June 17, 2014
TODAY’S STUDY TEXT:
“For suspecting betrayal the men of Ammon and Moab rose against those of Mount Seir, utterly destroying them. And when they had made an end of the men of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. And when Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked at the multitude, and behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none had escaped!”
II Chronicles 20: 23, 24
“Don’t Think Like An Ammonite, Moabite or Meunite!”
“Once suspicion is aroused, every thing feeds it.”
Have I ever fallen into the trap of thinking evil against another person only later to find out that my assumptions were totally incorrect?
How do suspicious thoughts affect my daily behavior?
“Nothing is so capable of overturning a good intention as to show a distrust of it; to be suspected for an enemy, is often sufficient to make a person become one.”
Marie de Rabutin-Chantal
From letters of Madame de Sevigne
To her daughter and her friends. 1811
“The finger of suspicion never forgets the way it has once pointed.”
I’ll never forget the first time I heard the song, Suspicious Minds. It was a song performed and written by Elvis Presley. At the time, I happened to be associating with someone I did not find to be trustworthy and maybe this was why the message of the song touched a responsive chord within me. I especially found these words to resonate:
“Why can’t you see,
what you’re doing to me
when you don’t believe
a word I’m saying
We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds.”
In the book, The Iron Gates, released in 1945, author Margaret Miller, describing one of her characters observed, “suspicions grew in Edith’s mind like little extra eyes.”
I don’t think a more appropriate or fitting description could be written about the event which is recorded in our text for today. And it is why I want to spend a few moments reviewing what happened so you and I don’t fall into the trap of thinking like the Ammonites, the Moabites and the Meunites.
We’re given a very big hint as to the seeds of the destruction that came upon this “triple threat” in the very beginning of II Chronicles 20: 23. First we are told that the Ammonites and Moabites didn’t trust the Meunites, the people of Mount Seir. They may have had a common enemy, Judah. But this fact wasn’t enough to overcome their basic distrust of one another. These were nations who were looking out for themselves. Their focus wasn’t on God. Their goal was not to uplift God’s name. All they wanted was to dominate – which would also mean power and wealth for them. The acquisition of things would mean even greater authority.
Frankly, this was the core of the apple so to speak. All the nations surrounding Judah had their own rulership in mind – certainly not God’s. It was with this mindset that these nations formed a loose alliance to try and take down Judah.
But here’s the interesting point for us to observe. Because their ultimate trust was in their own ability to accomplish their goal and because they had no desire to ask for God’s intervention, God left these nations to their own designs. He did not insert Himself where He was not wanted. He left the Ammonites and Moabites and Meunites to think like they did – with suspicious minds – thinking and expecting the worst from each other.
In fact, there is a psychological defense mechanism which portrays the kind of behavior exhibited by the Ammonites and Moabites against the army of the people of Mount Seir. It’s called psychological projection or projection bias. What happens is that a person can unconsciously deny his or her own attributes, thoughts and emotions – and then ascribe those same feelings or behaviors to others. The fact is, the rascals that made up the “triple threat” against King Jehoshaphat and Judah weren’t trustworthy on their own and so when it came to the way they looked at everyone else, they viewed them through their own colored glasses of distrust. And since they didn’t ask God to give them the wisdom, foresight and heavenly vision to understand what was transpiring, they were left to their own devices, to their own suspicious thinking and soon, the person who was supposed to be their ally ended up to be their enemy – an enemy they sought to destroy.
I find this to be such an instructional passage of Scripture for it helps us become aware of how our minds can play tricks on us without the guiding hand of our Father and the heavenly wisdom He longs to bestow on us.
When left to their own suspicious minds, the “triple threat” which had originally intimidated Judah, actually began to terrorize each other.
This got me to thinking about several places in the Bible where God reveals to us the knowledge He has about the thought process of humans on earth. In Psalm 94: 11 (Amplified Bible), we are told, “The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are vain, empty, and futile – only a breath.” And then in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Corinth, “The Lord knows the thoughts and reasonings of the humanly wise and recognizes how futile they are” (I Corinthians 3: 20 Amplified Bible).
Now let’s contrast human thoughts with what God tells us about His thoughts. We can do this by going to an often quoted Biblical passage found in Isaiah 55: 8 (Amplified Bible), “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.”
It would be easy, as quite frequently is done, to just say God’s mind is bigger and brighter than ours, and that would be true! But to think this is the complete offering from God’s Word in this passage would be very narrow, indeed. For us to more completely understand the point God was making, we need to read Isaiah 55: 8 in context. We should start with Isaiah 55: 1 which invites us to, “Wait and listen, everyone who is thirsty…incline your ear, submit and consent to the divine will and come to Me, hear, and your soul will revive…seek, inquire for, and require the Lord while He may be found…call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake His way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the Lord, and He will have love, pity, and mercy for him, and to our God, for He will multiply to him His abundant pardon,” and then here it is, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts” (Isaiah 55 Amplified Bible).
The message of Isaiah 55 is so simple and clear. God doesn’t think like the Moabites and Ammonites and Meunites. And He doesn’t want us to, either. His thoughts are not coming from an untrustworthy, suspicious mind. Instead, David reflects on God’s thoughts toward him in Psalm 139: 17 (Amplified Bible), “How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”
When God thinks of you and me, it is not on the earthly level of some suspicious minded enemy that menacingly tries to frighten me. Instead, with thoughts that contain the vastness of God’s universe, my Father invites me to seek, to hear, to listen and to drink until I thirst no more.
My only question to myself is, “Why do I, way too often, take on the fearful thoughts of the Ammonites, Moabites and Meunites, when I have my Father’s unlimited resources to tap into anytime, anywhere?” How I love the response by Robert Bridges as he reflected on God’s thoughts toward us:
“O Lord, Thou hast me searched and known:
Thou knowest my sitting down and rising up.
Yea all my thoughts afar to Thee are known.
My soul, praise, praise the Lord.”
“O Lord my God, most merciful, most secret, most present, most constant, yet changing all things, never new and never old, ever in action, yet ever quiet, creating, upholding, and perfecting all, who hath anything but thy gift? Or what can any man say when he speaketh of thee? Yet have mercy upon us, O Lord, that we may speak unto thee, and praise thy Name.”
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