Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Does God Sometimes Say No to Good Things? Yes!

Does God Sometimes Say No to Good Things? Yes!
This was Pastor John's sermon title at Calvary Chapel Tulare a few Sundays ago, and the same passage of scripture was the subject of this week's womens' Bible study at Tulare Community Church.  Do you think God is trying to tell us something?

The scripture in question is 2 Samuel 7, when David decides that it would be a good idea to build a temple for God.  After all, it doesn't seem right for David to have a spectacular cedar palace while the Ark of the Covenant representing God's presence in the midst of the people resides in a mere tent.  David had a vision and perhaps his heart ran ahead of his head in wanting to make it come true.

Sounds like a good plan.  Except that God had given specific instructions to keep the Ark in a tabernacle (which actually offers some beautiful symbolism, see below), and never requested anything different. 

David at least runs the plan by Nathan, God's prophet and David's advisor.  Nathan hears the plan and immediately says, "Sounds good to me, God has been with you so far so I don't see why he won't bless this too."

Note that Nathan doesn't actually check with God, just guesses what God's answer would be based on past experience of God blessing David.

God sets them straight right away, speaking to Nathan that very night.  "Go tell David I never asked for a temple.  One will be built, but it won't be built by you, that is not your purpose." 

So even though David had a vision to do something great for God, and the vision was clear and maybe even right, God said it wasn't his to complete.  Although he did get to participate in the preparation and gathering of supplies.

Tabernacling With Us
If all the pagan nations surrounding Israel built magnificent temples and shrines to reflect the majesty and power of gods they worshiped, why did God instruct Israel to house the Ark in a humble tent made of animal skins? 

First, there could never be an earthly structure magnificent enough to adequately reflect the glory of He who says that "Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool." 

Second, I think God wanted to tell us something about who He is and His heart for us.  He doesn't want to be off, immovable, removed and isolated in a distant inaccesible temple.  The tabernacle was mobile, and was always set up in the midst of Israel as they traveled from place to place, reflecting God's desire to be with us, to dwell in our midst, and foreshadowing the incarnation of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers. 

Today, each believer is His "tabernacle", housing the presence of God in our mobile, mortal skin.  And even today, those with a heart for God sometimes jump the gun and let our hearts run ahead of our heads.  Wisdom calls for us to submit our plans to God and wait on the Lord for confirmation before rushing ahead. 

A Different, Greater Blessing
God doesn't just say no to David and stop there.  He tells David of the blessings in store. "No, you won't build a me a house, but I will build you a house.  I will give you rest from your enemies, your son will build the temple, and your kingdom will last forever."  David saw the first part of the prophecy come true in his lifetime, the second in Solomon's lifetime, and the third is fulfilled in Christ.

David responds with awe and grateful acceptance to God's no.  Not a hint of bitterness or demanding his own way.  Perhaps it was easier for him because God showed him he blessings he would receive instead.  But we too have promises from God that "he will work all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose." 

Just like David had to take God's promises of different blessings on faith, and trust fully in God's sovereignty, so do we.  When God says no to one of our good ideas, He doesn't always spell out for us what we will be doing instead or where it will lead, but we know he has only the best in store for us.

Examples from My Life
A few years after DH and I got married, before C came along, we had a vision to commit ourselves to a year of volunteer ministry.  We researched all the options, but doors closed and it became clear that even though it was a noble idea, it wasn't God's plan for us at that point in our lives. 

Of late, the call is to add to our family.  Whether through a live birth or adoption or foster care, I don't know yet.  This is a good desire.  Children are blessing, and ministry to orphans is described by James as pure and faultless religion.

But just because it is good doesn't give me a right to it or mean it is God's plan for me.  The clear answer right now is to wait.  After our loss in October, we are still trying to conceive again.  I started researching adoption/foster care and found that to start the process we need a stable source of income.  Right now DH only has a temporary job and has otherwise been out of work for almost a year, and the insurance agency he is working to start is growing but too slowly to count as a source of income. 

We are waiting on God for the answer.

I know and trust that whatever it is, whether both doors eventually open, only one does, or they both stay firmly shut, he has a purpose for us, and the blessings to be found on the path he puts us on will be far beyond whatever I could imagine.

In the meantime, like David stockpiling supplies for the temple, I will do what I can to advocate for children and support ministry to orphans.


  1. A very good word Margaret! I had a playdate with a new friend fro church today. Her house has been on the market for two years now. She had a Godly perspective about it! If the house had sold when they first listed it, she and her husband would have moved to separate homes. Two years later God has walked them through a restoration of their marriage and continues to work on healing it. She also pointed out that although it hasn't sold in two years, she believes it isn't about this house selling but that God is still working to prepare where THEY ARE GOING! This perspective really struck a chord with me. Blessings to you as you wait to see what God has in store for you...

  2. I have often asked God to heal L, I mean it's only chromosomes. They are no match for the Creator of the universe.

    I believe with every fiber of my being He can.

    But for reasons beyond my finite knowledge, He continues to say No.


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