We had seven short chapters in today’s Bible reading*. They centered on the protection and blessings experienced by God’s people. God’s Word describes the blessings for God’s people. If you read these chapters lightly, you might think that God promises a rose garden for His people.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
You will hear Rose Garden Theology peddled by Prosperity Gospel charlatans and other Transactional Religionists. For itching ears, they only say for what their consumers want to hear in God’s Word. They read between the lines where there is no message. While they preach that God is obligated to bless His people in exchange for something, the Bible consistently presents God as being the only Sovereign One. He is obligated to no one.
If God gave us what we deserved for our own good works, we would all already be suffering in Hell. But He is gracious. He is merciful.
Yes, God blesses His people. But it’s important to recognize that in today’s readings, God’s blessings are described and not prescribed. What do I mean by this? It’s crucial in our reading God’s Word that we recognize the difference between things that are described as true versus things that are prescribed.
Description tells what happened or what is. Prescription tells the way things should be. When we read God’s Word, we must submit to God’s ways and God’s timing, knowing that His ways and purposes are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:9) Be very careful when “naming and claiming”. Be careful about “believing and receiving”. Be very careful!
God never promises a rose garden
without our embracing the thorns.
All of us want to cash in on the many promises God makes in His Word. But all too often, we mistake God’s hand for God’s face. We mistake the gifts for the Giver. We mistake the blessings for the Source of the blessings. Gifts and blessings are more tangible than God. Perhaps that’s why God gave His Covenant people the Second Commandment. (Exodus 20:4) Perhaps that’s why God constantly reminds His people to turn away from idols.
It would be nice to get all of the blessings without the suffering. It would be nice to have the rose garden without the thorns. Paul asked God to remove his thorn. But God refused, saying that God’s grace is sufficient; His power is perfected in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Thorns are temporary. Thorns keep us humble. Thorns keep us seeking God. Thorns make the roses more beautiful.
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: