The Foundations Are Trembling

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!

Speaking of Which

If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?  Psalm 11:3

The foundations of society are trembling under the weight of man’s folly and sin, not in one place but in all places.  Have you considered just how foundational language is?

For all our talk about wanting a little peace and quiet, it is after all just talk. Imagine not being able to tell your wife how beautiful she is or to ask her where on earth has she hidden your underwear this time!  Imagine not being able to fuss or to say, “Told you so!” What if we opened our mouths tomorrow morning and nothing but gibberish came out?  And we thought we asked for bacon and eggs, but instead they hand us a plate of gibberish!  What happens when people are “speaking of which” and we don’t know which is which?  Language is as fundamental as it gets.

But the foundations are trembling.  A man is no longer necessarily a man nor is a woman of a certainty a woman.  And if the forces among us have their way, the word ‘marriage’ will soon mean almost anything.  The enemy is shaking the very roots of civilization.  For if we cannot know what words mean, we are truly lost. We are but a breath away from Isaiah 5:20.  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”  That was the very condition, looking at goodness and calling it evil, of which Jesus warned some men long ago.  You may read the story in Mark 3:22-30.  The were looking at Jesus and said he was a devil.  There is a line that must not be crossed no matter the cost.

So when the foundations tremble what can the righteous do?  One thing we can do is to keep our heads clear and our noses clean.  We will need every faculty we have in good trim for the days that are before us.  But the other thing is in the very psalm which seemed to fret over the trembling foundations.  For the next verse, Psalm 11:4, says, “The LORD is in his holy temple.”  God isn’t trembling, the foundations are.  Be found in him.

John 3:16.  What a Savior!

Turning Heads

So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.  2 Corinthians 2:11

Paul lived in the awareness that Satan’s desire was, by whatever means, to turn Paul’s head in any direction but the one God desired.  Paul was equally aware that Satan desired to do the same to us.  Paul was not ignorant of Satan’s ways because Paul was not ignorant of the Scriptures.  As we study God’s word, we too will become knowledgeable of how Satan manages to keep turning heads.

Genesis 3:1 – He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?”  First he suggested that God said more than he actually said.  And with that suggestion, Satan sowed a seed of doubt.  If God will deny you something, isn’t it possible that he will deny you everything?  But Proverbs 30:11 says, “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.”  Eve remembered what God actually said.  Yet Satan will accept a small defeat if it lays the groundwork for a greater victory.

Genesis 3:4 – But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.”  Since she knew what God had actually said, then he suggested that God did not actually mean what he actually said.  No doubt there are portions of Scripture that are hard to understand, but ‘you shall surely die’ is not one of them.   In fact, the father of lies is calling the Father of truth a liar.  We could only wish that Eve and every living thing in the garden had broken down in spontaneous and uncontrollable laughter.  Or that Eve had said something like Psalm 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.  But before anything could happen, Satan fired his third volley.

Genesis 3:5 – For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.  Finally, Satan suggested that the reason God lied to them was to protect his divinity and to deny theirs.  It is almost too breathtaking to grasp.  Does anyone believe that God needs to protect his divinity?  Really?  God is scared of something?  And yet, as big as the lie had become, Satan succeeded in turning Eve’s head from the God who was all she ever needed to the tree that suddenly appeared to be all that she ever wanted.

Do not be ignorant of his designs.

What a Savior!  John 3:16