It’s probably safe to say that the outlook on our world is becoming progressively bleaker with each passing year.
All the dire prophecies and predictions for the end times seem to be more evident. We were recently startled by a TV quiz show the other day when not one of the three contestants could fill in the blank for the quotation “Our Father, which art in Heaven, ____ be thy Name”. Seriously?!
If we, as Jesus followers, were to measure our “success” by the number of churches open for worship and the number of believers attending those churches we would have to admit that the trend is not good.
The only persecution worse than outright hostility is apathy.
Our society is heedless and careless of the benefits of living according to God’s will. To say that our society is “hell-bent” on doing its own thing is to seriously underestimate the extent of the problem. Our society seems to be intent on inventing new ways to cut God’s will out of consideration. Why should we be surprised that God is not pleased, and never has been, by such behavior?
It is often said that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and a quick analysis of scripture indicates that things should get very dicey spiritually and physically really soon!
I think part of the reason the Scriptures of the Old Testament are included in our Bible is so that we can learn from, and therefore not repeat, the errors of God’s chosen people whose catalog of errors is as long as your arm! Consider these verses from Isaiah the prophet:
“Come near, you nations, and listen; pay attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world, and all that comes out of it!
The Lord is angry with all nations; his wrath is on all their armies. He will totally destroy them, he will give them over to slaughter. Their slain will be thrown out, their dead bodies will stink; the mountains will be soaked with their blood.
All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree”. Isaiah 46:1-4 NLT
If that doesn’t send shivers down your spine, it’s hard to know what would!
If you read on in Isaiah 46 it gets progressively worse! Read it before bedtime if you want some serious nightmares!
So it is obvious that God will, in his time, put an end to all this rebellion and it will not be pretty!
However, Isaiah’s prophecy doesn’t stop there.
If we turn back a few chapters we get these words of comfort for those who persevere and put their trust in the Lord:
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:1-10 NLT
I much prefer that part of God’s plan!
I realize that is a long passage to quote, but I am struck by that image of the “highway of holiness”. Those that walk on and within that path are destined for joy, abundance, peace and security. We know that Jesus certainly knew the prophecies of Isaiah (check out Luke 4:14-21) and I have often wondered whether this was what he had in mind when he told his disciples,
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NLT
Given the stark contrast of these alternatives in prophecy, it seems ludicrous that someone would consciously choose the highway to hell! I can only surmise they do so out of ignorance or lack of information!
That’s probably why Jesus gave us a mission:
Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Mark 16:15 NLT
Things don’t have to go the way of Isaiah 46! There is Good News and we know what it is. It is not, and should not be, a secret!
As my father used to say, “time is short and eternity is sure”, so we need to get the word out as a matter of urgency, while all the time ensuring we stay on the straight and narrow Highway of Holiness!
I pray God will bless you in your telling and walking!
Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black
P.S. if you’d like to read previous ruminations of mine they can be found at https://salvationarmyconcordca.org/chronicle/