During the last number of Sundays, we at Gateway have been looking at Psalm 107 in our morning messages. It is a marvelous Psalm of hope. It begins with praise and ends with the admonition, "Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord." (Psalm 107:43 NIV)
Most of us like to consider ourselves as wise; smart in some sense. Even those who have not had the privilege of a great education will assert themselves with words like, "I may not be book-smart, but I know a thing or two."
Frankly, I am not so sure we are as intelligent as we profess to be. For instance, we might read the words of Psalm 107:25, "For (God) spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted on high the waves," and from our modern perspective we tend to dismiss such a view as ancient superstition. After all, modern man understands that such storms are the work of Mother Nature. More seriously, we tend to attribute the weather to nothing more than shifting wind currents, natural phenomena that have nothing to do with God (or he with it). In light of such thinking, I have to wonder who really is more primitive in their understanding, ancient man or modern man.
In Romans 1, we have an answer to the question immediately above: "But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push away the truth from them. For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day.
"Yes, they knew about him all right, but they wouldn't admit it or worship him or even thank him for all his daily care. And after a while they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what he wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused. Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead. And then, instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they took wood and stone and made idols for themselves, carving them to look like mere birds and animals and snakes and puny men" (Romans 1:18-23, The Living Bible).
It seems to me, from this passage in Romans, God's view of things is ancient man was far more enlightened than those of us who, following the Enlightenment Period, really are quite unenlightened. Ancient man recognized the hand of God in everything; today we fail to see God in anything. Let someone suggest God may be in a hurricane, drought or flood, and that person is accused of trying to take us back to the Dark Ages.
Modern wisdom (which excludes God) brought us what is agreed by all to be the bloodiest century in recorded history (the 20th century). It is no coincidence the beliefs which such violent actions were the beliefs designed to free man from the ancient concept of God.
As so-called enlightened man continues to pursue a course independent of God, our pathway to self-destruction has sped into high gear. We are appalled when we here of children killing children, we ring our hands in dismay, never stopping to consider we have spawned the curse when we demanded our independence from God.
Some scholars have observed four decades of losses set the stage for what we are experiencing today. The 1950s introduced us to lost innocence. The '60s to loss of respect for any authority (including God). The '70s was a decade of lost love and the '80s was a decade of lost hope. Add to this the decade of the '90s, where man seemed to have lost all sense of conscience, and its no wonder fear and anxiety marks our day.
There is an answer. It is found in wisdom - true intelligence - and a return to God.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of