Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV) “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
At this moment, I am a man without a wife (she is touring in Israel) and without a kitchen (it’s been literally stripped to the two by fours). It is being “renovated.” “Renewed.” And it is a mess. Of course, I’m exaggerating, but the whole event is inconvenient and requires patience and accommodation. Kind of like waiting on the promise of Jesus that all things will be made “new.” Literally, (Matthew 19:28 (NIV):
28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne…”
Where Jesus spoke of renewal, we have the word “palen-genesea” in the Greek text. Notice: “palen” means “to repeat.” No doubt you’ve already sensed that “genesea” is related to “genesis” having to do with origins and beginnings. OK. So, the language of Jesus tells us that a time is coming when the entire creation will be “re-generated” or made new. But we are waiting. I’m sure at some point, we will have a new kitchen but for now we rely on the microwave, the coffee pot and the little sandwich shop up the street. That is how we Christians must live. In a state of waiting. Waiting for the renewal! But sometimes it is hard because somehow the feeling of hopelessness comes in waves.
So, as a Christian I look forward at all times to the Kingdom of God in its fullness. We who know God through the Lord Jesus Christ have every reason to be cheerful no matter what is going on in our society. And there is a lot going on. Let’s consider…a few observations:
THE ELECTION: Nothing very unusual happened. I regret that several of my pro-life votes failed as my candidates were not chosen. I continue to remind myself that I will be misunderstood, perhaps insulted, by many who disagree with me. I vote pro-life and pro economic sanity and pro-police and pro-military and pro-border security etc. Because of those positions, I have been told I am a racist and homophobic and Islamophobic and xenophobic and should be ashamed.
(For the record, I am not afraid of any of those things. I am, however, afraid of snakes but I try not to put my human enemies in that category.) That last part is a badge of distinction when people who advocate crushing the skulls of the unborn say it. Really? “I should be ashamed?” See Isaiah Chapter Five:
Isaiah 5:20 (NIV) “ Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
I’ll take my chances on Judgment Day when God declares who should be ashamed. But it is troubling when people on opposite sides politically speak with such grotesque condescension about those who disagree with them. There is nothing new under the sun.
THE CONTINUED INCIVILITY: As I’ve said before, this is also nothing very new. If one reads history, we can find brutal exchanges during the Constitutional Convention and in the early days of America. Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel! Trace the acrimony between Teddy Roosevelt and those who opposed him, and you will be stunned. Things said by FDR and by Richard Nixon. Frankly, statements made by the president who preceded Mr. Trump and, of course, his own troubling tongue. But to watch as a CNN reporter in almost every Presidential Press gathering constantly interrupts and insists on arguing with the president is repulsive. Many in the press are also weary of it and it reflects a contemptuous pride that goes beyond disrespect to clinical narcissism. Contrast that with French President Emanuel Macron telling a young millennial not to address him by his nickname (Micro) but rather “Mr. President.” But again … there is nothing new under the sun.
THE CONDESCENSION: Statements by radical women voters suggesting that women who oppose them are ignorant and foolish. Barely sane. Columnist Allie Stuckey, writing in Town Hall, responded to a series of vicious articles criticizing women with Biblical views. She wrote:
“The claim is that we are voting against our own interests. But this assumes our interests are liberal interests—abortion, closing the “gender pay gap,” gun control, etc. And they’re just not. We women who vote Republican do so because, in general, we believe in things like the Second Amendment, lower taxes and restrictions on killing the unborn. We are not oppressed. We’re just not progressive.”
Many Democrats share her views but her point is valid. Too often people who disagree attack the intelligence and character of the other person. This is an age of terrible condescension. But … there is nothing new under the sun.
THE GUN VIOLENCE: It’s horrible for sure. We live in a culture that has turned violence into entertainment. I recently heard of a psychology professor who is teaching that there is no connection between violent films and games and violence acted out by crazed individuals. This defies common sense. I wonder if he knows that many military specialist groups have used very similar videos for training purposes. To say nothing of Hollywood stars whose movies are dripping with violence but who insist on new laws to control guns.
Personally, I do not like guns very much although I know how to use them in that my father was a hunter and collector. But reality is that the only solution is to “harden” public places and I prophesy it will come to that. I recall being taken aback years ago while travelling in Turkey. It was not unusual to see heavily armed guards in the doorways of fine stores. I saw that recently in Austin, Texas as well. And why not? Can we really ask God to restrain such evil when we murder at least two thousand unborn babies every day? But again … there is nothing new under the sun.
THE IMMIGRATION PROBLEM: This one is troubling. When I see those pictures of needy people walking a thousand miles with small children, I am pained. For a country that many say is racist and rotten, we sure have more people trying to get in than anywhere else in the world!
I cannot blame the innocents among that group for wanting to find a better life. But it is also true that evil is undoubtedly integrated in that “caravan.” Careful reports from law enforcement make clear that drug traders, MS-13 and sex crime criminals are integrated into that mass of people. So, we can’t just open the gates. Interesting that ancient Jerusalem had walls and gates. Managing immigration has always been a challenge and a moral issue. Caring for the needy is a Biblical value but caring for your vulnerable neighbor is also required. So … there is nothing new under the sun.
THE SHAMELESS KAVANAUGH EPISODE: I would be embarrassed to be associated with anyone who supported the effort to keep this fine man from being seated. I perceive that whole event as spiritual warfare because, eventually, the killing of the unborn will return to the court. Such judges will be needed. The very idea that he was guilty unless proven innocent was preposterous. Western civilization has clung to the “Innocent Until Proven Guilty” principle for centuries. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun.
Once again, we are reminded of the words of Jeremiah who rebuked idolatrous Israel with these words:
Jeremiah 6:15 (NIV) “Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD.
Even so, with all of this, we have the Lord and his covering. Personally, I find great solace in the words of the Psalmist who was weary of evil in his age:
Psalm 73:23-28 (NIV) “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”
One last thought: many in the commentariat are mocking the idea of prayer with our current challenges. In an odd way, I agree with them in this sense: what God is waiting for is not prayers for guidance as to how to deal with our problems … but He is waiting … for prayers of repentance. After that, we will see renewal.
Peace and Blessings! Pastor Alberta