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Righteous Living in a Doomed Nation, Part 9


waiting_on_god

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. Romans 14:8

Be Loyal
Over the years, I have used a number of devotionals for my morning quiet time, devotionals written by giants of the faith like Charles Spurgeon, Mrs. Charles Cowman, Billy Graham, and Henry Blackaby. The devotional which I keep returning to again and again, however, is Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. For more than 25 years, I have read and re-read (in both the classic and updated versions) the words of this dear saint – words faithfully recorded by his wife, Biddy, and published after his death.

On the one hand, Chambers’ words wound me: I am frequently reminded of my lack of “abandonment” to the Lord and all the ways in which I sabotage my own spiritual walk through self-centeredness and short-sightedness. On the other hand, his words create in me a longing to experience what he did: a spiritual life deeper and richer than anything I have known thus far.

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Righteous Living in a Doomed Nation, Part 8


waiting_on_god

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land. Psalm 37:7-9

Fleeing Spiritual Bankruptcy
In this series thus far, we have considered six answers to the dilemma expressed in Psalm 11:3. When the godly foundations of a nation have been destroyed, what is the role of the righteous? How are they to live a holy life in the midst of a degenerate culture where vileness is exalted? This week, we will examine the seventh, and last, answer: we are to wait upon the Lord.

Waiting upon the Lord is a much different proposition than what is now being promoted by some in the Christian community who argue that America is lost, so it’s time for us to go into survival mode and wait for the end to come. They argue that we need to quit wasting our time fighting a losing battle and, instead, concentrate on saving ourselves and our family members while leaving the rest to suffer the ill effects of life in a dying culture.

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Righteous Living in a Doomed Nation, Part 7


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Fresco ( 12th century, restored 1896-1903 ) showing the biblical prophet Habkkuk with quotation: "The righteous will live by his faith"( Hab 2:4 ) (Wolfgang Sauber/Wikipedia Commons)

[The] righteous shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4b

Our One Responsibility
There is an old adage which says, “Don’t ask a question if you don’t want to know the answer”—a phrase which, in hindsight, might very well apply to the prophet Habakkuk when he queried God. After lamenting over the injustice and wrongful suffering, the destruction and violence, and the strife and conflict tearing apart the fabric of his nation, Habakkuk wondered how long God was going to remain idle before stepping in to set things right (Habakkuk 1:3-4).

While Habakkuk knew Judah deserved to be punished for violating the covenant requirements, he was nevertheless stunned to learn just how severe that punishment would be. For God informed Habakkuk that He would one day raise up an even more evil nation (Babylon) to crush Judah—an answer which left Habakkuk reeling as he tried to comprehend how a holy God—one who is “of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong”—could contemplate such an action against His own people (1:13).

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Righteous Living in a Doomed Nation, Part 6


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Loving like Jesus
Last week, we turned to Jesus for the fourth answer to the question found in Psalm 11:3 (If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?) as we examined what it means to lament for our nation. This week, we turn to Jesus and Paul to discover our fifth guideline: to love and bear reproach when the world hates us.

I must admit that when I taught the Sunday school lesson upon which this series is based, my fifth answer was limited to the loving part. I said that a righteous person living in a doomed nation needs to love like Jesus. After all, Jesus gave us this “new commandment” the night before He was crucified, and He stated that our ability to love people would be the mark of His disciples (John 13:34-35). Love is foundational to who we are and how we conduct ourselves; and love motivates us to endure when the world is against us (1 Peter 3:14). But upon further reflection, I realized that the two principles—loving and bearing reproach—should stand together.

 

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Righteous Living in a Doomed Nation, Part 5


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“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate.” Matthew 23:37-38

A Lament for His Nation
Jesus was a righteous man who lived in a doomed nation. Less than four decades after He uttered the above words, Judah would be destroyed by the Romans. And Jesus, as the God Man, knew it was going to happen.

Considering the purpose of this series, we now look to Jesus to give us our fourth answer to the Psalm 11:3 question: If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? Answer: We need to lament like Jesus.

What is a lament? It’s a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. It means to mourn deeply (and often audibly); to express sorrow, regret, or unhappiness about something. The Bible contains many passages of lament, such as the “How long?” psalms (e.g. Psalm 6, 13, 82, and 94), and a book devoted to the subject—Lamentations, in which Jeremiah mourns for Judah after she fell to the Babylonians in 586 bc.

While laments are often addressed to God by grieving human beings, Jesus’ lament in Matthew 23 is unique: it’s God sorrow over His unrepentant nation, including the prophecy of her coming destruction. Using a literary device called a synecdoche in which a part stands for the whole (Jerusalem for Judah), Jesus addresses the nation as her founding Lord and would-be protector: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”

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Righteous Living in a Doomed Nation, Part 4

Fight the Good Fight



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Fight the good fight of the faith. 1 Timothy 6:12a

[The writer of Psalm 11:3 posed this question:  If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? This series offers seven answers to that question. This week, we’ll look at the third:  Fight the Good Fight.]

No Hiding Allowed
In his dystopian novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley depicted a population kept perpetually “happy” through the profligate consumption of a drug called soma. Feel sad? Take soma. Feel alone? Take soma.  Feel dissatisfied with life for whatever reason (or no reason) at all? Take soma. We remember, of course, that it was all a lie: soma could temporarily dull the pain of being human, but it could not sate the inner longing behind that pain. Soma could kill the body, but it could not produce true or lasting happiness—no matter how often or how loudly the lie was repeated by the state’s propagandists.

Huxley’s nightmarish vision of the future was built on a simple fact about human nature: some of us will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid what is painful and difficult in life.  Rather than face reality, we will seek an escape—no matter how destructive in the long run.

 

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