Responding to An Ungodly Society July 5, 2016
What to do?
There is no debating it. We live in an ungodly, spiritually deteriorating age. The evidence is everywhere. Not only does the media mock and reject Christian morals, but governments are legislating against Christian beliefs. Immoral lifestyles are not only being flaunted, they are being pushed upon the Church with religious vigor. To embrace biblical standards is to invite being labeled a bigot or intolerant, cardinal sins in today’s enlightened age.
So what can Christians do? Some are wringing their hands and opting out of engaging society. Many are claiming they will not vote in the upcoming presidential election. Others retreat to their social media accounts and wistfully long for days gone by. Many are bewildered and have no idea what they should do.
It is in such dark times that history proves useful. History provides perspective on what we are experiencing today. People are behaving as they have in every age. The names have changed, the technology is more sophisticated, but the fundamental issues remain the same. Astute students of history can study how godly men and women acted in previous ages and learn from their creativity, courage, and faith. We Christians don’t stand alone. We join the ranks of Christians throughout the ages that have faced evil and been victorious.
Politically Unstable Times
King Jehoshaphat was one of the godliest kings ever to rule the kingdom of Judah. Scripture declares of him: “And he walked in the way of his father Asa, and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chron. 20:32). Though he faced national crises during his reign, God was pleased with Jehoshaphat and so “. . . the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, his God gave him rest all around” (2 Chron. 20:30). Just as God promised, when a nation is righteous, God grants them peace and protection from their enemies.
However, in a troubling twist, Jehoshaphat’s oldest son, Jehoram, did not follow in his father’s footsteps. Jehoshaphat foolishly allied himself with the wicked King Ahab and had his son Jehoram marry Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah. Rather than following his godly father’s example, Jehoram took his evil father-in-law’s path (2 Chron. 21:6). He callously murdered all of his brothers (2 Chron. 21:4). Such evil was unprecedented in Judah. God judged the evil king, first sending enemies against him who killed all but his youngest son Ahaziah, then God struck Jehoram with a painful, terminal disease (2 Chron. 21:17-20).
Jehoram was succeeded by his only surviving son, Ahaziah, but he was as wicked as his father. Scripture says, “He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother advised him to do wickedly” (2 Chron. 22:3). Within a year, the wicked king was dead, a result of God’s judgment. Then transpired one of the most heinous acts ever perpetrated by the Judean monarchy. The queen mother, Athaliah, murdered all of her grandchildren so she could assume the throne (2 Chron. 22:10).
It seemed that society could not possibly sink any lower in degradation and evil, but it always found a way. Government leaders were consumed with obtaining and holding on to power. They cared nothing for the people. Government leaders resorted to any depth of violence, deception, or evil if it helped them retain their power. It seemed there was nothing that ordinary citizens could do.
There was a couple, however, who thought otherwise. While the royal babies were being butchered, Jehoshabeath hid the king’s son, Joash, even though such an act placed her own life in peril. Joash was only a baby and defenseless against the evil queen. For six years, Jehoshabeath and her husband Jehoida, a priest, hid Joash in the temple (2 Chron. 23:11-12).
What could a religious leader and his wife do against one of the most evil government leaders ever to rule the land? At first, it seemed as if there was little of significance they could do. They refused to accept the evil condition of their land. They hid a baby. Scripture tells us that, “in the seventh year Jehoida strengthened himself” (2 Chron. 23:1). It was then that Jehoida organized leaders who opposed the evil queen and overthrew her, placing the child Joash on the throne. So grateful was the nation, that when Jehoida died, he was granted the enormous honor of being buried in the City of David among the kings “because he had done good in Israel” (2 Chron. 24:16).
What can we learn from the bravery of Jehoida and his wife Jehoshabeath? Several things.
- In every age there have been wicked rulers who sought power at the expense of their people. Our age is not unique!
- There is always something godly people can do. Godly people can and must always resist evil wherever they find it. This might mean prayerfully biding your time until the opportune moment to overthrow the current leader. It might mean preserving whatever shred of righteousness is left in the country.
- Godly people can join together. The reason that evil often prevails is because godly people are isolated and divided. Jehoida discovered that there were many people in the land who were opposed to the government. They were just waiting for someone to organize and lead them. Once this happened, the people of God reclaimed their nation.
- God’s people can support the best possible option that God makes available. In the nation’s most perilous time, why did Jehoida give his support to a baby? It certainly could have been easier to rally the nation behind a fully grown, godly prince. But God had not made one of those available! God’s answer, as it often was in the Bible, was a baby. This meant that God’s people had to wait. Joash would ultimately prove to be a disappointment, later in his rule. He was not a perfect ruler. But he was a far better alternative than the ruler he replaced. This has been a truth of history. God often uses faulty, imperfect people to accomplish His purposes.
- God’s people seek God’s purposes for their country. Jehoida did not devote himself to a person, but to God’s purposes. He did not commit his life to helping someone achieve power. He devoted his energies to his heavenly King.
So what do we take from this Scripture? Simply this. It is our turn to stand up against evil. It has raised its ugly head in our generation, just as it has in every generation that preceded ours. We must ask, as did Jehoida and Jehoshabeath, what God would have us do to resist the evil of our day. It might seem like something small, such as caring for a baby. It might require great courage as we resist the will of wicked government leaders. It might require waiting, until God’s people are organized and have sufficient strength to overturn the inroads that evil has made in the nation. It might require working with imperfect people, if that is what God has made available. It will most certainly require us to deny our own preferences as we adjust our lives to what God is currently doing in our nation.
We live in evil times. But, there are still things we can and should be doing. Are you?