So very often in life, man stands on the precipice of greatness, only to realize that he blew his chances and missed the opportunity to get there. The story of the Israelite nation as described in the Bible is just that.
———They were brave warriors, famous men, and heads of their families. 25 But they were unfaithful to the God of their ancestors and prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. 26 So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria –who took (them) —– into exile. (1Chronicles 5:24-26)
Chosen by God and blessed beyond measure, they possessed unparalleled talent, courage and leadership abilities. Yet they faltered in two connected aspects-
- They were unfaithful to God.
Being unfaithful means to break the trust. If I agree to do something and then don’t do it, I am being unfaithful. Being chosen of God and blessed by Him, all that was asked was to stay true to Him. But when the Israelite nation refused to honor the Yahweh God by ignoring his commands and throwing aside his lordship, choosing to live life as they pleased, they opened themselves to consequences. If the origin of your abilities is God, and you choose to throw away that origin, it is not surprising when you find your abilities fast disappearing from your fold. There are multiple reasons why this occurs. One is losing the awe and wonder of God because of the familiarity with God. There is some truth in the phrase, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. It is most unfortunate when it extends to God. It is all too common for one generation that lived in reverence to God pass away and for the next generation to come to an experience of contempt and disregard for God. Decay then becomes inevitable as prosperity flees. Another reason cited in the verse above is-
- They sold themselves to others’ gods.
When God is not worshipped, someone else or something else will take His place. In most cultures, it is either people (idols) who hold sway over the masses or the materialistic pursuits of life that serve as gods of the land. While in the ancient cultures like Egypt, people collectively gave authority to humans and considered them gods, today the adulation that sports stars, Hollywood stars and political leaders receive is nothing short of being ‘gods’. Likewise, the pursuit of the many pleasures that characterize modern-day materialistic living is akin to selling oneself to the gods of this world. You cannot serve two masters and when you have given yourself to adoring and worshipping the gods of this world, no space remains for worshipping God.
What follows is not just the diminishing of ability and the loss of talents, but also captivity. All men have a spiritual dimension to them and they either stand with God and rule the spiritual realm or stand apart from God and subject themselves to captivity. Captivity in the spiritual realm, with time inevitably, leads to captivity in the physical realm. Being sold to slavery and exile does not seem surprising in this case.
Oh, the frustration of being so close yet so far, of reaching the precipice, yet never arriving! Stand with God, stay true to Him and make that transition.