Two things haunted my soul this week.
One from the news: the egregious sin of the murder of a two year child. An infant, not far removed from sucking on the breast, coldly and callously and deliberately shot to death by a wicked gunman! A child left behind by a loving father, according to the reports, only because he himself had been shot in a murderous rampage by evil men in one of Kingston’s inner cities this week, and ran for his life.
And our nation ‘moved on’, very quickly. No marching in the streets. No mass and thunderous condemnation of this evil act. No promises of never again! Maybe I missed it all! Just an eerie acceptance of this ‘ new normal’ in our society. Just like how the world ‘moved’ on quickly after the news from Aleppo about the children who were dying there surfaced this week.
The other, from the Word of God, a ‘terrible’ revelation of the ‘sin’ of Israel, and the ‘sin’ of Jamaica, and the reaction of a Loving Father God. And which Word explains why we in Jamaica, find ourselves, deeply immersed in a quagmire of murder and immorality. All because, like Israel, we have, ‘committed two sins…departed from the stream of living water…and created ‘other gods’, that can ‘ hold no water’….worthless things…the worship of which, leads to worthlessness.
And the critical point is that ‘pride’ has entered our hearts, and so we think that we can do a better job of organizing our society, that ‘ The Lord who brought us ‘out of the land of Egypt’, and said open your mouth wide and I will fill it”.One of the most profound and instructive words I have ever read in the Bible. And on which I have been meditating this week. For in it lies ‘ the divine witness’ against our nation. A nation like Israel, rescued from slavery by the Word of God, passed on to Sam Sharpe and George William Gordon and Paul Bogle, all National Heroes ( do we really think Usain Bolt belongs in such exalted company). A nation whose culture and mores were shaped, not just by Christian values ( a reminder that you cant’ have Christian Values and Attitudes, without Christianity) but by the very Word of God. A people previously, renown for ‘loving our neighbor’, but which on account of the sin of pride, ‘departed from the streams of living water’, and now is famous for ‘ killing our neighbor ‘; at the rate of 45/100,000 persons, according to a Daily Gleaner Editorial this week.
The passages of Scripture below do not need much explanation as the Word is ‘crystal clear’. The greater significance, is that all of them form part of the readings in my Church for this week. Readings which are known in advance of our worship service. And therefore the Word of God, in response to the ‘madness’ which took place downtown Kingston, was not something I had to go and search for. It was right there in front of me! And got into my very soul.
Especially….” Open your mouth wide and I will fill it”. For the eternal message from a good God, is that He alone can satisfy us with good things. All other gods, that we have fashioned, are ‘ thieves and robbers’. And one of the ‘keys’, if not the only one, to understanding the entire Bible, is to be found in 2 Corinthians 1:20:
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the ” Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. I pray God that as we read His Word and this message, which He woke me up at 4:45 am to write, we will not just ‘move on’, but that this Word, will ‘ haunt our very souls’ and lead us to repent, humble ourselves before a Loving and merciful God, ” with a broken and contrite heart”. And turn back to the One, who in Christ, promised that, ” if we open our mouths wide, He will fill it”. For He alone, can exalt this nation once again to peace and ‘loving our neighbor’.
THE WORD OF GOD
Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.
Thus says the Lord:
What wrong did your ancestors find in me
that they went far from me,
and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?
They did not say, “Where is the Lord
who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
in a land that no one passes through,
where no one lives?”
I brought you into a plentiful land
to eat its fruits and its good things.
But when you entered you defiled my land,
and made my heritage an abomination.
The priests did not say, “Where is the Lord?”
Those who handle the law did not know me;
the rulers transgressed against me;
the prophets prophesied by Baal,
and went after things that do not profit.
Therefore once more I accuse you, says the Lord,
and I accuse your children’s children.
Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and look,
send to Kedar and examine with care;
see if there has ever been such a thing.
Has a nation changed its gods,
even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
for something that does not profit.
Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
says the Lord,
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
that can hold no water.
Psalm 81:1, 10-16
1 Sing with joy to God our strength *
and raise a loud shout to the God of Jacob.
10 I am the Lord your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt and said, *
“Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”
11 And yet my people did not hear my voice, *
and Israel would not obey me.
12 So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their hearts, *
to follow their own devices.
13 Oh, that my people would listen to me! *
that Israel would walk in my ways!
14 I should soon subdue their enemies *
and turn my hand against their foes.
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, *
and their punishment would last for ever.
16 But Israel would I feed with the finest wheat *
and satisfy him with honey from the rock.
The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord;
the heart has withdrawn from its Maker.
For the beginning of pride is sin,
and the one who clings to it pours out abominations……
Pride was not created for human beings,
or violent anger for those born of women.
“….. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Part of the Gospel Luke 14:1, & 7-14 NRSV