Not Playing Games
November 5, 2021
But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not lament' (Matthew 11:16-17).
Children love to play games. The children mentioned in the above text were playing ‘wedding’ and ‘funeral’. As children we played ‘hide and seek’, ‘red rover’, and ‘leapfrog’ with each other - remember, I’m old. Adults are adept at playing games - power games, pity games, games of manipulation, etc. We also play games with God. Israel played games with God for centuries.
Jesus cleansed the Temple the 1st day of Passion Week telling Israel that its worship was a sham, godless, unacceptable. Jesus cursed the fig tree the 3rd day of Passion Week telling Israel that it was condemned for idolatry and spiritual barrenness. The nation rejected John’s message of repentance of sin in preparation for the coming Messiah and His Kingdom, though some people did repent and believe. The nation rejected Jesus’ message of repentance of sin even when the King and the Kingdom had come, though some people did repent and believe. Yet through it all, and despite of it all, Israel continued to ‘play religion’ with God.
Forty years after the deaths of John and Jesus, in A.D. 70, God allowed Rome to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. The Jews were slaughtered by the thousands. Those that did not die were scattered to the nations, not to repossess their land officially until May 14, 1948. Still no Temple, no sacrificial system, no freedom to enjoy the full inheritance of Abraham’s covenant.
When the Lord delivered Israel from Egypt under Moses, He promised blessings of prosperity, peace, provision, and protection if they would honor Him as God and obey His Law faithfully (Deuteronomy 28:1-6). He warned Israel if they didn’t honor Him and obey His Law, He would withdraw those blessings and replace them with crop failure, famine, infertile flocks, herds, and families, business failure, sickness, disease, physical maladies and abnormalities, persistent wars, etc. until the people would grow weary of life, misery, and death (28:15-19). Biblical history proves even though Israel played games with God, God was not playing games with Israel.
God is immutable - He doesn’t change in essence, character, nature, purpose, truth, holiness, righteousness, etc. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He never changes in those same characteristics and attributes. God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit are not in the business of playing games with people. They are in the serious business of saving, sanctifying, and eternally securing people into their Kingdom. The words of Jesus proved true with Israel. His words to the Christian and the church have been and will continue to prove true throughout the remainder of our existence on earth and in eternity. This is not a game.
“Lord Jesus, awaken us to the truth of the seriousness of life, abundant life, spiritual life, and eternal life. Remind us that You are the Lord and we are Your servants, not vice versa. Remind us that the saved and sanctified life is full of joy, but it’s not a game. Amen.”