Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.
7 Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.
8 But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.
9 Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.
10 But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.
11 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
12 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
13 When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.
14 Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.
15 They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.
16 The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The Lord of hosts is his name.
17 Gather up thy wares out of the land, O inhabitant of the fortress.
18 For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will sling out the inhabitants of the land at this once, and will distress them, that they may find it so.
19 Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous; but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.
20 My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.
21 For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.
22 Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a den of dragons.
23 O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
24 O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.
25 Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.
Did Israel, later Judah, ever learn from past experiences? The book of Judges gives a simple answer: NO! Why did the kingdoms of Israel and Judah come to a catastrophic end? We may smile condescendingly at their failure and say: “We're different; we have the truth!” Really? Is that truth changing our lives, changing the way we treat brothers in the sisters in the church who may interpret things differently than do we?
We are living in precarious times. Political and economic indicators point to the soon coming of Jesus. Climate change, catastrophes, world- wide economic and political upheavals should drive us to our knees pleading for the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We need heaven's wisdom to know how to direct people's attention to our Savior and His imminent return. Let's get involved in some kind of outreach and actively share the Good News, because this window of opportunity will close soon! Together and individually, let's pray for wisdom to give a good account of what we believe!
Secondary teacher (retired),
Yakima, Washington State USA