Presuming Too Much

Posted on June 15, 2018
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There is an interesting passage that is found in the middle of the giving of the Old Law in Leviticus 24, in which a situation arose prior to God giving specific instruction on how to handle it (Leviticus 24:10-23). A young man, who was the son of an Egyptian man and an Israelite woman, blasphemed the name of the Lord and cursed in the midst of a fight with another man. The people, because of what had already been revealed, knew that what the young man did was wrong, but they did not know how to deal with the transgression. They chose to incarcerate the man and wait for the Lord to declare His will on the matter:

Then they put him in custody, that the mind of the LORD might be shown to them. (Leviticus 24:12)

Moses was intent on waiting on the Lord to reveal His mind in the matter. He was not presumptuous, determining that he could know what God wanted without God proclaiming His mind! God gave Moses specific instructions as to how this young man was to be dealt with, and the outcome was certainly not pleasant for him. God determined that this man was to be taken out of the camp, have the witnesses to his crime lay their hands on him, and then have him stoned by the whole congregation. This was declared to be the consequence for all who would commit the same transgression against the Lord.

There is much to be learned from this account. Certainly, one lesson we could take away from it is how seriously God takes sin in general, but specifically the cursing of His name. This has become a flippant act in our society, and even those who claim to be religious think nothing of taking the Lord’s name in vain, thus cursing Him, and blaspheming. Learning to control the tongue is a difficult endeavor (James 3:1-12). However, we have the obligation of honoring God with our lips, and refraining from the blasphemous profanity that is so prevalent in our society! Jesus Himself said that we will be judged by the words that come from our lips (Matthew 12:36-37).

The lesson on which we want to focus with this article is that we cannot act presumptuously when it comes to the will of God. There is an attitude that is prevalent in the religious world today that declares that God will, and even must, accept anything that is done “for Him.” Most have no desire to actually turn to scripture to see what God has revealed, but rather act according to their own desires. If they approve of some practice, they are convinced that God must approve of it as well. We end up with any number of practices that are performed “in the name of the Lord,” but which are nothing like what the Lord has actually asked for. Jesus said there would be many who proclaimed they were doing their works in His name but that they were not going to be accepted:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21–23)

There is another account in the book of Leviticus that records the actions of men who chose to be presumptuous before the Lord. In chapter 10, Nadab and Abihu were offering some of the very first offerings under the newly appointed priesthood. They made the choice to ignore the instructions they were given, and offered “profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1). Nadab and Abihu had only presumed to use a different fire than what God had instructed! Surely, fire is fire! Surely God would not mind if they chose to give something different than what He had revealed! But, God did mind. God responded with immediate judgment on those men for their transgression.

What we see in both of these passages is that God reveals His mind concerning how He wants things to be done. Moses, and the people of Leviticus 24, were willing to wait on His mind to be revealed so that they could act in accordance with His will. Nadab and Abihu chose to act outside of the revealed mind of God, and were immediately condemned for their presumptuous actions.

God has revealed His mind for mankind today. He has given everything we need for “life and godliness” in that revealed message (1 Peter 1:2-4). Paul, in Ephesians chapter 3, specified the process that God chose to reveal His mind to all of mankind. He said that God sent the Holy Spirit to reveal the things that were in His mind to the apostles and prophets. They wrote down the message that was delivered to them, and through that written word those who read can understand the mystery of Christ. This is the message of the gospel (Ephesians 3:1-7)!

We should be satisfied with what God has revealed for us. He has revealed His mind, and He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. We should not presume to add to what God has revealed with our own desires and practices. God has revealed the things that He wants us to do! If I choose to go beyond what God has asked for, I am being presumptuous. I am inserting my own selfish desires, and declaring that God must accept my offering. The problem is, we cannot force God to accept the things we want. He has told us what He will accept, and my desires will not change His instructions.

When we presume to do something that God has not asked for, we cannot be pleasing to Him. Our every goal, our every desire should be to please the Lord. We can only do that by being selfless and submitting to His revealed word. If we go beyond that, we are being selfish, not selfless!