Va'etchanan - ואתחנן - "I pleaded"
And I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, ‘O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’ But the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the Lord said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again. Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.’ So we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor. (Deuteronomy 3:23-29)
Far too often, we see people approaching God as if He is a genie in a bottle. In the religious world, we often hear things like, “He will give you the desires of your heart.” and, “If you claim it, He will give it to you.” What if God says, “No” to whatever it is you truly want? What if what you want is not what God wants for you? Or what if God is purposely withholding that one thing you want more than anything else in the world as a punishment?
God is not our personal santa clause, genie in a bottle, or fairy godparent. We are supposed to work out our salvation every day with fear and trembling because He is to be feared, worshipped, and loved! There is no doubt that Moses feared, worshipped, and loved God, but in this week’s Torah portion we see God withholding from Moses the desire to enter into the Promised Land, as punishment for disobeying Him at the waters of Meribah.
It is sad that so many people go to church every week and lose sight of fearing, worshipping, and loving God. Without these three elements in a believer’s life, we become just like what Yeshua described with the Pharisees; white washed tombs full of dead bones. Pagans have a ‘genie in a bottle’ relationship with their gods, and that is because their gods do not exist. We serve a God who is real, a God who is interested in real relationships with His people.
We cannot control, persuade, or reshape God to be and/or do whatever we want, but many people try to do just that. He is in complete control of both the blessings and calamities that take place in your life, and if you cannot wholeheartedly praise Him in either circumstances, then maybe you should evaluate your level of trust in Him. In order to effectively serve God, we must lose our lives in this world. I’m not saying all this to discourage you from having dreams. There is nothing wrong with wanting to survive and succeed while we are in this world, however, trusting in God is not trusting that He will give you the career that you want, that dream house you desire, or the car you’ve been eying for so long. Trusting in God, is knowing that He has a career, a house, and a car already map out for you, and He will give it to you at the right time which is on His time. This can be a hard concept for some of us to accept because wherever we look, we see ungodly people moving ahead in this world while we, people who are seeking God with our entire hearts, struggle to make ends meet.
Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good (Psalm 37:1-3)
We should not be competing with those in the world, but when we have to make a living side by side with worldly people, it’s hard not to get competitive. We must remember that the world system is not designed for us (who live according to God’s Kingdom) to succeed, which is why we have no choice but to trust in God for our successes in this life. Everything that we gain in this world has been ordained by God. Everything that we lose in this world has also been ordained by God, and either way, we are better off than those in the world who seem to gain everything always.
Do not be focused on gaining things in this world. As believers, our focus should constantly be to see His face, and in doing so, He will take care of us. If you keep asking God for something and He keeps saying, “No.”, but one day you end up getting it, don’t get too excited. Just because God allows you to get that career, house, or car, that you desire does not mean that it is a blessing from God.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:18-25)
Success and/or objects can become a god. We see this every day in the world. God does not accept less than 100%, and when we refuse to accept “No.” from God, we do not give Him 100%. If you will not give God your whole heart, then He will let you loose to worship whatever you want, and Satan will be there willing to give it to you because he knows that anything gained in this world is fleeting. If you are asking God for something and He is not giving it to you, accept that. Trust in Him because, in the end, you will receive far greater. Although it is sad that Moses was not able to lead Israel into the Promised Land, do you think that God has not taken care of him? Yeah, it would be nice if God blessed all of us as He did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/Israel, and Joseph but such success is not the primary objective of this life.
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
Do not be distracted by objects of this world. Do not view God as your personal genie in a bottle. Love, worship, fear, and trust in God with all you’ve got, and you will receive far greater rewards than anything you can find in this world.