It is exceedingly tragic that people reject knowledge of the Most Holy God. It is exceedingly tragic that people reject the truth and embrace lies. It is heartbreaking to witness this tragedy play-out throughout the world in various ways. Recently we have seen this sorrowful reality expressly realized in the life of a famous man and in the lives of the unknown who are being persecuted for their faith. The Bible, God’s Word, has much to say about the reason we are witnesses to such bitter sorrow and distressing injustice.
4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. 5 You meet him that rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned-in these ways we continue; and we need to be saved. 6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7 And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us, because of our iniquities. Isaiah 64:4-7
9 Therefore justice is far from us, Nor does righteousness overtake us; We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness! 10 We grope for the wall like the blind, And we grope as if we had no eyes; We stumble at noonday as at twilight; We are as dead men in desolate places. 11 We all growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves; We look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. 12 For our transgressions are multiplied before You, And our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And as for our iniquities, we know them: 13 In transgressing and lying against the Lord, And departing from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14 Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street, And equity cannot enter. Isaiah 59:9-14
Every human being on the face of the earth is a sinner by inheritance and by practice. Sin mars and corrupts the image of God that faintly flickers within the visage of every person. Sin deceives and slays; it takes away reason and temperance. It confines and enslaves all of mankind in the pit of desperate darkness. It deludes us into thinking that we can by super human effort be delivered from bondage to the snares of iniquity. The reality is that no human, either alone or in concert with other sinners, can wrest themselves free from the tragic enslavement and betrayal of sin. Sin not only conspires to destroy us, it cuts us off from the only One Who is able to deliver us from our desperate plight. It not only separates us from God because of His holiness and our wickedness, it causes enmity between God and us. It causes us to turn away from and deny the only One with the power and love to save us. It makes us atheists, agnostics, and/or vile idolaters. And yet we love our sin and hate our only Savior. By sinful willful choice we reject the things of God and prefer and embrace the deeds of the devil. And so a beloved comedian took his own life, and the traitors of all mankind, ISIL, have been persecuting, pursuing, and preying upon adherents to the Christian faith. There is a curtain of hope that is raised by our God upon this bleak and dreadful drama.
1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all how mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3
1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters: And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. 3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you-the sure mercies of David. Isaiah 55:1-3
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:8-9
God has saving grace for sinners, He will pardon and forgive sinners who turn from their wicked ways and turn to Him. He has made the way of salvation and has prepared it before the whole earth that whosoever believes should not perish but have everlasting life. That whosoever believes may be delivered from the bondage of sin and death and brought into the liberty of the sons of God!
15 So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no man And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him. 17 For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. 18 According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, Fury to His adversaries, Recompense to His enemies; The coastlands He will fully repay. 19 So shall they fear The name of the Lord from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. Isaiah 59:15-19
1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 and they made His grave with the wicked-But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:1-12
26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” 34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized? 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:26-37
21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”, 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return, when he suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith-27 to God, alone wise be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
God in His great mercy sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to save sinners. He died upon the cross bearing our punishment and rose again from the dead proving His victory over sin, the devil, and death; and proving His right to give His salvation to whomsoever He chooses. We can be delivered from the deadly imprisonment of sin and the sentence of eternal damnation in fiery hell because of our sorrowful wickedness. We can be set free and reconciled to our Heavenly Father for now and for eternity. The great tragic sorrow is that so few desire life more than death, and knowledge of the Holy One rather than the fleeting and deceptive pleasures of sin. May we as the beloved of the Lord expectantly wait upon our Lord and God, like Philip, and share the testimony of Jesus Christ with all whom He sends our way. May God bless us in this holy service to Him.