3-Week Series: Double Blessing

Sermons

Summary: God corrects those He loves. It's difficult to read the news and see events in the world today without seeing God's hand in some of the tragedies around us-calling us to repentance and change and restoration. This is a brief meditation on Proverbs 3:11-12

(written October 2018)

Proverbs 3

11 do not reject the correction of the GOD, my son, nor get sick of His punishment.

12 Because the person GOD loves, He judges, just as a father does his favourite son.

Correction

Nobody likes to be corrected.

One hundred years ago today, the fighting of World War I was officially brought to an end. At 11 am (Paris time) on the 11th day of the 11th month, Armistice was declared. Some have argued the series of 11’s was appropriate (the 11th hour), because it seemed the world may come to an end if such wars continued. It was the end of the War to End All Wars. But just a few decades later another World War began (it was ended September 9th at 9 am-a reference to the Chinese word for nine having the same pronunciation as the word for long duration-the hope that this peace would last forever). The hopeful tone of these armistices seems idealistic and unrealistic in retrospect. Abraham Lincoln had a more poignant perspective concerning the great War of his day.

In the Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln said something I think few if any politicians would have the courage to say today. Concerning the opposing sides of the North and the South he said:

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Lincoln laid responsibility for the Civil War of the US on God’s judgement for slavery. Is it possible that he was right, and that the Civil War was not the only destructive event that fits this description?

What of current trends in the US?

I look at the past several months of news-the most destructive and costly hurricane season in history, mass shootings, the Thousand Oaks tragedy this week was the 307th since January 1 this year, more than 12,000 people have died in gun attacks so far this year. More than 70,000 people died due to overdose of drugs in the US last year. Add to that the increasing frequency of wildfires, some of which are burning in my state right now and have almost completely destroyed entire towns, and the US is experiencing tragedies on a scale one might only expect during times of war. Is it possible that judgment has begun? Without seeking blame or the reasons God may have for allowing such devastating tragedies, might this be a good time for all Americans to reflect, and take an account of how far the nation has fallen from the great ideals of its early years? I have difficulty imagining any recent POTUS speaking with the eloquence of Lincoln, or Jefferson or Washington, let alone the current person who occupies the White House. The depth of thought and character required are lost on this generation.

Jesus said wars, pestilence, natural disasters would continue throughout human history. In fact they, like labour pains, can be expected to increase in frequency and intensity as the end of human history approaches. Yet God’s correction is evident in large and small scales.

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