Share this on FacebookGoogle+RedditEmailPrinter versionSend to Kindle

The Goodness and Severity of God (Part One)

by
Forerunner, "Prophecy Watch," May-June 2016

“I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito
Dissenting Opinion, Obergefell vs Hodges

Sadly and tellingly, no frontline legal firm took a stand against same-sex marriage during arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28, 2015, when oral arguments were heard in the matter of Obergefell v. Hodges. In fact, there was a notable dearth of amicus curiae briefs filed by top-rated legal firms on behalf of states’ rights, in spite of the fact that more amicus briefs were filed with the Court in this case than any in history, 148 in all.1

It is sad in view of the fact that the legal profession has a strong tradition, resting on its liberal underpinnings, of providing succor to the “underdog.” After all, does not everyone know how often Perry Mason represented poor defendants, usually against all odds? In the related interests of elevating the arguments to the highest levels and serving justice, well-known attorneys often take the time to support underdog cases. Such support ranges from the filing of amicus briefs to actual pro bono representation. But, no such advocacy—or at least very little—was manifest with Obergefell.

It is telling because this atypical lack of high-level support exposes a coward’s hypocrisy on the part of the liberally-oriented legal profession. It found the issue “too hot to handle.” So entrenched were the advocates of gay-marriage at the highest levels that even the most well-established underdog protector was unwilling to come to the fore. Were these intellectuals cowed by a zeitgeist?

Obergefell is a klaxon-call sounding clear and present danger to the heart of American life. Yes, some warriors with pencil-thin arms and pot-metal swords rose to fight, but individuals of the stature of David’s Thirty Mighty Men were not among them. The lack of response provides no better illustration of the rot that has set in, the pandemic sapping the American psyche. Well dissents Justice Samuel Alito when he concludes that the Court’s majority decision, though sincere, is cause for “concern, not comfort.” Yet, even he seems blindsided regarding the depth of the threat: His use of the term “irremediable corruption” in fact speaks more fittingly of the maggot-infested abscess of America’s morality than to what he termed “our legal culture’s conception of constitutional interpretation.”

We stand at the cusp of the Republic’s oblivion. True Christians recognize that their most fitting response is to sigh and cry over the sins of the nation’s people, following the instruction God offers through His prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 9. But there is more: Now is the time to do more than mourn that which is great and about to become late.

Herein is a plea to rejoice that God’s goodness is about to appear in full bloom—and that in the very heart of darkness.

Destruction and Restoration Together

Isaiah 30:25-26 calls our attention to an important principle, a tenet that doubtlessly springs from the merism that lies at the core of God’s very nature. As if to emphasize the value of the message, God repeats the principle, using different images, in these successive verses.

And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of His people, and heals the wounds inflicted by His blow. (English Standard Version, ESV)

That principle is just this: On the heels of destruction will be the forces of restoration. Notice carefully the word when, and the term, in the day, both repeated in these verses. We are left with the real sense that the forces of destruction and construction will appear virtually simultaneously. Maybe not fully concomitant but surely close. The two verses merit closer consideration.

In verse 25, God sends running water on the very day when He brings to nothing the high towers. We learn about these two highly dissimilar incidents—the fall of the towers and the coming of the water—in virtually the same breath. This gives us the impression that God will mercifully begin the healing process soon after the destruction, almost concurrent with it.

Let us look into the imagery a bit. The running water could refer to the Holy Spirit or to information, specifically, the knowledge of God that will eventually cover the earth, as Isaiah declares at Isaiah 11:9: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

Isaiah 41:17-18, 20 echo this thought. In verse 18, God promises He will bring water to barren hills while, in verse 20, He links that water, at least generally, to knowledge about Him:

I will respond by making the hard, brown hills sparkle with streams of fresh water and causing valleys to come alive with springs. I will see that gentle pools wait on the desert floor for the weary traveler, and great fountains bubble up from dry ground. . . . They’ll see all this and understand. They’ll ponder together and come to know that it is the power of the Eternal One that produced this. They will know that the Holy One of Israel created it. (The Voice)

Returning to Isaiah 30:25, we understand that the high towers could refer to military fortifications. In our context today, they could just as suitably denote institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, or even the United Nations—anything which people rely on as a bastion of strength and a source of protection. As so often is the case, the prophet Isaiah supplies his own commentary. In Isaiah 2:12, 15-17, he defines the tower as anything that represents the pride of mankind. Verse 12 establishes the context as the Day of the Lord, the same timeframe referenced in Isaiah 30 with the time, “in the day.”

For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low; . . . against every high tower, and against every fortified wall; against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft. And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. (ESV)

Returning to Isaiah 30:25 once more, we understand that the mountains could refer to governments, as in Daniel 2, and “every high hill” could refer to false religious practices, as in I Kings 14:22-24:

Judah was openly wicked before God, making Him very angry. They set new records in sin, surpassing anything their ancestors had done. They built Asherah sex-and-religion shrines [“high places,” King James Version (KJV)] and set up sacred stones all over the place—on hills, under trees, wherever you looked. Worse, they had male sacred prostitutes, polluting the country outrageously—all the stuff that God had gotten rid of when He brought Israel into the land. (The Message)

In fact, the term “every high hill” appears six other times in the Old Testament, each time referring to the practice of false religion.2 A similar term, with about the same meaning, “high places” appears no less than ninety times in the Old Testament.

The bottom line regarding Isaiah 30:25 is this: God brings flowing water on barren hilltops at about the same time that He brings to naught mankind’s oppressive governments (mountains) and his false religions (high hills).

Turning our attention to Isaiah 30:26, we see much the same thought, dressed in entirely different imagery. In this verse, God says the sun’s light, and presumably its heat, will be seven times greater than normal and that the moon will shine as brightly as the sun normally does. That would be quite destructive.

Notice, though, all that takes place when He “binds up the brokenness of His people, and heals the wounds inflicted by His blow.” So again, the act of restoration, stated here with the terms “binds up” and “heals,” is closely linked with the act of destruction. The two acts may not occur fully simultaneously, but they appear to be extremely closely connected in time.

Foundational Correction

Before considering these unlikely soul mates, an important point needs to be clarified. This linkage of destruction with construction typifies the Day of the Lord, not the Tribulation per se. The Tribulation will be a time of Satan’s unmitigated wrath, not God’s measured anger during what we believe to be a year-long period which closes the 3½ years of the Tribulation. Therefore, the confluence of destruction and restoration does not characterize the Tribulation. Revelation 12:12 describes Satan’s attitude, one which is completely divergent from God’s:

Therefore, rejoice, O Heavens, and all you who live in the Heavens! But alas for the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great fury, knowing that his time is short! (J.B. Phillips’ New Testament)

Satan will do nothing restorative during the Tribulation, of that we may all be sure!3 But the Day of the Lord is a different story.

Isaiah 30 brought out another dichotomy that bears investigation. This is the contrast, or distinction, between destruction and rejoicing. Its appearance in Isaiah 30 suggests it echoes the dichotomy of destruction and restoration alluded to in verses 25-26. These two dichotomies, destruction-restoration and destruction-rejoicing, appear to be historically and conceptually coupled. Notice Isaiah 30:32 in the Lexham English Bible: “And every stroke of the staff of foundation that Yahweh lays will be on it [in context, on Assyria, . . . ] with timbrels and lyres, and He will fight against it with battles of brandishing.”

Somebody will be making music in the midst of this destructive warfare!

The Lexham translation is one of the few that handles this passage adequately. The Hebrew word for the noun “foundation” is a hapax legomenon—it appears nowhere else in the Old Testament. However, it is related to another word also translated “foundation” in reference to Solomon’s Temple in II Chronicles 8:16, and to yet a third word translated “foundation” in reference to the Millennial Temple in Ezekiel 41:8. The root also appears in Isaiah 28:16: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.”4

So, an accurate paraphrase of Isaiah 30:32 might read: “And every stroke of His foundational rod that the Lord brings down. . . .” Ironically, the rod of correction is foundational. This is something every good parent understands. The parent’s ultimate objective in using corrective punishment is in fact not to hurt but to build—build character. In Hebrews 12:10 (ESV), Paul informs us that the punishments God sends are “for our good, that we may share His holiness.”

In this vein, the blows He ultimately delivers to the Babylonish system on the Day of the Lord will lay the groundwork for a better civilization; His destruction of the environment and of the infrastructure, of mankind’s governments and his perverse religious systems, will permit the creation of far superior counterparts—and that in short order. The old has to go before the new can come. In this sense, these blows are an affirmation of God’s commitment to building a new structure. We can be encouraged that His every blow is aimed at producing, ultimately, a new and better world.

While it does not strictly cause restoration, God’s “staff of foundation” or His “staff of discipline,” as some translations render it, is curative, even creative. Just as a paddle may not actually cause or create good character in a child, properly used, it can certainly become an agent in character development. Likewise, God’s sagaciously administered discipline in His Day will facilitate restoration. This is why destruction is so closely associated with restoration; this is why the correction of the Day of the Lord is attended with rejoicing. Better things are coming soon.

Part Two will dig more deeply into the partnership of destruction and restoration when God’s hand is at work to create and bring about His glorious purposes.

Endnotes

1 The second highest number of amicus briefs were filed relative to the Court’s consideration of Obamacare, 136.

2 The term in Hebrew for “high hill” is gaboah gib’ah (Strong’s 1364 and 1389). The KJV uses the term “every high hill” seven times: I Kings 14:23; II Kings 17:10; Isaiah 30:25; Jeremiah 2:20; Ezekiel 6:13; 20:28; 34:6. In apparently all cases, the term is used pejoratively, referring to apostasy and false religion, most specifically, idolatry.

3 Revelation 12:12 may imply that those who live in the heavens, which includes, on a spiritual level, the saints (see Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 2:6; etc.), are to rejoice. More “earthbound” individuals, those living on “the sea and the earth,” will not be rejoicing, except briefly, at the time of the death of the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:10).

4 The word is mûsadâ, (Strong’s 4145), related to mûsad (Strong’s 4143).

© 2016 Church of the Great God
PO Box 471846
Charlotte, NC  28247-1846
(803) 802-7075


Back to the top



The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

Sign up for the Berean: Daily Verse and Comment, and have Biblical truth delivered to your inbox. This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 140,000 subscribers are already receiving each day.

Email Address:

   

We respect your privacy. Your email address will not be sold, distributed, rented, or in any way given out to a third party. We have nothing to sell. You may easily unsubscribe at any time.



 

Privacy Policy
Close
E-mail This Page

Futher Reading

Next in this series

The Goodness and Severity of God (Part Two)