusive. Later, when the streams would be filled with fish, there would be less difficulty in catching them. There had been no sign of bear near the stream today, but their presence would have made little difference to the wolverine. This fierce, determined animal turns aside for nothing and fights any challenger. As it gorged itself on the marmot, the aroma of fresh blood was picked up by a hungry bear disappointed after a fruitless search of the stream. It lumbered toward the source of the scent and approached from the wolverine's back. Hearing a noise, the wolverine turned and faced a four-hundred pound grizzly. Moving toward the marmot, the bear growled a warning, but the wolverine refused to surrender its meal. The wolverine sprang first, but with one powerful swipe the four-inch claws of the grizzly slashed through its tough skin and sent it sprawling to the rocks. The wolverine leaped again, aiming for the back of the neck, but it only managed to sink its sharp teeth into the shoulder muscles. In a wild fury of fangs and claws, new wounds opened on each contestant. But the powerful grizzly soon overcame its tenacious opponent. It clamped its large jaws around the wolverine's back, lifted it high into the air and flung it against the rocks. The wolverine's body lay motionless where it had fallen. The grizzly was clearly the winner and might have walked away with the marmot, but its rage had been aroused. It triumphantly stepped forward to pour out more fury on its victim. As it bent down, the wolverine mustered all its remaining strength and lunged at the bear. Its sharp teeth sank into the bear's throat and reached their mark. The stunned and surprised grizzly felt the fiery pain of vital cords being severed. Then a strange numbing seized its body and it slumped to the ground. Exhausted and badly wounded, the wolverine managed to drag itself over to a crevice in the rocks. There it would wait for healing to come to its body. The determination which made retreat unthinkable, would now be used to recover from near fatal wounds.

No comments: