Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What Will Become Of Us?

There's been a lot of hand-wringing lately over the political future of our county. Especially in one of the major political parties, there seems to be much consternation over who can lead them to victory in the presidential race, as the nomination process seems to drag on and on. Political pundits on both sides of the aisle bemoan all the difficult problems facing the nation and point fingers at one another as the cause and hold themselves and their policies out as the solution. Most proclaim - as they do every four years - that this election will be the most important in the country's history. And, there are many doom-sayers predicting the complete collapse of the society, and a bleak future.

Where does the church stand in all of this? What does the Bible tell us about the rise and fall of nations and peoples? Check out what St. Paul says in Romans, chapter 9, especially verses 14 to 18, and I hope God's point of view becomes clear:

14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

The Declaration of Independence proclaims boldly, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the political bonds that have tied them….” Why did our forefathers believe it was necessary to break their political bonds with England? Injustice! Unfairness! Tyranny! And so, our country began its existence in pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

Yet it would seem that at this point in our history we have become somewhat misguided in our pursuit. We have sacrificed eternal life and spiritual liberty to pursue material happiness. We do not seem care if we have real justice as long as we are comfortable and entertained. We seem to care more about what the government should do for us, than what we can do for others and ourselves. Fairness seems unimportant as long as we get what we want and long as we can do what we want.

At the same time, when something does go wrong, then we clamor for justice and fairness. When a storm hits, or a drunk driver kills or injures a friend, or an illness strikes, or a mother kills her children, or we lose our job, then we cry out that it's just not fair. Why did God let this happen? How could a just and fair God let this happen?

First, we seem to forget the Bible's many examples of God’s mercy and compassion. Paul quotes here what God told Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” The fact is God showed a great deal of mercy toward one particular group of people – Israel. Indeed, God was merciful to the people of Israel long before He spoke to Moses. He gave Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the promise of the Savior and His many blessings. He protected them and made them into a great nation. Time and time again He rescued them from the injustice and disaster. Over and over again He showered them with his complete underserved love and kindness.

Perhaps some might look at God's actions with regard to Israel and declare Him unfair. They might complain about God choosing Jacob the younger over his twin brother Esau before he was born and declare that unjust. And they might consider God delivering the Israelites from Egypt and proclaim such as unfair. After all, why should God favor this one nation over all the others? But God’s fairness or justice is not our justice.

Such folks might forget that Egypt was powerful too, and had many advantages over the nations around them. Why? God tells us, “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” In other words God treated Egypt well for a very good reason – to move along His plan of salvation for the whole world! Egypt was raised to power because God was using them to take care of his people. God used Joseph to save Egypt from a great famine because He wanted to display His power and to set the stage for the building up of Israel four hundred years later.

Then, once Israel was ready to become a new nation, God maneuvered a new family of rulers into Egypt who opposed Him and made His people into his slaves. This would make the Israelites want to leave the Land of Goshen, and provide an excellent opportunity for God to show His power to the whole world down to this very day! He destroyed that Pharaoh and his army is the waters of the Red Sea. In this, God was more just and fair in dealing with Pharaoh than Pharaoh was in dealing with God and His people. God did not give Egypt what it truly deserved. He could have brought down fire and brimstone, totally destroying the land and its people as He did to Sodom and Gomorrah. But He did not. Egypt still existed after God’s people left their land. In fact, Egypt's greatest days were still of ahead of her, and God used Egypt many times again as He trained and disciplined Israel. The fact is – God was more than fair to Egypt. That's His kind of justice! And this is all for His Glory – and our salvation!

Now, what is just or unjust, fair or unfair, all depends on your point of view. And since God is in charge and we are only His creations, what He does is always just, whether we think so or not. The situation of Israel and Egypt illustrates the difference between God and man. God is the one in charge. God wants all people to be saved. Yet there are many different people and many different nations in the world. He wants all of them to hear the Gospel of Jesus. Still, the majority take advantage of God's patience and mercy. So sometimes God has enough rejection and rebellion and He sends or lets trouble strike. He brings down the proud and mighty for a time – like He did Egypt. He reminds mankind just who is in charge. But even then He does not punish as sinners deserve. He disciplines; He chastises; He cajoles; all with the hope that people will listen to His Word and believe His beautiful Gospel message.

This is His point to Paul – that He has a right to do what He wants with anyone and any nation. God has mercy on whom He decides to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wills to harden. And this truth too brings out the cry of injustice against the LORD. People question God’s ways and ask, “Why does God blame us? For who can resist His will?” But now Paul answers, "Who are you to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this? Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?"

Here Paul uses a common example of everyday life to explain why we really have very little right to question God. God is like a potter making pottery. The pot is nothing without the potter. In the same way God has the right to do with people as He sees fit. He is the Maker of all things – and this includes all people and all nations. He chooses who they are going to be, where they are going to live, what they are going to do, and how they will be used for His ultimate purpose of savings souls, hopefully, including theirs! And sometimes He even uses those who reject his Gospel to save those who will believe; using the damned to bring others faith and eternal life. Now, that might not seem fair, but if it's one of us who gains salvation – who are we to complain!?

Consider again the nation of Israel. God choose them and raised them up for one purpose and one purpose only – to bring the Messiah into the world, period! Because of this purpose, time and time again He had mercy on these stiff-necked and rebellious people, even when they least deserved it. Indeed, every time a little trouble came their way they whined and complained against God and His leaders. Still, He continued to help and deliver them. Even sending them into slavery again – this time in Babylon, was really good for them. After that they never again fell into idol-worship. He preserved them until Jesus came. Then, with their purpose fulfilled, they could continue on and serve God and the Gospel, or they could rebel and lose their nation for nearly two thousand years. We know how that turned out!

So now, when we think about Israel and Egypt, the Jews and Gentiles; our faith is strengthened and increased. We see God’s great power and mercy in controlling the lives of nations, large and small, weak and powerful. So also we believe God can help us through any trouble, big or little, important or minor. More importantly, we understand that God controls people and nations only for the purpose of bringing people into contact with the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Good News tells them the story of how God sent His Son into the world to satisfy His own divine justice.

All sinners deserved to be punished for eternity in hell, but God decided – quite unfairly – to save sinners. So His Son became a substitute for sinners. He lived as a man and yet did not sin. He suffered and died to pay the penalty sinners owed a just and righteous God. His Son became the object of His wrath so we could become the objects of His glory. Sinners became saints through faith in Jesus. Those headed to hell became heirs of heaven! Unfair? Sure! Great for us? Absolutely!

What usually happens when people see or feel some kind of injustice? Oh, they may put up with it for a while, but sooner or later they rebel. That's what happened when our nation was born. The leaders felt the taxes imposed on them from far-away England were unjust and unfair, among other grievances. So they rebelled and won our independence. However, in point of fact, they had been aided and protected from the Spanish, French, and many native America tribes for nearly two hundred years, and the powerful British navy guaranteed their commerce on the seas and completely destroyed the pirate threat from their waters. Some could say that rebellion was no way to say thank you! Ah, but fairness and justice is in the mind of those on the receiving end, eh?!

Today our leaders have set upon us much more burdensome taxes, and interfered in our lives much more than King George could ever have dreamed of doing! But even today many people don't oppose taxes that are for their benefit, or that only affect others. But let the tax be on them, and out comes the Tea Party!

So, where is justice? Where is fairness? Where is our God? And what's going to happen to our nation? As we enjoy another year of freedom, and endure another election cycle, let us all remember God's message to us through Paul. With God, there is no such thing as injustice, even for a moment. God is just and His justice is absolute, perfect, and final. It may take a while to play out. We may not always recognize it as perfect. But, be assured, as the Psalmist says, “God is in His heavens, He will not be moved!”

Of course we thank God that in His mercy, He has blessed our nation. We praise God that He is in control. We pray for our nation and rejoice that He hears our prayers. And most importantly, we thank Him more than anything else for His free and faithful grace that moved Him to send His Son to satisfy divine justice for us, and for working His will in the world in such a way that we would come to believe this wonderful truth for our eternal salvation. Truly, justice and glory belong not to any one nation or particular nation, but to God and Him alone – and we wouldn't want it any other way!

Pastor Spencer

4 comments:

Daniel Gorman said...

Pastor Spencer: "The Declaration of Independence proclaims boldly, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the political bonds that have tied them….” Why did our forefathers believe it was necessary to break their political bonds with England? Injustice! Unfairness! Tyranny! And so, our country began its existence in pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness."

Contrary to the blasphemous doctrine of the Declaration of Independence, men are not endowed by their Creator with a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Natural man is under sentence of death, he is enslaved to Satan, and he pursues only misery.

Contrary to the blasphemous doctrine of the Declaration of Independence, men do not have a right to rebel against the government. The powers that be are ordained by God.

Pastor Spencer: "What usually happens when people see or feel some kind of injustice? Oh, they may put up with it for a while, but sooner or later they rebel. That's what happened when our nation was born. The leaders felt the taxes imposed on them from far-away England were unjust and unfair, among other grievances. So they rebelled and won our independence."

No! King George rebelled. By the time of the American Revolution, the British monarch had been reduced to serving at the pleasure of Parliament. The king could not legally assert more authority in the colonies that he did in England. As the Continental Congress correctly opined in 1774, the colonists retained all of their rights as represented in their provincial legislatures:

"That their ancestors, at the time of their migration, were entitled to all the rights, liberties, and immunities, of free and natural born subjects; and that by such emigration, they neither forfeited, surrendered, nor lost, any of those rights. They then state, that the foundation of English liberty, and of all free government, is a right in the people to participate in their legislative council; and proceed to shew, that as the colonists are not, and, from various causes, cannot be represented in the British parliament, they are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures, where their right of representation can alone be preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal policy, subject only to the negative of their sovereign, in such manner as had been heretofore used and accustomed."

As was the case in England with the British Parliament, the king served at the pleasure of the colonial legislatures. When the king grossly abused his office, the American colonies removed their king and elected not to replace him. The colonies did not overthrow an existing government. They were the existing government.

vdma said...

All men are endowed by their Creator with the right to life. Please see Exodus 20:13 which says, "You shall not murder." The rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness can also be found in the other ten commandments. In America, rights are liberties that cannot be taken away without due process of law. They are negative in the sense that they restrict us in what we can do to others.

Unfortunately, many today have changed the meaning of "rights" from something that the government should not interfere with, into something that the government must provide. For example, the right to health care used to mean that the government could not interfere with our obtaining health care; but now for many, it means that the government must interfere by providing healthcare.

I wrote about this on the eve of Obama's election to the U.S. Presidency:
http://vdma.wordpress.com/2008/11/03/obama-the-us-constitution/

The Declaration of Independence is not making a positive religious statement that man is entitled to eternal life, but only negatively that other men are not allowed to take his life from him. Instead of providing freedom, it is a charter that protects freedom (understanding that true freedom comes from the Creator, not the government).

Rick Techlin

Daniel Gorman said...

Rick Techlin: "The Declaration of Independence is not making a positive religious statement that man is entitled to eternal life, but only negatively that other men are not allowed to take his life from him."

How is "all men . . . are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" not a positive religious statement that man is entitled to life? If the Declaration of Independence was merely echoing the Ten Commandments, it is would read negatively, "The Creator condemns the taking of life by men."

Rick Techlin: "Instead of providing freedom, it is a charter that protects freedom (understanding that true freedom comes from the Creator, not the government)."

The Declaration of Independence does not provide freedom. It condemns men to hell who believe they may rebel against powers ordained by God (Romans 13:2).

PCXIAN said...

Well written article. Thanks.

P.C.Christian

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