Summary: Backsliding itself is of course horrendous. But it gets doubly shameful and we’ll end up dishonoring God even more when we repent without fully knowing exactly how we have offended God.
Seeing and hearing the reactions of different people in the midst of the recent calamities in the world, I find myself grieving because most of us, even the supposedly veteran believers, do not fully understand and recognize God’s clear message behind the events. We just hear and do what we like to hear/do or are used to hearing/doing, and discard the stuff that we actually need! Though many are quick to dismiss, silence, divert, challenge or sugar-coat the judgment or repentance message of God being connected to the recent chain of disasters, it is clear that these events should compel us to assess ourselves in the full light of the Lord’s word.
Repentance can also be a tricky thing to do.
Backsliding itself is of course horrendous. But it gets doubly shameful and we’ll end up dishonoring God even more when we repent without fully knowing exactly how we have offended God. Admission of sins precedes repentance, and recognizing our sins precedes their admission. It would only add insult to injury if we assume to have accomplished repentance without acknowledging the specific ways we have turned our backs on God. We need knowledge and understanding of the Lord and His whole counsel--His precepts and instructions, how He views things and people, His overarching plan (not just His plans for our life, family, ministry, church or nation), what He sees as holy/unholy, His blessings/rewards and curses/judgments, and how He executes them, His timing, etc., which can all be studied through His Torah (the New and yes, especially the Old Testament, too)--so that we can not only glean from but also comprehend exactly how the Lord dealt with Israel and the Gentiles to the end that we can have a good grasp of how He must be dealing with us today.
The Torah categorically reveals that every time God rebukes a person, He is always gracious enough to tell the person why He had an issue/s against that person to warrant His punishment or judgment against the latter. There is no place in the Bible where God had corrected or disciplined someone without specifying how the person sinned. God does not spank us and leave us guessing why He did so! He even warns people in much detail how they will fall/sin ahead of time and provides for specific ways of repentance or solutions for a specific circumstance. The Bible is replete with how God never fails to be specific in His dealings with man: He is very particular and concrete in nearly everything, even in the things we think should be left for men to decide or figure out how to do. He gave us creativity and resourcefulness, not so that we could invent or presume new ways to obey Him, but so that we could fully obey His already prescribed ways. The Scriptures always tell us to imitate Him, copy Him, or be like Him, because He has already figured out and laid down the details for us to follow.
This opens our eyes to the first big sin of Israel at Mt. Sinai--back in Egypt they got so used to worshipping in SOME way (the Egyptians did it through the making of idols/graven images) that they PRESUMED it was okay to do the same thing to the God of their fathers. They might have been sincere and thrilled at the prospect of worshipping the Lord, but because they didn’t WAIT to see how God Himself wanted to be worshipped (as specified in His commandments after Moses returned from the mountain), they aroused God’s anger and many of them perished! God wasn’t being harsh when He struck dead David’s servant, Uzzah, when the latter touched the ark in an unprescribed manner, or when He killed Aaron’s sons after they used unprescribed fire in the tabernacle; God was making a point--He has defined how things are to be done, so He expects that His instructions are to be followed faithfully! I used to joke with my husband during our first years of marriage that if he really wanted to please me by buying me chocolates, I’d be pleased if he first asked me what specific chocolates I’d like, because then I’d know he’s really interested in knowing me, not just in satisfying his desire to show his affections to me. Could it be that many believers today worship God sincerely and passionately, and yet, because they have been acting on presumptions on how to worship the Lord, they have actually missed giving to God what He longs for the most--for us to KNOW and UNDERSTAND Him? A teacher once asked me a wise question: How many of us determine to look for the architect or engineer of a building and ask about the reliability of its foundations before we make it a place of residence for ourselves, our loved ones and our cherished possessions? Could it be that God is interested in us wholistically (this is one concept that is considered very Hebraic, as opposed to Greek, by the way), so that we do not only draw life from Him by being saved from the penalty of our sins but also by gaining real abundant life through a genuine, specific understanding of Him?