Leave it to old Isaiah to stab the bull’s eye with his arrow of truth. The Hebrew prophet lived thousands of years ago. He spent his life passing God’s messages to a chosen, but disobedient, people. His description of the surrounding social climate casts a long forward shadow, echoed around you and me today.
“So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey” (Isa.59:14-15 NIV).
Old Testament prophets, above all else, were truth-tellers. Plain speakers. Odd birds, even in their own times. Often hated and maligned, they nevertheless ploughed forward, God’s words on their tongues, fire in their bellies, rejection dogging their heels.
Some people listened. Others ignored the prophets as crazies, just as today’s culture ignores God’s truth-speakers. (I understand that. Although I believe prophets exist today, so many false prophets have spouted equally false prophecies through every means possible, it’s no wonder people’s eyes glaze over at the mention of prophecy.)
But Isaiah? The truth-teller? We must listen to him. It burns that his description of the behaviour of God’s chosen people mirrored the behaviour of those who follow other religions—or none at all. What was true in Isaiah’s time remains true. Jesus confirmed that in Matthew 13:12. “To whoever has, more will be given in abundance, but whoever doesn’t have, even the little he has will be taken away.”
When followers of Christ show no interest in justice, injustice follows. When those who claim to have the light of God within have only scant or no interest in living uprightly, or in finding or proclaiming truth (no matter how uncomfortable) those gifts will also be denied us. How rapidly people bold enough to take firm stands against wrong thinking and evil doing become targets. Slandered. Maligned. Unfriended. Cancelled. Denied a voice, a platform.
The fallout of neglecting God’s principles resonates through any culture. When the lights go out, darkness takes over. Nighttime cavorting is fun at first—until the merry-go-round won’t stop and nausea sets in.
But there’s a sunny side. God offers hope. “If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people, and if My people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land 2 Chronicles 7:13,14.”
God knew about times like these. He can and does equip his Church for times like these. The tide of social destruction can turn—if we lean hard on Christ and buckle down to the hard work humility requires. Praying. Seeking. Turning. It’s our only hope, but there’s none better.