A Line in the Sand
It’s time to stop calling bad things good and vice versa. We must no longer tolerate the invasion of worldliness into our lives and into the church. There’s been enough of it, and we are all suffering for it. It is time to say no. It is time to draw a line in the sand and go no further.
The words I write are not new to my readers, nor are they subject to dispute from you. However, it is useful to be reminded lest we easily slip into an attitude of acceptance and even endorsement of sin. There is no better chapter in Scripture for such a reminder as Isaiah 5. The prophet speaks first of God’s careful development and preparation of his people. Next, he speaks of the failure of God’s people to produce the godliness that the Creator desired. Finally, the Lord destroys what he has built. Six times these verses utter woes against the sinful. As I studied this rich chapter, I marveled that Isaiah penned it about 2600 years ago, yet its words are as fresh as tomorrow’s newspaper.
First Woe: Greed (vs. 8)
“Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room…”
Those who accumulate wealth for their own luxury are not role models to be emulated. They are people to be pitied for their wealth produces only loneliness. Many seek to swell their riches while others nearby swivel and die. Governments spend billions on arms and their military while children go without basic needs, including healthy food and medicines. Many young people choose careers based upon earnings rather than good to others. These are certain paths to suffering and loss.
Woe Two: Drunkenness (vs. 11)
“Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them.”
No wise Christian will play with Satan’s great tool of destruction. Social drinking is the only gateway to alcoholism. Surely it is a disease once it comes to fruition, but there is no such thing as an alcoholic who never drank a drop. Let it not be named among God’s people!
Woe Three: Mocking God (vss. 18, 19)
“Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as cart ropes…”
Verse 19 makes clear that the wicked are taunting God to act as he said he would. They dare God to make good on his promises of judgment. Amos warned that the day of judgment would come and would not be a good day for the wicked (Amos 5:18-20). A man must fear God, not challenge him! The God of Creation is a source of both cursing and ridicule in our world. Sadly, we tolerate such in our presence. The Lord of Hosts is holy. Let his people treat him as such.
Woe Four: Spiritual Lies (vs. 20)
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil and put darkness for light and light for darkness who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
Perhaps no other section of chapter 5 describes our society today than this single verse. Consider they way we’re told to view the homosexual agenda. We are told that same sex relationships are good and wholesome; that Biblical injunction against such is archaic and outdated. We are told to be tolerant. In worship, we are told that it is good to move ahead with changes to both the worship itself and even the structure and organization of Jesus’ church. We are expected to approve of leaders regardless of their character and conduct. “They are good,” we are told. “It’s about results not their conduct.” No! Let us call it what it is: evil! I am reminded of the old Restoration plea to call Bible things by Bible names. In this case, call it sin.
Woe Five: Earthly Wisdom (vs. 21)
“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”
Have you noticed how many people think so highly of themselves? We should listen to them because they know, and we do not. These are the kind of people the Lord had in mind as he caused Isaiah to write this rich book. Paul spoke of them too. He refused to use words of “eloquent wisdom” as he preached Christ. He rejected human wisdom in favor of God’s wisdom. Human thinking is folly with God (1 Cor. 1:17; 3:19). Today, the intelligent often tell us of the foolishness of Creation or of the flood as they reject the entirely reasonable Biblical accounts. It is wearisome to listen to their parroting of poor scientific philosophy in opposition to God’s word.
Woe Six: Injustice (vs. 22, 23)
“Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and valiant me in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe and deprive the innocent of his right.”
We like to think of our society as fair and equal for all. It is not. The great division today is not between races but between the empowered and the vulnerable. Recent lawlessness in the highest echelons of law enforcement should teach us that in our world, the man with the gold makes the rules! Power really does corrupt. Jesus spoke often of the poor and widows. The earliest Christians cared for these vulnerable people. James would add orphans to that list. God’s people must never engage in injustice or tolerate it in others.
The church risks becoming irrelevant if we continue to blend into culture rather than changing it. The church is the true counterculture to an evil world. Yet, if we accept and tolerate its teachings, we become indistinguishable from it and can no longer change it. We become salt that has lost is flavor. You know what happens to flavorless salt, right (Matthew 5:13)?