II Kings 6 – 18
16 “They abandoned all the commands of Yahweh their God and made for themselves two molten calf-shaped idols[…] 17 They made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, they practiced divination and read omens, and they sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of Yahweh to provoke him. 18 So Yahweh was very angry with Israel and he removed them from his presence; none remained except the tribe of Judah alone.”
II Kings 17
One of the oldest stories in the Bible and one we covered in our reading is the story of Pharaoh and the Hebrew exodus from Egypt. Some of the hard parts of the story to understand is whether Pharaoh indeed had a choice in letting the Israelites go since God ‘stiffened’ his heart. It’s hard for us to reconcile with the idea if God indeed loves us, why would He stiffen or harden someone’s heart against Him? If we remember the rest of the story, we see God trying and trying to convince Pharaoh to change his mind, but he was adamant about not freeing the Israelites. Then we come across the Israelites while in their promised land and see how they turned away from God, and because of this, He let their desires succumb them.
When does God give up?
The theme of the Bible and Christianity at large is the idea of redemption. How man fell from grace, but because of God’s love and mercy, He redeemed man to have fellowship with him. So in the theme of redemption, how does God giving up on man fit in? Paul writes in Romans, “they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what ought not to be done.” What we see here is God not necessarily giving up on people, but allowing them to feed on their desires. God provides several opportunities to reveal Himself, and once He knows they will never worship nor follow Him, He allows them to continue down the path they’re already heading down.
We don’t like to hear about God giving up on people because obviously, we begin to worry if He has given up on us. Solomon wrote, “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” Once we’ve come to a point where we no longer fear God and have no desire to fear God and beyond that see no impediments in the sinful lifestyle we engage in that’s when we know the lights are off.
Now don’t get me wrong He still loves us and mourns for our soul, but once we’ve completely and irrevocably turned away from Him, we begin skating with no brake and with no desire to brake. This is another consequence of free will. God can’t force us to choose Him. He can only reveal Himself to us and hope that we recognize Him and His love and subsequently follow. One thing I will add is God doesn’t give up easily. He is in a constant battle for our soul and not a day goes by where He doesn’t crave our fellowship. Rest assured if God ever gave up on us, we were long gone beforehand.