Why are God’s people succumbing to spiritual attacks?
… Come, wild animals of the forest! Come and devour my people!Isaiah 56:9
We have cut down the defences against evil and have become an open target.
For the leaders of my people … are blind and ignorant. They are like silent watchdogs that give no warning.Isaiah 56:10
Our defencelessness indicates a failure of spiritual leadership. Leaders fear challenging evil because in our day it is considered offensive to challenge behaviour.
Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied.Isaiah 56:11
Spiritual greed for numbers to demonstrate fruitfulness overwhelms faithfulness to our Lord and silences our challenge to a culture casting off constraint.
They are ignorant shepherds …
We harden ourselves to silence our guilty consciences by deliberately forgetting what we know of the Bible. We prefer ignorance to a conflicted heart.
… all following their own path and intent on personal gain.
Having hardened ourselves against God and his word we are freed to follow the paths that will give us numerical following, the ‘indication of fruitfulness.’
All this might be expedient in our day, but there are consequences …
Come, wild animals of the field! Come, wild animals of the forest! Come and devour my people!Isaiah 56:9
People are suffering and asking why isn’t God stopping it from happening?
Jesus never became chummy with the opinion shapers of his society. Without the Jesus factor their approval, however valued by people, was worthless.
And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you. (John 5:37-38NIV)
Jesus contrasts the Father’s approval with the approval of those who have not spent time with God. The only way that encounter with God can occur is through Christ. How much of our thinking is our own? How much come from spending time with Jesus?
“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. (John 5:39-40NIV)
Even those who can appear spiritual, quoting Scripture, can be so focused on discovering the answer they neglect asking Jesus for the answers. Do our words, though orthodox, lack Jesus?
“Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. (John 5:41-43NIV)
Jesus had no interest in the approval of those whose certainties had driven out the love of God. They were unable to receive people God sent them. Do we value the certainties of our group over the promptings of the Spirit of God to love?
How do we decide who to take seriously? We live in a culture that measures value by size of following. Jesus looked elsewhere.
“If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. (John 5:31-32NIV)
The famous depend upon projecting an image to increase following. Jesus despised such approaches. He looked to only one human testimony – John the Baptist.
John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. (John 5:35-36NIV)
Jesus then points to three factors that make up a testimony worth listening to-
- A shining lamp – a life that shines out with integrity and godliness.
- Teachings – Jesus’ teachings were different in that they had both a depth of insight and a simplicity about them that pointed to someone who knew God.
- Miracles – Left in the wake of Jesus’ ministry were many transformed lives. There were people who were transformed through healing from sickness, and people who were transformed from selfishness.
Are we willing to quietly step back and look at the people who influence us with a discerning eye? Are we willing to invite God to work on us so that He could make us such people?