Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ranting and Rejoicing

Today I woke up singing, but when I read Isaiah, my tune became a rant. Isaiah talks about the people of the world who ignore God, who will eventually go down in disgrace for their idol worship and ignorance of God and goodness.

In chapter 45, God says, “I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. . . . There is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me.”

The morning newspaper is full of bad news. People committing crime, loss of life, conflicts on small and large scales, accidents, disasters. We’ve had two more fires in our city, not yet declared arson, but I would not be surprised. There is no end of calamity. Today is the anniversary of that one that will never leave our hearts. How many people remember those towers going down and still ask, “Where is God?”

At supper we talked about a close to home frustrating experience of telling someone something and they don’t listen, then come back at you for not telling them. My husband said that in the safety department of the workplace, everyone must be warned of any dangerous possibilities, but not only that, the employer must verify that the warning was heard and understood by every person. Otherwise, if an accident happens, someone can bring a lawsuit against them by claiming they were not warned or the warning was not clear. In other words, if I trip coming down a ladder, I can sue someone for not telling me that ladders are dangerous, or not explaining it clearly enough.

There are a few who go against the current trend of irresponsibility. I watched a television show last night (fiction, mind you), where a religious man had to decide between loyalty to another of his faith who was accused of a crime, or truth and justice. He chose justice, but the other man and his own people cursed him. Those prejudiced against him and his faith bombed his place of worship and called him a terrorist. Not much of a reward for being truthful and desiring righteousness!

Inside me is a strong desire for truth and justice. I cheered when the religious man picked it even though his faith is not the same as mine. Yet I look at the world we live in and am often very dismayed and discouraged. Not only do we have all sorts of bad news making headlines, we have all sorts of self-seeking, dishonest people with too much clout over those who do their best to do things right.

I am at home, not out in that workplace, and frankly, I don’t know if I could do it. I’ve a friend who can barely cope with the backstabbing and petty things that happen in her office. I can barely listen to her descriptions. My heart cries for righteousness, and if not that, just that people would be polite and decent toward one another.

As I continue reading Isaiah 45, my song starts to come back. The music begins with God’s invitation in verse 22: “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”

God does not limit the scope of His saving power. It is for all the ends of the earth. He is God, Lord over all, sovereign and powerful. He can save “whosoever will” look to Him. There is hope, if only people will look to God.

Verses 23-25 are joyful assurances that God can make that happen. He says, “I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath. He shall say, ‘Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, and all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him. In the LORD all the descendants of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory.’

I’m reminded of Psalm 2. No matter how much or how many resist God and goodness, God has the bottom line. This entire psalm simply sings away my rant.

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.”

“I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

Amen!

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