Charles Whitaker, focusing on Ezekiel 7:14, a chilling description of a summons to battle followed by a cowardly refusal to defend the home country, points out that this prophecy pertains to the nations of modern Israel. The descendants of Jacob have spent billions of dollars creating state-of-the-art weapons. Ironically, as early as the 1950s, the Rand Corporation advanced wrong-headed proposal for America's "orderly capitulation" in the event of nuclear attack, suggesting that surrender would forestall widescale (and perhaps irreparable) environmental degradation through radiation and nuclear winter. Environmental extremists have now burrowed their way into the seats of national policy-making, as evidenced by a top-ranking general who recently boasted—under oath—that he would defy any orders to use nuclear weapons if he felt they were issued contrary to his interpretation of international law. Looked at this way, extreme environmentalism, untampered by a thoroughgoing respect for American values and lives, is a clear-and-present danger to national security. Knowing of her self-advertised reticence to protect herself, Israel's enemies need not await a period of military weakness to mount a successful attack. Attack could come today; Jacob's Trouble could commence tomorrow.
John Ritenbaugh explores the role of human nature in the fatal attraction to sin. Though relatively neutral at its inception, human nature is subject to a deadly magnetic pull toward self-centeredness, deceit, and sin (Jeremiah 17:9). By the time God calls us, we are hopelessly ensnared and enslaved by sin. To counteract this deadly pull, we must imitate Christ's standard of active righteousness (going about doing good; Acts 10:38) as opposed to the Pharisee's more passive righteousness (a meticulous, reactive avoidance of evil). The sins of omission (the majority of our sins), neglect, and ignorance have the tendency to dissolve when we practice Christ's standard of active righteousness.
John Ritenbaugh observes that ancient Israel had at the core of its religion (as well as its dominant cultural norm) an obsession to serve or please the self at the expense of justice and truth and the best interests of the socially disadvantaged. Because of Israel's excessive self-seeking and self-serving pride, God threatens to remove His protection, allowing its people to go into captivity. Pride (the catalyst for Laodiceanism) causes people to reject God and to follow idolatrous ways. Israel's leaders should 1) never be content with the way things are, 2) never let care and concern for self take priority over the welfare of others, 3) covet peace with God, but only on His terms, 4) choose things that are more excellent, and 5) embrace morality.
John Ritenbaugh warns the greater Church of God that since we constitute the Israel of God, the book of Amos directly applies to us. The pilgrimages to Gilgal made by the people of ancient Israel were repulsive to God because no permanent change (in terms of justice ' hating evil and loving good or righteous behavior) occurred in their lives as a result of these pilgrimages. In terms of human relationships, instead of God's Commandments and instead of the Golden Rule, Israel zealously practiced self-centered, pragmatic situation ethics- liberally mixed or syncretized with pagan religion. Unlike ceremonial religion, true religion reaches out and touches every aspect of life, making a permanent transformation or change in thought and behavior. Ceremony and sincerity cannot be considered mutually exclusive components of religion. God, totally impartial in His dealings with all people, demands a higher standard of righteous behavior from those who have consciously made a covenant with Him and are acquainted with His Law.
The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment
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