Last night I asked God to wake me up, “if it was His will” for me to read part of a book that I knew I was supposed to read for my own spiritual benefit…Yah, I know. Lame and weak prayer! Well, He answered it at 5 am! My old Razor phone had apparently been “turned on” by my 4 year old daughter as she recently rummaged through my night stand during her “nap time”. Well, this morning, the phone loudly beeped every 2 minutes to let me know it was running out of power! So I read the book and it amazingly had a lot to do with today’s Bible reading.
As I read Isaiah 17-20, I asked the question, “So what?” In other words what is the application of these chapters? The passage at first seemed so contextual to historical Israel, that even my History/Political-Science degree could not aid me in answering the question “What’s in this for ME to learn from history for today?” ☺
Then I read Isaiah 17:7-8, “In that day people will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. 8 They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles[a] and the incense altars their fingers have made.”
And then I read in chapters 18:7 and 19:18-25 that even the Gentile nations will bow down in worship to the Lord. I realized an ancient truth that I so often forget in my daily life and sometimes when I read Scripture, its not about me, or you…its about Him and His glory!
But as Scripture says, we fall short of that eternal glory of God. Currently, I am disheartened, even disgusted by the corporate choices we as American/Western Christians often make in our excessive materialism, our weak-hearted justifications of things we watch, read, participate in and listen to, and the quenching of the fire of the Holy Spirit through our sheer disregard for His indwelling presence in our hearts. I mean, is that song, that person, that movie, or that certain pleasure REALLY more important than the awesome, surpassing great Glory of the One True God and His redemptive narrative, or rather, REALITY, for all mankind through His Son Jesus Christ!? Of these failures, I will be the first one to say I am a major contributor to our corporate mess, to my shame and to the dishonor of our Lord. God forgive me and help me, in Jesus name! Praise God that our “mess” is not the end of the story! He is very patient with us, with me. But let us not take His patience and grace for granted.
Notice God’s heart in Isaiah 17:8…the obliteration of idolatry so we may look to our “Maker”! God is calling us to get idols out of the way, so that we can truly worship HIM in Spirit and Truth, and thereby, better serve Him! Can we serve God and have our “MTV” too? I don’t know! Ask Jesus that question for yourself. All I know is, the American Church has given way too much ground to the enemy of our souls through our daily, complacent idolatry. I have given way too much ground away.
135+ years ago, slavery ran rampant in America as Christians worshiped the God of “freedom” and “liberty”. What runs rampant today that we, on a daily basis, directly contribute to through our actions, or lack thereof, as we worship the God of Life, Holiness and Justice?
I propose that we’re much more like the American Christians of the 18th & 19th Centuries than we want to admit. They worshipped God every Sunday, perhaps more devoutly than we do today, and yet tolerated slavery because of the financial benefits and “security” it brought them. Isn’t that what we do today? We worship God in our church services, and we have every good intention as we do, but we are totally blind, or at least willingly ignorant, of the evils of our day, including the evils of our own wicked hearts. We compromise the glory due to God because we cheapen our representation of Him through unholy concessions to darkness, or at least “greyness”.
Pastor David Platt writes in his book, “Radical,” on page 108, “Good intentions, regular worship, and even study of the Bible do not prevent blindness in us. Part of our sinful nature instinctively chooses to see what we want to see and ignore what we want to ignore.” I would add that we instinctively ignore the “grey areas” of morality, and even worse, the nudging of the Holy Spirit to do something about those areas.
So then, what are we to do?
For starters, I don’t think people want to hear another “good” sermon, read another blog post (oh the irony!), or even hear about the good works we once did. They want to know God NOW! Forgive my blind assertiveness without a “Federally approved sociological survey”, but I believe that people, both those who are saved and those who will be saved, want to hear the Word of God BOLDLY preached, see the sick healed, the blind to see, the demonized set free, and the Jesus of the Bible totally glorified through His Church! In short, the Book of Acts in real life today. The Lord knows we need a modern day Awakening! Something of “Book of Acts” type caliber to rescue us from our often complacent funk.
But we, the Church, need to humbly recognize Isaiah 17:8 in its entirety…to reject our most seemingly “docile” and “harmless” idols and not just accept Jesus, but surrender to Him entirely, without reservation to self. Lest I sound over-the-top “Doomsday-ish”, praise God for His eternal grace which covers our short comings!
My prayer is that we live in total love with our God through obedience. I just pray it does not require the judgments spoken of in Isaiah 17-20 to wake us up before we surrender all to Him. God isn’t done with the American Church yet. I believe we can and will wake up, through daily repentance and the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.