The Earth is Polluted
Whether as a result of the Exxon Valdez, Love Canal, Bhopal, Three Mile Island, the Kuwait oil fires, Fukushima, the BP oil spill, Chernobyl, or one of the many other environmental disasters that have smitten our planet, it is clear that the earth has been polluted by its inhabitants. Such calamites remind us of the following passage from Scripture, which also hints at a different type of pollution upon the earth that it says is related to all of these catastrophes:
The earth is polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty. Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left. (Isaiah 24:5-6)
What Laws Have We Transgressed?
You might wonder what laws we have transgressed, supposing yourself and most of those you know to be pretty good people. But that’s only because you don’t understand the righteousness of God’s law. You may think you are a good person because you’ve never murdered anyone, have never been in prison, and try to live a good life. And by man’s standards you are probably right, which is why it is so hard for many to believe that disasters like these could be the righteous judgment of God. But if God is the judge then He is going to judge according to His standard of righteousness, not ours.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9)
God’s Standard of Righteousness
Consider then just a portion of the universally accepted standard of God’s law found in the ten commandments:
You Shall Not Lie
God’s law says that you shall not lie (Exo 20:16, 1Ti 1:10), and you may suppose that you are a good person because you have never been sentenced to prison for perjury. But God didn’t say that you shouldn’t tell really big lies that might get you sent to prison and that little white lies are OK. Have you ever been less than truthful to your parents, to your spouse, to your employer, or on your income tax return? What do you call someone who tells lies? It sounds so harsh when applied to us, but are you a liar? Although it was likely many years ago, you can probably remember the very first time you told a lie that you knew it was wrong and you felt guilty about it. But then you justified that it was OK, because everyone tells little white lies, and so the next time it was a little bit easier, and you felt a little less remorse, until now it doesn’t seem like such a big deal at all to stretch the truth a little. But God sees your heart, and He says that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire (Rev 21:8).
You Shall Not Steal
God’s law says that you shall not steal (Exo 20:15), and again you may suppose that you are not guilty because you have never robbed a bank or stolen a car. But God looks much closer: have you ever stolen an artist’s song or a movie by illegally copying it without paying for it? That’s a violation of copyright and a form of theft. Or maybe you’ve “borrowed” things from your employer, taken things home from work that didn’t rightfully belong to you. After all, they didn’t cost your employer anything did they? What do we call someone who steals something? Are you a thief? The Bible says that no thief will inherit the kingdom of God (1Co 6:9-10)! The first time you did it you knew it was wrong and you felt guilty about it, but again you justified that it was OK because it was such a small thing and everyone else does it. And so you hardened your heart and found it didn’t bother you so much the next time, so that now there doesn’t even seem to be anything at all wrong with it. The Bible calls that a seared conscience (1Ti 4:2).
You Shall Not Take God’s Name in Vain
God’s law says that you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (Exo 20:7). Have you ever used God’s name as a cuss word? That’s blasphemy, and was punishable by death under the law of Moses (Lev 24:10-16,23). Have you ever been so surprised by something that you say, “Oh my G–!” That’s using His name uselessly, in vain. Jesus said that in the day of judgment you will render account for every careless, idle word you’ve spoken, and by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Mat 12:36-37). Have you ever taken the name of God in vain? Again, you may justify that it isn’t a big deal, that it is just an expression, that you didn’t mean anything by it. But that’s just the point: you gave no thought to the God who gave you life and created every good and perfect gift for you to enjoy—Almighty God who holds the entire universe in the palm of His hand, before whom Moses the meekest man in all the earth was full of fear and trembling (Heb 12:21) and before whom Jesus’ closest apostles fell on their faces terrified (Mat 17:6)—and you used His name in idle chatter as a vain thing. In the day of judgment when you stand before God and He presents the evidence of every word you’ve ever spoken and He judges you according to His righteous and holy standard, do you suppose you will be found innocent?
You Shall Not Commit Adultery
God’s law says that you shall not commit adultery (Exo 20:14). And again you may suppose you are not guilty because you’ve been pretty faithful to the one you love. But Jesus said that anyone who looks after another with lust has already committed adultery in his heart (Mat 5:28). He said that anyone who divorces a spouse and marries another commits adultery (Mar 10:11-12). The Bible teaches that likewise God will judge those who have sex outside of marriage and they will not inherit the kingdom of God (Heb 13:4, 1Co 6:9-10). You may appear righteous to others because they see only the outside, but God sees your heart. He sees you at home when you are all alone; He sees the books and magazines you read, the things you watch on the television and the computer, the things you listen to. And He says He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished (Exo 34:7). We often hear of criminals who go free because of a technicality; do you suppose there will be any technicalities to set you free in the court of Him who is both all-knowing and infinitely just?
You Shall Not Murder
God’s law says that you shall not murder (Exo 20:13). Do you feel pretty safe because you have never shot and killed someone? Jesus said that if you are even angry with your brother you are as guilty as if you had already committed murder (Mat 5;21-22). His closest disciple said, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer” and declared that “no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1Jo 3:15). So do you really think that when you stand before God in the day of judgment and He exposes all the thoughts of your heart that you will be innocent and He will say, “Come, enter into my heavenly kingdom that is righteous and holy, you are just the sort of loyal subject I have been seeking who won’t mar it’s perfection as has happened in all the earth”?
The Inhabitants of the Earth are Burned
We see then from God’s perspective that it isn’t so difficult to understand that “the earth is polluted by its inhabitants, because they transgressed laws, violated statutes, and broke the everlasting covenant”. Notice then what the Scripture says is the result: “Therefore a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned.” Have you ever been burned by a sour relationship, or by someone who wasn’t entirely honest in a business transaction? Have you ever felt burned by God, and maybe wondered why He allowed you or someone you loved to suffer?
Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins? Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD. Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say: “We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven. (Lamentations 3:39-42)
A Hardened Heart
Perhaps you are like so many others and have become so accustomed to your sin that it no longer concerns you. You no longer cringe when you hear the name of God who gave you life cursed. You no longer blush at the immoralities that are glorified in the media and are not shocked at the graphic violence. You justify that the movies and television programs you watch and the music you listen to aren’t as bad as some, but still you tolerate what is profane because you enjoy it. The engine light on your car went off but you just ignored it and paid no attention. You kept right on driving and gave no heed. It has been on so long that it is in danger of burning out. Or perhaps you even grew tired of its reminder and disconnected it entirely so that you have what the Bible calls a harlot’s forehead (Jer 3:3), a conscience so seared and a heart so hardened that you no longer feel shame or remorse. Oh! WAKE UP and come to your senses!! “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” so you can no longer hear (Heb 3:7-8,15, 4:7)!!
God Does Not Hear Those Whose Hearts Are Hardened To Not Hear Him
Have you ever wondered why you pray to God and He doesn’t answer?
“And they made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts. And it came about that just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen,” says the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 7:12-13)
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18).
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (Isa 59:1-2).
The Cumulative Effects of Sin Bring a Curse
What do you think is the cumulative effect of every person’s greed? Perhaps a meltdown in the economy? What do you think is the cumulative effect of every person’s “private” lust and immorality? Perhaps a lot of broken homes, sexually transmitted diseases, innocent babies born with AIDS? What do you think is the cumulative effect of every person’s little white lies, thefts, murders, adulteries, and blasphemies? It is just as Isaiah the prophet wrote in the 8th century B.C.: “a curse devours the earth, and … the inhabitants of the earth are burned”. 700 years before that God had promised through Moses the same thing:
Deuteronomy 28: 15 “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: 16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country (think both urban and suburban). 17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl (i.e., your livelihood). 18 “Cursed shall be the offspring of your body (think childhood diseases and birth defects) and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock (all that belongs to you and every opportunity you might have to get ahead). 19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out (you are cursed coming and going). 20 ¶ “The LORD will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me. 21 “The LORD will make the pestilence cling to you (think sickness and disease)… 22 “The LORD will smite you with consumption (think chronic illnesses)… 28 “The LORD will smite you with madness (think mental illness)… 30 “You shall betroth a wife, but another man will violate her; you shall build a house, but you will not live in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but you will not use its fruit (think about the consequences of divorce). 31 “Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat of it; your donkey shall be torn away from you, and will not be restored to you (think about property being repossessed); your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you will have none to save you (think about financial loss due to litigation). 32 “Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and yearn for them continually; but there will be nothing you can do (think about how this has been fulfilled by the alienation of children from their parents to the MTV and drug and gang cultures). 33 “A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors, and you will never be anything but oppressed and crushed continually (think about how Japan, China, India, Korea, and OPEC have consumed the economic might of America). 34 “You shall be driven mad by the sight of what you see (think about the staggering increases of mental illness)…. 39 “You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you will neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm will devour them. 40 “You shall have olive trees throughout your territory but you will not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives will drop off (wine and oil are symbols of spiritual understanding; this is a picture of people who are always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, 2Ti 3:7)…. 43 “The alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you will go down lower and lower (think about the results of multiculturalism, the “rights” of illegal aliens, and how foreign ideologies are now favored in the media and textbooks). 44 “He shall lend to you, but you will not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you will be the tail. 45 “So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the LORD your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you….
The Just Recompense For Sin
If anything of what has been said has been understood then it ought to be clear that we have personally and as a nation broken God’s law, are even now under a curse, and in the day of judgment will be found guilty and receive the just recompense for our sins.
And what is the just recompense for our sins? Consider for a moment just the one small sin of the one man who first sinned against God: What punishment is sufficient for the man who first disobeyed God, who marred His perfect creation, and brought this curse that has multiplied and caused untold sufferings? Sin is likened to leaven—it spreads unseen and unnoticed, but it’s effects are clearly seen. Like a cancer it infects everything it touches. Every soul born into this world is destined to die, many by a horrible and torturous death. All creation groans under the sin of mankind (Rom 8:22): hurricanes, earthquakes, wars, famine, sickness, disease. The planet suffers; the animals suffer, people suffer. All this curse because of one man’s sin—just one sin! Again, what is the just recompense for the immeasurable suffering of just one sin? Is eternal punishment in the torments of hell where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mat 25:46, Mar 9:48, Luk 16:23-24) too long to requite the compounding effects of such evil?
The Just Recompense For Your Sin
Now, what about your multiplied sins? How have you passed them on to your children, to those around you, to your friends, your coworkers? How have they suffered because of your sins, and how will future generations suffer because of your sins? Is it possible that you don’t see or understand the full effects of your sins? Do you dismiss their eternal consequences to others and the affront they are to the God who created you and commanded you otherwise? In the day of judgment when the charade is over and all the smoke and mirrors of this life that hide your nakedness are consumed by the blazing fires of His truth then you will understand that God is not unjust as He is so often accused. When you stand before Almighty God and the brilliant radiance of His righteousness and holiness exposes all of the deception and lies you have trusted in to justify your sins then you will discover too late that God is completely just and that it is a terrible thing to fall in the hands of the living God. For then you will see your sins in light of all past and future generations, and all the unseen evil and suffering they have caused, and your mouth will be stopped because you will see that all your excuses to justify your sins are completely worthless in light of the lifetime of evidence God has collected from your every thought, word and deed. The Bible says He will bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the inner motives of every man (1Co 4:5). It says He will judge all your secrets and the thoughts and attitudes of your heart (Rom 2:16, Heb 4:12). No matter how much good you think you have done to outweigh it, you are guilty of violating God’s righteous and holy law and you will receive the just recompense for your crimes.
Do Not Be Deceived!
Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1Cor 6:9-10)
Numerous times God’s word commands us to not be deceived about the wages of sin (1Co 15:33, Gal 6:7, Jam 1:16, 1Jo 3:7). When the Bible warns repeatedly, “Do not be deceived”, do you think it is possible you could be deceived? Does a deceived person know he is deceived?
God’s Justice and Love
We see then that God is immeasurably just, and he will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. All of us are guilty and by nature are children of wrath, deserving only the righteous indignation of the holy God who created us and against whom we have rebelled. And yet it is true that the nature of God is not only infinitely holy and just, He is also infinitely loving, and full of mercy. His justice demanded satisfaction, but at the same time His love for mankind sought for a means of redemption. God’s justice did allow for a substitutionary atonement to be made for one who was guilty. One who had violated God’s law could be set free if another who was innocent took his place. The problem though, is that there wasn’t any man who was completely innocent to take our place. For although the Lord looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there was anyone who understood and sought after Him, they had all turned aside and together had become corrupt; there was no one who did good, not even one (Psa 14:2-3). “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).
God’s Provision For Man’s Redemption
Therefore, almost 2000 years ago, in what is the most unfathomable demonstration of God’s love for mankind He sent His Son, His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die and pay the penalty as a ransom for our sins. He was born of a virgin so that He did not inherit the sin nature that each of us has. And He lived a perfect life without sin, though He was tempted in every way as we are, so that in all of history He was the one man who did NOT have to die for his sins. The prophet Isaiah foretold that “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities—the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isa 53:5-6). Jesus Christ died a criminal’s death in order that God’s justice would be satisfied, so that you could be forgiven. You had a debt you could not pay; He paid a debt He didn’t owe. You needed a Savior, and God provided it in the person of His only Son the Lord Jesus Christ and furnished proof by raising Him from the dead three days later—one of the most established facts in all of history. There is more historical evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead than that Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo! This is the gospel, the Good News, that Jesus Christ died a criminal’s death to pay the ransom for your sins, to save you from the wrath of God, to redeem you from the fiery torments of hell demanded by His justice.
What Must You Do To Be Saved?
What then do you need to do to be saved? The Bible says that God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness and bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and reveal the secret thoughts and intentions of every man’s heart. Having overlooked the times of ignorance God is now commanding all men everywhere to repent—turn away from your sins—and put your faith in the Savior (Act 17:30-31). Yes, God is indeed infinitely loving, which is why He sent His Son to die for your sins. But He is also infinitely just, and He will not leave your sins unpunished. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Will you trust Him? Will you repent of your sins and put your faith in Jesus today?
Now is the Day of Salvation
“Behold, now is the day of salvation” (2Co 6:2); tomorrow may be too late, for tomorrow is promised to no man. Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts! (Heb 4:7). Do not suppose that God will tarry with you forever. You do not know when the sun will set on the “Today” of your salvation. You may live another 80 years on this earth, but today may be the day you harden your heart once too often, past that point from which there is no repentance, even if sought after with tears (Heb 12:17). Your sins cry out to God for justice and are multiplied to heaven. Will you add to them by rejecting God’s kindness and mercy and the love He has poured out for you through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ? Will you spurn His love and count as so little value the gift of His only Son that He gave for your sins? If you suppose yourself to already be a Christian, have you truly repented of your sins, or are you trampling underfoot and regarding as an unholy thing the blood that He gave to sanctify you and deliver you from your sins (see Heb 10:26-31)?
Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. (Romans 2:4-8)
C.S. Lewis wrote this:
Nearly they stood who fall;
Themselves as they look back
See always in the track
The one false step where all
Even yet, by lightest swerve
By foot not yet enslaved,
By smallest tremor of the smallest nerve,
Might have been saved.
Nearly they fell who stand,
And with cold after fear
Look back to mark how near
They grazed the Siren’s land,
Wondering that subtle fate,
By threads so spidery fine,
The choice of ways so small, the event so great,
Should thus entwine.
Therefore oh, man, have fear
Lest oldest fears be true,
Lest thou too far pursue
The road that seems so clear,
And step, secure, a hair’s
Breadth past the hair-breadth bourne,
Which, being once crossed forever unawares,
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12)
The earth is indeed polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, and broke the ever-lasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty. In whatever ways you have already been burned by that curse, it cannot compare to the final judgment that will overtake you if you do not repent of your sins and put your faith in what God has done for you in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:37-40)
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2Corinthians 5:18-21).
1. See Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict.↩
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