Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”
Ah, sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Isaiah 1:2-4
One of my favorite movie lines of all time comes from the classic James Dean/Natalie Wood film, Rebel Without a Cause. Upon adult interrogation, Dean’s character is asked the question, “What are you rebelling against?” The cool as a cucumber teen calmly and cheekily replies, “What have you got?” My 5 year old seems to have adopted Dean’s response as a life philosophy. My husband and I have to choose our battles carefully. While we want our children to become independent thinkers and problem-solvers, we also want them to adhere to some general principles of civilized society. There are rules to be followed and standards to be upheld. But it can be a hard balancing act.
The truth is, rebellion seems to be something that is inherent in each and every one of us. From the very beginning, rebellion has been part of the story of humanity. Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s statutes by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, thus abandoning the perfect existence in Eden God had so painstakingly created. The people of Israel continued to rebel against God, despite the lavish love He poured upon them. The book of Isaiah finds the nation of Israel in a state of complete apostasy. Leaders and prophets had led the people into organized acts of idolatry. The government was corrupt, unjust, and oppressive. Look at the words Isaiah uses to describe God’s chosen people:
See how the faithful city has become a prostitute! She was once full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her–but now murderers! Your silver has become dross, your choice wine is diluted with water. Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them. Isaiah 1:21-23
From the very beginning, God designed a perfect plan for His people to follow. At the heart of the plan, was the command to honor God above all else. God established the “if…then” covenant with His people. If you honor me….if you keep my commands…then you will live in peace and fulfillment. God knew His people would be surrounded by cultures whose people did not revere and worship Him. God knew the temptation to depend on the false gods and idols of their neighbors would be great. But God chose to trust His people–His children–His beloved creation.
But, as in the Garden of Eden, when the people had gained their footing…when they were comfortable and secure…when their crops grew and their endeavors prospered…when their leaders gained international prominence and recognition…the people forgot their God. They turned from the One who had Delivered and Nurtured them to worship the gods of their own making. They rebelled against the laws of the Lord. They threw off that easy yoke to wrap themselves in a noose made of greed, lust, consumerism, materialism and ego. God’s people turned away from the Light and were plunged into Darkness.
In what ways have you found yourself rebelling against God in your own life? What were the direct and indirect consequences of that rebellion?
While rebellion against God can plunge us into Darkness, God’s Light continues to shine as a beacon of hope. Remember, in this season of Advent, that while the consequences of our personal and collective rebellion can be dear; God’s love overpowers it all.
For the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
Blessings and Peace,