Sunday, December 06, 2015

This week's lesson (December 5-11): the covenant

"The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9, NIV).
Can you make a deal with God?

Why bother?

It's not that we don't try -- history is full of people who've promised God X if He would just do Y.

But look at the Bible, and you'll find something that's just a little disconcerting.

Yes, you'll find that God is not that good at making deals.

Consider the first deal He makes -- the one back in Genesis 1:26-28 where He creates humanity, gives them dominion over the earth, then tells them to "be fruitful and increase in number."

Pretty sweet deal.

And the rest of them are just as good.
  • Genesis 9:1ff -- "be fruitful, increase in number . . . and by the way: don't worry about another Flood."
  • Genesis 12:1ff -- "I will help you be fruitful and increase in number . . . and by the way: don't worry about your neighbors; I'm going to find a way to bless them too. "
  • Even the Ten Commandments show the same willingness to give away the store. God doesn't say ,"Be good, and then I'll save you." No, they begin with these words: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" (Exodus 20:2, NIV).
Yes, first He give you the reward; then maybe He asks you to do something.
Maybe.
Not always.
And it's not that God isn't smart.
It's just that you get the feeling He's really not trying all that hard.
Consider Abraham, for instance -- a man who makes three deals in His lifetimes:
  • One about real estate with his nephew Lot in Genesis 13.
  • One about the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah with God in Genesis 18.
  • And one about real estate with Ephron the Hittite in Genesis 23.
Now the experts agree that Abraham got snookered in two deals: the first, and the last.  He let Lot get away with grabbing the best land, in other words, and he paid way too much for the cave where he buried Sarah . . . 
Which suggest the only time Abraham ever got the better of someone was the time he bargained with God, i.e. the time he asked God to treat some really wicked people with mercy.
All of which suggests God does not try to get the best deal that He can for Himself.
Instead, He tries to get the best deal He can for us.
And He does this, even if He's the one who pays the price.
So don't try to make deals with God -- no, don't offer Him X if He will give you Y.
I mean, why bother . . . 
When you can get a better deal from Him?

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