Summary: In this message, we discuss Self-Craving; Self-Indulgence; Self-Pity; and Self-Denial.
Right before Israel and Judah fell to the Assyrians and Babylonians, God called several prophets to warm the people that devastation would soon follow and to encourage them to repent. As these prophets recorded these events, they paid particular attention to the peoples’ attitude, no doubt inspired by God to do so as a teaching and benefit for the church to come.
Using those writings, we can compare their situations and attitudes with our situations and attitudes today. And if we do, can we gain insight into the problems we face today as the collapse of America is taking place before our very eyes?
What was the dominant attitude of the people in Israel and Judah just before their fall? In virtually every book by these prophets, we find serious warnings against the people’s attitudes of self-sufficiency, spiritual indifference, complacency, and self-satisfaction. We can correctly refer to these attitudes as “Laodiceanism” and they are a major part of God’s message to the people of old, and to the people of today. Here are some examples:
Have you ever had a strong craving for something? In my case, I am a true “chocla-holic.” I crave chocolate. It doesn’t matter if it is milk chocolate or dark chocolate. There is just something in chocolate that calls my name!
I used to say that if I knew the day of my death, I would spend the night before in a candy factory, eating until I burst. I know about cravings. They can get the best of anyone who does not know where the line is drawn. For instance, I am a diabetic. Diabetics cannot have much sugar. That is the line in the sand for me. That keeps me from eating very much chocolate at all.
The point is we all have cravings of some sort or another, but we also know that focusing entirely on what we want can also give us things we do not want. So, we might want “some” chocolate for example, but we turn away from “a lot” of chocolate because of the nasty side effects it has on the body.
“Now the people began complaining openly before the Lord about their hardship.”
It did not matter to the people that God had led them out of a very harsh environment of slavery. It did not matter to them that God was keeping them safe from all enemies. It did not matter to them that God was fulfilling every need they had.
The only thing that mattered to them was the fact that they were eating the same thing every single day and they wanted more. The love of self: Don’t focus on anything except what you want.
As I said, focusing only on the things we want can give us things we don’t want, too. Reading verses 2-4, we see where their attitudes got God very angry, and He sent fire down around them. It was only because of Moses’ prayers that God did not let the fire consume them.
It is okay to want things, but never to the extent that we turn our focus away from what God has already given us in His wonderful blessings.
2. SELF -INDULGENCE
In GENESIS 25:27-29, we read where Esau let his love of hunting separate him from his birthright.
“When the boys grew up, Esau became an expert hunter, an outdoorsman, but Jacob was a quiet man who stayed at home. Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for wild game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
“Once, when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, exhausted. He said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, because I am exhausted.” That is why he was also named Edom. Jacob replied, “First, sell me your birthright.”
“Look, Esau said, “I am about to die, so what good is a birthright to me?”
So, Esau sold his birthright, and the Bible says it was because he “despised” it.
The only thing Esau cared about was doing what he wanted to do, even if he had to turn his back on the things he needed to do, like keeping the blessings of his family’s birthright. There is nothing wrong with doing something you like, as long as it is not something ungodly, but there is everything wrong with ONLY doing that at the expense of not doing other things you should be doing.
In reality, Esau could not honestly expect to have his father’s wealth since he had never prepared himself to handle it. All he ever wanted to do was to get out and hunt. But too much of one thing can, again, lead to other things we don’t want. Because Esau only concerned himself with his hunting, he ended up giving up his birthright because it didn’t mean enough to him to do the things necessary to keep it.