There are warning signs everywhere. At the drive-through telling you the hot coffee is really hot. On fluorescent light bulbs telling you how to dispose of them properly. They come on appliances, self-assembled furniture, household cleaners and even Christmas lights. In the course of a normal day you can run into a lot of warning signs. The risk is ignoring them. I have a bad habit of doing that. In fact, I do it whenever I drive the green Ford Escape SUV I own. There is a red battery light that goes on most days when I start that SUV. Sometimes it doesn’t come on at first, but eventually it will. The car has never died. The battery checks out fine, and so does the alternator. I don’t know what is wrong with it—so I just ignore the light. I am sure there is something wrong—it could even be a just a short in the warning light itself. My biggest concern is not whether there is an electrical problem. No, my biggest concern is that by developing a habit of ignoring the warning light, what else will I ignore? Would I disregard the fuel light, the temperature gauge, or the oil light? When I become accustomed to warnings that can be ignored—I may regret not heeding one of them in the future.
Similarly, God issues lots of warnings… Proverbs 19:5, “A false witness will not go unpunished, and one who utters lies will not escape.” Proverbs 23:20-21, “Don’t associate with those who drink too much wine or with those who gorge themselves on meat. For the drunkard and the glutton will become poor, and grogginess will clothe them in rags.” These are but two examples. Unfortunately, when we are inundated with warnings and caution signs we often forget their importance. Worse when we overlook a warning and the consequence does not come immediately and consistently we may begin to believe that the warning can just be ignored. Asaph, an author of 12 of the Psalms, thought the same thing for a time. Consequences may not always be immediate—but God says there will be a day… In Psalm 73, Asaph writes that his “feet almost slipped” and his “steps almost went astray” (73:2). He observed the “prosperity of the wicked”, the ease in which they live and compared it to the affliction of the righteous, the ones who “purify their hearts and wash their hands in innocence” (73:3-14). He didn’t understand this, and says he began feeling “hopeless” until he entered “God’s Sanctuary” (73:16-17). It was in the presence of God, in the place of worship, that he understood. Even though some consequences are not immediate, it doesn’t mean they aren’t certain. God is patient, and He wants everyone to pursue Him and righteousness. Peter reminds us of this (2 Peter 3:8-12).
God’s warnings, like all other warnings, remind us of risk. While His judgment has not yet appeared, we know that it will—and we would be wise to heed His warnings.