What is spiritual stress? What is its relationship to stresses that are being experienced today? In this article, we will try to tackle the topic by citing some verses in The Word and historical facts that were experienced by Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, in order to address the questions.
First, concerning Israel:
1The Lord spoke to me:2”Mortal man” he said, “this is what I, the Sovereign Lord, am saying to the land of Israel. This is the end for the whole land”.
3”Israel, the end has come. You will feel my anger, because I am judging you for what you have done. I will pay you back for all the disgusting conducts. 4I will not spare you or show you any mercy. I am going to punish you for the disgusting things you have done, so that you will know that I am the Lord”.
5This is what the Sovereign Lord is saying: “One disaster after another is coming on you. 6It’s all over. This is the end. You are finished. 7The end is coming for you people who live in the land. The time is near when there will be no more celebrations at the mountain shrines, only confusion.(Ezekiel 7:1-7, TEV)
Second, concerning the Kingdom of Judah:
21This is what the Sovereign Lord is saying: “I will send my four most worst punishments on Jerusalem- war, famine, wild animals and disease-to destroy people and animals alike. 22If some survive and save their children, look at them when they come to you. See how evil they are, and be convinced that the punishment I am bringing on Jerusalem is justified23then you will know that there was good reason for everything I did”. The Sovereign Lord has spoken.(Ezekiel 14:21-23, TEV)
What do you notice from the above verses?
Above scriptural verses prophetically speak of futuristic events, as what had actually happened, to God’s chosen people, Israel and Jerusalem. History tells us that they were ejected from their promised land. They were punished because of their evil ways and disgusting conducts, which God can not tolerate.
If it happened to God’s chosen people, how much more for gentiles, who are not directly included in the promises made to Abraham?
Most are receptive to the idea of stress, being caused medically, physiologically, psychologically, physically or by lack or inadequate material things, but failed to consider spiritual stress as their ultimate cause-that is-when God is offended. Out of the experiences of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, the message is very clear-offend God at your own risk. Nobody can change this reality except God Himself.
Israel was defeated by Assyria during the reign of King Hosea.
10On all the hills and under every shady tree they put up stone pillars and images of the goddess Asherah 11and they burn incense on all the pagan altars, following the practices of the people whom the Lord had driven out of the land. They aroused the Lord’s anger with all their wicked deeds 12and disobeyed the Lord’s command not to worship idols.( 2 Kings 17:10-12, TEV)
The Kingdom of Judah under the reign of King Jehoiakim was forced to submit to the rule of Nebuchadnezzar when invaded by the latter.
3This happened at the Lord’s command, in order to banish the people of Judah from his sight because of all the sins that King Manasseh had committed, 4and especially because of all the innocent people he had killed. The Lord could not forgive Manasseh for that. (2 Kings 24:3_4, TEV)
3He rebuilt the pagan places of worship that his father Hezekiah has destroyed; he built altars for the worship of Baal and made an image of the goddess Asherah, as King Ahab of Israel has done. Manasseh had also worshiped the stars.4He built pagan altars in the temple, the place that the Lord had said was where he should be worshiped. (2 Kings 21:3-4,TEV)
As promised, Israel and Judah experienced the scriptural promises respectively made for them. These destruction, war and famine naturally cause all of the above stresses, not in an either but in a combination of all of the above way. What a way to choose the combination of all of the above types of stress when everybody is gifted with the freedom of choice?
The experiences of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah must forewarn humanity of impending extensive punishments due to blatant disregard of the God’s teachings. God’s teaching expressly prohibits idolatry, among others, which was committed by Israelites.
In fine, we, as the source of spiritual stress, become eligible to receive whatever form of stresses by offending God.