17 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.
18 But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.
I sometimes am amazed at the mass insanity that pervades every nook and cranny of society. While I often ponder why God allows things to get so wrong, I certainly have learned one thing: There is no end to the depths in which human beings will go in order to deceive themselves.
I was listening to a podcast which interviewed Jack Graham recently. He is an evangelical preacher, so he had some unbiblical ideas about the afterlife. However, he was very cognizant of the unseen spirit world, and he offered a very balanced approach. He said in no uncertain terms that Satan would put us through anything he can in order to discourage us. He admitted that we cannot blame Satan for every ill upon the earth, but much of the time he, although not the main actor, is somehow behind a lot of the trials that Christians must endure.
Perhaps you have heard the stories about how a soldier was fighting and was shot, only to find out he had been spared because of a Bible in his pocket. Are they true? According to the About.com article “Bible Stops Bullet, Saves Soldier’s Life – Urban Legends“, Mythbusters did some research and came to the conclusion that anything stronger than a .22 rifle would most likely pierce through to its mark.
But, then again, as they point out, there was the incident in Iraq where PFC Brendan Schweigart was shot. A Bible did not stop him from getting wounded, but it did stop the bullet from ricocheting from his body armor and re-entering his body and making his wounds geometrically worse. About.com also goes on to give a few more somewhat related stories, some of which may actually be true.
Indeed, the comments of that article indicate that there may have been multiple instances of this. However, I did notice one commenter pointed out that perhaps it was not so miraculous after all, seeing as some soldiers on aircraft were given to sitting on phonebooks, which also stopped bullets.
Don’t get me wrong — your life being spared at any moment is an occasion for giving thanks. We never know how much longer we have to live, and anything, including phonebooks, that stops a bullet is a matter of rejoicing.
However, some act as though because the cover says “Holy Bible” that there is something supernatural about the book itself. It becomes a good luck charm instead of something that should be opened and read in order to save one’s life from the inside out rather than to save this temporary life.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
~ Mt 16:25
Are we seeking to save this life living in this world, or are we looking for a better one? Does God want us putting our faith in material objects, including a written testament of His instructions for mankind, or are we supposed to trust Him and what He actually says? Things that we cannot presently see?
Case in point: The Big Story recently ran the article “FLA Police: Cellphone Stops Bullet Fired by Robber“. Does that make this cellphone somehow special? Supernatural? Blessed? Lucky?
I have pondered something about a particular good luck charm, in fact. Why is a rabbit’s foot “lucky”? It didn’t do the rabbit much good!
Likewise, as you can see from the above image (and you can see the other side and article by clicking on the image), the cellphone didn’t fare so well. Neither did the Bibles in any of these stories.
OK, these are small examples, certainly. However, it shows just how far human beings are willing to go to believe in superstitions and/or to erroneously credit or blame a certain source on their ills, perceived or otherwise.
Satan might be behind much of the world’s ills, but we cannot blame him for every ill that befalls us. Sometimes, it might just be the bad choices we made. Sometimes, other human beings might be sufficiently evil in and of themselves to be driven to do inventively evil things. Sometimes, it might just plain be time and chance, as was the case with the tower of Siloam and the Galileans who were in the wrong place at the wrong time (Lk 13:1-5).
11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
~ Ecc 9:11
The Bible is chock-full of stories about righteous men lamenting why the wicked seem to prosper. Many of the Psalms start out this way. Job spent half of his words doing so. We don’t want to take Job’s route to learning proper attribution.
Yet, there is a certain amount of comfort in knowing that it often is Satan, and even when it isn’t, he is busy seeing if he can make a bad situation worse. The comfort is in knowing that not everything that happens is our fault or even as punishment for sins. However, that too can allow us to be deceived in not seeing our own sins. The only answer is to study, pray and fast often. The only answer is to fan the Holy Spirit with these tools so that God can show us a true picture of ourselves — good and bad!
Discernment. It’s the opposite of self-deception. It’s not just important; it is imperative.
Improper attribution comes dangerously close to the unpardonable sin. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day saw His miracles, but did they rejoice in the power of God? No! Instead, they attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to a demon king!
24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
We must not make the same mistake. We must not make the same mistake that the Jews in Jeremiah’s day made. We must learn to properly discern what is going on, bounced against God’s word. We must properly attribute the things of God to God and the things of evil to the devil