“The Lord replies, “This has happened because my people have abandoned my instructions; they have refused to obey what I said”.
I’m not great with instructions, especially when they get complicated. It’s probably why I love the “idea” of being a good cook, but following the recipes is too hard for me. There is a real talent in being able to create simple instructions. How do we know this? Well, if it was easy then we wouldn’t open up a package or set of directions and have that feeling that this isn’t going to end well. But, when we come across something that the instructions are so simple that anyone can do it, we become almost delighted in that experience. I recently bought a Google Nest IQ security camera and the instructions couldn’t have been any easier. Literally, anyone could set one up with ease. Contrast that to trying to set up my online health portal with my primary physician, which took me multiple customer support calls and too numerous abandoned attempts and hours wasted to count. One set of instructions was a gentle breeze at my back. The other was a hurricane blowing straight at me. I don’t know what the litmus test should be but anywhere we provide other people, customers, employees, etc. a set of instructions, if they aren’t easy and friendly, then be ready for backlash, lack of compliance, or maybe even, “I give up and I quit”.
God was not pleased with the people of Israel as they chose to not follow His instructions. That was all He asked and the failure to do so did not please Him and came with consequences. God’s laws and instructions in the Old Testament weren’t what we would call today “user friendly”. They were complex, narrow and very prescriptive. So, one might say God should have given them a break every now and then when they didn’t follow the instructions to the letter. In fact, He did, and was forgiving many times. But what He didn’t forgive was when the people didn’t even try. And why, with example after example for them to follow, didn’t they? The answer is probably that they, like us today, aren’t good at following instructions if those instructions get in the way of us doing it the way we want. God’s instructions for us are there to make us better, not hold us back. Yes, we can feel that sometimes they are overwhelming and life-consuming (that’s the idea), but in the end, think of those times when we completed or finished something hard that came with instructions for us to follow and we had the great sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. It’s that sentiment that God is after in our lives with His instructions.
Reference: Jeremiah 9:13 (New Living Translation)