That in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.(Ephesians 2:7)
In Ephesians 2, Paul vividly describes our wretched condition apart from Christ. Besides being “dead in the trespasses and sins”(verse 1) in which we lives, Paul says we followed the ways of this world (verse 2)-that is, of the ungodly society around us. We even followed the devil, whom Paul calls “the prince of the power of the air”(verse 2). Perhaps it was not by a conscious, deliberate choice that we followed the devil, but we did so because we were under his power and dominion(Acts 26:18, Colossians 1:13). We were actually servants of the archenemy of God.
Further, Paul says we spent our days gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature, following its desires and thoughts(Ephesians 2:3). We lived for ourselves-our ambitions, our desires, our pleasures.
Paul concludes this description of our unsaved state by saying we were “by nature” objects of God’s wrath (verse 3). We must not lose sight of the fact that God’s wrath is very real and very justified. We’ve all sinned incessantly against a holy, righteous God. We have rebelled willfully against His commands, defied His moral law, and acted in total defiance of His known will for us. Because of these actions, we were justly objects of His wrath.
Why dwell so extensively upon our sinful condition? In order to help us see the depths of God’s love! For in giving His son to die for such a people as Paul has described us to be, God bestows what is otherwise inconceivable: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”(verses 4-6)
As we consider all the things happening in our world, the question that comes to mind is this: How can people be so evil and how did we come to this place where we see so much sinfulness? Jesus in Matthew 24 tells us that in the last days wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes, nations against nations, people will hate and betray one another, many will be offended with Christ and Christians, false prophets will arise and lawlessness will be rampant. I believe we are in those days. Jesus goes on to say that as it was in the days of Noah before the flood when people had given themselves to eating and drinking, marrying and living life without a clue of what was coming, so will it be before He comes. He further says that a tribulation is coming of judgement that were it not shortened no human would survive. Finally He says that no one, not even the angels nor Himself knows the time of His coming.
There is one hope for humanity. There is one hope for our nation. That hope is Christ alone. Unless and until we as a people recognize and acknowledge our sins we are doomed to reaping the consequences of our actions. For us as a nation, we have largely rejected the lordship of Christ. We reject the idea that the Ten Commandments should have a prominent place or that Judeo/Christian values should be the basis for how we live and function. We have even as the church largely ignored the holiness of God and exaggerated the love of God to the point that we can live any old way and still be accepted by God. Paul reminds us of the extreme cost through which our salvation was purchased. We have decided that any correction or any calling to renounce sin is judging. We shy away from the idea that sinful people are subject to the wrath of God and yet we feel that those who harm or abuse others should be subject to judgement. Why then can a God who loves us so much that He gives His Son and pays such a price for us also subject humanity to judgement and wrath? First and foremost we must know that everything God does, He does out of love. There is no perception found in the Bible that indicates God is happy when He judges humans. We find in the Garden of Eden, that judgement is accompanied by mercy. We read that before the flood Noah preached for 120 years but was ignored. And Jesus says before His coming the gospel will be preached throughout the world. We know that Satan plays a part in moving humans to incur the wrath of God so that God may be seen as cruel and vindictive. When the Israelites were coming into the land of Canaan, the king of Moab hired Balaam to invoke a curse on them. Because God was protecting them, no curse could be effective so Balaam taught the king of Moab how to get the Israelites to place themselves under the judgement of God. They enticed them to participate in worship to the god Baal thereby incurring the wrath of God who had said, “Thou shall have no other god before me.” Satan has not changed his strategy. He cannot destroy humanity so he entices humans to destroy themselves or to so offend God that they place themselves under the judgement of God. This is what happens during Tribulation when the whole world worships the Antichrist, the false prophet and the beast.
Ecclesiastes 10:8 says, “…. break a hedge and the serpent will bite you”. In the Middle East, homes are fenced with hedges of thorn bushes. These are designed to keep snakes, especially cobras from entering the home and biting the inhabitants. If the hedge is broken, the snakes are free to bring their destruction. We as sinners are subject to destruction. Left to ourselves, and history records this, we would soon destroy ourselves. In addition to us destroying ourselves is Satan who delights in destroying anything that God has created, especially the humans that God loves. Whenever a person or nation rejects God, they also give up His protection and the serpent quickly moves in.
I believe the increasing evil we are experiencing in our nation is due to the fact that we have broken the hedge of protection. Psalm 91 says:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!” For He will save you from the trap of the fowler, And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions, And under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a wall. You will not be afraid of the terror of night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Nor of the destruction (sudden death) that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, But danger will not come near you. You will only [be a spectator as you] look on with your eyes And witness the [divine] repayment of the wicked [as you watch safely from the shelter of the Most High]. Because you have made the Lord, [who is] my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will command His angels in regard to you, To protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service]. They will lift you up in their hands, So that you do not [even] strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and cobra; The young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. “Because he set his love on Me, therefore I will save him; I will set him [securely] on high, because he knows My name [he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no, never]. “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. “With a long life I will satisfy him And I will let him see My salvation.”
This is our only hope. May God give us grace and may it begin with the church to run to God, fall on our face before Him, repent of our many sins, place ourselves under Him and His law, cry out for mercy. That and that alone may stay the hand of judgement. Otherwise should we continue our course, the end will be destruction. I do not mean to cause us to lose hope but I want to convey the seriousness of this hour in which we live. I want to emphasize that we cannot put our trust in anything human, whether politics or ingenuity or round table discussions and the like. Let us instead find a closet and cry out to God and perhaps we will once again be given grace and judgement will be postponed. I hope this is the course we choose.
I leave you with the promise of God in this matter:
“If I shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence and plague among My people, and My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:13-14
Will you join me in this?
Dr. John Thompson