“The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance,  broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5)

We are living in a godless society: there  is no respect paid to the Creator, our  heavenly Father, His Son or His Word.  It is small wonder that we see chaos on every hand,  politically, socially and economically. We see high  levels of crime, of suicide, rampant substance  abuse, unprecedented divorce and family breakup,  promiscuity among the young and couples often  choosing to ‘live in sin’ rather than be married and,  even worse, same-sex marriage. The influence of  Christianity and the Bible is virtually non-existent  today, and many who once made a stand have been  swept up in the tide of immorality and forgotten  that God and His laws do not change and that  the so-called new morality is, in reality, only old  immorality. Such is the darkness, the ignorance of  this so-called ‘enlightened’ tech-savvy world we  live in.

The last days

Besides the citation at the head of this editorial (and  the whole of Isaiah 24 should be read in conjunction  with the Olivet Prophecy in Luke 21:24–36, for the  Lord’s words are largely founded on this chapter),  Isaiah the prophet declares that “darkness shall  cover the earth, and gross darkness the people”  (60:2). This grim, horrific state of the world is  nonetheless set in words of hope, words that speak  of transformation, of renewal that will follow the  blackest era of human history. The preceding words  addressed to Zion are, “Arise, shine; for thy light is  come, and the glory of Yahweh is risen upon thee”  (v1), and the words that immediately follow are,  “but Yahweh shall arise upon thee, and his glory  shall be seen upon thee” (v2).

Mockers and minimal response

The recent foolish prediction of the “Rapture” by  Harold Camping and his followers provoked a  hail of letters to the Adelaide Advertiser (21.5.11).  If only Jesus’ words that no man knows the day  nor the hour of his coming were heeded, the Bible  would be spared the ridicule. Of course what  was expected did not eventuate. Sarcastically the  president of the Atheist Foundation “wished all  Christian folk a happy Rapture for today”, while  others mocking branded the Bible a book of fables,  and questioned what relevance a book written 2000  years ago should have today. Scorners regularly  outnumber those who uphold Scripture, and what  they ironically do not understand is that they  unwittingly are fulfilling prophecy: “there shall  come in the last days scoffers, walking after their  own lusts” (2 Pet 3:3).

This prevailing ungodliness is evident in the  response to our preaching. It is rare to have visitors  of Australian origin. Interest is minimal. If biblical  subjects are raised in conversation we are heard with  pained silence; and one gets the impression that the  other party can’t wait for the subject to change! Any  interest shown in the Bible is almost confined to  ‘Christian’ folk of south east Asian origin.

So we live in a godless, unheeding world where  the Creator has been divorced from His creation and  smug atheists have become aggressive and loud in  their opposition to the Truth and the Bible. Our Lord  also foretold such a state of affairs when he said,  “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall  he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

The challenge

We must not wilt under this barrage against the  Bible, its Author and its message. We may feel  that our efforts are in vain but it was no different in  Noah’s day and, other than his family, that preacher  of righteousness made no converts, condemned  the world by preparing the ark, and became the  heir of the righteousness which is by faith. We  are God’s witnesses today and we must not be  ‘dumbed down’ by the prevailing ungodliness.  Our Lord warned us that the last days would be  like Noah’s, with society godless and preoccupied with materialism and carnal pursuits. We live in the  darkness that precedes the dawn of a new day when  the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in  his beams. And look at that greatest witness, the  nation of Israel, being constantly the focus of the  attention of the world for over 60 years. The Jews  have returned to their ancient homeland in exact  accord with the Word of God. They have revived  their ancient tongue, survived hostilities on every  side, prospered economically, yet are in unbelief  of the Messiahship of Jesus. Is this all an accident,  one big fluke, the result of chance? I think not. The  divine purpose with them is ‘on track’: the angels  have been, and are busy. We can plainly see the  hand of God behind this most remarkable miracle  of our times. The Word of God has been vindicated  and we can see that the Lord is at hand. We must  prepare to meet our God.

The sin of the world

The relevance of Jesus Christ to the Bible and what  his first advent fulfilled has largely been forgotten  and is treated glibly as if it were irrelevant. He has  been rejected by the world and misunderstood by  those who purport to be his followers. The fact  that Christadelphians are spurned and considered  to be un-Christian because they do not believe the  Trinity speaks volumes. We do not believe Jesus  was or is co-equal and co-eternal with his Father,  but as His obedient Son he did His will perfectly  and conquered the power of sin: he was obedient  to death, even the death of the cross. His coming as  the Saviour, sent by a loving and beneficent God is  the supreme act of love: “God so loved the world,  that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever  believeth in him should not perish, but have  everlasting life” (John 3:16). But do men appreciate  the wonder of this gift, this grace? Tragically not.  In their obsession with modern technology and  scientific achievements, men have lost sight of what  is really important, what really matters. And we  need to watch out lest our focus is drawn away by  the world, its materialism, entertainment, culinary  delights, pre-occupation with sport or any other  thing that absorbs our time and energy other than  Christ. Remember that Paul said that he counted  all things but loss that he might win Christ. Christ  cannot play a secondary role in our lives. If he does  we will fail, we will not attain the prize, and we will  rue the day: “there shall be weeping and gnashing of  teeth”, for it will be too late to change when he comes.

The fate of this world

The ignorance of this world is such that many  who profess to believe do not realise that a day of  reckoning, of judgment is coming, and a terrible  day it will be for an unheeding world. Saints  will be gathered to Christ before he appears to  the world. Paul sounds a warning when he says  it is “a righteous thing with God to recompense  tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you  who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus  shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty  angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them  that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of  our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with  everlasting destruction from the presence of the  Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thess  1:6–9). The problem is that they “know not God”;  like many in Hosea’s day, “there is no truth, nor  mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land” (4:1).  The world has flouted the goodness of God, and  foolishly attributed the glories of creation to the  blind forces of chance. Men are wilfully ignorant.  The grace of our Father in providing a way  of redemption in His Son has been spurned. As  Paul puts it, “… despisest thou the riches of his  goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not  knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to  repentance?” (Rom 2:4). The intention of God in  sending forth His Son was to save the world but the  result will be otherwise: judgment for its rejection  of him. “And this is the condemnation, that light  is come into the world, and men loved darkness  rather than light, because their deeds were evil”  (John 3:19).

Men have no appreciation of the justice of  God. The prevailing view is that God is benign, all  loving and forgiving to the exclusion of justice and  judgment. The fact is that our loving God is also a  jealous God Who will move at His appointed time  and vindicate His righteousness. And in that day  soon to dawn men will be aghast at the extent of  His judgments, but His saints who know Him and  His Son will not be: in the face of His judgments  they will sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb,  “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God  Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of  saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify  thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall  come and worship before thee; for thy judgments  are made manifest” (Rev 15:3,4; 16:5–6).

So “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the  sin of the world”(John 1:29), will come again as  the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” to judge the world  in righteousness (Acts 17:31). It is wonderful to  know these things. The challenge is to live lives  today consistent with these coming events, to  “make (our) calling and election sure” by service  within our ecclesias with our fellow servants;  and by being lights in a godless, unheeding and  estranged world.

Our Lord will come, but not the same

As once in lowly form he came –

A silent Lamb, to slaughter led,

The bruised, the suff’ring, and the dead.

The Lord will come, a dreadful form,

With wreath of flame, and robe of storm,

To shake the earth and cleave the sky,

And bring the day of judgement nigh.”

“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of  God” (Rom 11:22).