Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
November 3rd, 2021
“King _____________________ (fill-in-the-blank) did evil in the eyes of the LORD” – 2nd Kings ad nauseum
If you’ve been continuing with us as we get near the end of our “Read through the Bible 2021” effort, you know that lately we’ve been in the book of 2nd kings: a laundry-list of the kings of Israel and Judah, most of whom didn’t lead the people in righteousness, but rather, down the path of idolatry, looking to military might, and making alliances with various neighboring countries in hopes for security.
If you’ve ever read through these sections (either recently or afar back), you’ve likely been so frustrated you want to pull your hair out: “Ack! Why can’t these guys get it together?! Is ‘trust God and stay away from idolatry’ so hard to comprehend?”
I feel like I’m kind of given a God’s-eye-view perspective on this period of history: individual kings’ reigns often last a column or less, decades can pass by in a single page’s worth or reading, and generations come and go like fruit flies. Yet the repeated cycles of sinfulness, international alliances/warfare, personal intrigue, backstabbing, murders, etc. as people vie for the throne, seem endless. “How sick you must’ve been with these people, God!” I find myself thinking.
But then I wonder: as God looks down on our society nowadays, do we look so much better? Yes, overt idolatry is disdained (in general, though there are certainly pockets of it here and there), thankfully, our system of transition of power has been peaceful for a couple of centuries, on the local & national scales, and we certainly don’t follow our leaders’ religious whims as people appear to have done in the old times; but are we still mucking about in totally preventable sin, that could compromise the blessings God would like to give us? I fear the answer is ‘yes’!
Now: some might say “You can’t make a direct comparison! We are not a ‘theocracy’ like they were: God’s laws are not the same as our national laws. Our country is based on freedom of religion, separation of church and state, etc.”, and I say “yes, and that’s good for the current time”, but I still wonder if our generally predominantly Christian population looks much different to God than Old Testament Israel’s did to Him.
This past weekend is a perfect example: The Bible tells us to focus on beauty, purity, excellence (Philippians 4:8), yet how many choose to fill their minds with the gory, the ugly, the hideous, and the scary? The local theme parks were replete with it, the movies that came out were attempting to shock and disgust more than last year’s, and numerous households held parties with themes of witches, zombies, and death in general. I know, I know, the majority of people celebrate it ‘innocently’ (as I did as a child), but I just feel in my soul like “Ugh! We have counsel to focus on so much more elevated things!”.
I guess our society is bearing-out what Jesus said in John 3:19: “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”. I would almost be tempted to despair, were it not for the same book’s overall analysis from chapter 1: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (verse 5).
Praise the Lord: for those of us who love the “light” of Jesus’ truth, the darkness will never, can never, completely enshroud, obscure, or cancel it out. We will always have access to His rays of warming, comforting, enlightening truth, which will guide us in our steps. I think of the Psalmist’s reflection in ch. 119:105-106 “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.”
So, while we can certainly be discouraged that our society seems to want to ‘muck around’ in sin, not unlike a pig in mud, let’s look to Jesus, the true light, the firm footing, who didn’t give up on humanity through those frustrating times of the latter kings, nor will he through this current, frustrating time.
May God send light and blessing to you all, and to your families the remainder of this week and beyond.
Pastor Mark Tatum