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God is Trustworthy, Part 3
Characteristics of God, God is an Example to Imitate
What Happens When We Don’t Trust God?
We’ve been talking about God’s trustworthiness and why we should trust him. But there’s the flip side of that as well. Many times, people do not trust God. Sometimes, these are people who know God but have rejected him. Other times, these are people who decide to trust in something other than God. In the end, life never goes well for those who reject God or place their trust elsewhere. This lesson will describe some of the consequences of not trusting in God.
What Happens When We Don’t Trust God Enough to Obey Him
Throughout the Bible, there are stories of people who generally followed God or were great leaders for God, but they had moments when they did not trust God and did their own thing rather than obeying God. In those cases, God often implemented discipline for that person.
One example is Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron were the great leaders who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and guided them to the Promised Land. But along the way, Moses and Aaron did something that displeased God, so he punished them. When the Israelites were complaining about not having any water, God instructed Moses to speak to a rock, and water would pour out of it. Instead, Moses struck the rock with his staff. Water still poured out, but God disciplined them for not following his instructions.
Numbers 20:12: But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
Another example is King David. During a time when kings normally go off to war, David stayed home (2 Samuel 11). During that time, he saw a woman who pleased him (Bathsheba), but she was already married. He called for her and had sex with her anyway, and she became pregnant. He tried to convince her husband to go home and sleep with her so he would think the child was his, but he refused. So David arranged to have her husband killed in battle. God was not pleased with David’s actions because they were sinful. David hadn’t trusted God to give him what he needed and wanted. Even though David repented, God still disciplined him.
2 Samuel 12:13-14: 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
When God gives us commands and we don’t trust him enough to follow them, the result is usually discipline. God often denies us that thing that we most wanted because of our lack of trust.
What Happens When We Reject God
Rather than just occasionally disobeying God, sometimes people reject God outright, showing that they do not trust him. When this happens, God’s wrath is on full display. He becomes angry, he removes them from his presence, and he sends defeat for them. This was especially evident when the Israelites refused to follow God.
When God had finally led the Israelites to the Promised Land, the people did not trust that God could defeat the inhabitants. Even though God promised to fight for them, and they had seen this displayed many years in the wilderness, they did not trust God. This was God’s response:
Deuteronomy 1:32-36: 32 “In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, 33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.
34 When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: 35 “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, 36 except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.”
Once the new generation of people began to settle in the Promised Land, God gave them instructions, telling them what would happen if they trusted and obeyed him vs. rejecting him. If they followed him, they would be blessed. But if they rejected him, they would be cursed. He would send other nations to destroy them (Deuteronomy 28). And that’s exactly what happened. The people started following idols rather than God, and even after God’s warning, they refused to believe.
2 Kings 17:13-15, 18-20: 13 The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.”
14 But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.” …
18 So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, 19 and even Judah did not keep the commands of the Lord their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. 20 Therefore the Lord rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until he thrust them from his presence.
Because the people did not trust God, God followed through on his promise to send nations to destroy the Israelites. Even worse than the defeat, though, was that God removed the Israelites from his presence. This is the ultimate consequence of rejecting God.
What Happens When We Trust in Something Other Than God
The Bible is full of warnings for people who trust in something other than God. People tend to trust in themselves or other humans, national resources such as cities or armies, wealth, or idols. Trusting in any of these things will result in shame, defeat, and death.
Trust in Humans
Trusting in anything other than God is foolish, especially trusting in ourselves.
Proverbs 28:26: Those who trust in themselves are fools,
but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
Why is trusting in ourselves or other humans foolish? First, trusting in humans will lead to desolation.
Jeremiah 17:5-6: 5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
Second, trusting in humans leads to death.
Psalm 49:13-14: 13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
14 They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.
Trust in Cities/Armies
Another thing that people often trust in other than God is their own strength through armies or cities. They think these things will protect them from other humans, but they forget that these things cannot protect from God. Instead, God will bring shame and destruction.
Isaiah 20:5: Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be dismayed and put to shame.
Jeremiah 5:17: They [a distant nation that God sends] will devour your harvests and food,
devour your sons and daughters;
they will devour your flocks and herds,
devour your vines and fig trees.
With the sword they will destroy
the fortified cities in which you trust.
Isaiah 31:1-2: 1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
or seek help from the Lord.
2 Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster;
he does not take back his words.
He will rise up against that wicked nation,
against those who help evildoers.
Trust in Wealth
Whether in Bible times or today, another thing that people easily put their trust in is money or wealth. However, wealth will eventually let you down. It’s easier to lose wealth than it is to gain it. And God won’t protect you just because you have a lot of money. Instead, God protects those who are righteous and who trust in him.
Proverbs 11:28: Those who trust in their riches will fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
Jeremiah 49:4-5: 4 Why do you boast of your valleys,
boast of your valleys so fruitful?
Unfaithful Daughter Ammon,
you trust in your riches and say,
‘Who will attack me?’
5 I will bring terror on you
from all those around you,”
declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.
“Every one of you will be driven away,
and no one will gather the fugitives.
Trust in Idols
Humans are made to worship. If we don’t worship God, we find something else to replace him. That replacement often comes in the form of idols. In Bible times, idols were often physical carvings or metalworks that represent a god. Today, we can make anything an idol, including other people, money, success, or fame. Regardless of what the idol is, worshipping idols leads to shame and brokenness.
Isaiah 42:17: But those who trust in idols,
who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’
will be turned back in utter shame.
Jeremiah 13:24-27: 24 “I will scatter you like chaff
driven by the desert wind.
25 This is your lot,
the portion I have decreed for you,”
declares the Lord,
“because you have forgotten me
and trusted in false gods.
26 I will pull up your skirts over your face
that your shame may be seen—
27 your adulteries and lustful neighings,
your shameless prostitution!
I have seen your detestable acts
on the hills and in the fields.
Woe to you, Jerusalem!
How long will you be unclean?”
Job 8:13-15: 13 Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
so perishes the hope of the godless.
14 What they trust in is fragile;
what they rely on is a spider’s web.
15 They lean on the web, but it gives way;
they cling to it, but it does not hold.
The picture that the Bible paints of those who don’t trust in God is pretty bleak. But you might have noticed that all of these verses were from the Old Testament. And other than a couple verses of general wisdom from Proverbs, all of these verses pertain particularly to the Israelites.
Despite this, the New Testament does discuss consequences for anyone who doesn’t trust in or believe in God, or more specifically, those who reject Jesus as their Savior. The New Testament may have different word choices, but the end result is the same—if people reject Jesus, they will face God’s ultimate rejection forever.
Next week, we’ll look at the contrast of what results from trusting in God. So keep the shame and desolation from this week in mind as you get ready for next week’s lesson.
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Each individual characteristic of God study will come with two resources: a word search just for fun (including an answer key), and a list of verses for if you want to investigate that individual characteristic of God more completely.
You can access these resources by clicking here: God Is Trustworthy Resources
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