Suffering, Restoration, and Rest


I will restore (repay) to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
-Joel 2:25 (ESV)

It is hard to rest when we focus on our losses, disappointments, and unfulfilled dreams; but we must.

What about all this lost time?  Why do we have to wait for our promises?  Not to have what we have dreamed about and been promised is a loss and we keep losing time in the time between the times.

But God is the great restorer.  The whole Bible is a story of restoration.  God is all about restoration.

While you wait, God is upgrading you in many areas; stretching you and maturing you: enlarging your heart.  God walks beside you in your losses, when you are betrayed, passed over, and hurt.  You are growing in faith, hope, and love.  You are learning deeper and deeper forgiveness and grace.  You must choose God a thousand times over bitterness.

The person called to healing ministry that prays for a thousand people without success or the person called to write or preach messages that writes or preaches a thousand times with little fruit; what is the difference inside of them after the one thousand compared to how they would be if they had immediate success?  The "one thousand step" people experience a lot of pain through the one thousand, a lot of death to self.  Finally, they are doing it (there could be a hundred other examples), for One.  They are doing it from and to love.  They are praying for the sick out of the Father's heart for the sick or writing and preaching out of God's love.

So, you might think that there's something wrong when your gift does not work or is not called upon; but God is implementing a larger, deeper, longer plan for you.

You will also notice people along your journey who seem to have had it easy.  They got married easily, had children easily, found a great job, or are living in prosperity, got healed, have succeeded in ministry; and the list goes on and on.  Two things: You don't know their suffering- God's unique plan for their lives which also involves their personal brokenness and you are called (like Peter in John 21:22) to follow him and not compare yourself to other people.  Jesus had to tell Peter that it's none of his business what he does with the other person.  You have to find your way as a unique child of God.  God has a perfect plan for you that very well may involve delays.

When God shows us his plans for us (Jer. 29:11), it is a destination that requires a journey and it is a finished thing that requires building, starting with a foundation and that all takes time.

"I will restore the years"

“It will strike you at once that the locusts did not eat the years: the locusts ate the fruits of the years’ labor, the harvests of the fields; so that the meaning of the restoration of the years must be the restoration of those fruits and of those harvests which the locusts consumed. You cannot have back your time; but there is a strange and wonderful way in which God can give back to you the wasted blessings, the unripened fruits of years over which you mourned. The fruits of wasted years may yet be yours.” (Charles Spurgeon)

In your in-between-time, you feel like you are dying.  Your patience is stretched and broken.  You are not resting well.  You are getting burned out, standing still.  You cry, "what's happening to me?"  Job went through a terrible time of suffering.  He lost everything except his wife, some friends, and God.  Job is a long, 42 chapter book in the Old Testament.  Job tries to figure out why.  Job's friends try to figure out why.  Job gets some bad advice from his friends and his wife.  Job never gets the answer to the why question.

In his loss and perplexity (suffering), Job cries out:

"Though He slay me, yet I will trust him."
-Job 13:15

This is what Oswald Chambers has to say about this statement:

  • God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as His saint to get you in direct contact with Himself.
  • God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of emotional enjoyment of His blessings.
  • The beginning of your life of faith was very narrow and intense, centered around a small amount of experience that had as much emotion as faith in it, and it was full of light and sweetness.
  • Then God withdrew His conscious blessings to teach you to “walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7) And you are worth much more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight with your thrilling testimony.
  • Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven as trustworthy in our own minds.
  • Faith being worked out into reality must experience times of unbroken isolation.
  • Never confuse the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, because a great deal of what we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive.
  • Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him— a faith that says, “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.”
  • The highest and the greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is— “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
-Oswald Chambers, My Utmost, June 20

"When it was beyond hope, he had faith in the hope (Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping-) that he would become the father of many nations, in keeping with the promise God spoke to him: That’s how many descendants you will have."

-Romans 4:18

Abraham was in the midst of a 25 year wait for his promise. In our instant culture, waiting this long seems unimaginable, but big things and big times sometime require big waits. Jason wrote this:

 ..at the ages of 75 and 65, long after their bodies were as good as dead, and they had settled in their hearts that they would never have kids, God shows up, tells Abraham to leave his father's household and head somewhere in "that" direction, and promised him the one thing Abraham and Sarah had been praying about for years: Abraham would be the father of many nations.

But the odds were stacked against them.

They had tried for decades to have a child, and were never able to conceive. They were leaving their home, the only place where they found support and encouragement and knew that people were praying for them. They were going to make a long journey to only God knew where, and they knew that Sarah was well beyond child-birthing years. The circumstances weren't looking too good.

But Abraham still believed.

In a place with no hope, in a situation where logic and science told them that God's promise would never come about, in circumstances that shouted that God didn't want to give Abraham and Sarah a son... Abraham dared to hope...

And received the promise of Isaac 25 years later.

Maybe, that promise you've been holding onto isn't dead just yet. Maybe that marriage you're believing for, that child you're praying for or that job you're looking for is going to happen. Maybe the deepest desires of your heart really will be yours.

Maybe, just maybe, the waiting is an opportunity to hope.

And so, my brothers and sisters, as you journey through your promise, waiting for God to bring about what He said He would, may you remember to hope. May you keep your eyes on Him rather than the circumstances. And may you, as you dare to hope that God will keep His promise to you, see that promise come to pass...

Even if it is 25 years in the making.
Daring to hope...Jason

Near the end of Abraham and Sarah's wait, they both laughed when God told each of them that the baby will be here in about a year.  I believe their laughs were a bit cynical or out of incredulity.  Then God said, "as a matter of fact, you are to name the child Isaac".  Isaac means "he laughs".  God will turn their incredulous laughter to joyous laughter.

If you have ever received a promise that you waited a long time for, you know that having the promise makes the wait worth it.  God really does restore those years that the locust figuratively ate in your life.  We can rest in peace as we wait with God, who has upgrade upon upgrade for us in our spiritual growth, preparing us to be the person he sees us as in the future.

When You have Given Up: Lost Dreams and Burnout

What if it has been so long, too long, and you believe or maybe you once believed (past tense); but you stop asking God to fulfill a dream?  

You gave up on something because it was just too painful.  The disappointment was too great.  You take up your cross of disappointment and walk on.  

You have not abandoned God, your faith, or your love for God's people.  You just have stopped praying about something important to you.  You have given up on that thing.  You know that all things are possible for our miracle working God.  You have seen other people get their prayers answered and their desires met, while you stand before God empty handed.  How do you take care of your heart and still serve God in your life?  We live with the paradox of walking with a loving God who is allowing suffering or lack or unfulfilled dreams.


Luke Chapter 1, verses 5 to 25 reads:  During the rule of King Herod of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah. His wife Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron. They were both righteous before God, blameless in their observance of all the Lord’s commandments and regulations.

They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to become pregnant and they both were very old.

One day Zechariah was serving as a priest before God because his priestly division was on duty. Following the customs of priestly service, he was chosen by lottery to go into the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense. All the people who gathered to worship were praying outside during this hour of incense offering.

An angel from the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw the angel, he was startled and overcome with fear.





The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will give birth to your son and you must name him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many people will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the Lord’s eyes. He must not drink wine and liquor. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. He will bring many Israelites back to the Lord their God. He will go forth before the Lord, equipped with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and he will turn the disobedient to righteous patterns of thinking. He will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old.”

The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in God’s presence. I was sent to speak to you and to bring this good news to you. Know this: What I have spoken will come true at the proper time. But because you didn’t believe, you will remain silent, unable to speak until the day when these things happen.”

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered why he was in the sanctuary for such a long time. When he came out, he was unable to speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he gestured to them and couldn’t speak. When he completed the days of his priestly service, he returned home. Afterward, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She kept to herself for five months, saying, “This is the Lord’s doing. He has shown his favor to me by removing my disgrace among other people.” -Luke 1:5-25

Luke writes that Elizabeth and Zechariah were, "both righteous before God, blameless in their observance of all the Lord’s commandments and regulations".  The CEV translates the verse as saying that, "Both of them were good people and pleased the Lord God by obeying all that he had commanded".  They were faithful & righteous believers.  Good people.

Luke then tells us that they had no children because they were unable to and that they were very old.  It is implied that they were past the child-bearing years.  It is interesting that Elizabeth means "God's promise", and Zechariah means, "God has remembered".

The angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah one day, around 3pm, while he was doing his priestly duties in the temple.  Zechariah was scared and after Gabriel said, "don't be afraid", he then said, "your prayers have been answered".  

What prayers?  Zechariah prayed all the time.  He might have been praying when Gabriel showed up.  

Gabriel told him that his wife, Elizabeth, will give birth to a son.  

Those prayers.  Those prayers that he prayed decades ago.  Those unanswered prayers.  The dream he gave up on.

Gabriel then lays out some instructions and tells him of the great purpose that their son John will  have.  

To this momentous news, Zechariah has a peculiar reply:

He says, "How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old."  

Wrong answer.  Wrong response.  You're asking God's Archangel how can this happen? 

A great miracle was being announced to him by God's Archangel, Gabriel, and he did not get it.  Zechariah's heart had been sick and calcified over.  Zecheriah's burnout had turned to cynicism.

I remember a lady that was looking at a photo of scores of people at the Toronto Airport Vineyard laying down on the carpet and she said, "been there, done that".  That's cynicism.  I wondered what her deep disappointment had been with God.

When someone shares a tender act of faith and we make a sarcastic comment that is rude, maybe we are coming from a place of burnout in our own walk that has not been arrested.

I imagine that as a young couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth prayed to conceive and in disappointment, they prayed and prayed again.  They may have wept together and sought God, laying hold of a promise in their hearts that God would give them a very special son.  But time past and it didn't happen.  

But they remained faithful to God.  Maybe some bitterness crept into Zechariah's heart and he was hardhearted.  Because of his disappointment, he became burned out and cynical about the fulfillment of certain promises in his life.

  • We too can become like Zechariah and get burned out and become hardhearted (cynical) while remaining faithful.  
  • Our dreams or life words and promises take time to develop and come to pass.  
  • God has a good life for us between the times, but we get so frustrated with the lack of fulfillment that we don't enjoy the scenery and all the stops along the way from here to there.  
  • The One who gave you the dream of the mountain will walk with you through the valleys, deserts, streams, and rivers on the way to it.    
  •  God remembers your prayers and your dreams, even when you stop asking, dreaming and longing

"The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this." -1 Thess. 5:24



Living In Time Between The Times


Hope delayed makes the heart sick;

Longing fulfilled is a tree of life. -Proverbs 13:12

We are always living in time between the times. We have a past and a future. We have losses in our past and dreams for our future. The non-fulfillment of our dreams can make us feel tired and even beat up.


Getting a promise, a dream, or a word from God that speaks of something good and special for you is a blessing. We are very uplifted and encouraged. God has moved in our lives. We feel like we have connected with our purpose. Hallelujah! Worship is an ease and a joy. We might even call people and tell them about the message, invitation, or promised blessing from God that we believe has been revealed to us.

But, the first challenge for us is when it dawns on us that there will be a waiting period between our reception of the word and it's reality in our life. I had to learn this. When you really see, really hear, or have a real dream from God it is so exciting. In the excitement, I would always forget, for the moment, the many stories of waiting between personal prophecies and fulfillment; like Abraham or Joseph. Hope kept getting deferred. Proverbs 13:12 reflects this experience, of unrelenting disappointment, as The Message has it translated, that can sicken our hearts.

But when the promise finally comes, our lives can turn around: it is a tree of life. Earlier in Proverbs, it says that wisdom is a tree of life. The tree of life is first found at the beginning, in the book of Genesis. The Tree of Life was at the center of Eden. Jesus Christ is meant to be the center of our lives today. As Adam and Eve ate from The Tree of Life, we need to eat from Christ. We need to consume and internalize Christ who is our life. He is The Life-giver and the Life-saver. We are dependent on continually consuming from Christ at the center. He came that we might have life and abundant life.

Remember that there were two trees in the garden of Eden. The other tree was the forbidden one: The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was also at the center of the garden. The two trees and their fruit continue to challenge all of mankind today and they reveal the dichotomy between the kingdom of evil and the kingdom of God (There were Two Trees in the Garden, Rick Joyner, page 9). .

In our time of waiting, the Holy Spirit stands beside us, as the helper, the counselor, the comforter; and also stands in the future where our word is fulfilled. The Spirit of God forms us into the shape of the promise and gets us ready to wear it. Our home work in the waiting room is to walk with God and let him form us into the person who receives the promise. It is a time of transformation and preparation. Between the old and the new is the desert. Between the mountain where you received the word and the mountain where it becomes reality is a valley.

We might get heartbroken along the way. We might sin or be sinned against. We might go through serious discipline. We might go the opposite way like Jonah. Whatever your story is, you might be hurting. Disciples hurt and weep. Hosea endured tremendous heartbreak in his life from following God's prophetic instructions and he wrote the song:

"Come, let’s return to the Lord;

for it is he who has injured us and will heal us;

he has struck us down, but he will bind us up.

After two days he will revive us;

on the third day he will raise us up,

so that we may live before him.

Let’s know, let’s press on to know the Lord;

whose appearing is as certain as the dawn;

who will come to us like the showers,

like the spring rains that give drink to the earth.”

-Hosea 6:1-3

In between time people are sometimes brokenhearted. We feel like God has hurt us and knocked us down in our disappointments. Hosea was a brokenhearted man and he wrote that God has injured us and knocked us down, but he says that God is going to heal us, that God is still faithful. So, he says, let's press on to know the Lord. This is the essence of the in-between-time. It is painful, but press on to know the Lord. You don't "gut it out" on your own strength. You don't harden your heart and wait for the end of the world. You believe in God's faithfulness to come and to heal you and bind up your broken heart. You press on to know the Lord. That's intimacy with God, your secret history with God, communing with God.

The antidote for heart sickness is to return to the source. Ask questions. Walk and talk with the dream-giver. Partner with God, working out what He works in (Phil. 2:12-13). Look at God and let God transform you (2 Cor. 3:17-18). If you (when you) find authentic fellowship, those brothers and sisters will affirm and confirm your dreams and encourage you. They will weep with you and cheer you on as you walk with God.




God Will Always Bless Your Rest, by Graham Cooke


Graham Cooke:

"So in Genesis 2, by the seventh day, God completed his work which he had done and he rested on the 7th day from all his work he had done, and then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made.

God will always bless your rest.

Always.

Since I learned rest, there has never been a time when God has not blessed that rest and honored that rest and sanctified my rest.

In other words, set aside peace for me; set aside rest for me.

So, for me, therefore, when God blesses something and sanctifies it and sets it apart; what that means is rest is always available as an absolute essential for life.

So, every circumstance you encounter already has rest in the issue.

No matter how hard, no matter how harsh, no matter how difficult, no matter how awful; every single circumstance has rest, because it's the one thing that God has blessed and sanctified, in terms of his relationship with you.

So, it's available always.

Ephesians 2:6, I think, is a mirror image of those verses in Genesis, when it says, "we have been raised up with him and seated together with him in heavenly places." The whole sense of being seated together is all about rest. When you sit down, you relax. You are in an attitude of rest. You are taking a weight off. You are taking a load off. You are sitting down, you are relaxed. Your whole mindset shifts when you sit. It's just that something comes to you. A peace comes to you. In the natural, something happens physically to your body when you sit. You relax, you rest. You have that moment. What's true in the natural is true in the spirit. To be seated is an attitude of rest.

Rest is physical, rest is emotional, and rest is mental and spiritual. It's the tangible expression of God's presence: rest.

In Exodus 13:14, God's promise to Moses was that, "my presence shall go with you and I will give you rest." We are not a people looking for the presence of God. We already have it. He is inside us. You can't get any more presence than that, inside you.

Anything that happens externally: fabulous bonus, but you don't actually need it. But it is a great bonus. Who doesn't want the physical tangible touch of God on their life.


....Here's the thing: If you practice rest, you'll feel the touch of God so much more.

If you practice rest, you'll hear his voice physically.

If you practice rest, you'll feel his breath; you'll feel his hand as a physical thing.

'Cause he is very tangible. All relationships have to be tangible. At some point, they have to touch, they have to connect, you know; that's a physical thing, it's an emotional thing.

And if you practice rest, you will feel the presence of God so much more strongly in your own life.

Now, rest is something that we receive. So we must be willing to allow rest to displace the opposite. And I think that's where we partner with God. You can't trust the Lord and be anxious. Because those two things are incompatible. They can't exist at the same space at the same time. One of them has to go and you get to choose.

Life in the spirit is we have been given this incredible freedom to choose what God is doing.

So, trust (or) anxiety? It's a no-brainer.

Choose.

Choose what you're going to think. Choose what you are going to see. Choose how you are going to connect. You have the power and the freedom to choose. That's what Jesus died to give you.

We need to displace the opposite of rest. It's impossible to rest all the time that you are fearful, panic driven, full of anxiety or worry. Rest comes to displace any negative that may be trying to infiltrate your life.

Rest is a weapon and you need to see it as a weapon. Rest is a sword in your hand and you can put to death, you can put to the sword; anxiety, lack of peace, unrest, fear, and so on and so forth.

What does that look like to you, to see rest as a sword?   That you can cut away from your circumstance
that thing that you don't need to affect you wrongly. This is a partnership here. Worry, anxiety, and fear are not going to go away by themselves. They need to be helped to leave the premises by themselves. They need some assistance. They need the left boot of fellowship. It's like, "see ya, don't want to be ya." You get them out, you push them away.

Rest is brilliant because if rest takes up residence, then a part of that rest is actually militant against the negative. Rest will go after the negative because you can't have those two things at the same time. You are choosing to partner with rest. Rest is a gift, but then you have to work to partner with that gift and make it work. In other words, you have to learn to say no to a negative and rest helps you do that.

There is a principle of rest in all of life. In Leviticus 25:4-5, it talks about a sabbath rest and even also a year of rest. Rest is a really serious business in the kingdom. God gave us one day a week for rest. It's really important that you take one day a week for rest...

Leviticus 26:34-5 talks about how even the land needs rest...

God gave every creature the ability to sleep or rest, because rest is a key part of everything he is and everything he does. He only operates out of rest. He may get lots of urgent requests, but he only ever operates out of a place of rest.

That's why Jesus was the prince of peace and and he could say, "my peace be I give you", because peace is something to be guarded.

Peter the Apostle wrote that in his letter, "let the peace of God guard your heart".

So, rest is a sentry over your life. You put it at the entry point of your life. You put it at the gate of your life. Anything that wants to get in is going to have to get through peace.The job of peace is to keep negatives out there and never allow then in here.

You have to guard your inner territory and rest enables you to do that."

-Graham Cooke

The Day Off & Time Off: Sabbath


So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. -Genesis 2:3 (ESV)

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” -Mark 2:27-28 (ESV)


The sabbath or rest day was given to us, from the beginning, as a benefit, as in, "you get a full day off each week"; and it was so important that it made it into the top ten laws ( 4th of the 10 commandments in the Jewish and most Protestant traditions, Lutheranism being the big exception).  By the time of Jesus life, the issue of sabbath keeping had gotten crazy and he had to get us back to God's original idea.

God's prescription for the well-being of his people, was for them to get a day of rest from their labors once a week..  Some Jewish people and Christians after them have made a tradition of worshiping on the sabbath, so much so, that in their thinking, worship services become the central point of the sabbath.  But worship, prayer, and fellowship are daily in the Bible.  Jesus made it his tradition or custom to attend services on his sabbath and did ministry, like healing people and casting out demons, while setting his hammer or chisel down.

God's original plan was for a set aside day of rest for his people.  Jesus refocused back to the original idea from God that the Sabbath was made for man.  His message was that the sabbath doesn't demand,  constrain, or punish, but is a gift to be enjoyed and experienced.


More details from The Bible:

  • We were designed to need rest from our labor(1).  
  • God rested on the seventh day and sanctified it after six days of creating(2).  
  • People who rest all the time, we call lazy(3).  
  • We are designed to be productive(4).  
  • The curse of the fall makes work painful(5), but it is meant to be enjoyable.  
  • The sabbath is so important in God's economy that he calls for the land to take a year off from being farmed every 7th year(6).
  • When we rest from our labors, we are humbling our selves and admitting that we are humans, submitted to God.  God is not mad at us, but God created order, and part of that order is that humans need rest.  When we rest by taking days off and time off from our productivity, we are acknowledging that, "God gives the increase"(7).  
  • God gives us the ability to prosper, but we must never forget to acknowledge God in our prosperity(8).

The picture above is Pastor Reid Olson, resting.


Bible references:  (CEB)


1. Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Keep the Sabbath day and treat it as holy, exactly as the Lord your God commanded:  Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Don’t do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your oxen or donkeys or any of your animals, or the immigrant who is living among you—so that your male and female servants can rest just like you.  Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That’s why the Lord your God commands you to keep the Sabbath day.

Exodus 20:8-11
 Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you. Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


2. Genesis 2:2-3

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.


3. Proverbs 6:6-11

Go to the ant, you lazy person; observe its ways and grow wise.
The ant has no commander, officer, or ruler.
Even so, it gets its food in summer; gathers its provisions at harvest.
How long, lazy person, will you lie down? When will you rise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to lie down—
and poverty will come on you like a prowler, destitution like a warrior.

4. Genesis 2:15

The Lord God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it.

5. Genesis 3:17-19

To the man he said, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and you ate from the tree that I commanded, ‘You will not eat from it,’cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you will eat from it every day of your life.
Weeds and thistles will grow for you, even as you eat the field’s plants;
by the sweat of your face you will eat bread— until you return to the fertile land,
since from it you were taken; you are soil, to the soil you will return.”

6. Leviticus 25:4

But in the seventh year the land will have a special sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord: You must not plant your fields or prune your vineyards.

7. 1 Corinthians 3:7

 Because of this, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but the only one who is anything is God who makes it grow.

8. Deuteronomy 8:17-19
 Don’t think to yourself, My own strength and abilities have produced all this prosperity for me.  Remember the Lord your God! He’s the one who gives you the strength to be prosperous in order to establish the covenant he made with your ancestors—and that’s how things stand right now.  But if you do, in fact, forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, serving and bowing down to them, I swear to you right now that you will be completely destroyed.