Thursday, January 03, 2008

Submission To God Eventually Shows

War is all around us. History seems to be the story of how wars started and ended. In our day it seems you can’t watch the news without hearing about war. You may know someone who has been in war. You may have lost someone in a war o know someone that has. When we consider such sacrifice we ask ourselves, is it worth it? But, is the option of surrendering worthy? How does surrender make us react?

For some, surrender is worse than death, as history shows. Our quarterly tells this story as an example,

In A.D. 70, Lucius Flavius Silva marched the Roman Tenth Legion into the Judean Desert. His orders: Quell the Sicarii—the last Jews resistant to Rome. General Silva laid a long, fierce siege to the Sicarii stronghold of Masada, his message ominously clear. None would escape alive. When the Tenth Legion stepped into the fortress, they heard only silence. They shouted to their enemies to show themselves. Two women climbed out of a cistern and told a gruesome tale. Ten men had been chosen by lot to murder everyone in the fortress. Of the ten, one was chosen to slay the other nine, set fire to the palace, and then kill himself. The Romans listened in disbelief. But when they found the 953 dead bodies, they couldn’t exult. The fortress’s well-stocked storehouses sent a clear message. The Sicarii had not killed themselves because they were starving and wanted to avoid the shame of eating their children. They killed themselves to avoid being taken as prisoners. The Romans could only marvel at the courage of their enemies who would rather die than surrender.

In other words, the Jews of Masada killed themselves so they would not have to surrender to the Roman forces. Although some considered this suicidal move as courageous, I think it was a result of unbelief. How far from God can you be to kill yourself? How much driven by pride do you have to be to die before humiliating yourself? The real reason these people killed themselves was because they refused to surrender to God. Unknowingly, they viewed God as their enemy. According to them, God would not allow them to be subjugated to a pagan people.

But, God showed His love toward them by sending His Son to die for them (John 3:16; Acts 2:22-23). Even when they crucified His Son, God still reached out for them. The Jews responded by killing Stephen (Acts 7:59). And, even when they were rejected as a nation, God still was willing to accept them as individuals; many accepted but others did not.

Their refusal to surrender to the Romans reminds me of the Jews in the time of impending Babylonian captivity. Through Jeremiah God in essence said to them, “Surrender and it will be well for you.” We read in Jeremiah 29:4, 20

Jeremiah 29:4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;
Jeremiah 29:20 Hear ye therefore the word of the LORD, all ye of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon:

God tells them the captivity is from Him, but they refused to listen to Jeremiah. Simply put, as their Masada counterpart, they could not see how God could allow them to surrender to a pagan heathen power. So much they hated the message of the Lord that they imprisoned Jeremiah. They refuse to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar’s army, refusing to accept that they were rebelling against God. Because of this they suffered the consequences of their rebellion. Many died unnecessarily. The King of Judah saw his son killed, just before his eyes were put out (Jeremiah 39:1-7).

Both cases show that these Jews were not disciples of God. They may have called God their Master, but in reality He was not. A disciple submits to His Master; just as Daniel and his friends submitted to God, and it went well for them. The same goes for the apostles; they submitted to Christ and it went well for them. You may focus on their earthly deaths; however remember they will live eternally. They believed, trusted and depended on God and His word. So, they willingly submitted to His will.

James says it clearly and simply. Failure to submit to God shows off eventually. Let us read James 4: 1-7.

James 4: 1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
James 4: 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
James 4: 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
James 4: 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
James 4: 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
James 4: 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
James 4: 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Paul says of these adulterer’s and adulteresses, “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” Romans 10:3. Those who submit to God’s righteousness – which is in and is Christ Jesus – are able to resist the devil and conquer temptation. These are true disciples. However, submitting to God requires a choice. Are you willing to make that choice today?