• Irreligious Flippancy

    Irreligious Flippancy
    by Howard B. Rand

    We are living in a day of widespread flaunting of authority due to many influences insidiously foisted upon the minds of men and women, resulting in the dilution of the time-honoured values of modern civilization. History, which records man's progress and the valiant exploits of past generations, is revamped to suit prevailing ideologies; religious people are persuaded to accept the faith-destroying idea that the foundation of their creeds and beliefs has little more substance than folklore and fable. Socialistic economic policies purport to take the poor out of their squalor, but the degree of governmental assistance that fixes a man's financial status in society also establishes the degree of his subservience to those who govern him.

    Meanwhile, the industrious and the ingenious are hampered in their endeavour to employ their own individual initiative to better their station in life and the lot of their fellows while achieving greater economic stability for themselves at the same time. The whole trend is to downgrade all society to a common level of so-called "equality" and the unnatural indoctrination designed to accomplish this has only succeeded in breeding a spirit of contempt for standards and for the standard-bearers formerly held in high esteem.

    Spiritual Degeneration

    One of the disquieting by products of all this, which is now assuming alarming proportions, is the attitude of young people toward their elders. Not only is there disrespect for parents and parental discipline, but there is a flagrant lack of deference shown toward spiritual things. When reference is made to God as the "Guy" who guides daily behavior, one wonders how much respect such an one actually feels toward the One he addresses in such a glib manner. Modern spiritual songs, so-called (they do not merit the dignity of the word 'hymn'), reflect this same attitude of familiarity, especially the one that refers to God as "the Man upstairs."

    Recently, in the mid-West, where championship play-offs in a Bible quiz were being held by teams of Christian young people, one contestant frankly discussed his method of reliance upon Divine guidance by explaining, "We say, 'Come on, Christ, you take over.'" How does it happen that Christian young people see nothing amiss in such an attitude of levity when reference is made to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Is this tendency toward irreligious flippancy one result of the bankruptcy of Fundamentalism, as well as the outgrowth of many years of Modernist indoctrination to the effect that the Scriptures are not wholly the inspired Word of God and are subject to contradiction and error? The upshot is that now nothing is held sacred.

    Godly Fear

    No one would approach an earthly monarch sitting upon his throne with such disrespectful boldness. Yet those who manifest a careless attitude of this sort seem to be completely unaware of what was actually meant when Moses, after he met God on Mount Sinai, warned the people of the fact that "the LORD (Yahweh) thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God" Deut 4:24. This awe-inspiring attribute of God is confirmed by the New Testament where the reason is given why we should render our service to God in a proper manner:

    "Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire." (Heb 12:28-29).

    A Solemn Occasion

    The only account on record of Deity presenting Himself in an official manner to His people is contained in the Book of Exodus where the scene is described when the children of Israel encamped before Mount Sinai. Moses was told to sanctify the people in preparation for the third day, for the Lord proposed to come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the assembly. Bounds were to be set to prevent the people from approaching too near the mount, for the penalty was death. The instructions were given:

    "There shall not an hand touch it, but ye shall surely be stones, or shot through: whether it be beast or man, it shall not live." (Exod. 19:13).

    The awesomeness of what followed is clearly described:

    "And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled." (Exod. 19:16).

    The spirit of levity was completely absent from the camp on that morning as God manifested Himself in glory, majesty and power Moses described what the people beheld:

    "And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly." (Exod 19:18).

    Solemn wonder, mingled with dread in view of the sublime and sacred scene witnessed by the people, caused them to draw far away and they implored Moses:

    "Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." (Exod. 20:19).

    It would be well for those who today undertake to approach God with frivolous irreverence to read and meditate upon the above account of His appearing before His people. They would be wise also to remember that God will not hold guiltless those who do not give reverence to Him whom reverence is due.

    Testimony of the Prophets

    Let those who are inclined to lightly regard the person of our Maker, to whom we all owe the breath of life, be reminded that it is foolhardy to rush in heedlessly where angels would fear to tread. Furthermore, let them consider the testimony of the prophets. For instance, contemplating the future coming of the Lord, Isaiah exclaimed:

    "Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence." (Isa. 64:1-3).

    When this desire of the prophet becomes a reality, all nations will tremble before the August Personage with whom they must reckon. In fact, previewing events which will have taken place when the wrath of God descends upon the ungodly, John reported:

    "And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?'" (Rev. 6:15-17).

    Glorify His Name

    The Lord God Almighty is not one with whom men may trifle. He should not be approached at any time in any spirit other than that of deepest reverential awe. Modernists, on the other hand, have not only dared to propound doctrines which do despite to the sovereign power and supreme authority of the Lord, but they belittle the revelation of Holy Writ and reject its miracles and whatever else does not conform with their standard of intellectual "reasonableness." Yet the Psalmist declares:

    "Give unto the LORD (Yahweh), O ye mighty, give unto the LORD (Yahweh) glory and strength. Give unto the LORD (Yahweh) the glory due his name; worship the LORD (Yahweh) in the beauty of holiness." (Psa. 29:1-2).

    The glory due His Name allows no margin whatsoever for even the slightest degree of disbelief, disrespect or irreligious flippancy. To worship God in the beauty of holiness precludes any possibility of treating Him with familiarity, for in the very act of worship we give our adoration to Him whose thoughts are far above our thoughts and whose ways are on an incontestably higher plane than our ways:

    ""For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD (Yahweh). For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: to shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Isa. 55:8-11).

    The Majesty of the Lord

    Even in this age of materialistic conceptions, men treat with far more deference the one to whom they are beholden for their weekly pay cheque than they accord the Lord God Almighty who holds their very life in His hands. When the time comes—and it will—when the outshining glory of the majestic coming of the Lord manifests itself in the heavens, denoting His presence, fear and consternation will seize all who now consider it no discourtesy to refer to God in terms they would not deem fit to use in the presence of earthly rulers.

    When Isaiah beheld the glory and majesty of the Lord sitting upon His throne, he exclaimed in his consternation:

    "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." (Isa. 6:5).

    If Isaiah the Prophet was so disturbed in the presence of the Lord upon His throne, what of those who, having treated Him with frivolity almost amounting to contempt, are suddenly ushered into His presence?

    The Prophet Daniel gives us a most interesting description of what he beheld in vision, stating that, after the casting down of earthly thrones, he saw the everlasting throne of Almighty God:

    "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened." (Dan. 7:9-10).

    Careless Words

    In the day when those books are opened and the acts of those who belittled their Lord are read in judgment, what will their reply be in the presence of that august assembly? No one will envy them as they stand before the judgment seat and without doubt those who merit censure for their irreverence would give anything then to be able to blot out the record which they themselves wrote to their own condemnation. Idle speech and conduct, with thoughtless disregard for that which is sacred, may not arouse any particular protest today but, according to the pronouncements of Jesus, there will be no excuse in the day of judgment, for He said:

    "I tell you, for every careless word that men utter they will have to answer on the Day of Judgment. For it is by your own words that you will be acquitted, or by your words that you will be condemned." (Matt. 12:36-37; Smith & Goodspeed).

    Solomon said:

    "The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul." (Prov. 20:2).

    If this can be said of those who provoke an earthly monarch, how much more will it apply to those who provoke to wrath the Ancient of days by their flippancy? Nahum the Prophet exclaimed:

    "Who can stand before his indignation? And who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him." (Nah. 1:6).

    Fiery Vengeance

    Turning to the New Testament we find Paul in Romans raising the question, "Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance?" (Rom 3:5). He then answers his own question, "God forbid; for then how shall God judge the world?" (Rom. 3:6). Turning to Thessalonians we find Paul stating:

    "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that they not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the pretence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." (2 Thes. 1:7-10).

    It is well to remember that God is good and He is a source of strength to those who truly revere Him. The Prophet Malachi was speaking of those who strive to make their deportment conform to Divine standards when he said:

    "Then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." (Mal. 3:16-17).

    On the other hand the Psalmist is given a message for those whose disdain for spiritual things is not hidden from the Lord:

    "But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee .... Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit .... These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such as one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver." (Psa. 50:16-22).

    The Psalmist closes his denouncement of the wicked with these words of encouragement for those who seek to be righteous and reverent, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God."
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