A young preacher taught the congregation from the book of Isaiah. Isaiah is called the prophet of good news because he prophesies of the coming Messiah who will save His people from God’s wrath upon sin. Still, Isaiah warns of the bad news of God’s judgment upon nations. Why? “For they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts…” (5:24b).
This preacher then asked the congregation in what way the people rejected the law of the LORD. Isaiah’s answer: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil… Who take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!” (5:20a, 23b). Isaiah shows God using the tools of natural disasters, like drought and plague, to bring about judgment, as well as enemy nations (5:26).
The young preacher said, “I wonder, in light of Isaiah seeing all of natural and geopolitical history through the lens of God’s sovereignty, would the prophet view the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001 as God’s judgment?” The backlash was immediate and severe, with older members of the congregation standing up to ridicule the very idea, insisting that God would never do such a thing, that God is merciful and that He doesn’t judge nations like that. Besides, why would God judge the U.S.?
The preacher’s question stands. If God’s justice is perfect, He cannot let one single sin go unpunished.
Even in the New Testament with the revelation of God’s great mercy in Christ spoken of by Isaiah, imminent threat of judgment outside of Christ is what makes the Gospel message so urgent (Lk. 12:13-21). Further, John’s Revelation demonstrates that King Jesus Himself unleashes His wrath upon the nations for their rejection of His Kingship. Being led astray by the leader of nations, metaphorically named Babylon, John says, “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her [Babylon’s] immorality…and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality” (Rev. 18:3). Tellingly, one of the ways the merchants became rich is trafficking in human lives (Rev. 18:13).
Earlier the angel responsible for pouring out God’s third bowl of judgment upon the earth is the only angel to comment about why judgment has come: “…for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it” (Rev. 16:6). Why judgment for the blood of the saints and prophets? They represent God’s kingdom, the law rejected by the world. The saints and prophets follow in the footsteps of Christ the King; speaking and acting on behalf of the weak and vulnerable as God’s advocate for the oppressed, His guardian for the dehumanized, His mouthpiece for truth. Just as Christ has done for the saint and prophet at the cross, so the saint and prophet does for the weak and vulnerable. How does abortion relate to the world’s rejection of “the law of the LORD”?
God’s law reveals that: 1) The life of each person is to be protected as each is made in the image of God (Gen. 9:6), 2) Preborn children are fully human: “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance…” (Ps. 139:16a), and 3) God sovereignly chose to create each life: “…and in your book were written the days that were ordained for me…” (Ps. 139:16b). Is God’s law being rejected by America?
January 22, 1973, the U.S. rejected the law of the LORD, legalizing abortion. Will God ignore America’s flagrancy? If not, how will He deal with it? Does Revelation give us a hint when it says, “For this reason, in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning…for the Lord God who judges her is strong” (Rev. 18:8)?
Does God’s word permit believers to view any current event as outside of His control? A lack of faith in God’s sovereignty results in a temptation to fear the wrong things. And misplaced fear ends in poor choices.
Perhaps our nation need not fear the plague of disease but the power of a holy God? As saints and prophets, we hide from the wrath of God behind the cross of Christ, a salvation to make us bold as lions. We know we cannot “add a single hour to our life’s span” through worry (Lk. 12:25), so we serve the marginalized. We know our lives are not our own (I Cor. 6:19-20), so laying them down in service to our great King, we give voice to the voiceless. Knowing the mind and power of King Jesus allows us to risk our lives, our fortunes, and our reputations for those most vulnerable to oppression. That is what Jesus did for us. And that is what Jesus expects of us saying, “A slave is not greater than his master” (Jn. 15:20).
Rev. James R. Harden, M.Div.
P.S. Continue saving lives through CompassCare by prayer, service, and funds and “may the LORD do what is good in His sight” (I Chr. 19:13).
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