In Isaiah 3, we are told that God will judge the anarchy and arrogance in society; leaders will be removed, even those who hold high places in the military, those in the courts, the religious leaders, and businessmen. He will allow the inexperienced and incompetent to rule, giving over the wicked to their evil ways. When a society defies God as evidenced by their words, their haughty looks, and their pretentious outward appearance, God takes notice. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). This is a hard saying, and one even Christians are hesitant to preach. When the things of God that illustrate His love and benevolence are barely tolerated in conversations or given air time in the media, a pronouncement of guilt is not a message that society will hear. Yet, the key words in these passages are oppression, insolence, provoke, evil, wicked, err, plunder, and wanton. Would not the condemnation of such a society guilty in the eyes of the law seem fitting to any righteous, earthly judge?
Seven hundred years later, the Apostle Paul addressed the Corinthians, and he also warned them that what they had begun to tolerate was unacceptable to a righteous God. The words he used to describe their behaviors were contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults, fornications, and lewdness. (And this was going on in the church!) Paul had established his authority over the church and was ready to read the Corinthians his verdict.
Yet, we must remember that God is not an earthly judge. “He demonstrates His righteousness so that He might be just and the Justifier of all who have faith in Jesus,” (Romans 3:26). Nor does God end the story of our worldly existence with only a pronouncement against mankind. Isaiah prophesies that the purging of ungodliness will purify the faithful, and with them, God promises to create a holy city, a messianic age, covered with His protection and fluent in communion with His people. The Apostle Paul was privileged to see this vision of paradise. What he saw was so magnificent that he was given a thorn in the flesh to remind him of his earthly, humble state.
It seems mankind has not changed when it comes to a propensity for perpetrating harm or shaking a fist at God. I know this because I am no exception. I have to ask myself, am I willing to face the words that describe sin in my own life? Also, am I so focused on the sin in my life that I negate God’s forgiveness and promise of redemption? “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ (By grace you have been saved)!
It is my earnest prayer that I take time to examine my thoughts, words, and behaviors each day, confess sins of omission and commission, accept God’s forgiveness, and with a grateful heart, delight in a vision of eternal communion with my Savior, Jesus Christ. Do you, too, long for paradise?