Monday, July 10, 2017

The Five Consequences of the Controversy

Micah 7

You and I know enough about God to know that if we continuously violate His Law, reject His offer of mercy, and refuse to repent there will be consequences. Understanding this it should not surprise us, then, to discover that of the 105 verses in Micah nearly one third of them deal directly what those consequences will be. In today's post, we are not going to look at all thirty of those but we will examine the primary ones.

The first consequence of disobeying God Micah tells us is perplexity. The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity. (Micah 7.4)

The idea of this term 'perplexity' is revealed somewhat in the verse itself. It means to be confused by an interwoven complex situation. Think of someone bringing you a tangled-up ball of yarn and asking you to unravel it all. How did it get into such a state? How can it be fixed? Where do you even start?

When sin begins it does so nice and easy. In fact, many people sin precisely because it is the choice of least resistance. As sin progresses, however, it inevitably involves deceit, and with deceit comes perplexity.

Some years ago, I read a biography of the man who popularized the term 'rock and roll.' He was a northeastern Ohio DJ in the 1950s and is now a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. As his life unfolds in those pages his increasing attachment to alcohol and adultery combined with constant schemes to enrich himself complicate his life tremendously. His family relationships become an intricate puzzle he cannot solve. His financial structure becomes a convoluted mess. His career swerves back and forth, bouncing between the margins of huge success and miserable failure. In the end, he lost everything he had in the Payola scandal, and drank himself to death at the age of forty-three. Life had grown too perplexing for him to handle, and that perplexity was a direct result of sin.

The second consequence we see in Micah is ill health. Therefore also I will make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins. (Micah 6.13)

In the New Testament, our Saviour makes it crystal clear that physical defects or frailty are not always a consequence of sin. But just because sickness is not always a result of sin does not mean that it never is. Ill health is often the naturally produced consequence of sinful choices. Read enough biographies of rock and roll artists and this becomes painfully clear. For that matter, just reach out to the lost world in ministry, especially to those in the second half of life and you will see it just as plainly. Additionally, ill health can on occasion be not just a consequence, but a direct judgment from God as well. (Numbers 12.10)

The third consequence of the controversy was financial trouble.
Micah 6.14 Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword.
15 Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.

Again, as with health trouble, financial difficulties are not always a direct indication of sin in a person's life, but they certainly can be. Sin is often expensive, often addicting, and often financially irresponsible at the very least. String the commission of sin over a couple of decades, sometimes even less, and the resulting financial pressure can be quite severe. Not only that, but sometimes God directly places a curse on your finances as a result of disobedience. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. (Haggai 1.6)

The fourth consequence is in my mind worse than the first three put together. It is this awful fact: the absence of the presence of God.

Micah 3.4 Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.
6 Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.
7 Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.

God is omni-present. Additionally, He loves us immeasurably and longs for us to be with Him. For Him to make Himself absent in our lives takes a conscience choice on His part to be silent, and on our part to give Him cause to be silent. We make that choice when we choose to sin. If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me. (Psalm 66.18) There may not be a sadder verse in all the Bible than that one.

This great silence, however, is not limited to His refusal to listen to us when we cultivate sin. It can rise to the level of a refusal to speak to us, to admonish us. I am convinced that the lack of Holy Spirit conviction in a person's life is in and of itself a great judgment from God. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. (Amos 8.11)

I think we see this societally in many Muslim countries, for example. They hate God and have set themselves against Him. Consequently, He removes almost all of the mercy toward them that is a genuine sense of Himself and His Son, Jesus Christ. The corresponding absence of belief on a national level is in and of itself a judgment from God. And this can certainly be applied on an individually personal level as well.

The fifth consequence of we find in Micah is national disaster.

Micah 1.6 Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof.
7 And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot.
8 ¶ Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls.
9 For her wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.

One of the great themes in Scripture is God's never-ending quest to call out a people for Himself. He sought this in Adam's children, in Seth's children, in Noah's children, in Abraham's children, and in Jacob's children. At one point, He even offered to Moses the opportunity to birth his own nation to be God's chosen people. This fact is one of the primary reasons I am a dispensationalist – God is not done with Israel yet, He is not finished working with His people.

In this age, the New Testament age, so to speak, the church is His people. But in the ages to come it will be Israel. It was Israel. It is now the Church. It will be Israel again. Consequently, God repeatedly deals with Israel as an entity or a people all through the Old Testament, into the Gospels, through the Epistles, culminating in Revelation. This must be so for as we saw last time while the leaders bear an extra level of responsibility everybody bears some. There must, then, be a corporate consequence not just an individual consequence.

In Israel's case, this national disaster took the form of captivity.

Micah 4.9 Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.
10 Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.

Freedom is the result of obedience. I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. (Psalm 119.45) I attended Hyles-Anderson College, graduating in 1995. During those years if I accumulated too many demerits in a semester I was campused, which simply meant I was not allowed off campus for any purpose that was not work related or ministry related. Nor was I allowed to date my girlfriend. This lasted for three weeks. Why? Well, I accumulated demerits because I broke rules and when I did so the result was a loss of freedom.

This is true individually. We all know entirely too many people who are bound by addiction, chained by links forged in the furnace of rebellion and deceit.

It is also true nationally. When a people abandon their moral integrity the only thing that disciplines them, or restrains them is fear. Consequently, the government must get bigger and bigger, growing ever more intrusive in order to instill that fear. As morality decreases government grows and as government grows freedom disappears. Some of you who are died in the wool big-government types might want to go back and re-read those last couple of sentences. So should some of you libertarians. The problem in the United States is not big government. Big government is the result of the problem. The problem is a metastasizing abandonment of corporate public morality.

This is why so many of our more enlightened English and American forefathers have explicitly linked society's freedom to a church-going, Bible-reading people. Without morality, you cannot have freedom. You end up with no liberty, in captivity, enslaved personally to sin or nationally to a tyrannical government.

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.
When you stir up a controversy with God there is always a consequence. As Bob Jones, Sr. said years ago, 'Sin will take you further than you want to go; it will cost you more than you want to pay; it will keep you longer than you want to stay.'

This is true of you and me. It is true of my marriage and my family. It is true of the church I lead. It is true of the larger religious movement in which I participate. It is also true of the city in which I labor, and the state that surrounds it. It is true as well of our country and of our world. We cannot mess with God, refuse to get right when He extends His hand in mercy, and expect to get away with it. Period.

There will be consequences.

No comments:

Post a Comment