As a nation the Lord was greatly displeased with Israel. There were many things that plagued them, but in Isaiah 1:17 there are five points the Lord set forth for Israel to do. 1) Learn to do good, 2) seek justice, 3) rebuke the oppressor, 4) defend the fatherless, and 5) plead for the widow (the wording of the NKJV). The word “good” can best be understood in relation to the Lord’s will. The word “justice” simply means that Israelites were to properly apply the Lord’s word from the high ranking official all the way down to the lowest or the economically deprived in the community. The one who oppresses is rendered differently in the NET: “Give the oppressed reason to celebrate.” This seems to be best understood in relation to the next two points; the children and the widows who have no one to provide for them need assistance. That which the Lord called upon the children of Israel to do, let us do the same.
In Romans 12 the Holy Spirit, writing by the hands of Paul, addressed the spirit of the saint in a tough world. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). The approach of each saint is to present oneself to the Lord in all that we do; the NKJV calls this one’s “reasonable service,” while the ASV says it is one’s “spiritual service,” and the ESV a “living sacrifice.” Whatever term is used the point is clear: one is to serve God, and this is the saint’s ethical basis. So, “let love be without hypocrisy” (12:9). This means that we are to love as the Lord loves us. This is easy to understand, but difficult to apply. The reason it is difficult is because we might be moody, the other person might be less than lovable, we might not know the meaning of the word love, or we just don’t want to do so. Whatever difficult reason in front of us, it is our obligation to move it out of the way and to do as the Lord did and does. RT
In Romans 9, the apostle Paul deals with a problem that many Israelites, through the years, have surely thrown up to him concerning the ethics of God and the nation of Israel. Did not God promise Israel a land of inheritance? He did. If He did, why is it that God now is dealing differently with the nation? To this Paul addresses his words. He makes clear that in the writings of the prophets, God made distinction between the physical land and national promise to the collective people and those who God specifically chose through whom He would bring His messiah. Those who paid particular attention to His words would see this, but those who did not would begin to cry aloud that God is not fair. In part, this was the problem, and Paul said as much in this words: “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (10:2; NKJV). APPLICATION: let us be sure we have a clear understanding of God’s standard of right as we seek to help others understand and make application themselves.
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)
The scripture reference above wasn’t written to the nation of America, but America should pay attention to the whole principle of the chapter, not to mention the single verse!
You want to destroy a nation? You don’t need bombs or bullets. That only affects the outside. Destruction comes from hitting the underpinnings that strengthen the core. Go for the family. Go for the spirit. Go for the moral compass and make it spin till north is south and south is north. Put light for darkness and darkness for light; put sweet for bitter and bitter for sweet – you know, the tried and true stuff (Isaiah 5:20).
From the first state that began the 50 (Delaware) to the last state that entered the union (Hawaii) there are now 15 states (plus D.C.) that have legalized homosexual marriages. That’s the wrong alpha and omega my friend!
But how many states does it take to constitute the foundation? I guess it depends upon which end of the pyramid is touching the ground!
Look to politicians to lead a nation and you get politics – politics that destroy! But America thinks that she’s immune to such ends. America best think again. Two-hundred and some odd years are nothing in almost any scheme of things. There are toilets in Europe older than America! But we won’t be outdone will we? Instead of paying attention, it seems as if we’re more than happy to become the leading spiritual toilet of the western world. Go ahead and let politicians lead, but don’t be surprised when they flush it all away.
What will be the outcome of the not-so-United-States? When will the cracks give way to the sink hole? It’s not for me to say, but America will speak for herself. And what she’s saying isn’t sounding too good.
But I do know this for sure – the LORD is still in his holy temple. He still reigns no matter how wild the eagle may want to become. For the foundation of a nation can be washed away, but the word of God will live forever (1 Peter 1:23-25).
“The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup.” (Psalm 11:4-6)
C.E.W. Dorris wrote these provocative words concerning Jesus’ departure from the temple in Mark 13:
“Sad the day for us when Jesus leaves our temple, and his voice is no longer heard pleading in our souls.”
His words evoke memory of Jesus standing at the door of the hearts of Laodicean Christians in Revelation 3. Do we sometimes ignore Jesus as we would an unwelcome guest? Do we mentally and spiritually pretend that we’re not home when our conscience senses his knocking?
Jesus calls us to follow him. That call requires attention in all areas of life, in making decisions and in forgiving as he forgives as well as in preaching sound doctrine.
Have we surrendered all? Is the voice of Jesus still pleading in our souls?
Following the New Testament plan, today we read Ephesians chapter 5. Its content includes:
- Imitate God in everything: love and light (5.1-14)
- "Watch where you’re going!" (5.15-21)
- Take it home: wives and husbands (5.21-33)
That second point is my paraphrase of verse 15a. My parents had to tell me that a lot, and I still need hear it.
The NET Bible’s divisions of the chapter, at the link above, are also nifty: Live in love; Live in the light; Live wisely; Exhortations to households.
Next week, the plan starts Monday with the book of Revelation. Why not join us?
Letter to editor,
An interesting headline reads, “What’s wrong with Illinois?” (Mattoon Journal-Gazette, Monday, 8.30.10, p. A-3). It is a headline that asks a question about why we seem to be at a moral impasse within government. “Is there something about Illinois that encourages governors to go bad?” we are asked. This is followed with the lament, “Illinois voters put them [George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich] in office despite serious questions about their honesty.” Finally, in order to help the reputation of Illinois government to get out of the morass of corruption, we are told, laws are passed. It has been once said that laws made are only for the lawless.
It is interesting to take note of the word “honesty.” This word is associated with a moral standard, a moral standard that has an opposite – the notion of a lie. When one tells a lie, there is a recognition that such a thing as truth exists. Truth has as its foundation what? Is man the foundation or is God?
Is it much too simplistic to suggest that the ethical problem of man is that he lives by his own standard? It is not only not too simplistic, it is dead-on right! One’s ethical foundation has everything to do with the moral code that guides. This truism is more complex than you realize. People who live by the higher standard of God need not laws passed in order to prevent them from doing wrong, for they will live by the standard of doing what is right. Unfortunately, when one is in an environment where corruption pervades, something has to give. Doubly unfortunate, it is the rare person that can hold strong when they are many “corrupters” out there seeking to destroy, and when one does hold strong, he (she) is the targets of all things evil.
Is this approach naïve? Liberals, progressives, relativists, and atheists tell us it is, but look at the result of what their philosophy has produced for us. Please tell us, how the philosophies of those just mentioned produced a bountiful crop of virtuous people?
I have added a new In the News post to my blog to keep us better informed as to attacks on morality, ethics, etc. I hope you find them informative.