10 I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. 11 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. 12 So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels. 13 Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! 14 I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. 15 The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured forever. 16 He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.
Several weeks back we met together separately (oxymoron…we had a class for the gentleman and a class for the ladies) and had a Bible study on "desires." The most important point of the evening was that God will allow us to do whatever it is we want to do, but we must keep in mind that He will also allow us to reap the consequences.
This point is well illustrated in the above passage with regards to the nation of Israel. When God delivered the Hebrews from Egypt's bondage, it was His desire to fill their lives with blessings (v. 10) and to speedily rid Canaan of Israel's enemies (v. 14) so they could live prosperously in that land (v. 16).
All that was theirs. All that was available. All that was promised.
HOWEVER, Israel did not believe God's words (v. 11). They disregarded His authority (v. 11). And they walked after their own counsels (v. 12). God wanted to bless them (v. 13), but He could not bless a people that walked after their own hearts' lust (v. 12).
You see, God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham. He promised that Abraham would be the father of a great nation which would inhabit the land of Canaan forever. That promise was unconditional, and that promise is still valid. But when God brought Israel out of Egypt, He gave that nation "the law" as an addendum to the covenant He had made with Abraham (Galatians 3). The law was given to govern their lives in the land of promise. The blessing promised for adherence to that law was peace, and prosperity, and long life in the land of promise. The curse for disobedience to that law was famine, and disease, and war, and captivity.
Now, there is a day coming when Christ will return and set up His earthly kingdom, and the Jews will dwell in the land of Canaan forever with Jesus as their King and David as their prince. He will rule over the nation of Israel, according to the law (Ezekiel 40-48), with a rod of iron.
Compare that with our present situation as NT believers. God has promised us eternal life through Jesus Christ (1 John 2:25-26; Titus 1:2). That promise is unconditional. If you are saved, you will spend eternity in heaven regardless of any good or bad works you do or don't do in the meantime. However, God does not take His children home to heaven at the moment of salvation. He has left us here to accomplish His purposes. Jesus Christ not only gives life, He gives life more abundant. He wants to fill our lives with blessings before we get to heaven. The theme of the book of Hebrews is Christ's present ministry in seeking to bring us on to perfection (Hebrews 6:1). He has indwelt us (Hebrews 13:20-21), and He has inspired and preserved His word which is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction that we might be made perfect (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Unlike the situation with Israel, the blessings for adherence to the commands we are given are not physical, they are spiritual. But they are blessings nonetheless. And the judgment for disobedience might not be physical or material, but the Lord does chasten His own (Hebrews 12:6).
God wants to bless us, and if we're wise, we want His blessings. But we can't expect to reap His blessings as we disregard His word and walk after our own counsel.