When a drought hits a land, springs go dry, wells stop working, and creeks run low. There is, however, another kind of drought, one that is mentioned in Psalm 68:5-6. Those verses say:
A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land. (N.K.J.V.)
The teaching here is that God doesn’t bless the rebel. He acts as a father to the fatherless, serves as a defender of widows, sets the solitary in families, and brings out those who are bound into prosperity. But what does He do for the rebellious? He lets them dwell in a dry land.
While this thought is easily understood in terms of a literal interpretation, there is also a spiritual aspect to it. I say that because, spiritually speaking, the Bible equates water with the word of God. We see this in passages such as Psalm 119:9 and Ephesians 5:25-27. Therefore, Psalm 68:5-6 can also be rightly interpreted to say that the rebel’s land is dry because his life runs contrary to the word of God.
Even though the rebel might own a Bible, it’s possible to like hell with a Bible under your arm. After all, a person can memorize and quote various passages and yet still live a life that contradicts the book’s plainest teachings. As evangelist Gypsy Smith said, “What makes the difference is not how many times you have been through the Bible, but how many times and how thoroughly the Bible has been through you.”
And oh how our society glorifies the rebel! James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Johnny Depp became icons by playing that role. Similarly, Frank Sinatra’s signature song was, “I Did it My Way.” Pirates, gangsters, outlaws, and bad boys all have a certain “coolness” about them, don’t they? People look at them and want to be like them, either secretly or not so secretly.
When we come to God’s word, however, we find a different opinion of rebellion. It says:
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry… (1 Samuel 15:23, N.K.J.V.)
Have you been dealing in magic, conjuring up spells, and chanting to strange spirits lately? Probably not. But have you been rebelling against God? If you have, you might as well have been practicing witchcraft. Have you been offering sacrifices to a graven image in your backyard? I doubt it. But have you been stubbornly refusing to do what God wants you to do? Then you might just as well have been fully embracing idolatry.
Isaiah 65:2 is another verse that goes a long way in describing the rebel. In it, God says,
I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts. (N.K.J.V.)
Obviously, God wants the rebel to rush into His arms so that He can hug him and pour out His blessings upon him. But that doesn’t happen. Why? It’s because the rebel wants nothing to do with submitting to God’s commands. To the rebel, no word carries the stigma the word “submission” carries. He’d rather die in his rebellion than live in submission. Even as his life dries up, he refuses to repent of his sins. The bottom line is, he’ll choose to dwell in a dry land where he can do as he pleases rather than dwell in a lush, fertile, well-watered land where he must submit to God.
And the lengths to which the rebel will go to explain away his sin are astounding. He’ll rationalize his conduct in an effort to make it look acceptable. He’ll compare his life to the lives of other sinners rather than to God’s standard of holiness. He’ll say, “I’m just doing what makes me happy.” Through it all, though, one word will ring out loud and clear over his life: rebellion.
Those of us who know something about a fireplace know what a backlog is. It’s a big log that you put at the back of the fire to keep the smaller logs from rolling off the back. One day a father asked his grown son to bring in a backlog. The son said, “No.” The father kindly but firmly said, “As long as you live in my house you will obey me. The choice is yours. You can obey me and live here or disobey me and leave.” The son flew mad, packed his bags, and left. But a few days later he came back home. The father met him and said, “Son, that backlog is still out there.” This time the son obeyed and was welcomed back into his father’s good graces.
I ask you, do you have some backlog that you are in rebellion to God about? If you do, I plead with you to lay aside your rebellion, repent, and rush into God’s open arms. By refusing to repent you are surely headed for a dry land, if you aren’t already living in one. Remember, dry lands always come to rebels as God eventually reaches the limits of His patience. That doesn’t have to happen to you, though. All you have to do to keep your land watered is live in obedience to the word of God. Yes, that will cost you your rebellion, but that price will pale in comparison to the blessings that God sends your way.