March 01, 2021

Learning it for Ourselves

Devotion for the Week...

When I teach my Paper Piecing with Freezer Paper workshop through Zoom, there's one point where I make sure to mention that the piece of fabric we're adding next has to extend past the point on the template. I always touch the part of the template that has to be inside the edge of the fabric and I explain that if the template extends past the fabric then the corner of the unit won't be covered. Despite this, there's almost always one person who positions their fabric so that the point of the template extends past the fabric and their corner is not covered. It's not that they're stupid or even that they're not paying attention. It's just that sometimes we have to make a mistake for ourselves before we really get it. Needing to get out the seam ripper to fix the mistake has a way of cementing that lesson, doesn't it?

We have all done the same thing at some point in the past. We've been told how to avoid making mistakes or causing more work/trouble for ourselves or others, but the lesson just didn't stick until we had to deal with the consequences of doing the wrong thing. The Israelites were no different than we are, in this regard. I just shook my head when I read 1 Kings 12:26-28 recently: 

"Jeroboam thought to himself, 'Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the Lord, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.'

So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, 'It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!'"

He set up gold calves for the people to worship!? Didn't Jeroboam know his history? Moses' brother Aaron did the same thing when the people got nervous after Moses was gone too long meeting with God in Exodus 32, though he made one gold calf instead of two. The people worshipped the calf Aaron made, resulting in the death of 3,000 people, "Then the Lord sent a great plague upon the people because they had worshiped the calf Aaron had made" (Exodus 32:35). 

Jeroboam would have heard the story in his history lessons, but obviously this was one lesson he had to learn for himself. Unfortunately, the people of his kingdom didn't pay attention to their history, either, and so "this became a great sin, for the people worshiped the idols, traveling as far north as Dan to worship the one there" (1 Kings 12:30).

Are we making the same mistakes they did? Are we ignoring the lessons we could learn from the people of the Bible? Writing about the mistakes of the Israelites, Paul said, "These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did...They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age" (1 Corinthians 10: 6-7, 11).

We're not likely to have a gold calf set up in the backyard, but that doesn't mean we don't crave evil things at times. We might be like Jeroboam and looking to preserve our own advantage, rather than seeking what God wants. Or we might be like the people of his kingdom, who agreed when he said that going to the temple was too much trouble. They decided to save themselves some time and effort by worshipping the gold calves, since they were closer. 
Are we wise enough to learn from the mistakes of others? |

Of course, instead of saving themselves anything, they doomed themselves to face the consequences of their faithlessness. While our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, we do often still have to face the consequences of our sins, whether they're relationship problems, financial problems, health problems or other problems. There are plenty of ways not heeding the lessons found in the Bible can impact our lives. Are we wise enough to learn from their mistakes rather than needing to learn it for ourselves?

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