Friday, November 29, 2013

Trivial Pursuit

We hear songs of praise from the ends of the earth, songs that give glory to the Righteous One!  But my heart is heavy with grief.  Weep for me, for I wither away.  Deceit still prevails, and treachery is everywhere.  Terror and traps and snares will be your lot, you people of the earth.  Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap, and those who escape the trap will be caught in a snare.  Destruction falls like rain from the heavens; the foundations of the earth shake.   Isaiah 24:16 - 18 (NLT)

Seek the LORD while you can find him.  Call on him now while he is near.  Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong.  Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them.  Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.   Isaiah 55:6 - 7 (NLT)
Isaiah’s time was a dichotomy – cash flow was great, and judgment was on the horizon.  Israel just didn’t see it coming.  The sacrifices at Temple were regular; business went on as usual – life was good!  But, in the wings (Isaiah saw) the Lord was about to bring calamity on the land.  Isaiah was withering away from continual fasting and prayer in grief over the spiritual condition of his people.

Isaiah saw the nation as engaged in a never-ending game of Trivial Pursuit™.  If you’ve never played the board game, the rules are simple – move around the board by correctly answering questions of little known “trivial” issues, and claim your prize – which is to take a stab at the next question – hot pursuit of the trivial.  Pedal that treadmill!

That was Israel – pursuing every trivial side issue and neglecting God.

That is America – playing with iphones, ipads and 401K’s – God is certainly on our side.  I don’t think we see what’s coming any more than ancient Israel did.
What’s Coming?
I’m not a prophet, but the words of Scripture help us see ourselves clearly.  We may not be able to predict when or exactly how, but Western civilization is in for a huge awakening.  Like ancient Israel, for us, it may take Iran’s nukes to wake up.  The cauldron of judgment has been boiling for decades – someday it will spill all over our land.

The issue is sacrifice; more appropriately, the issue is a lack of sacrificial spirit.  In Israel the sacrifices of animals at Temple went on until the blood flowed neck-high.  But the hearts of the people were like stone towards God.  

If their hearts were like stone, American hearts are like tempered titanium.  How far have we fallen?  A refresher course on the 10 Commandments from Exodus 20:
no other gods.  
no graven images.  
no taking the Lord’s name in vain.
keep the sabbath day holy.
honor father and thy mother.
no killing. no adultery.
no stealing.
no false witness against neighbors.
no coveting (greed).
Billy Graham recently said this about American culture:
The wickedness is unbelievable.  I turn on the news late at night and it seems to be nothing but murders, robberies and all kinds of things.  Our morals are so terrible today, and part of that is due to television and our means of communication and the media…through the drinking, the drugs, and all the different things that are manifested in an outgrowth of what’s in a man’s heart.[i]
Thought for today
As has been often said:  If God doesn’t punish America, He’s going to have to apologize to an awful lot of people, including Sodom and Gomorrah, Judas and a whole bunch of Philistines. 
We need to cease our trivial pursuits and turn to turn to Him while there’s still time.

[i] Billy Graham, Decision Magazine, (The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Charlotte, NC) December 2013

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