A Word from Curt…
Posted: November 20th, 2014
The book of Isaiah offers a graphic portrayal of the problem of prosperity. The painful judgment predicted by Isaiah was – at least in part – a consequence of the curse of comfort. In their wealth and affluence, the nation had turned away from their Savior and Deliverer. Their abundance had resulted in self-sufficiency and over indulgence. They were preoccupied with pleasure and ignored Almighty God.
Sadly, the seeds of their downfall were sown nearly 200 years earlier during the reign of King Solomon. Solomon was a popular leader. He was famously wise and wealthy. The nation’s borders were stable and its economy was strong. The citizens were “as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy” (1 Kings 3:20). The people of God were living the good life!
That unprecedented peace and prosperity allowed Solomon to spend 7 years building an incredible temple in Jerusalem. He then spent 13 years constructing an even more impressive palace for himself.
The Bible says that God appeared to Solomon twice. The first time, God promised to abundantly bless him. “I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for – both riches and honor – so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings” (1 Kings 3:12-13).
In his second appearance, God offered a word of warning to Solomon. “But if you or your descendants abandon me… and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot Israel from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make Israel an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations” (1 Kings 9:6-7).
In spite of God’s tremendous blessing and serious warning, Solomon lost his way. Though he controlled a kingdom, he couldn’t control his passions. “Solomon loved many foreign women… and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been” (1 Kings 11:1-4).
As a result, after Solomon’s death, the prosperous kingdom was divided and ultimately destroyed, just as Isaiah predicted.
It’s generally understood (by mature adults) that what we want is often not what we need. We all want prosperity and comfort. We desire pleasure and predictability. But that’s not necessarily good for us.
It turns out what we need is some challenge and difficulty in our lives. We require a certain amount of hardship in order to maintain an eternal perspective and a healthy dependence on God. The “manna principle” – referenced by Jesus in his “model prayer” – is built on trusting God to provide “our daily bread.”
The praise in Isaiah 25-26 pours from a heart of gratitude for God’s provision. Without a sense of need, there would be no appreciation. When we recognize our limitations, we are inclined to look to God for help. When we trust in the LORD, he wipes away tears and removes disgrace. “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat” (Isaiah 25:4).
Thank God for the blessing of challenge and difficulty in your life. We need it, even if we don’t want it.