Truth Is Fallen In The Streets

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. 

Life Lock

by Tom Wacaster

If you listen enough to radio, and especially talk radio, one of the most frequently advertized services is from a company called “Life Lock.”  Not only do they “guarantee” to protect your identity, they back that guarantee with more than $1 million in promised financial aid should your identity be stolen.  In 1997 consumers and institutions lost an estimated $745 million to identity theft.  It is estimated that loss now to be more than $1.5 billion annually and growing.   Identity theft occurs when a person’s social security number, credit card number, phone number, etc., is discovered by a thief who then uses that information for personal gain.   Since the late 1970’s paper shredders have become increasingly popular, and no doubt our technological age will continue to provide such services as that offered by Life Lock. 

While identity theft is no small inconvenience, it pales in comparison to the wide spread theft that Satan inflicts upon the masses every single day.  He has been busy for well nigh unto six millennium drawing men away from their Creator and inflicting immeasurable harm on men and women both here, and eventually in eternity.   He robs men of happiness and peace, hope and contentment.   Worst, he has robbed every single soul of his spiritual identity, separating the innocent and unsuspecting from their walk with God (Isa. 59:1-2).   

There is a safe guard against the effects of Satan’s thievery.   No, we cannot prevent his entering into our life, but we can recover our losses and restore what we once enjoyed.   The restoration process is so perfect, so complete, and so very simple that it astounds us that more men and women do not take advantage of it.   When one hears the gospel (Rom. 10:17), believes in his heart that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:24), and is willing to confess that fact as did Peter (Matt. 16:16-18), he but needs only to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).  He is then born of water and the Spirit (John 3:3-5) and thereby becomes a part of the family of God.   His “identity” is restored, and he enjoys the fellowship with the Father and Son that the devil stole by deceit and subtlety.    A faithful walk in the light will eventually see him to the eternal home promised for all the redeemed (Rev. 2:10; 1 John 1:6-8).    That, my dear friends, is the ultimate “Life Lock.” 

Gathered To His People

by Tom Wacaster

In Genesis 25:8, the following is recorded concerning Abraham: “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.”   One of the marks of divine inspiration is the concise manner in which the writers presented the facts regarding individuals and events.  In slightly more than two dozen words in our English translations there are some amazing things said about this great patriarch and father of the faithful.  

First, we learn that the grave is not the final abode of the soul.  The expression “gathered to his people” is distinguished from simply departing from this life and being buried.   If there is no life beyond the grave then these words make no sense whatsoever.  The sentiments of the poet express this truth so well:

“A Psalm of Life”

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.
Dust thou art, to dust returnst,
Was not spoken of the Soul.

Second, we learn that following death we will be reunited with our loved ones.  Though some may disagree, it seems to me that when we pass beyond the portals of death we will be gathered into Abraham’s bosom and there enjoy reunion with those whom we know and love.   The words of the inspired writer presuppose the reunion in Sheol with friends who have gone before.  Will we recognize our departed loved ones?   How can be otherwise?  The apostle Paul sought to comfort the Thessalonians by stating the simple truth that they “sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope” (1 Thess 4:13).   It is the realization that we will see our loved ones again that provides comfort to those who have said their last goodbye this side of heaven. 

Third, “gathered to his people” stands in stark contrast to the Bible’s description of the final destiny and abode of the wicked.  Never is it said of an ungodly person, “he was gathered to his people.”  Take Judas Iscariot for example.  In the same concise manner as noted above, Peter had this to say of that infamous traitor during the process of selecting a man to replace Judas:  “Show of these two the one whom thou hast chosen, to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place” (Acts 2:24-25, emphasis mine, TW).   Whereas “gathered to his people” denotes reunion and fellowship, “that he might go to his own place” suggests solitude and loneliness.   The faithful will join the host of godly men and women, knowing no doubt where they are, and enjoying the rest that will be theirs once they have passed through the gates of death.  As for the ungodly, they will simply be resigned to their “own place” to await that final judgment day.  

Were you to enter eternity this day, perhaps even this hour, would it be said of you, “He went to his own place”?  Or would your loved ones find solace in knowing, beyond any shadow of doubt, that you were “gathered to your people”? 

When God's Patience Runs Out

by Tom Wacaster

One of the great attributes of our heavenly Father is, without doubt, His longsuffering toward sinful man.  The apostle Peter told us God is “longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).   Someone once asked, “What is the difference between ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’?”   Some years ago I heard the following explanation: “Grace is where God gives us what we do not deserve; mercy is where God does not give us what we do deserve.”   All of humanity enjoys the benefits of God’s grace.  The very air we breathe, the sunshine each and every morning, and every good gift that God gives in a physical way are a manifestation of His wonderful grace.   It was God’s grace that sent His Son and provided instruction in the way of salvation (Titus 2:11). It was God’s grace that established the church and demonstrated the manifold wisdom of God. It is God’s grace that allows men yet another opportunity to repent and obey the gospel, even when they are living in open rebellion.   On the other hand, it is God’s mercy that delays the sending of His Son.  Justice cries out for divine vengeance, but God delays, and in His delay men are provided yet another access to the wonderful blessings of God.  It is God’s mercy that will eventually allow all of the redeemed to escape the punishment of His wrath. 

When grace and mercy are combined a most wonderful picture emerges.  When writing his letter to the church at Rome the apostle Paul chastised the rebellious Jews and reminded them: “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).   The “riches of his goodness” bespeaks God’s amazing grace, while God’s forbearance and longsuffering” point us to His great mercy.   The purpose of God’s grace and mercy toward man is not that man might continue in rebellion in hopes that someday he will, by some magical and mystical formula, be allowed to enter into the home prepared for the redeemed.  No, by dear friend, God’s grace and mercy are designed to “lead thee to repentance.”   His “goodness” bespeaks His deep desire that men obey His will. 

The longsuffering of God is not a bottomless pit wherein He will continue to tolerate the foolishness of men.  His longsuffering is extended in view of the fact that there may be a few men and women with tender hearts that can be touched by the Gospel.  Someone has suggested that God delays the sending of His Son in judgment because in His eternal mind He knows of others who will, when taught, obey.   But at that precise moment when the last person who will obey, does in fact obey, the gavel will sound, and the time of judgment will not be in the too distant future.  Only God the Father knows of that time.  When that moment arrives, God’s patience will be exhausted, and all men will witness the coming of the Lord in judgment.   That, my friend, is a most sobering thought!

1982: Not So Long Ago

by Tom Wacaster

I was looking for an illustration to make a point. So when I ran a check on my computer it took me to the 1982 Fort Worth Lectureship book, "Difficult Texts Of The Old Testament Explained." One thing led to another and I soon found myself perusing the book and looking at the names and the pictures of the speakers for that series of lectures. Some of those men have long since passed into eternity and their "works do follow them." Winfred Clark, Bobby Duncan, W.T. Hamilton, Guy N. Woods, and J.Noel Merideth, to name but a few, have laid down their swords at the gates of death and are now enjoying their rest. Others still living are now showing their years but remain faithful to their Master: Robert Taylor, Hardeman Nichols, Flavil Nichols, Jerry Moffitt, William Woodson, and Garland Elkins. Sadly there are a couple among those featured speakers who have, for one reason or another, denied their Lord and traded their inheritance for a mess of pottage, perhaps the most notable being Rubel Shelly.

And as I closed that book and contemplated once again the date of that series, I thought: "1982! That was not that long ago." Ronald Regan had been in office less than a year. The country was in a deep depression. I was still living in Ada, Oklahoma and our children were barely teenagers. I had been preaching full time for less than ten years and the turn of the century seemed so far away. No doubt those who have passed the third decade of their life could share personal stories and memories of what all of us would agree was "not so long ago." As you look back, what stands out most clearly in your mind? Is it not that so much of the proverbial water has passed under the bridge? Do you not find yourself asking, if only in your mind, "Where have the past twenty eight years gone?" I think all of us have done just that. Now let’s turn our faces toward the future. Where will we be when another twenty seven years have passed? 2038 is as near in the future as 1982 is in the past. Those who now enjoy the later years of their retirement will, like those faithful men listed above, likely have passed to their reward. Our teens will likely be married and have small children of their own. Parents will be grandparents, and grandparents will be great grandparents. And just as certain as is the sunrise and sunset of today and the swift passing of these past twenty seven years, so will be the coming of the Judgment Day when each one of us will stand before God and give an account of how we have used the short amount of time that God has given us upon this earth.  It will not be long till we bid 2010 good-bye. Nor will it be long, when measured against the backdrop of eternity, till we will bid this world goodbye. The words of the Psalmist press upon our minds with increasing frequency: "For our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten...for it is soon cut off, and we fly away...So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalms 90:9-10, 12). "Seeing that these things are thus all to be...what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy living and godliness...?"