Allan got us synced on it, and now we’ve gone through Zephanaiah, Jeremiah, and the history of the Israelites’ struggles against the Assyrian and Babylonian empires.
A noticable pattern appears throughout the lives of some of our Old Testament heroes and the chosen people as a whole – that of running to God and then running away from Him to go back to the idols they have created. The attraction being that these false gods and idols are controllable (the alternative true God is of course, above and beyond us). These “gods” allowed all sorts of perversions that catered to the flesh – sex worship (the Asherah poles) and child sacrifices (to the god Molech) as examples.
One God catering to the eternal, the other gods, to the temporal. The ultimate choice that every believer faced and continues to face every single moment of every single day.
These days, idols are no longer as obvious as the ones our ancestors had to contend with. Asherah poles have been replaced by the idol of the concept of pleasuring the “self” – the thought that anything that makes the self “feel happy” is right and justifiable and rational and it matters not that other people and most importantly, that we go against the commands of God. Molech worship has been replaced with wanton disregard for what is good and pure and just. These disguised idols further the danger of turning to men and might for help in times of unimaginable hurts and struggles, eclipsing our one powerful and true weapon – prayer to the sovereign God.
The Christian community calls it backsliding. C.S. Lewis’ devil Screwtape so succinctly puts it as “undulation”: “Humans are amphibians – half spirit and half animal…While their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change…Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks…”
Is there hope for the undulating Christian? Sure. Christ offers us never ending grace and strength to face the toughest and most hurtful of challenges while remaining steadfast in Him. We need but to trust Him and obey. History – ours and the ancients, show us just how difficult it can seem to be…
In the ancient days, the fearful Israelites turned to then world superpower, Egypt, seeking alliance to help fend off the Assyrians and Babylonians. Not only were they disappointed, they were decimated, and their survivors, displaced.
Lately, disturbing news from the historic lands of the Old Testament books have been peppering the internet and cable TV, that seem to be recapitulating the ancient terrors described in the Bible – something to do with the ISIS terrorist group’s activities in modern Assyria.
I had just recently found out about the extent of the atrocities in the ISIS’ persecution of Christians through my brother and Allan as they asked me one Sunday in the comfort of the air conditioned worship hall, “Do you know about what’s going on in Iraq?”
Allan shows me news of how they systematically behead children with knives, rape women and hang men, and then points out that the cycle of fear appears to be happening once again – in panic, world leaders call on the United Nations, the international community, and the United States to intervene. Much like the desperate alliances that Israel sought when they were oppressed by Assyria. Running to the UN and US now somewhat feels like running to Egypt then. It seems that even with the benefit of the Scriptures, history and hindsight – we have not learned one valuable lesson: in the final reckoning, it is God who saves. Not military might, not powerful economies, and certainly not influential leaders.
So while it is good and worthy for the good and powerful people of the world to flex their muscles and intervene in the whole sordid issue, for the rest of us, let us not forget to flex our knees, and pray with all our might, every single day for our brothers and sisters in persecution, for their faith and deliverance and for their hearts to continue to find hope and comfort in the sovereignty of the Lord.
And while it is true that we undulate, we find that our best counter to this would be to flex our knees and pray unceasingly…