Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, Proverbs 8:32-34
Most of us have had children who would not listen to your advice and they end up in trouble. They fight because its my toy, they fell out of a tree or are hit by a car out in front of the house. Age doesnít matter as my daughter thought I was dumber than a hat-rack when she got her driver license. Now that she has gotten married and has children she has changed her mind as life does it go as you want it to go nor is it kind when you attempt to fight it.
The largest part of the discipline for our children is to get them to think properly and to listen to your wisdom of experience. Some of us can remember spankings were usually proceeded by the words what were you thinking about? Donít you know better after all the times I have told you?
However, when looking back at the problem, we think of it as having gone through the school of hard knocks. Unfortunately we have to be knocked around and have multiple bruises before the bells in our loft begin to ring. None the less it is the school of hard knocks that forces us to remember the pain and not make the same mistake again. Like most people we continue to make the same mistakes over again before we learn that youíve enrolled in the school of hard knocks for your entire lifetime.
Wouldnít you know that the school of hard knocks never closes its doors and all of our friends are in it with us. Itís all because I am a stubborn - know it all type of person that hasnít learned that there are consequences for doing certain things. When I think about it I am always in a hurry to do things without reading the instructions. Itís the OOPS and the Oh noís that force us to acknowledge that the instructions were written for your benefit. No its not possible to avoid starting over again or having to repair something that accidentally got broken and everyone doesnít dare to mention who broke it. But their name begins withÖÖ
The bible tells us several stories about how God sent a number of prophets to the kings in authority asking them to turn from idols to God. These prophets were sent several times to several kings over several generations of his people. Yet the kings ignored the prophets that God sent and continued to serve false gods that imposed indecent sacrifices and improper worship rather than obey the laws of the land, which were given through Moses.
In fact they boldly violated the first and second commandment stating - there was no other God. Because they wouldnít listen to his prophets, God closed his eyes and ears to his peopleís cry, but answered their prayers with sarcasm by saying let your gods save you. It may appear as if God had enough, but instead God was trying a new approach to discipline his people. Godís version of the school of hard knocks always opens at a snap of the finger with a full head of steam. The Israelites were warned well in advance about the curses that would come upon them if they turned their backs on God.
The school of hard knocks is always a cruel taskmaster for the simple reason that it is not partial to a personís stature, orientation or beliefs. Before the kings of Israel were taken into exile the peasants were given weapons to resist Israelís enemies sent by God to punish them. The reality is that it is always the servants of the king that suffered the most with the highest casualties.
The kingís worship of false gods had such a influence that it corrupted those closely associated with the king. Then the king used his authority to command his subjects to defend him from the armies God sent to punish him and the people who followed the king in idolatry. In this manner everyone got a painful diploma from the school of hard knocks for permitting the worship of false gods.
God had forewarned his people when they entered the promise land. Godís law given to Moses was posted at the borders of the Promised Land. In addition, the blessings for obedience of the law was pronounced from Mount Gerizim and the curse for disobedience was pronounce from Mount Ebal.
The land of Israel was prosperous when the laws of the land were obeyed, but their prosperity deteriorated when they turned from God. The curses took everything they had received from God and the longer they continued to sin of idolatry the more severe the curses became.
God had a history of using the discipline of the sword, famine and plague as a means of getting Israelís attention. He is able to pour out his wrath on a single person just as easily as a whole nation. Nadab, Abihu, Ananias, Saphria and Sennacherib treated God with contempt and died rather abruptly. Moses did not show Godís holiness by speaking to the rock and was not allowed to enter the Promised Land.
Israel ignored Godís prophets and continued to serve other gods for over four hundred years without repenting. Ultimately, God thrust them from his presence by an army that deported them into lands that treated them as slaves.
When speaking to the phrases Jesus said.
Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. John 7:19
At other times God sent his prophets to tell his people.
I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. Leviticus 26:19.
To those who are listening it shows that God is watching over his people and is aware of your comings and goings. In other words when Jesus spoke to the Pharisees he said they had the law given to them by Moses, it was his way of asking why arenít you obeying them. While they studied the law and knew nearly every ramification of it few ever took it to heart. In other words they did not listen to it or apply the law to the way they lived and that made every Pharisee look like a hypocrite.
The Pharisees were not entirely at fault, some only went to the synagogue to make themselves look godly. When they went back to their homes they did as they saw fit. Today men and women are holy at church but ignore Godly principles the remainder of the week. In other words they take Godís word to heart nor live by Godís instructions. Then they calling themselves Christians, which makes every Christian look like a hypocrite.
These are not isolated incidents, as human stubbornness has always been that I know more than everyone else does. This includes our parents and every form of authority. At times our pride and ego makes us think that we know more than God does. Has arrogance ever been effective against authority who is ready to put back in your place?
How do expect to accomplish an acceptable life before God and refuse to do the things God thinks are reasonable and important in life. For example do we love one another in the fashion we want to be loved? Jesus said I desire mercy not sacrifice, but it appears as if men are more willing to pay the piper rather than be merciful.
It is easy to be righteous in my own eyes because I can justify what I do, but its God who determines if I am righteous in his eyes. God is watching his people and is aware of your thoughts and actions. Consider this, other people can condemn the deed you have done and justified in your mind.
The way you live create the deeds God sees and your deeds tell God if you have taken his word to heart. Consider this, the lack of rain or the abundance of rain gets your attention faster than a thousand sermons. The farmer needs rain so his crops donít fail and it is a wake up call that draws people to their knees and to God.
You can be the brat that says God canít make me obey him, but when it is all said and done God knows which buttons to push to get your attention. The school of hard knocks are always open when you are disobedient. God will have your personal and undivided attention and he is ready to hand out lessons and a diploma upon completing a trial. Letís remember that the trials of life are always filled with pain and suffering, but the pain serves us as a reminder to avoid certain things again. When the school of hard knocks has finished its work you will have learned the lessons of life that keep you out of trouble and on the road to success.