by Tom Wacaster
When Israel turned away from God, the only direction morally, nationally, and socially, was a downward spiral into ungodly behavior and spiritual suicide. Isaiah was one of those fiery prophets who was sent to Judah to attempt repentance and reform on the part of the people. For the most part his efforts were futile, and eventually the nation was carried into Babylonian captivity where they would lick their wounds for seventy years. One of the most touching, yet tragic chapters in Isaiah is the 59th. It contains a vivid portrayal of how far Judah had apostatized. Their “hands are defiled with blood; and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverseness” (verse 3). “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths” (verse 7). “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings; they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace” (verse 8). “For our transgressions are multiplied before thee” (verse 12). Quite a catalogue of sin, is it not? Perhaps the saddest in all the chapter is found in verse 14: “And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” What Isaiah said regarding Judah is descriptive of every single nation that has forgotten God, our own America not being exempt in the least! No doubt Isaiah was describing a cause and effect that had come to epitomize the horrible state of affairs that existed in Judah at the time of his writing.
My exposure to television is quite limited seeing I “pulled the plug” on my cable service almost 18 months ago. This does not mean that I have become isolated or in some way insulated from the “happenings” in Washington, as well as “Main Street USA.” The rapid decline of the moral and political situation in our country is almost dizzying! One can scarcely get a grip on some outrageous act of injustice or ungodliness before he is slapped in the face with something else that causes him to wring his hands in absolute bewilderment. Were we to lay a portrait of Judah side by side with a portrait of our nation, yea the world, we would conclude that the same artist had painted both pictures. That artist is the devil, and his canvass is the hearts and souls of men. Before looking at the cause, consider for a moment the effect of Satan’s destructive dirty work!
“Judgment is turned away backward.” Can any doubt that the powers that be have turned things “away backward”? Both words beg consideration. The politicians in Washington, the professors in institutions of higher learning, and the purveyors of filth in Hollywood have turned away from God. Their ears refuse to listen to God’s word, their goal in life in adamant rebellion to the divine will. Consequently everything is backward! Good is called evil, and evil good! Homosexuality is perceived as being honorable while those who oppose such behavior are branded as homophobic. What was a vice fifty years ago is now considered a virtue in many circles. Gambling, alcoholic indulgence, dancing, are considered acceptable and those who oppose on the grounds of Biblical principles are the antagonists and troublemakers.
“Justice standeth afar off.” Youth were once admonished, “Crime does not pay.” Today, crime not only pays (and pays well in many cases), the criminal is often protected by liberal and ungodly judges who overturn convictions on a mere “technicality” of the law. The innocent are wronged, and the guilty go unpunished. As in the days of Judah, justice so often stands far off today.
“Equity cannot enter.” The Hebrew word ‘nek-o-khaw’ means “straight forwardness, that is, integrity” (Strong). There is, without doubt, a lack of integrity in our present world. Bars and locks protect our houses and automobiles; thieves scour the neighborhoods and internet for unsuspecting victims from whom they can steal. Business dealing are only as strong as the legal document that exists to keep both parties honest, and in many cases the “loopholes” included by unscrupulous lawyers negates the intended power of the contract itself. It has not been that long ago when neighbors were neighbors, and houses were often left unlocked when families went off to the market or to church services.
Why the sad state of affairs? Why is it that we are witnessing the very collapse of Western civilization as we know it? Isaiah gives the answer: “Truth is fallen in the street.” It is not that truth had been defeated, for the truth of the matter is, truth will always remain truth. Samuel Johnson is credited with having said, "Let it be remembered, that the nature of things is not alterable by our perception - or lack therein. We cannot remake or unmake truth; it is our business only to find it and then respond accordingly. No proposition can become less certain by being neglected. It is to no purpose to wish, to suppose, that to be false, which is in itself true, and therefore to acquiesce in our own wishes and suppositions; when the matter is of eternal consequence, to doubt obstinately without grounds of doubt, and to determine without examination, is the last degree of folly and absurdity." When Isaiah said “truth is fallen in the streets” it was heaven’s way of saying that men have trodden upon truth by disregarding, denying and disputing its factuality! The point was made by one author thus (author unknown):
Truth never dies. The ages come and go.
The mountains wear away, the stars retire.
Destruction lays earth's mighty cities low;
And empires, states, and dynasties expire;
But caught and handed onward by the wise,
Truth never dies.
Though unreceived and scoffed at through the years;
Though made the butt of ridicule and jest;
Though held aloft for mockery and jeers,
Insulted by the insolence of lies,
Truth never dies.
It answers not. It does not take offense,
But with a mighty silence bides its time;
As some great cliff that braves the elements
And lifts through all the storms its head sublime,
And never dies.
As rests the Sphinx amid Egyptian sands;
As looms on high the snowy peak and crest;
As firm and patient as Gibraltar stands,
So truth, unwearied, waits the era blessed
When men shall turn to it with great surprise.
Truth never dies.
As stalwart solders of the cross of Christ, let us determine we shall never let truth fall in the streets. If we will march courageously forward, the truth will prevail, and with God’s great mercy our nation will be spared. All else spells only disaster.