There’s no way the Old Testament is relevant to me. People from 3,000+ years ago and 6,000 miles away living in a culture radically different than mine could NEVER speak into my life! Oh really.
“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lordis God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. – 1 Kings 18:21 (NKJV)
Is this not the same exact question we must answer today?
How long will you waver (NIV), hesitate (HOL), go limping (ESV) between?
How much longer will you try to have things both ways? (CEV)
Or my favorite: “How long halt ye?” (KJV)
The original Hebrew is really vivid. The literal translation is: ” ‘Till when are ye leaping on the two branches?” (YLT)
Here’s the word picture Elijah is painting: a bird is walking down a branch and it forks. Instead of choosing one branch or the other, the bird begins leaping between the two.
He’s saying: YA GOTTA PICK A BRANCH!
Is it going to be God or satan? There is no third branch.
A fork in the road splits the road. Now it runs in completely different directions; one goes North and one goes South. The further along you go, the further away from the other you get.
The word pacach; to halt or hesitate also has the idea of “dancing” between two.
Are you dancing between God and satan?
Try showing up to Prom with two dates and see how that ends up for you. No, both demand your affection & loyalty. But you can give it to only one.
Jesus said you cannot serve two masters (Matt. 6:24a). At least have some conviction; If the LORD is God, (which He is, of course), then give Him your 100%. If the Baal is God (which he is not, of course), then give him your 100%. This wishy-washy, back-and-forth nonsense is just annoying.
Notice the people’s reply. Crickets. What’s your reply?
You CANNOT be silent on this issue. Its the most important issue of your life! God has set before you life & death, blessings & curses; now choose life! (Deut. 30:15-20)
Hmmm, the OT’s seeming awfully relevant suddenly, isn’t it?
God sent Jeremiah on a field trip to a potter’s studio where he saw an artist forming & fashioning clay as he saw fit. The end result was a beautiful, useful pot.
This simple, but powerful analogy illustrates how God shapes the lives of nations & individuals.
With total authority, God patiently & purposefully uses circumstances & people to mold us into what He desires.
He forms us into His image, we do not form Him into ours!
To be in God’s will is to be on His wheel.
When we face difficulties, often we ask, “God, why is this happening?” But we must remember to trust the hands of the Potter. His way is best, even when we can’t understand it. He knows how hot to make the kiln and how long to keep us in there. Without faith, it is impossible to please God! (Heb. 11:6)
Jeremiah 18 is a wonderful reminder that God loves to remake marred vessels. He continually sanctifies us. Without the Potter, the clay can do absolutely nothing! Yield & submit to the Potter; His ways are best.
He is in the people-molding business. God looks at that marred lump of clay and sees the potential pot yet to be formed in the future.God can use whatever He wants in order to turn you into an honorable vessel for His service; pain, relationships, promotions, & demotions.
This may seem depressing – but when you really think about it, it’s VERY HOPEFUL!
God doesn’t give up on you.
He knows what He is doing,.
He will create the best version of you that you will allow Him to create!
That is a powerful message!
It’s really a story about the Potter’s Grace!
When you see a wonderful & beautiful vase, you don’t think that the vase made itself: you marvel at the Maker!
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Just the other day, I came home from work and discovered that my dog, Annie, decided she would turn her nice bed into tiny little pieces and then spread it all over the room. She also thought it would be fun to chew up a laundry basket and then shred some paper while she was at it. Hey, once you start, why not go all in.
Needless to say, this was not the homecoming I was looking forward to.
I had gone out of my way, to make a nice, comfortable space for Annie. She had the entire garage actually. It was equipped with a super-nice dog bed, multiple chew-toys, and treats. In her mind, however, the chew-toys and treats did not look as appetizing as her bed, a laundry basket, and a bunch of paper. I can only surmise that in her mind, I had left her alone, abandoned her without revisions, and couldn’t care less how she was doing.
Here’s the kicker: just moments later, she was begging for some pizza that I was eating. I looked at her and actually said out loud, “You’ve got to be kidding me. After how bad you’ve been today, you expect a treat from me? Are you out of your dog-mind?!” (What? You talk to your dog like a human too, right?)
Lately I’ve been studying Jeremiah. This situation made me think of Jeremiah 3:4 & 5. This is Jeremiah speaking for God to the Israelites: “Have you not just called to me: ‘My Father, my friend from my youth, will you always be angry? Will your wrath continue forever?’ This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can.”
Are we constantly complaining to God? Why did this happen? Why did that happen? Yet, we do all the mischief that we can. We try to get away with as much as we can! Then we have the nerve to ask God for His favor. God has got to be saying, “You’re kidding, right? Look at the mess you’re making! Can you not just love Me and follow My Son’s example? I have not abandoned you. The rules I gave you are for your benefit. They are meant to free you, not to enslave you. Don’t you realize that I love you? Don’t you realize that I am coming back soon!”
Truth be told, I did share my pizza with Annie.
Even after she went against my commands. Even after she did whatever she wanted. Even after she created a big mess. I couldn’t resist her.
I love her, even when she’s very bad… which is a lot.