About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Stuck In The Shadow Of Sin


Sin is a subject often ignored these days because talk of  it lowers our self esteem, or so some say.  The present trend is towards motivational sermons that are meant to boost self esteem.  The problem with this over emphasis is that the Lord still views sin as He always has.  So, any positive results of uplifting self esteeming sermons are offset by the negative consequences of unresolved sin.


Isaiah 59:1-2 states that Israel's iniquities had separated her from her God, and her sins had hidden His face from her.  God then said, "I will no longer hear you".  Isaiah isn't just speaking of individual sins committed by individual Israelis.  He's speaking of Israel's national sins.  Sins of individuals had become popularized into the national consensus, much like they have been popularized today. 


Israel paganized worship of Yahweh.  At times she was no better than Sodom and Gomorrah.  Israeli men gang raped Israeli men, often ending in murder. (Judges 19)  The prophets Hosea and Amos speak of Israeli mothers and daughters becoming temple prostitutes, civil corruption, unjust courts, mistreatment of the poor, and on it goes.  All these sins piled up into one huge mountain that placed Israel in the shadow of her sins.


The separation between God and Israel had nothing to do with God's inability to climb over the mountain of Israel's sin.  Isaiah 59:1-2 states that God's arm wasn't too short to save, and His ear wasn't too dull to hear.  The text actually says that God "will not hear".  God "chooses" not to save.  He "chooses" not to hear.  God wasn't the problem.  He never is.  Israel was the problem, and so are we.   


The prophet Hosea adds to this when he says, "their (Israel's) deeds do not permit them to return to their God". (Hosea 5:4)  The mountain of sin became so great in Israel that it became "impossible" for her to return to the Lord.  Israel had lost any ability she might have had to even think about returning to her God.  Israel was that depraved.  She was stuck in the shadow of sin, and she had no way out.  That shadow is no place to be stuck in.


Biblical history shows us that once nations become stuck in the shadow of their sin, the only way out of the dilemma is God's judgment followed by national repentance.  As individual sins spread across a nation to form a national consensus, so should repentance.  When genuine personal repentance spreads across a nation to form a national consensus, then the mountain of sin is removed and a return to the Lord is possible.       


Once our individual sins get incorporated into the national consensus, as they are now, what Hosea says comes into play.  Our sins "do not permit us to reach out to God".  I believe the western world, and even parts of that which is called church, are now stuck in the shadow of sin.  The ability to reach out to the Lord is almost gone.  We're close to being that depraved.  If this is true, what Isaiah says comes into play next.  God's arm isn't too short that He can't save us.  He has a very long arm, but, and this is an important "but", the long arm of salvation becomes the long arm of  judgment.    


People often wonder where God is these days. We may not wonder much longer.  We'll soon see Him  smashing through the mountain of our sin with His long arm of judgment.  If this must become our reality, Jesus help those who are His. 


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