November 5, 2015

No Fear: Shaking A Puny Fist At The Sky

Everyone above 30 years old should probably remember the old existential slogan from the late 1990's clothing brand: No Fear. I am going to write on that topic or premise....sort of.

Okay, I am being slightly disingenuous here. The title should’ve been No Fear of God. In a word: Irreverence which means without due respect or veneration of God. No reverence. It is to be disrespectful and flippant towards something clearly greater than one's self. What we will find is that treating God in a casual manner is destructive and deadly.

I have always been one to keep a finger on the pulse of the culture. What I have heard often lately is one specific question:

Why are things so bad morally, ethically and in general?

These cultural conditions are in reality symptoms. More specifically signs. Signs and symptoms of what? They are symptoms of a spiritually sick nation that is already under judgment. What are the signs of a society afield of God?  Why is our society falling to pieces? Look around you to take stock of the world and then read on.

People that depart from God as the true source of life are like a solitary coal ejected from the fireplace by force. If they are not returned to the fireplace quickly, they first start a rogue fire and then quickly extinguish. Likewise, people’s hearts cool towards others until there is no internal warmth left. No desire to work as community and seek companionship. In the case of man being removed from God, it isn't God ejecting them but rather their choice to leave. 

This is further exacerbated by cellphones and computer gadgetry. This is what we see in society today. It’s not everywhere and everyone but the symptoms are are spreading like an pandemic. Just like the old bearded prophet that carried the sandwich sign proclaiming: "The End is Nigh", I say this often and I am often mocked and ridiculed for saying so. I am not saying the end is here. What I am saying is that America and the world at-large are on the wrong side of God.

Our culture and society’s condition is the end result of not fearing God. When I say lack of fear I mean there is no regard for God's Word or will. He nor His word are taken seriously anymore and it shows. It is literally the old adage come to life…there is nothing sacred anymore. It is sinful people shaking their puny fist at God. There is no desire to live a life which brings glory to God nor make any attempt to live a life aligned to Scripture. Please note I didn’t say no desire to live a “good” life. The issue therefore becomes one of what makes good “good”. Who defines it? Everyone lives by a standard. The question is, who supplies the standard, God or man. 

Who is would be more apt to provide a better standard, flawed men or perfect God. They resist being guided by Godly principles. Instead what guides them are a worldly set of principles. A life lived by selfish self-centered aims. This in turn leaves humanity in a state of inward inability. Isolated like a coal left from the fire, their hearts cool towards others until there is no internal warmth left. No desire to work as community. This is what we see in society today. It’s not everywhere but the condition is proliferating.

First, realize that there is a fear of God that doesn’t produce good results. This terrifying and paralyzing fear is likely the type of fear that comes to mind for many. This fear does not have a positive end. This fear is not what God is looking for. So what type of fear does God want? The Greek noun Φόβος / phobos can means “reverential fear” of God, “not a merely ‘fear’ of power and righteous retribution. It is actually a fear driven by a love for God and his will. It is a fear of displeasing God. This is the type of positive fear the Bible refers to. If people do not have this type of fear…they inevitably will get the other one that will be terrifying and paralyzing because the godless are always exposed to God’s wrath.

What does the Bible say are the signs of irreverence to God? Everything that comes out of their mouth is garbage. The words of their mouths are lies and deceit. Furthermore the Bible seems to focus a lot on the mouth and what comes out of it when discerning whether or not a person is debased or godless. Why? As Jesus said, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” ~ Matthew 15:11. What does eventually come out of a mouth that does not fear God is profanity and is usually inappropriately sexual in nature. Think: Unrefined and course.

People that do not fear God cannot act wisely or do “good”. That is either because they were not taught properly or rebelled and ignored what they were taught. They’re incapable of telling full truths because their own lies have even convinced them of their validity. They’re backbiting, slanderous and bitter. They’re violent and their behaviors and even their presence causes ruin and misery. They are self-aggrandizing and flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their own sin. This is often because most of those around them have the same sin…so it seems normal or status quo. Even when they rest from the day they plot evil for the next day and commit themselves to a courses of action that they know is wrong or unethical. This sounds an awful lot like Romans 3 but I drew it from Psalm 36. These truths came from a song written by David.

The godless seek great treasures and fame and with these comes turmoil and instability. We are surrounded by a society full of these people (Proverbs 15:16) and full of people that revere people that do the same. We’ve made heroes of fools and fools now run the world and influence the masses.

We see a similar society in Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament. It was the last book for a reason and most of it was God’s people. They had drifted away from the God of Scripture and it showed not only in their society and culture but even in their so-called “churches/synagogues”. If your priests and holy men are irreverent who are your spiritual leaders…what hope is there for your society. When you spiritual leaders swing wide of God’s word/will, a society deteriorates to nothing since it was God who was sustaining it.

In terms of a fear of God and a lack of it, Malachi 1-3 needs to be understood as a series of rebukes to the post-exilic people of Jerusalem. God has serious issues with the temple priests and their behavior. In Malachi 1 God is indicts the priesthood. Instead of living exemplary lives they were guilty of breaking the very Law they were charged to uphold. There was not fear of God in them. First and foremost they were treating their obligations and subsequently God, with utter contempt. This head and heart attitude pretty much formed their precepts and concept for behavior for and towards God. It tainted how their duties were performed for Him and towards Him. Inevitably it led to fearless and contemptuous behavior towards God. It showed that they were totally blind to their sin and others which didn’t allow them to realize they were irreverent to God.

They were offering blemished sacrifices. Levitical priests where raised and taught what was considered defective sacrifice but did so anyway and thereby did not fear/revere God. The priest where then naïve enough (or brazen enough) and so blinded that they asked, "How have we shown contempt for your name?” and “How have we defiled you?” They just didn’t get it, they were clueless just as our modern society is. It is like saying a builder doesn’t know how to hammer a nail. They had become so distant from God and His will that their sins had hardened their minds. They had gone insane.

What is the end result of this irreverence for them (an us today)? They recieve a stinging and convicting reproach. They are told Lord’s table is contemptible by their actions by bringing blind animals, when sacrificing crippled and diseased animals. The very holy places (churches) had been turned into a think of reproach. How many churches have now done this by openly accepting sin into their fold without expectation of a change? Homosexuality. Adultery. Avarice?

The Lord asks them if they think this is wrong and their answer should’ve been “yes”. We sadly see the depraved condition of their minds and hearts. These are animals that wouldn’t even have been offered to the governor in a banquet. We see the same today. When asked if people think they are good or good enough to get to heaven you will almost always hear a resounding yes. Sadly this cound’t be any farther form the truth.

So why wouldn’t God accept them?

Malachi implies that it would be better to shut the doors to the temple than to continue such worthless sacrifices. How does this reflect on today’s churches? Not well I would presume. God would no longer accept the offerings from their hands He was not pleased with them at all. If they couldn't serve Him with their full hearts He didn’t want any of their worship. That meant serving Him with fear and reverence. A reverence that expects that they would abide by His will, his statutes, His rules that he dictated for their benefit. God is either worthy of all our praise or none of it. Either put on your big boy/big girl pants and buck up or go home.

In Malachi 2 the priests are then are admonished harshly. So too we should expect an admonition not only individually but also at in the church today. If they did not listen [obey], and did not set their heart to honoring his name, God was going to send curses upon them. Just like then we see the same today. If the result of the irreverence and sin is already manifest, it is probable that the curse is already underway. By the time of Malachi God had already cursed them, because they had not set their heart to honor and fear God. He rebuked their descendants too. He literally and figuratively spread offal on their faces (term used to refer to the entrails and internal organs of a butchered animal) and they would be carried off with it (which we will eventually see in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D.). In other words, their culture and nation collapsed and were scattered to the diaspora.

The Lord then reminds the priests because it is clear they are spiritually calloused, irreverent and filled with contempt for the Lord. He states that His covenant was a covenant of life and peace. He gave it to them and reverence and awe were expected in return. They have obviously failed to live up to the covenant. They took their privilege for granted. They were then cautioned against the perversion of their duties and their office. They were warned of their deviation from proper behavior and the probably end result.

What ensues is the apostasy of the nation’s spiritual and political leaders. In turn this had led others astray because they were following the bad example of their leaders. We see the same today. How often do we hear that because things are legal in the courts, they are socially acceptable…even though they are morally repugnant? How often do we hear the echoing question on the lips of otherwise good people, ”Why have things gotten so bad?” We hear it in the haunting statements of people almost daily, “We aren’t the nation we used to be.” People are correct. We are now a nation under judgment. We are a nation that treats God irreverently. We are a nation and a people that do not fear God.

1 comment:

Marcus Fidel said...

In the original Jewish Bible, the book of Malachai, was not last. It's placement by St. Jerome in the Vulgate was rather arbitrary.

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