“But no, my people wouldn’t listen.
Israel did not want me around.
So I let them follow their own stubborn desires,
living according to their own ideas.
Oh, that my people would listen to me!
Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths!
How quickly I would then subdue their enemies!
How soon my hands would be upon their foes!
Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him;
they would be doomed forever.
But I would feed you with the finest wheat.
I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.” (Psalm 81:11-16)
Sometimes when you can’t get something to work, it’s because you chose to ignore the instructions. Like the child who tells his father when he tries to help that “I can do it myself” just before he or she makes a mess of things, so in life it is all too easy to decide we don’t need to pay attention to what God told us. Our circumstances are different, this is special, we know better, times are different now; the excuses are endless and always the same. As are the results.
God hadn’t been silent; he’d sent his prophets to the Israelites. Before that, he had sent Moses who gave them a contract and laid out quite clearly and precisely what God expected. It wasn’t complicated: love God, love people. But people had better ideas, they thought, of what was best for their lives, what would bring them real happiness in contrast to what they imagined God was going to give them. So God sat back and let them have their way, knowing that sooner or later they would recognize their mistake and come back to him. And he’d be there waiting. He made us free to do as we please. But he knows that sooner or later we’ll decide to do as he pleases. God is patient and can out-wait anyone.