Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Encouragement from Leviticus

I was reading in Leviticus 25 the other day, and came across this passage about the Sabbath year. Every 7th year, the people were to stop their farming for an entire year. The Lord promised that they would be provided for in this season, and then he reassures them again in later verses:

"The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and dwell in it
securely. And if you say, "What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we
may not sow or gather in our crop?' I will command my blessing on you in the
sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years."

I was particularly struck by the word, "command." I am well aware that the Lord blesses. I am well aware that He sustains, that He provides for His people. I've seen it over and over again, in the pages of scripture and in my own life. But I don't often associate His blessing with His authority. God is powerful to bless His people. He is active in it. This association really changed the way I prayed that day and since. I'm praying to a powerful God who wills His blessings on His people. He didn't just allow the Israelites to have plentiful crops in the 6th year, He commanded it!

Let me be clear: I am of the firm belief that the Lord does not will that all our days will be pain-free, problem-free, and overflowing with abundant blessings in every form. He's pretty clear that won't be the case. However, I'm tired of praying tired prayers. I'm tired of praying that the Lord would sustain me in hard days, would give me peace in trials, would free me of the burden of anxiety that troubles my soul daily. I'm tired of praying these things in a weary way, only half-expecting that today these prayers will be answered.

This passage in Leviticus reminded me that I pray to a God of power. And while the promise in Leviticus 25:21 was specific to the Israelites and their farming cycle, I am certain that I serve the same God that they did. This God commanded the people of Israel to rest from farming in the 7th year, then gave them a promise that, I'm sure, helped them to obey his command: "I command you to rest, and I will command blessings to allow you to rest. Trust me." Something like that. Not hard to see parallels in my own life. I'm not expecting the Lord to bless my work this year that I may rest next year. That promise was not for me. But I can remember that the God who gave even His own Son will give me all good things. I can remember that He is eager to bless and has power to do so. He doesn't just allow blessings; He commands them.

My Spurgeon "Morning and Evening" devotion book reinforced these thoughts this morning. He quoted from Jeremiah 32:41: "I will rejoice over them to do them good." And so I'll close with Spurgeons eloquent words on the most incredible of truths: that the Sovereign Lord of the universe actually delights in His sinful but blood-bought people! It brings Him joy to bless them!

"How heart-cheering to the believer is the delight which God has in His saints! We cannot see any reason in ourselves why the Lord should take pleasure in us; we cannot take delight in ourselves, for we often have to groan, being burdened; conscious of our sinfulness, and deploring our unfaithfulness; and we fear that God's people cannot take much delight in us, for they must perceive so much of our imperfections and our follies, that they may rather lament our infirmities than admire our graces. But we love to dwell upon this transcendent truth, this glorious mystery: that as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so does the Lord rejoice over us."