People are warned all the time about the consequences of their actions, but most are either naïve or fools who pay no attention to what they are told. The Scriptures give multiple warnings to the readers about ignoring what is written. God’s word is to be taken seriously.
The wise person learns to fear the Lord very early in life. Satan’s initial attack to Eve was to deny that God would do what He said He would (Gen 3:4). Once Eve was not afraid that God would punish her, she was open to further temptation and disobedience.
Acts 13:40 is an excellent illustration of what this means. Paul was on his first evangelistic missionary journey into the interior of modern–day Turkey in a small Jewish synagogue in Pisidian Antioch after a dangerous hundred–mile trek across the Taurus mountain range.
At the conclusion of his sermon (13:16–-41), Paul quoted Habakkuk 1:5, which warned Israel that if they did not repent, God would raise up Babylon to destroy Israel. It probably did not seem a likely threat at the time, so the prophet’s warnings were ignored. They had no fear that God would do what He said, so why pay attention to His prophet?
Now Paul’s warning was for Israel to repent for their pride and their false idea of goodness by confessing their sins, accepting Christ’s forgiveness (Acts 13:38), and trusting in His justification “from all things from which [they] could not be justified by the law of Moses” (13:39). The law was given to reveal our need for a Savior (Gal 3:24), not to save us.
No matter how “good” you might be, it cannot erase your sins; in fact, Isaiah wrote, “All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isa 64:6) because they are so tainted with our sins. Our only hope is for God to provide the gift of forgiveness through a substitutionary payment for our sins, which is why Jesus shed His blood on the cross.
Paul quoted Habakkuk: “I work a work in your days, a work which you will by no means believe, though one were to declare it to you” (Acts 13:41). They could not believe that Israel was threatened, so they ignored the prophet.
Now Paul warned Israel again, but they could not believe God would do anything to Israel. Yet in twenty years Israel was destroyed as a nation. They had no fear that God meant what He said through His apostle, so they ignored his message. Are you afraid of being disobedient to His word?
“Lord, help me understand and respect the commands in Your word above all things.”