Summary: Are we seeking the "good life" of our culture or the "good life" God offers?
(28:1-14) embarrassing (vs. 13)? Follow God and his ways to…?
Are rich “blessed” and poor “cursed”? (or childless—or bread won’t rise…)
Does this open the door to using God (Destiny’s Child: thanking God “for writing my songs”)
Or maybe bargaining with God? (“If you make me prosper…”)
Is it OK to ask God to bless us (greatly)?
(Prayer of Jabez—picked up in popular press…)
Is it right to seek God’s blessings?
What is the alternative? To not seek God’s blessings?
We will seek “the good life”—But which good life?
Only real question: God’s good life, or world’s good life (and God’s way, or world’s way)
Settle question (in own mind): Who will provide “good life” for us?
World and its ways? Or God and his ways?
God’s people are on edge of Promised Land—but land is not empty
Actually, people of the land are quite prosperous (“flowing with milk and honey”)
In contrast, God’s people have been living for 40 years on white flakes of manna
Easy to be intimidated when look at people who appear to be doing very well: walled cities
In contrast, God’s people are primitive wanderers who live in tents
Culture of Canaan was not highly-developed (like Egypt of Babylon)—but attractive in own way:
Earthy appeal of good food and drink, wild parties, being close to land
gods of Canaan were important part of that lifestyle: hands-on, earthy
gods sent rain and made land and animals fertile
worship of gods had its own attraction: Baal especially
Baal worship like a “rave”àsexual orgy: excuse for wild party
For Israelities, worship of Canaanite gods very attractive:
Not only did it appeal to baser instincts (“Yeah—I think I’ll go to worship today”)
But this was Canaanite territory, and the Canaanites were obviously doing well
Maybe these Canaanites know how to prosper in this Land
Israelites are primitive wanderers (illegals)—little more than the shirts on their backs
Sure, their God was fine for wilderness—but Canaan offers “good life”
And to get “the good life,” doesn’t it make sense to play by rules of the land?
NO, says God—REMINDER:
Dangerous game (4:3-4—24,000 victims of wrath of God)—negative side
God’s positive expectation: (4:5-6)—You can do better! (They could—Canaanites were losers)
Then God reminds them of what they have (privileges)
(4:7) Later, 400 prophets of Baal cutting themselves, but Elijah simply talking to God
(4:8) Law of God: unmatched in ancient world
(4:10-12) saw glory of true God: powerful and holy
Deut. 4:33 Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived?
Deut. 4:34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
delivered from most powerful kingdom on earth
(4:35-40) Great God—and chosen people
You’re not nobodies who live in cultural wilderness (“So out of it”)