Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When Eyes Fail Looking for God's Salvation

Reading: Psalm 12  
The Bible is no magic answer book. In other words, It doesn't just make everything better. It doesn't even promise to do that. In fact, the Bible makes plain that the walk of faith is just that, a walk of faith. Psalm 119: 123 describes what the walk of faith often looks like.
My eyes fail, looking for your salvation, looking for your righteous promise.
Yesterday1 as our church participated in 40 Days for Life at an abortion clinic in St. Petersburg praying, there were moments I felt as if we were up against a veritable Goliath in our stand against abortion—as if you could hear the enemy jeering at our inability to accomplish anything against this horrific scourge in our land. Psalm 12 describes a time like this, a time when our eyes may fail—that we feel completely spent in our ability to hope any longer for the Lord's redemption.
This psalm has a clear structure that can be described as A-B-C-B-A. The first verse (A1) corresponds to the last verse (vs. 8) (A2); verses 2-3 (B1) correspond to verses 6-7 (B2); and verse 5 stands in the middle (C) as what God is going to do about it! Seeing this structure can help us understand what God is communicating to us in this psalm.
First the psalmist describes the way things seem at times like this.
Help, LORD, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. (Psalm 12:1)
What evidence is there for this? Corresponding to this vanishing of the faithful we find:
The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men. (Psalm 12:8)
While the righteous appear to have vanished, the wicked are highly visible. The psalm is not telling us that the righteous have literally been eliminated. We know the psalmist was still around. This is poetry. It is speaking from the perspective of the earth and sees how bad it looks. But the walk of faith is all about trusting God despite the appearances. This psalm describes what we face in our own country today: The wicked are freely strutting about because what is vile is honored among men.
Our culture honors sex; not sex in marriage as designed by God, but sex freely, often and on demand...and now underwritten by the government. So the Sandra Flukes of our culture unashamedly stand up and demand that the public subsidizes her escapades and the consequences thereof. Those who engage in unnatural relations demonstrate on parade floats caricatures of their immorality. (For more on that topic see A Gospel Response to St. Petersburg's Gay Pride Festival.)
Secondly, the psalmist speaks of the brick wall we seemingly keep running into:
2Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception. 3May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue that says, "We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips—who is our master?" (Psalm 12:2-3)
One strategy to attack the truth is to just keep saying the same thing over and over again hoping people will gradually begin to believe it. That is what we face in the abortion debate. What once would have seemed as absurd as corralling up Jews and sending them to concentration camps, now abortion is talked about as if it is a reasonable side to a discussion. Just last week, Vice President Joe Biden said,
My religion defines who I am. And I've been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And it has particularly informed my social doctrine. Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who — who can't take care of themselves, people who need help. With regard to — with regard to abortion, I accept my church's position on abortion … Life begins at conception. That's the church's judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and — I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman.
Now let's think about that just a second... let's apply that logic to something very similar. His religion also says that murder is wrong, and that terrorist attacks are wrong. However, will he impose his church's position “on devout Christians, Jews or Muslims” that want to kill their neighbors? If a baby is a life (and he claims he believes that), then what is the difference? There is none. So I am perplexed as to how his idea of Catholic social doctrine has taught him anything about how to take care of those who can't take care of themselves. Surely his Catholic (and human) doctrine teaches him that these babies in the womb are unable to take care of themselves. The fact that they can't take care of themselves gives abortion advocates justification for eliminating them. (They call that not being “viable life”.) Who next will it be okay to kill? The elderly who can't take care of themselves? The disabled? Are these the kind of people we want in control of our health care?
However, corresponding to verses 2-3 and the lies that the wicked tell are verses 6-7 and the truth of God.
6And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. 7O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever. (Psalms 12:6-7)
The lies that seem like a fire hose in our faces spewing from our culture today will not stand in the end. There is a flawless word that will triumph, not the lying lips as they suppose. Why? Because of what it is the center of this psalm.
5"Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says the LORD. "I will protect them from those who malign them."
There are none more oppressed in our society today than the unborn child. Today one in every two African American children is aborted. The number of children who have been eliminated through abortion is likely in excess of 60 million. It is injustice in every sense of the word. The Lord hears the groaning of the child in the womb as he/she burns and as arms and limbs are cut off (pardon the graphic but accurate description). The Lord hears and will arise to protect them.
Though our eyes fail looking for this deliverance, looking for this righteous promise to be fulfilled, we can rest assured that the word of the Lord will ultimately prevail. So we must continue to pray, we must continue to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8), we must continue to rescue those being led away to death (Proverbs 24:11-12).
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,
1Written Monday, October 15, 2012.