Lie to Us, Preacher!
Elder James Groce
“Lie to us, Prophet!” In so many words, the people said to Isaiah and other prophets, “See no more visions! Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off the path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” They were more interested in a lie than in the truth — as long as the lie was one they wanted to hear.
A REBELLIOUS PEOPLE WANT TO BELIEVE A LIE. Isaiah’s message to his nation was that their continued rebellion against God would be the ruin of the nation. Sin would not only destroy their personal lives, it would destroy their country. Sin brings judgment—always, inevitably.
Isaiah was warning them about what was going to happen if they did not turn from their sin and turn back to God, but they did not want to hear it. It was negative talk. They did not want to hear about God’s judgment, they wanted to hear about God’s love and blessing. They wanted Isaiah to build up their self-esteem. They wanted him to discuss pleasantries and recite poems. They wanted a positive gospel. And even though Isaiah was telling them the truth, they preferred to believe a lie.
Why would people prefer disaster to the truth? Because this is the essence of rebellion; “I am going to do it my way even if it kills me.” “We would rather live a lie than face reality. After all, illusions make us feel comfortable and secure; truth makes us uneasy.” The rebellious want to believe a lie and avoid the truth. When people reject the significance of morality and truth, they are uncomfortable and seek to create their own significance — even if it is a lie.
But even though the rebellious want to believe a lie, they also want to dodge the consequences. A rebellious people want to escape responsibility. The people of Isaiah’s day did not want to follow God, but they also did not want there to be any punishment. They wanted to believe a lie, and at the same time, they wanted it to be true. They wanted to do all the wrong things and experience only good things. They wanted to be irresponsible and yet not have anything go wrong.
A Miami jury awarded a record one hundred and forty-five billion dollar settlement, ($145,000,000,000), from the tobacco companies to a group of smokers in Florida. A $145 billion dollar reward for people who willingly walked into a store and bought a legal product which clearly said on its label, “Warning: The Surgeon General has determined that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.” No one forced them to smoke. They did it of their own free will and willingly gave up good money, knowing that they were jeopardizing their health. They wanted to smoke and be healthy too. Where is the personal responsibility in all of that? The rebellious resent it when the consequences of their irresponsible behavior comes calling, and they even want to blame God for what has happened to them.
This was the case with the people of Israel and Judah. They rebelled against the Holy One of Israel. They refused to listen to the prophets and heed their warnings. They trampled God’s laws and had the gall to blame God when the enemy trampled their cities. They wanted to do as they pleased, but they did not want to accept responsibility for the actions.
A rebellious people want to avoid God. They said to Isaiah, “Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” This is almost the motto of our own rebellious culture which says, “We don’t want to be confronted with a Holy God; we want to believe the lie of ungodliness. Don’t try to shame us because of our immodesty that has become so debased that we no longer can blush. Don’t force your morals on us. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with a holy God.
In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbaric, invading hordes to the North. To get this protection, they built the Great Wall of China. It’s thirty feet high, eighteen feet thick and more than fifteen-hundred miles long! The Chinese goal was to build an absolutely impenetrable defense too high to climb over, too thick to break down, and too long to go around.
But during the first hundred years of the Wall’s existence, China was successfully invaded three times. It wasn’t the Wall’s fault. During all three invasions, the barbaric hordes never climbed over the wall, broke it down, or went around it; they simply bribed a gatekeeper and then marched right through an open door. When a nation tries to avoid God, they leave an open door because they have nothing on which to base their values. When a church loses its values, it is not safe, no matter how secure it appears to be. Once hell bribes the “gatekeepers,” the entire assembly is brought to ruin. Lowering standards and allowing the ways of worldliness to slip through the gates of the church will doom its inhabitants. Woe to the gatekeepers that fail to keep the gates! The watchman that fails to watch and warn! The blood of many shall be on his hands!
The above article, “Lie to Us, Preacher!” was written by Elder James Groce. The article was excerpted from the Apostolic Standard magazine.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes