Do you enjoy history? Do you ever think back to previous times and wonder what it must have been like? Some people like imagining life during the Civil or Revolutionary Wars, or even further back to the days of the Ancient Romans, Greeks, or Egyptians. But have you ever given any serous thought to what it must have been like–how it must have felt–to live right before the Flood, or in the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah just before God destroyed them?
“And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].” (John 1:5 AMP)
The advantage of studying history is that by doing so we see that, “…there [really] is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9b) And if we live long enough, we come to recognize that even though the world may have changed significantly during our lifetime, during some point of our earth’s history others have seen and experienced what we are now going through. Not technologically, of course, because with the online wealth of information available to us today we communicate in ways never even imagined by previous generations. Never before with such rapidity have the prophetic words “…knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4) so greatly appeared to be coming true. Yet within the context of human nature and its morality (or lack of it), there really is nothing new under the sun. “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done…” (Ecclesiastes 1:9a)
Have you ever tried imagining what life must have been like while Noah built the ark? Not the fictionalized world of the Russell Crowe movie but the actual world we live in today, right before Noah and his family stepped into the ark and God sealed the door. The Bible identifies Noah as a “preacher of righteousness,” (2 Peter 2:5) so he must have been witnessing–at the very least through his own relationship with God, and most probably through active verbal exhortation to the masses of people who saw what he was doing. Yet even though the building of the ark took somewhere between seventy-five and one hundred twenty years, how many people repented and got on the ark with him? Not one person more than the original eight people God identified!
What about Lot, living in Sodom and even “…sitting in the gate of Sodom… ” (Genesis 19:1), a phrase indicative of possessing some influence within the city? We are told that God “…delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds).” (II Peter 2:7-8) Yet he couldn’t convert a single soul–not even the two men his daughters were engaged to–and even lost his own wife to the culture’s influence. Which brings us to the power of culture on us.
Prospective is defined as “ a meaningful In the same way, someone older–whose formative years were in a different time–can more readily identify a downward progression in society, while a person whose lifetime has been confined to the present culture is acclimated to its decadence and cannot as easily recognizes it for what it is because it’s all he’s ever known.
I imagine it is difficult for someone who hasn’t lived that long yet to fully grasp what I’m trying to say. It may be a sign of age, because–don’t we all remember the stories of our elders figuratively wagging their fingers and telling us how evil the world has become and how much better things were when they were younger? The irony of that is that regardless of how aggravating it might have been, it probably was true. I personally remember a time when the Bible was still generally accepted as authoritative, and that which God identifies as sin–while not universally practiced–was nonetheless still considered wrong. Yet increasingly it not longer is. The spirit of the times has shifted, I believe.
Many of us still remember when the right to freely practice your faith was understood to mean we are free to our own interpretation of what the Bible says, and this wasn’t considered narrow-minded or bigoted because everyone understood that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but by Him. We remember when pastors, priests and others specifically identified as Christians in film or television were invariably the good guys and could be relied upon to act rightly. We remember when businesses were not required to fund insurance that allows the murder of unborn children, and service industries were free to decide which jobs they wanted to take based upon conscience, rather than being dictated to by government whom they must serve–not in the sense that there should be prejudice against certain ethnic or racial groups, but in the sense that we should not be forced to play along and pretend that what the Bible clearly identifies as wrong is now acceptable and right.
These days the reverse is true. If there is a representative of Christianity, you can be certain that the villain has been identified; paganism and even Satanism is protected as a “religion;” and government is litigiously going after companies who do not share the religious views of the times. This shouldn’t, however, surprise us; it certainly hasn’t surprised God. As far back as two thousand years ago Paul warned Timothy that, “…evil men and seducers shall wax [grow, become] worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13 KJV)
So, what is God’s take on the declining moral culture? How does He feel about it, and what’s He doing about it?
“For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment. And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day…[God] is especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire, and who despise authority. These people are proud and arrogant, daring even to scoff at supernatural beings without so much as trembling.” (2 Peter 2:4-10 NLT)
God isn’t ignoring what’s going on. He sees and knows. Yet, we are assured that, “…the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.” (2 Peter 2:9 NLT)
So, how are we to respond? What was the Apotle Paul’s directive to Timothy? Should we get scared, or bent out of shape? Should we wring our hands in frustration? Clearly, no. “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” (II Timothy 3:14) Regardless of what goes on around us we are to, with singlemindedness of purpose, continue in what we have learned from the holy Word of God–because we know from Whom we have learned it!
Give us Your perspective–help us look inside our “fishbowl” experience objectively from the outside–so that we can recognize that regardless of how evil culture gets, our job is to continue in the things which we have learned, faithful to You! Amen.