I will punish the world for its evil,
and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. (Isaiah 13:11)
In Isaiah 13, the prophet is addressing the faithful remnant of Israel (and all who suffer persecution) with harsh words about their persecutors.
Where is the Good News here?
The good news is that as pervasive as evil has become, it will not endure. The reign of those who are wantonly wicked will come to an end on the day of the LORD.
Do you believe this?
There is a prevalent presumption in popular culture that there is a “divine spark” in all things, that there is good in everyone.
One of my virtual friends expressed this notion well when he said, “Even Hitler loved his dog.”
I don’t deny that all things were created good and that everyone is made in the image of God. Further, I would say we shouldn’t “give up” on anyone or conclude that someone is beyond the grace of God.
But wickedness and evil are extremely powerful and harsh realities in our world and we can’t dismiss them with positive thinking or self-esteem therapy. We need to hear and heed God’s warnings about wickedness in our own lives and share them with others.
I often hear people quote (out of context) the words of Jesus, “Don’t judge, lest ye be judged.) Or, they may even refer to his word picture about having a log in your own eye and trying to remove a splinter out of another’s eye. People conclude that we are to withhold all judgment, to be spiritually laissez-faire – “I’m okay; you’re okay.”
But Jesus doesn’t say to leave the logs and the splinters in your eyes so you can all be spiritually blind.
First, he says, take the log out of your own eye – address your own sin. Then, deal with the splinters in the eyes of others.
We are in desperate need of this Gospel today – especially in the area of sexual sin.
When I was unfaithful to my wife – at first I was in denial. But, when I was convicted by the Spirit of my sin, I confessed it and repented. I did it personally with my wife, as well as publicly (in the best way I could).
Many people (well-meaning friends and family) advised me – “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” What they were really saying, of course, is “Don’t take the log out of your eye or else you might see my splinter.”
We want forgiveness for things we refuse to confess. We want mercy at no cost. Our prayer should not simply be “Lord, have mercy.” But, “Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
image above “Meissonier, Jean-Louis-Ernest – Prophet Isaiah (c. 1838)” from Jason Urso in A Little Bit of Everything That I Love