Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. (Isaiah 51:1 ESV)
It is sometimes wise to look behind you. So God invited Israel to look behind them and recall the rock from which they were hewn, Abraham. God did not chose Abraham because he was the most spiritual, the strongest, the richest, or the best looking chap available. Abraham was one simple man when God called him. He answered the call and God blessed. God multiplied. God guided. Israel needed desperately to recall that her most glorious day of prosperity rested not on her greatness but on God’s grace.
It would be wise for us to look behind us and remember the rock from which we were hewn. Our founders did not come in a mighty armada filled with soldiers but in random ships filled with pilgrims. They were seeking a place to worship freely and escape the harassment of the state. Surely others came for reasons that were not good, but it was those with moral backbone who laid the foundation for the grand prosperity that followed. It would be good for a nation to remember the rock from which it was hewn.
My mother was a gentle soul who probably never killed a fly without a measure of grief. She and my Dad would listen to Walter Cronkite relate some horror story and Dad would say something like, “The man deserves to be….” You may fill in the blank. Dad could think of several different things to do to people who committed unspeakable acts of violence. My mother would simply respond with words she heard in another place and adopted as her own. “There but for the grace of God go I.”
You would have to have known my mother to realize what an amazing statement that is. I only recall her getting angry with two things, a snake and me. At the time there was not a whole lot of difference between the two, so it was justifiable anger. Yet she truly believed that without the grace of God she was quite capable of the horrors that we see rolling through our culture with alarming and increasing speed. And this is the thing, she was right.
A young man hardly out of his pimples sits in a church for an hour of prayer meeting then rises to destroy life. He aimed to destroy not just the lives of those who now lay dead, but the lives of all who loved them and the lives of all he hoped to rally to a race war and, in fact, he was out to destroy life itself. With no foundation, he was swept away in a hatred that he probably couldn’t spell, let alone define. And my mother said that without God’s grace she was capable of the same thing. But she had that foundation and she believed that it had saved her reckless soul.
If the magnitude of this young man’s crime ever breaks with full force on his soul, it will destroy him for there is no foundation to uphold him. He had no foundation to prevent him and God’s grace alone can provide one for him now. What I lack words to describe, this man’s deed proves, beyond doubt, how important the foundation is.
I have quietly but persistently given thanks to God for the foundation that was hammered into my reluctant soul by Harold and Justine Young, by Sunday School teachers too numerous to remember, and by preachers who sweated through summer Sundays in order to make my soul sweat a little. That foundation did not save my soul for heaven but it sure went a long way to scare me out of hell. That foundation kept me from enough hell on earth that I lived long enough to hear and believe the Gospel that could and did save my soul for heaven.
And it is that foundation which is daily undermined by a thoughtless nation and increasingly by the very government of the nation itself. Oh, what a look back might teach us! We have become like the fool who, having climbed on the roof, kicked the ladder away and said, “Who needs that old thing now?” But that old thing has been around longer than this nation, indeed, longer than all the nations. That old thing is God’s moral law and it cannot be abridged without frightening consequences.
The fall from the roof will be hard. Don’t throw your ladders away. If you read this and you have no foundation, I refer you to John 3:16. It is high time you got started.
For what a Savior he is!