In the wake of cruise missile strikes in response to Sarin gas attacks in Syria, the U.S. dropping the largest conventional weapon in history on an ISIS target, and U.S. warships sailing toward North Korea, internet searches for World War 3 on Google have reached an all time high. Other people, especially those who believe this show of strength will deter aggression from other nations, show considerably less concern.
Such news though, when combined with an awareness of various armed conflicts and economic troubles around the world, cannot be dismissed as inconsequential. As one would expect after witnessing our contentious presidential election, Americans disagree about the best way to avoid war. However, a majority of Americans probably do agree that our leaders’ actions will be the primary, if not sole, reason for the fate we encounter.
Isn’t it ironic? While many Christians in America look to politicians to save them from the woeful state our nation is in, their leader’s proposed solutions don’t impress God.
Dumb Dogs Unable to Bark
Israel’s leaders failed the people. Described as greedy dreamers who sought unjust gain, they were blind to the real source of Israel’s problems and therefore unable to alert the nation, let alone lead them to safety (Isaiah 56:10).
Despite a deepening awareness of the failings of our current day leaders to solve our nation’s problems, many people, instead of turning to God, merely placed their trust in a different kind of leader. Having rejected the status quo of Washington elites, populist candidates gained great support.
Collectively, we didn’t really turn to leaders per se. We turned to people who convinced us they would appease our idols so that everyone would benefit, not just the elite. Whether we worshipped at the altar of free markets or big government, military might or progressive dreams of global cooperation, candidates stood ready to lead us to the Promised Land.
But, just like in Isaiah’s day, our undiscerning leaders are dumb dogs unable to bark.
Let Your Collection of Idols Save You
It’s not just our political leaders who have failed us. Some of our religious leaders have as well. But like their political counterparts, they merely tell people what they want to hear.
If we want to justify our sexual sin, we can find a church to accommodate us. If we want to substitute subjective truth for God-revealed truth we can find a church for that. If we are unwilling to lose our life for Jesus’ sake, we can find a church that teaches we can serve both God and money and gain the whole world without losing our soul because God’s main job is to shower us with prosperity. Too often, we want to live contrary to God’s revealed will yet convince ourselves we remain in his favor.
On a national level, America’s political, military and economic interests supersede God’s interests in the minds of many Christians. How many of us would rather sit through a patriotic Fourth of July church service than listen to a sermon confronting our pursuit of personal wealth and security with little regard to how American policy affects the poor of the earth?
Whom or what do we fear? Do we seek to please God or to protect our idols?
Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me,
and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart?
Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me?
I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you.
When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you!
The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away.
But whoever takes refuge in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain. – Isaiah 57:11-13
No Peace for the Wicked
Outward appearances matter little to God. Christians who only worship God in a manner that cannot intrude on their desires and pleasures (Isaiah 58:3) reveal the same hypocrisy and deadness of soul of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:27).
How strange the following words of Jesus sound to human ears, sometimes even to the ears of Christians living in our affluent, comfort-seeking, security-obsessed culture:
The last will be first, and the first will be last (Matthew 20:16).
Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Mathew 23:12).
Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for life eternal (John 12:25).
Trust in God and rejection of self-promotion, self-sufficiency and self-gratification results in our ultimate good. When we do things God’s way, we loosen the bonds of wickedness we have slapped on our fellow-man. We divide our bread with the hungry, share our homes with the homeless and cover the naked. It is then that our light breaks out like the dawn. It is then that our righteousness goes before us and the Lord answers our call (Isaiah 58:2-10).
America’s leaders, its institutions and its form of government can harm us or serve us. To place our trust in them and forget God and his ways is foolish. Our collection of idols cannot save us.
As international tensions mount and economies falter, many people fear our world is falling apart. Uncertainty and strife raise anxiety levels for both believers and unbelievers. But, Christians find the answer to fear and worry written throughout the pages of the Bible.
There is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 57:21), but there is refuge in our God (Isaiah 57:13).