It’s something we don’t often carefully consider.
God’s love for us in inexhaustible. But – there comes a time when, due to one’s perpetual rebellion and telling God to ,in essence, “shove off,” that God says, “Ok. Have it your way.”
And it’s never pretty.
We don’t appreciate the protection God brings us until he removes it.
God is a gentleman. He offers to us the gospel. But he will not impose it on us.
What that means, per simple logic, is that, although he longs to save us, he will allow us to learn the hard way should we insist on doing so. (Think: Samson)
The book of Proverbs is packed full of wisdom and warnings related to this topic, as seen in chapter one below. The problem, according to God, begins with us:
God longs to save, not judge. Hence, he calls us and warns us over and over again. Like a parent who is fiercely protective of his precious children, he says,
Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square;… “How long,…will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge? Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.”
But when we ignore his pleas – the hammer falls. Hard.
“I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you— when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you.
And it just keeps getting worse.
“When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me. For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the Lord. They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them. Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes.
Before jumping to conclusions and accusing God of being a hateful parent, keep in mind a couple of biblical truths:
- God says through Jeremiah, the prophet: “The heart (of mankind) is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.” There are times when, refusing to heed God’s calls and warnings, he looks at us and says, “You want to be in charge of your life? Have at it.” But, what ensues is a return – sometimes quick and other times methodical, on par with a slow decaying – to the wickedness of our own heart. This is what Paul means when, describing the same circumstances in Romans, he says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools… so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.” Translation: You insist on living your life with out me? Have it your way.
- Also, never forget that scripture must always be interpreted in light of scripture. In other words, we must never build a doctrine based on a single, cherry-picked passage from the Bible. This is why we have 66 books comprising two testaments. Sure, if this passage from Proverbs was all we had it would strongly suggest there is no second chance with God – regardless of how sorry we are. But, when the Proverbs passage is read in light of Luke 15:11-24, where the lost son is not only welcomed home, but embraced by the lovesick father (who represents our heavenly Father), we see there must be something more to the Proverbs passage which requires more careful study. The subjects of the Proverbs passage are not sorry for what they’ve done. They’re merely sorry they got caught. They have no interest in repenting and trusting God for their good. They simply want the consequences of their selfish behavior to cease – so they can continue in their arrogant lifestyle and thumb their nose at God. Those who are truly broken and repentant encounter a much different response from the Lord, as clearly seen in Jesus’ story in Luke 15, and culminated in the Cross.
And this is why God concludes the Proverbs passage with this:
“Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”
The lesson here is just as the title makes crystal clear: continue to tell God to shove off and he, in essence, will do just that, leaving you to yourself and Satan.
Consider yourself warned.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick