Sunday, February 16, 2003

Ear Ticklers #1:


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Wishful Complacency: Crying "Peace, Peace" when there is no Peace

The Prophet Jeremiah, speaking to the leaders and people of Judah, pleaded:

"'How can you say, "We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD," when actually
the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? The wise will be put
to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the
word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have?. . . From the least to
the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practise
deceit.They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.
"Peace, peace," they say, when there is no peace.
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 they are punished, says the LORD. " [Jer. 8:8 - 12.]

Duly, Nebuchadnezzar's armies defeated Judah, and the nation went into exile,
following its elder sister that had been exiled by the Assyriians a hundred
years before, and in a similar context of complacent apostasy.

Jeremiah Today

The prophet highlights a tellingly familiar cluster of precursors to God's
judgement against an apostate culture that has rejected his Word:

  • Empty religiosity, backed up by mishandling of the Word of God, based on
    a false "wisdom."

  • Deceit, greed for gain and self-indulgent prosperity -- including many of
    the religious leaders

  • Loss of a sense of shame -- in Paul's apt words: "Having lost all sensitivity,
    they have given themselves over to sensuality to indulge in every kind of
    impurity, with a continual lust for more." [Eph. 4:19.]

  • A complacent desire for a false peace that would allow them to continue
    to indulge in their sins.

  • Ignoring God's conditions for the blessing of peace: "When a man's
    ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with
    him." [Prov. 16:7.]

So, for instance, as we look at the sickening headlines that proudly announce
Jamaica's Third Annual Valentine's Day Mass Nude Wedding at the locally owned
(and all too well-named) Hedonism III Hotel -- duly officiated by a Minister
of Religion -- Jeremiah's warning takes on an ominous tone. Similarly, we see
an ever-accelerating trend in that nation: church attendance is up, and so are
murder, the illicit drugs trade, levels of personal stress, the rate of births
out of wedlock, and the rate of exchange against the US Dollar.

Where is the sensitivity that blushes at depravity? The repentance? The seeking
after God and godliness?

Wider afield, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United
States, it was sad but predictable to see the firestorm of protest that burst
out when one or two prominent conservative religious leaders raised questions
as to whether the sinful self-indulgence of that once-faithfully Christian nation
has led to a lowering of God's hedge of protection, and to the climate of anger
that feeds the islamist terrorism that exploited the resulting opportunity.
These men have had to apologise for offending their fellow countrymen, and are
dismissed as dangerous right-wing idiots. And yet, the three thousand who perished
on that sad day are less than the daily number of victims of abortion offered
up on the altar of "a woman's right to choose."

At the global level, an apostate, secularised and neo-pagan West seeks to cling
to power. Largely in reaction to this, the increasingly radicalised Islamic
bloc rises up in anger at real and perceived injustices and lashes out in terrorism
and jihads from the Philippines and Indonesia, to Israel/Palestine, Sudan, Ivory
Coast, Nigeria and the United States. And both perceive the rising tide of Christian
reformation in the South as a major threat.

Clearly, then, there is little prospect for lasting peace in our time -- regardless
of the wishful thinking of the peace-marchers and diplomatic appeasers of the
many aggressive tyrants that are working feverishly to arm themselves with the
chemical, biological and nuclear weapons that could easily turn the horrible
visions of Revelations into apocalyptic reality.

Implications for the Caribbean

Here in the Caribbean, we live in one of the geopolitical hinges of the resulting
three-way contest for the world. For, the secularists, apostates and neopagans
want us for a playground (hence our tourist industry's ever-rising trend of
sensual indulgence), and as cannon-fodder to go south. The islamists want us
as a base to project into North America, piercing the belly of "the Great

But, none of these grand schemes will ultimately prevail.

For, as our Lord has prophesied, as is recorded in Matt. 24, when the disciples
asked him: "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the
sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

4 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come
in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, ' and will deceive many. 6 You will
hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such
things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against
nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes
in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 "Then you
will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated
by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the
faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will
appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness,
the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will
be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the
whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

So, when we see the likes of a Bishop Spong usiing his Bishop's robes to provide
a false authority as he tells us that the historic Christian Faith of the Apostles,
Martyrs and Reformers is bankrupt; we should recognise apostasy when we see

Likewise, when we see a Dr Afroz asserting that on the eve of Emancipation
there were hundreds of thousands of muslims ands crypto-muslims among the 320,000
slaves on Jamaica's plantations, we should spot the obvious fallacies and agenda.
(For instance, why then is it that the predominant religious traditions of folk
culture are: African-derived animism, and Protestant Christianity, and of course,
the many attempted blends of the two?)

For, as we grow into a truly mature Christian faith 'we will no longer be infants,
tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of
teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him
who is the Head, that is, Christ." [Eph. 4:14 - 15.]

Therefore, most of all, let us heed the words of Paul:

"Now brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,
for you know very well that the day of the Lord [cf. Amos 5:18 - 6:8!] will
come like a thief in the night. While people are saying "peace and safety,"
destruction will come upon them suddenly . . . and they will not escape. But
you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like
a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong
to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like the others, who
are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep,
sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we
belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as
a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint
us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."
[1 Thess 5:1 - 9.]