Provoking the Lord!
That’s the term Deuteronomy 31:20 uses, predicting how Israel will behave after the death of Moses!
Not loving the Lord, provoking Him!
Here’s God speaking to Moses of the Jewish Nation: “For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, AND PROVOKE ME, and break my covenant.” Deuteronomy 31:20
“Shall have brought” is, in English anyway, a “future perfect tense!” (Wow! I love grammar. And the beauty of language, particularly English and Greek and Hebrew. Though I am surely a beginner in all three.)
God just “guaranteed” He would bring Israel into her “promised” Land!
Christian, with like resolve, He is going to bring you into Glory, into Heaven, too!
God “suspects” (actually it’s much stronger than that … HE KNOWS) that Israel will NOT be true to the Commandments just given them. (The Book of Deuteronomy being “specifically” in mind.) But all the Law (Genesis to Deuteronomy) as well.
Look in today’s Text at an often repeated sequence: “They will eat. They will become fat. They will turn to other gods. They will serve those false gods and goddesses. Then … they thereby will ‘provoke’ our great God!” (Notice this “downward spiral” of sin!)
And what in Deuteronomy 31:20 was prophecy … is now history!
Israel did exactly what God feared!
What about that verb “provoke?”
I find it used in the Bible only 25 times, relatively rare then.
It is spelled “naatzs,” and means “to spurn” someone! “To despise or abhor,” as well.
Here’s its “usage,” the way it is translated throughout the King James Bible, Old Testament.
“Despise,” 8 times.
“Provoke,” 5 times.
“Abhor,” 4 more times.
Then “blaspheme” 4 times.
“Contemn (our word condemn) 2 times.
“Great occasion to blaspheme” 1 more time.
Plus one “miscellaneous” occurrence.
Keep in mind that other Hebrew verbs are also translated “provoke.”
In English “provoke” has this background. “Pro” means “forth.” And “vocare” means “to challenge, to summon!” It’s Latin, folks. (Like “calling God on the carpet,” so to speak!) Which action obviously”upsets” God Almighty!
I am amazed that anything I do can so disturb God. I suppose that is an indication of how much He loves me! I NEVER want to “despise” Him, do you?
Now I am wondering, is the Old Testament act of “provoking” God the same thing (or nearly so) as “quenching” the Holy Spirit? Or “grieving” the Holy Spirit?
1st Thessalonians 5:19 … short but clear: “Quench not the Spirit.” The verb means “to put a fire out!”
And Ephesians 4:30, equally imperative: “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Here “grieve” means “to hurt, to cause pain,” suggesting sensitivity! Personality in the Godhead!
I don’t know that I’ve “taught” anyone much today … but my heart sure does feel challenged!
I want to live in such a way as to “please” or “glorify” the Lord, not hurt Him!
Grant it, Lord.
— Dr. Mike Bagwell