• Provoking the Wrath of God

    Provoking the Wrath of God
    by Howard B. Rand

    The trend of the times is toward judgment, and the decline in morality is perhaps the largest contributing factor, in God's sight, which will bring the inevitable day of judgment. This is a time of great apostasy. At first the departure from truth and the ways of righteousness was gradual, beginning with small, seemingly insignificant offenses. Suddenly, then, we became aware that our nation was marching along the broadway which Jesus declared leads to destruction.

    General profanity and lewdness in jokes and literature have ever been a barometer of approaching judgment, particularly so when the latter evils are in evidence among those groups selected of God to uphold the standards of righteousness, such as the Christian church. Today, many Christians manifest a spirit of ungodliness and lack of reverence. Even worldly men are admittedly aware that a new low has been reached in moral and spiritual standards. Few however, are conscious of the fact that it is such conditions as these which presage the judgments of God and bring forth the declaration as recorded in the Bible: "The Lord was very angry with Israel."

    Without exception, all the prophets unite in declaring the present age will end in overwhelming disaster due to the evil men are doing. The Antediluvian world perished in a flood because of its immorality and filthiness and when, in the history of man, such evils are again in evidence disaster is sure to follow. Of the Antediluvian world the record states: "And God saw that the wickedness [lewdness, or moral depravity; Companion Bible footnote] of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [all his heart's desires] was only evil continually [i.e. every day]." (Gen. 6:5).

    The Antediluvian world perished in the days of Noah because of these conditions and only he and his family were saved. In the days of Abraham the moral wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah was great and Peter states that Lot was vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked (II Pet. 2:7). His attitude towards their lasciviousness may have accounted for the hostility of the Sodomites towards him (Gen. 19:9), but these two cities with all their inhabitants perished for their evil ways and only Lot and his two daughters were saved.

    But it is not necessary to turn to the past for evidence of God's wrath; there are modern examples of God's judgment upon the cities and people for immorality which finally reached a point beyond which there seemed to be no turning back into the paths of righteousness. The evidence from the excavation of the ruins of the city of Pompeii clearly indicates that, prior to its destruction, there existed a condition of lewdness and depravity which made judgment inevitable. This judgment was accomplished through the eruption of Mount Vesuvius; an act of God to wipe out a place given over to license and evil.

    In more recent times, the destruction of St. Pierre on the island of Martinique by the eruption of the volcanic Mount Pelee, when all the inhabitants were destroyed, is clear evidence that God is still moving to bring evil to justice when it comes to fruition. An outstanding fact in connection with this disaster is described in "The Destruction of St. Pierre" by Charles Morris, LLD.:
    "There had been constant and heavy rains. Then a small peak of the mountain fell in and covered the crater from which the hot mud had been pouring. I am convinced that the fall of earth, stones and water (a pretty lake filled the old crater, which lake disappeared) closed up the vent, and when the pressure on the inside became sufficient it forced out the side of the mountain. It is a fact that a new crater formed, and it pointed in the exact direction of St Pierre. That crater is in the mountain side, and I refer to it when I said that the explosion was like that of a cannon. It was aimed at St. Pierre, and the result was that the hot gas, the stones and the boiling mud was forced down upon the city, just as the gas is forced from the mouth of a cannon."
    Why was St. Pierre singled out for such destruction? It was a city of lasciviousness and thus judgment had come on this gay and worldly center as it had come to the inhabitants of evil cities in the past.

    God was ever moving to cleanse Israel from time to time of such evils and, in doing so, many an Israelite perished. Right after the giving of the law Moses went up into the mountain to receive the tables of stone and, because he failed to return when the people expected him, they demanded that Aaron make the golden calf. The record states that Israel sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. This reference "to play" is to make sport in lascivious dancing—for such was a part of idolatrous worship. Three thousand men died for this sin.

    The Bible very clearly indicates that God looks with no degree of favour upon such evils among His people, often bringing swift judgment upon individuals responsible for causing Israel to thus sin. Beginning with Moses and throughout all the writings of the prophets we find uncompromising denunciations of the sins of lasciviousness whether manifested in speech, in act or through images which would include pictured illustrations. If Israel of old could not escape just retribution for such evils, will modern (Anglo-Saxon) Israel?

    Israel was continually forsaking the Lord and turning to the worship of Baal. Now the worship of Baal-peor was accompanied with lasciviousness. When Ezekiel, therefore, told of seeing women at the door of the Lord's house weeping for Tammuz (Ez. 8:14), he was describing the lewd and idolatrous manner of lamenting the death of Adonis, supposed to be Baal-peor. Ezekiel was instructed to inform Jerusalem of its depravities and in recounting her sins declared:

    "You also took your beautiful jewels,—My gold, and My silver,—which I had given to you, and made yourself forms like males, and fornicated with them!" (Ez. 16:17, Ferrar Fenton Translation).

    The Companion Bible note on this passage states: "Of men of the male: i.e. the Phallus, referring to the Asherah." Turning to appendix 42 in the same Bible it is stated that the word Asherah is from the root Ashur, to be straight, erect, or upright. The following is quoted from the same appendix:
    "Like every form of 'religion' it had to do with 'flesh', and hence, by the law of evolution (which is seen operating only in human affairs) it soon became corrupted. Evolution is seen in the process of man's works, because he begins from ignorance, and goes on learning by his mistakes and failures. From the moment he ends his works evolution at once sets in and deterioration begins. This is specially true in the 'religious' sphere. All religions have become corrupt. So with the Ashera. Originally a tree, symbolical of the 'tree of life,' it was an object of reverence and veneration. Then came the perversion of the earlier idea which simply honoured the origin of life; and it was corrupted and debased into the organ of procreation, which was symbolized by the form and shape given to the Asherah. It was the Phallus image of Isaiah 57:8 and the image of the male of Ezekiel 16:17."
    It is this evil and lascivious worship God so condemned and, therefore, He admonished Israel when they entered Palestine:

    "Ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire [sacred sites, artifacts, paintings, etc]. For thou art an holy (separated) people unto then Lord thy God: the Lord thy God [Yahweh thy elohim] hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." (Deut 7:5-6)

    If Israel failed to do this, God declared it would turn their sons from following after Him. Thus we are admonished in the susceptibility of youth to evil suggestions. Can God be any more pleased with the filthiness of today, which is destroying the spiritual perception of multitudes? Moral depravity is not confined to the worldly. Just as Ezekiel saw the women sitting at the door of the Lord's house, so today many of those who claim membership in His Church are guilty.

    Because of such evils Moses declared: "The anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and destroy thee suddenly" (Deut. 7:4). Israel refused to heed this warning and their children departed from the Lord and built themselves groves and images, worshipping detestable things.

    This apostasy, which anciently was manifested as much in depraved thinking as in physical acts, is again raising its head to plague Israel as it plagued Israel of old. If we can judge aright from the type of entertainment that pleases the conversation of the multitudes, the day is at hand when the anger of the Lord will again be kindled against His people and all those who, as individuals, are responsible for furthering the cause of unrighteousness.

    Solomon said of an evil man, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." The conversation of such men reveals their inward thoughts. Jesus recognized this fact, and said:

    "A good man out of the good treaure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." (Matt. 12:35)

    What must be the type of treasure stored in the hearts of those who revel in lewd, evil jokes? Unfortunately, many who claim church membership delight themselves in such things and in the reading of popular novels and literature, parts of which they most certainly would be ashamed to read aloud in the presence of their Lord.

    Paul declared the Christian should have no part in such things, which he labels as filthiness, foolish talking and jesting, meaning in the original Greek "obscene, course and offensive language." Paul then declared that those who do these things will have no inheritance (rulership) in the Kingdom. We are advised not to be deceived:

    "For because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." (Eph. 5:6).

    Then follows the admonition: "Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light."

    The Psalmist declares that those who order their conversation (way) aright will be shown the salvation of God (Ps. 50:23) and Jesus declares the certainty of judgment for careless speaking:

    "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (Matt. 12:36-37).

    The mental barrage of uncleanness can upset the best of men. The early Christians living in licentious Rome found it necessary to move to remote places in order to escape the blighting, degrading influences of these evils (sound advice—move to remote places!) Every man, therefore, should give serious consideration to the instruction God has given His people and remember also the words of Jesus regarding careless talk. The spirit of evil in jest and conversation has permeated society until even Christian men and women have become callous to the suggestive, lascivious remarks of evil men. Solomon could well be speaking of our generation when he said:

    "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are nor washed from their filthiness." (Prov. 30:12, ASV).

    A characteristic of our generation is the present attitude of self-righteousness, and how difficult it is to escape listening to its conversation and jest, the origin of which is from the bottomless pit with the purpose of stirring up lustful emotions. That which is fine and pure, born of love, has been degraded into an ugly and evil thing, born of lust. No man who thinks on such things can be holy as God requires holiness for His people. Those who revel in such lewdness must shout with delight over the increased indifference on the part of even Christians to such uncleanness. Truly this is a day of the great apostasy and this evidence of ungodliness presages the nearness of coming judgment.

    Peter admonished us to be holy in all manner of conversation (1 Peter 1:15) and such holiness is in a large degree lacking in the conversation of many who would be shocked if their spirituality were to be questioned. Lest we forget, one of the outstanding signs of the age ending is the very condition of looseness in present-day conversation and, because prophetically we are living in the day of expectation, it will be well to heed the warning of Peter who, speaking of imminent changes, said:

    "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation [behavior] and godliness, Looking for and hosting unto the coming of the day of God?" (2 Peter 3:11-12).

    God addressed a message to the nation declaring, in the days to come, He will cleanse His people of these evils:

    "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you [a baptism], and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ez. 36:25-27).

    This national awakening and cleansing according to the prophets is coming as the result of pressure through disaster. As for the individual, places of rulership in the restored and perfected Kingdom will be given only to those who are pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matt. 5:8). A message is addressed by Jesus through John in Revelation to those who are overcomers:

    "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God and he shall be my son." (Rev. 21:7).

    Then follows the list of those who are under condemnation and among these are the lascivious who are to have no part in Kingdom blessings if they have not repented and turned from their evil ways and thoughts before He comes, for at that time the finality of their position and that of the righteous will have become fixed:

    "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Rev. 22:11-12).

    When that day comes, there will be many who could have attained unto the high calling but who through carelessness and indifference sold their heritage, as Esau sold his, for a mess of pottage. What a pity! How trivial, then, will seem the conversation and jest for the love of which men have forfeited the blessings of an heavenly inheritance and a place in His Kingdom:

    "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption (Son-ship), whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ (joint heirs belonging to an Anointed people); if so be that we suffer with him [together], that we may be also glorified together." (Rom. 8:13-17).

    It is a lonely way. One must often walk alone, for the world will not walk with him: "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."