BEL, NEBO OR JESUS?

BEL, NEBO OR JESUS?

Let’s start today with a little game of ‘Name that Song’, shall we? Can you name the title of this song?

“I’ve been carrying you on my back
from the day you were born,
And I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old.
I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray.
I’ve done it and will keep on doing it,
carrying you on my back, saving you.”

Stumped? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Alright, never mind the title; which genre? Country western? 70s classic? Answer at the tip of your tongue? No, that’s not it. Try Isaiah 46:3-4 [MSG]

That’s right, this was God’s little reminder to Israel when He found them wandering off on their own merry way again. I don’t know about you, but passages like Isaiah 46 leave me with mixed feelings. I get a little tired of Israel’s incessant wandering and falling away from our Father’s path, especially after He has been faithful to them since their inception in Abraham. I mean, come on, how many times are you going to wander off from your Protector and Provider only to realize that you were wrong and come back to Him?

But what I don’t ever get tired of, is seeing just how patient our Father is with Israel. For in truth, we are just like Israel, aren’t we? Our faithfulness and commitment to God is as short-lived as the weather. I heard a politician once say of his opposition, “His words differ from day to day, just as the moon looks different on the 1st and the 15th of the month.”

And isn’t that just like us? We love God the moment things turn around for us. And when they continue to be rosy, we start to forget that it is the result of His provision and protection, and we start to accord the credit to our own smarts and abilities. But once things take a turn for the worse, it’s God’s fault again, and it stays His fault until things turn around again, at which time, it would have been our smarts that got us out of that mess. See the irony in the way we behave?

I’m not saying that success is a bad thing, and that we should shun success like the plague. That would be like saying that money is the root of all evil, when actually it is

“…the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10

So success is no bad thing, but the love of success, the craving for the trappings which it brings, the dogged desire to prioritize it above all else, now that is a different proposition. Because when we do, they become like the idols that Israel carved for themselves.

“The god Bel falls down, god Nebo slumps.
The no-god hunks of wood are loaded on mules
And have to be hauled off,
wearing out the poor mules—
Dead weight, burdens who can’t bear burdens,
hauled off to captivity.” Isaiah 46:1-2

It could be money, it could be success, it could be our own smarts and abilities; whatever it is that we build up in our minds as the cause of our current privileged situation, that takes the place of the truth, which is that all which we have comes from our Father; they are all idols, no-god hunks of wood, which in and of themselves have no power to even move themselves, they have to be a burden to the very animals that carry them.

Think about it. When was the last time you confided in your PhD about your problems with your spouse? When was the last time your bank account offered you comfort in your depression? If smarts and money were the solutions to all of life’s problems, psychiatry would not have become a multi-billion dollar industry, because, let’s face it, a visit to the shrink is really expensive.

Yet, we do it anyway. We allow ourselves to get hoodwinked time and time again till we finally realize that it is our Father who was in control all the while. We knew it, but we didn’t want to face up to it. But here’s the thing that gets to me. Even though we do it so many times, our Father is still so patient and gentle with us and when we stray; instead of unleashing fire and brimstone, He says,

“Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’
Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.
Indeed I have spoken it;
I will also bring it to pass.
I have purposed it;
I will also do it.” Isaiah 46:9-11

It is as if He is saying, “You forgot again? Here let me remind you.”

Indeed, there is no other. Indeed, none have called creation into being; none have declared the end from the beginning. And if we are honest, no one in our lives have been able to keep a 100% record of speaking it and bringing it to pass, purposing it and doing it. Only our Father has.

And you know what, no matter which station of life we are in right now, whether we are riding on a high or stuck in the deepest and darkest rut, we all look forward with anxious worry, wondering if the next day will be as good or as bad as the day before. For those who have, we dare not trust that we will be able to bring ourselves the fortune we have experienced today. For those who have not, we worry that the desperation of today will carry on into tomorrow. Isn’t it strange that wealth and success are such bad sources of security?

Indeed, what is the point of putting our trust in the things of the world?

“People with a lot of money
hire craftsmen to make them gods.
The artisan delivers the god,
and they kneel and worship it!
They carry it around in holy parades,
then take it home and put it on a shelf.
And there it sits, day in and day out,
a dependable god, always right where you put it.
Say anything you want to it, it never talks back.
Of course, it never does anything either!” Isaiah 46:6-7 [MSG]

Or am I the only one that sees the futility of worshiping your own creation?

Instead,

“Now listen to me:
You’re a hardheaded bunch and hard to help.
I’m ready to help you right now.
Deliverance is not a long-range plan.
Salvation isn’t on hold.
I’m putting salvation to work in Zion now,
and glory in Israel.” Isaiah 46:12-13 [MSG]

We are, aren’t we? A hardheaded bunch who are hard to help. But despite our stubbornness, despite our doubts, despite us wondering if this is just another empty promise from God, our Father says, He’s ready right now. If it’s deliverance you need from your financial problems, your medical conditions, your emotional pains, your deliverance is not a long-range plan. If you need to be saved from your circumstance, your salvation is not on hold. His salvation has already come in the form of Jesus. Jesus has already made you who believe, righteous in our Father’s sight, and that is why Paul can say to you who have invited Jesus into your life,

“…Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple.” Colossians 1:27 [MSG]

Beloved, remember, our Father says,

“I’ve been carrying you on my back
from the day you were born,
And I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old.
I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray.
I’ve done it and will keep on doing it,
carrying you on my back, saving you.” Isaiah 46:3-4 [MSG]

No matter where you are right now, no matter what you are going through, our Father has been carrying you on His back since the day you were born. And no matter what lies ahead, unlike the world, you need not worry, because He’ll keep on carrying you. Even when you are old and gray, He’ll still be there, carrying you on His back and saving you from every situation.

And friend, if you have been relying on all the wrong sources for your deliverance, if you have been depending on the your Bels and Nebos, it’s time to wake up to the truth and turn to Jesus. In Him, you can be made right. In Him, you can restore your estranged relationship with God. Indeed, our Father is ready to help you right now. His deliverance is before you and His salvation is at hand. And if you would like to accept His gift of salvation, then say this to Him right now.

“Father, thank You for loving me. Thank You that even though I was quite content to struggle while I trusted in my Bels and Nebos, my sorry excuse of a life was not good enough to you. You wanted more for me and that is why You chose to reach out to me. Father thank You that through Jesus, I can receive perfect righteousness. Thank You that through Jesus, I can receive full remission of all my sins. Thank You that through Jesus, I can, once again, have You carry me on Your back through all that may come. Father I receive all that you will and purpose for me, knowing that what you say, you will bring it to pass; what you purpose, you will surely do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Beloved, look forward with a positive expectation of good for you are no longer bound to your Bels and Nebos. For you who have placed your faith in our Father, yours is no longer a life of ‘maybe’, for your God is not a God who needs to be a burden to cattle and mules. Your God is the creator of heaven and earth and the best thing is, He loves you.

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