“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26, NKJV)
The above verse is probably the most familiar in the Bible. On Sunday mornings in many churches, it is the final benediction or blessing before people leave the service. On the Sabbath (Saturday) in synagogues around the world, this particular blessing is also used as a way to end the service. However, it doesn't stop there but is also carried on into the home. For example, when the Sabbath starts on Friday night, parents say this blessing over their children. Today, Jews who are in attendance for morning prayers will have this blessing said over them by the rabbis.
The Lord said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the Lord (Jeremiah 3:6-10, NKJV).
In Jeremiah 3:6-10, we see the sin Israel committed. We also see God calling Israel to return to Him. When she didn’t, her sister Judah followed her into sin. So, God cut Israel off from His presence. This is something the USA and Canada should heed. Both countries have banned God from schools, the marketplace and from the halls of government. And the U.K. has also decided that God doesn’t matter. U.K. judge is calling for Britain to be systematically de-Christianized. When you stop honouring God and remove all traces of Him from life, the end result will not be good, and Israel is the perfect example of how devastating that can be.
Do Christians Have Free Will?
I've recently begun to dig into the book of Jeremiah and realized once again how God really does have things in control. For example, in my last post, we discovered that God had a plan for Jeremiah's life before Jeremiah had even been conceived. Does this mean He also has our lives planned out in advance? If so, how much free will do we really have?
It is evident when you read the complete first chapter of Jeremiah that we have quite a bit of free will. True, Jeremiah was born into a family of priests, so his future was somewhat marked out for him. He also would have been trained on how to approach God and the laws of the Torah and the respect that comes with that. So, his upbringing likely prepared him for the role God had in store for him. But was he ever in the position to say no?
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."
Have you ever wondered if God has a plan or purpose for your life? Lately, I have been asking myself that same question. You see, for years, I thought His plan was made perfectly clear to me when, at the age of 17, He revealed that I would sing for Him. I was in church on New Year's Eve. During prayer, I heard the Lord say to me, "This year, you will begin to serve me with your voice." I thought, "Cool! I love to sing, and I would be willing to do that." But my immediate thought after that was, "How?" Well, God had it all figured out beforehand, and I never had to worry about the "how." The day after New Year's Day, I received a phone call from a Christian organization asking me to come to sing for a weekend at their camp. I said I would but that I had never done anything like that before. They said, "Then come practice on us." They would provide meals, a room to sleep and a way to get there.
Well, you didn't have to tell me twice that God was up to something. Especially when to this day, I still don't know how these people heard of me or got my number! I suspect one of my friends wanted to jump-start my ministry and recommended me, but no one owned up to it, which has always made me feel God's hand was at work. So I accepted, despite my inexperience at performing. You see, up until then, I had been vocally trained and knew how to play the guitar. I had even written twenty or more songs. But I had never performed them in front of anybody. I was nervous, but God had a plan.
Getting Back to Eden
Life sucks. Yep, I said that and yes, I believe it's true for many people in the world. After all, this life we have here on earth was never meant to be the life God wanted for us. If you have never been touched by heartache, disease, fear, or death, you have beaten the odds. We were never meant to struggle with illness, despair, catastrophes, death or sin. We were never meant to wonder if there is a God. We were never meant to fight over our "rights" . . . gay rights, religious rights, women's rights, etc. All of it was never meant to happen.