BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“And when your people ask, ‘Why is the LORD our God doing this to us?’ you must reply, ‘You rejected him and gave yourselves to foreign gods in your own land. Now you will serve foreigners in a land that is not your own’” (Jeremiah 5:19 New Living Translation).
Whoever is not for God is against Him. Whoever is not on the side of God is on the side of the devil. This is how Jesus puts it: “Anyone who isn’t helping me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me” (Matthew 12:30 New Living Translation).
It’s one thing to refuse to come to God and stay committed to Him, but it is another thing to come to Him and then abandon Him. Such turning away from God, rejecting or forsaking Him, attracts grave consequences because God is a jealous God. Exodus 20:5, 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:24, 5:9, 6:15, Joshua 24:19 and Nahum 1:2 all emphasize that God is a jealous God.
Those who forsook the LORD
In Deuteronomy 32:15, the Bible talks about Jeshurun (Israel) forsaking God who made them – they did that after becoming prosperous, successful. “But Israel soon became fat and unruly; the people grew heavy, plump, and stuffed! Then they abandoned the God who had made them; they made light of the Rock of their salvation” (Deuteronomy 32:15 New Living Translation). What a shame!
It was unfortunate that Israel forsook the LORD despite the fact that God forewarned them. The LORD had specifically warned them through Moses: “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest — when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end — then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth’” (Deuteronomy 8:11-17New King James Version).
Moses told the Israelites in verses 18 -20 to remember the LORD as the source of their wealth emphasizing that they would perish if they failed to obey the voice of God. But the Israelites disregarded the warning, forsaking the LORD, and expectedly, they reaped the consequences of their rebellion.
1Kings 9:9 also says Israel forsook their God while 2 Chronicles 7:22 says Israel forsook the LORD God of their fathers. Israel is a good case study on forsaking the LORD and its attendant consequences.
In Judges 2:7-10, the Bible says after all those in the generation of Joshua had died, the next generation of Israelites did not know the LORD or the work He had done for Israel. What a tragedy! Verses 11 and 13 say this “next generation” forsook the LORD and turned to worship Baal and the Ashtoreths. This is so sad!
The negative narrative continued in Judges 10:6 where the Bible also says the children of Israel forsook God and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. We can easily blame the Israelites but are we better today? Have you forsaken the LORD? Or are you contemplating forsaking Him? If not, what are you doing not to forsake Him? What will you do or are you doing to ensure your children don’t abandon the Living God?
The Bible also says that Amon, the king of Judah and son of Manasseh, forsook the LORD God of his fathers and did not walk in the way of the LORD (2 Kings 21:22). Amon, who was 22 years old when he became king, served and worshipped the idols that Manasseh served. Unfortunately, he reigned only two years before his servants conspired and killed him. However, the people of Judah killed the conspirators and made Amon’s eight-year-old son, Josiah, king.
Rehoboam is another bad example. The Bible says Rehoboam and all Israel forsook the LORD after he had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself (2 Chronicles 12:1). Was he saying that his accomplishment was by his power? That is how many people today behave. After they become prosperous, their prayers are answered, they’re promoted, etc., they forget God; they attribute their success or achievements to their intelligence, diligence, prayer and fasting, etc. They allow their wealth, improved living condition, exalted offices, etc. to take away their hearts from God. But what shall it profit anyone to gain the whole world but lose his soul? (Mark 8:36).
In all the cases I’ve highlighted, those mentioned rejected the LORD and embraced new gods. And because God is a jealous God, He didn’t allow them to get away with their disregard for Him. Be careful! Dishonoring God attracted serious consequences; similar results await anyone today who forsakes or rejects the Living God for other gods, including the modern gods of money, wealth, power, fame or any other god.
Consequences of forsaking the LORD
Let’s look at just six consequences of forsaking the LORD. Evidently there are more consequences but they can be captured in these five.
1.Those who forsake God experience His anger. The wrath of God isn’t something anyone should incur. The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, serving the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, Sidon, Moab, Ammon, and the Philistines and forsaking the LORD, not serving Him. After that, the Bible says, “So the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon” (Judges 10:7 New King James Version).
Did you see that? Forsaking the LORD provokes His anger. Don’t arouse His anger. The Israelites provoked Him to anger in the wilderness and they suffered for it. Deuteronomy 9:7 recalls their rebellion against the LORD. Out of the old generation that left Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb together with the children of those who rebelled against God entered the Promised Land. Don’t forsake God! You shall not experience the anger of God in Jesus’ name.
2. God forsakes those who forsake Him. This is a logical reaction of God in His anger to those who forsake Him. God told Moses that after his death, the Israelites would, “Forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them…” (Deuteronomy 31:16-17 New King James Version). There are other dimensions of God’s anger in reaction to forsaking Him, which I’m going to talk about shortly. However, let me dwell more for now on this issue of God forsaking those who forsake Him.
If you don’t want God to forsake you, don’t forsake Him – cherish Him, hold on to Him, worship Him, serve Him. David told Solomon his son, “If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” (1 Chronicles 28:9 New Living Translation).
Many years later, Azariah the son of Oded, by the Spirit of God, said something similar to what David had told Solomon. He said, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2 New King James Version). God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). His principles remain the same.If you seek Him, you’ll find Him – He won’t hide from you. But if you forsake Him, He’ll forsake you.
Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest told King Joash, “Because you have forsaken the LORD, He also has forsaken you” (2 Chronicles 24:20b New King James Version). Those who forsake the LORD shouldn’t expect to enjoy His presence. Since they don’t value Him, He’ll forsake them. The LORD shall not forsake you.
3. God hides Himself from anyone who forsakes Him. Those who forsake God shall not find Him. He’ll hide His face from them. Part of the dimension of expression of God’s anger, which I said I would talk about later, is hiding His face from those who forsake Him. “Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them…” (Deuteronomy 31:17 Chronicles 15:2 New King James Version). God shall not hide His face from you.
Since those who forsake Him have no time for Him, He’ll neither have time for them! God said through the man of God He sent to Eli the priest, “But I will honor only those who honor me, and I will despise those who despise me” (1 Samuel 2:30 New Living Translation). God is no respecter of persons. No matter any ecclesiastical office anyone occupies – bishop, archbishop, pastor, etc. – God will hide His face from anyone who forsakes Him.
God also says this concerning the Israelites in Deuteronomy 32:20: “I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faith” (King James Version). When God hides His face, that means He withdraws His presence; He abandons the person. See how the New Living Translation renders Deuteronomy 32:20: “He said, ‘I will abandon them; I will see to their end! For they are a twisted generation, children without integrity” (New Living Translation). You shall not do what will make God abandon you in Jesus’ name.
4. Those who forsake the LORD shall be put to shame. To forsake God is tantamount to walking out on Him, dishonoring Him. Moreover, somebody can’t forsake God to serve other gods and expect God to honour him. That will be self-delusion! Psalm 97:7 says, “Those who worship idols are disgraced — all who brag about their worthless gods — for every god must bow to him” (New Living Translation). God will see to it that such a person is put to shame! “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who turn away from you will be disgraced and shamed. They will be buried in a dry and dusty grave, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water” (Jeremiah 17:13 New Living Translation).
Compare these scriptures to Psalm 22:5 which says, “They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not put to shame” (American Standard Version). Will you prefer to be put to shame or prefer God to hear your cry and deliver you? The key is: don’t forsake Him. “Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces” (Psalm 34:5 New Living Translation).
5. Those who forsake the LORD will suffer destruction. They’ll be consumed. God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29; Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3). Isaiah 1:28 says, “The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed” (New King James Version). Those who rebel against God and forsake Him only position themselves for destruction. “You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever.” (Psalm 9:5 New King James Version) Verse 17 of the same chapter says, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (New King James Version). So nations aren’t spared!
Youths aren’t spared either. Solomon warned, “Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and no longer enjoy living” (Ecclesiastes 12:1 New Living Translation). Don’t be a youth who forsakes God, engaging in youthful lust. “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts” (2 Timothy 2:22 New Living Translation). Pursuit of youthful lust leads to regret later in life. Remember the LORD in your youth and serve him throughout your lifetime.
To forget God is to forsake Him, and it’s foolish to do that. Don’t! No matter what you think you’ve become, achieved or accumulated, don’t forsake the LORD. It’s a sure way for someone to invite destruction on himself. That won’t be your portion in Jesus’ name.
6. Those who forsake the LORD will become a prey to their enemies. Such persons will experience evils and troubles. The reason should be easily understood because as I said earlier, when God forsakes a man, He withdraws from him; He hides Himself from him. That was what happened to King Saul after the LORD had rejected him. “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him” (1 Samuel 16:14 New King James Version).
Once God forsakes anyone, he is at the mercy of his enemies; they can deal with him anyway they like. The enemy could devour such a person (Deuteronomy 31:17-18).
Conclusion: What must you do not to forsake the LORD? Accept Jesus as your LORD and Saviour. Be born again (John 3:3). Don’t forsake or disobey the Word of God or His commandments (2 Chronicles 7:19; Deuteronomy 10:13).I am not talking about legalism. The law cannot save anyone. Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37-38). Don’t break or forsake His covenant (Deuteronomy 31:16; Jeremiah 22:9). Always seek Him (1 Chronicles 28:9; 2 Chronicles 15:2).
Forsaking the LORD is like removing the wall of protection around you – you simply expose yourself to avoidable attacks. Be careful! If you don’t forsake Him, He’ll not forsake you. But no one can forsake the LORD and expect everything to go well with him. It is a most foolish thing to do. Don’t!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. You will grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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