The Word for today:
Are the prophets speaking to America today?
The biblical prophets spoke specifically to their own time and place–to Israel and surrounding nations. But here is the biblical principle that makes their words as valid and immediate to us, now, as they were to Israel then:
God is no respecter of persons. (1)
Which means that God treats all alike–whether rich or poor, old or young, black or white, now or then.
The last phrase–“now or then”–is the one that writes the words of the prophets on our “subway walls and tenement halls” (2). God is eternal and unchanging, and so are his judgments. His spiritual laws apply just as universally as his physical laws do. Justice, and mercy, and faith–which Jesus called the weightier matters of the law (3) — have spiritual mass and volume, exerting consequences that are as predictable as the gravity exerted by the mass and volume of the spheres.
Though God can — and does — delay the application of these spiritual constants, he does not cancel them outright. Their implementation merely awaits another day. Micah, for example, prophesied to both the northern kingdom (“Israel”) and to the southern kingdom (“Judah”).
When the northern kingdom fell first–to Assyria, during Micah’s lifetime–it didn’t mean that the southern kingdom was exempted from judgment. Their day was not yet, but it was coming: 150 years later, Judah’s “day” was upon them, and they fell to Babylon
God’s mercy delays judgment:
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
But his mercy does not thwart judgment. In the very next verse of 2 Peter, spiritual “gravity” reasserts itself, and fire engulfs the planet as water did in the days of Noah:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:10)
From Babylon to Washington, the handwriting is on the wall. We will conclude “subway walls and tenement halls” tomorrow.
(1) Acts 10:34; (2) Paul Simon, “Sounds of Silence,” 1964; (3) Matthew 23:23