HEARING, IS NOT ALWAYS LISTENING –
After leading the children of Israel through the wilderness for forty-years, Moses felt the need to write the Book of Deuteronomy so he could provide a synopsis of all the laws and commandments God had given in order for them to make it safely into the Promised Land. Some believe that he wrote this Psalm as an introduction when he presented the last book of the Torah for their study and compliance. As has been the case over the centuries, sometimes God’s people need to be reminded of what God said and what He has in store for all those who obey Him, and for those who do not.
“Come on everybody, let’s rise and give the LORD Eternal a standing ovation! Join me in giving a jubilant shout of praise to our Protector and Deliverer. Let us greet Him with thankful praise; yes, let us shout to Him in song! There’s no one like the LORD Eternal or greater than Him, for He is sovereign over all powers. From the deepest canyons to the highest mountains, all submit to His power. The sea and plains; He owns them all because He made them all. So let us come together and kneel before the LORD Eternal our Creator; for He is our One True God and we are the flock under His care. If people would just listen to what He says today: ‘Don’t become stubborn like some have done in the past, acting contentious and obnoxious; even though they witnessed the many miracles I did on their behalf. This went on for a long time until I got fed up with their hardheadedness, and concluded they wanted nothing to do with My way of doing things. That’s when I told them straight to their faces, they would never find contentment in this life acting that way’.” Psalm 95:1-11
Reflection: Josef Stalin, infamous dictator of Russia under communism, lay dying; plagued with terrifying hallucinations. Suddenly he sat halfway up in bed, clenched his fist toward the heavens as a sign of angry submission, fell back upon his pillow and died. His daughter, Svetlana Stalin, later explained the incredible irony of this scene at the end of Stalin’s life; that it stemmed from the fact that at one time he studied as a seminary student preparing for the ministry. But he became the product of the Age of Reason, which was the prevalent philosophy at that time, and cast aside his belief in God. As a result he developed a lethal hatred for all religion. It was on this basis that Vladimir Lenin chose Stalin and gave him a position of authority, which eventually led to Stalin’s rise to power. Stalin, which means “steel,” was not his real name. He was born Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvilli, but his contemporaries, who became subject to his unrelenting insistence in having things his way, gave him that symbolic name. Just imagine if Stalin had given the same steel-resolve to God, rather than to communism; what a fantastic and beneficial outcome the world might have seen. Instead of subjecting all the Jews and Christians, as well as fellow Russians who disagreed with him, to suffer torture, starvation, imprisonment and death, we might read how God used him to launch a great reformation. But here’s the irony, look at all the countries that once struggled under communism that brought such horrible persecution to millions, that are now turning back to God. On the other hand, many nations once known as bastions of Christianity and guaranteed religious freedom during that same era are now showing signs of falling for Stalin’s folly by rejecting God as sovereign. Will they be like the rebellious crowd who opposed Moses in the wilderness? Will they also forfeit their right to enter the heavenly Promised Land when they die? It behooves all of us not to harden our hearts, but to remain open and obedient to God’s will and purpose for our lives if we want to find the eternal contentment He promised to all who obey and are faithful until the end.