If you have multiple children, or you’re one of multiple siblings, you might relate to what I’m about to say. Parents have high expectations of their firstborn children. They take more pictures and give more attention to them, but they’re also harder on them. They must do well in school. They must behave themselves at all times. They’re expected to set a good example for the siblings that follow. On these children, parents exact discipline quickly after the slightest infraction.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
I’m starting to get that feeling when it comes to God as Father to Israel. He performed some of the most miraculous of all miracles rescuing them from slavery. He fed them and heard their cries along the way. He set them high above any others, giving them His very own name: Israel, which means “God contended.” God fought for them, like any parent would. He promised them the moon and stars. God loved His child with all of His heart.
Day 34 - Leviticus 14-15 and Psalms 34
But sometimes love hurts. In order to make sure that child fulfills the promise of its parent’s hopes, it is necessary to discipline swiftly. Israel seemed to get the brunt of their Father’s judgment, even unto death. We saw that with the Levites who took a sword to those who worshiped the golden calf while Moses was talking to God on the mountain. We also saw that when Aaron’s sons disobeyed God. They were struck down immediately, and no one was allowed to mourn their death.
Fast forward to today
God seems to have mellowed. Those who consider themselves to be children of God today get away with everything their big brother never could. Rules aren’t just stretched, but they’re repeatedly broken. If there are consequences, we might miss the lesson because they rarely happen in connection with the crime.
Today, we’re like spoiled little brothers and sisters. We aren’t fearful of Father like our big brother was. We push the limits beyond their breaking point, and laugh about it. We have no problem sticking our hands out when we need something, whether we deserve it or not. Big brother worked hard to please Father, while we lay around on the couch expecting to be taken care of.
After reading Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus, I’m in awe of all that we get away with nowadays. As a firstborn myself, I’m constantly looking over my shoulder waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m like Chucky on “Rugrats” who always said, “Guys, I don’t think we should do that,” whenever the other little kids would cook up some mischief. So, I’ve always kept myself on the straight and narrow, just like I try to do now as a child of God.
Among my own children, my firstborn had many more rules than my youngest. By the time I got to child number 6, I had lost my edge. Curfews became less firm with each kid. Requirements to work and pay for their own luxury items faded away by the time the younger kids became teenagers. The older kids were expected to get A’s and B’s while the younger kids got away with C’s. All I can do is throw up my hands and say, “Sorry, but I ran out of gas.”
I wonder if God felt this way
God went through so much trying to teach Israel to obey His commands. As we continue to read through the Old Testament, we will see that every time Israel decided to worship false idols, God punished them. Then they’d cry out to Him, and He would rescue them. I could see how God might say to Himself, “I better find another way to save these children from themselves because they refuse to listen to Me.”
Enter Jesus on the scene. Jesus is like the cool "uncle" who swoops in and saves the day. If a kid won’t listen to his parents, oftentimes there’s someone else that can get through to him. This "uncle" is more relatable. He accepts you for who you are without lecturing. He doesn’t point fingers or lose his temper. He’s just this really cool guy that’s easy to talk to. He’s a great listener. And, when you talk to him, suddenly you understand the expectations a lot better.
But, just because we have this really cool "uncle" to intercede on our behalf doesn’t mean that the rules have changed. Father still runs the household. He loves us equally, but there are still consequences for disobedience. There are also rewards for our hard work and commitment to remain as close to Him as we possibly can. And, He looks forward to the time when we snap out of our rebellion so that He can enjoy spending time with us again.
Do you see God as your strict but loving Father, too? Feel free to comment below, or by visiting my Facebook page.
*Welcome to my one-year trip around the world of Scripture. You’re invited to take this journey with me, as I meditate on God’s Word day and night. Each morning, you’ll find a post on my Facebook page encouraging my new #Biblebuddies along the way. And each night, I’ll be writing my impressions right here at listen2leslie.com. I’d love it if you’d share your comments, to spark some fruitful discussion. The only passport you’ll need for this journey is the Read Scripture app which provides us with our daily itinerary. You’ll love this app because it contains videos by The Bible Project that serve as our tour guide. Traveling is so much better when you have someone to share the experience with, so please join me, will you?
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