“GOD IS THE RULER YET”
One of my favorite hymns for Fathers’ Day is “This Is My Father’s World.” One of the verses goes like this:
This is my Father’s world.
Oh, let me not forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world.
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King, let the heavens ring.
God reigns! Let the earth be glad!
We live in a time when the wrong seems so strong. Between the pandemic, the blow to our nation’s and the global economy, and racial strife, we wonder how much more our country and our world can take. I was very disturbed to read a comment made by a CIA intelligence officer. According to him, what he sees happening are the kinds of dynamics that occur in nations that are about to collapse. How will it end? What will be next? How will it play out? How long will it take?
I completely missed – because of my focus on the pandemic – May 8 as the seventy-fifth anniversary of V-E Day, Victory in Europe Day. That is the day when the Allies formally accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945, thus marking the end of World War II in Europe.
I do not want to similarly miss the seventy-fifth anniversary of Victory in the Pacific Day. That term has been applied to the day when Japan’s surrender was initially announced – August 15, 1945, in Japan, and, because of time zone differences, August 14, 1945, in the United States. It has also been applied to September 2, 1945, when the surrender document was signed, thus officially ending World War II.
We know how the war ended – both in Europe and in the Pacific. But can you imagine being a part of the massive effort to win the war, when you did not know how it would end?
We recently observed the seventy-sixth anniversary of D-Day. From our vantage point, we know how it turned out. We know that the effort was a success. It was a massive invasion that cost many lives, but it gave the Allies a foothold on the European continent. It turned the tide of the war. But can you imagine being a part of the invasion, not knowing if it would succeed?
We do not know how the pandemic, the economy, and racial strife will all play out. We do not know how long it will take, how many will suffer, or how much damage will be done. But we do know this. That this is our Father’s world. And “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” “The Lord is King, let the heavens ring. God reigns! Let the earth be glad!”
I would now like to turn our attention to four passages in the Old Testament that tell us what we as God’s people need to be doing at a time like this.
First, 2 Kings 19: 14
King Hezekiah of Judah received a threatening letter from the Assyrians, basically telling him that just as no other nation had survived the Assyrian assault, so Jerusalem would not survive either. How did Hezekiah respond? 2 Kings 19: 14 says that Hezekiah took the letter with him, went to the house of the Lord, and spread the letter out before the Lord, and basically said, “God, this is beyond us. We do not know what to do. Our eyes are on you.” We also need to take our whole situation and spread it out before the Lord. Like Hezekiah, so we, too, need to say to the Lord, “This is beyond us. The issues are so complex. The problems are so deep and so deep-seated. The wrong goes back for so long. We do not know what to do. Our eyes are on you.”
Second, Amos 5: 24 – “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.”
I live in Arizona – out in the desert on the northeast side of Phoenix. We are just at the beginning of the Monsoon Season – that time of year when we can experience some powerful thunderstorms. We live about thirteen miles from where we go to church. Between our house and the church there is only one traffic light, but there are about twenty places where the road dips down, following the contour of the land. If we had one of those major thunderstorms on a Sunday morning, there is no way we could get to church. There are too many places where our car would either stall in the water or even get swept off the road.
Justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream is an image that speaks powerfully to me. As a nation we need to look seriously at where people have been denied justice. The quest for justice needs to be as powerful as the runoff from a mighty desert thunderstorm.
Third, Micah 6: 8 – “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
The prophet Micah is not saying, “It sure would be nice if you would.” Instead he is saying, “This is what the Lord requires of you.” “Requires of you – to do justice.” Not just to be in favor of justice, but to do justice. To work to make justice happen. To identify with and to advocate for those who have been denied justice. To love mercy. For me – during these times – loving mercy means doing something because we are concerned for those who have been most effected by the pandemic – those whose health is most vulnerable, those who are facing great personal risk as they bravely and faithfully provide care for others, those who are isolated in nursing homes and other care facilities and their families who are unable to visit them. Loving mercy means doing something because we are concerned for those who have been most effected by the economic shut down – the poor, the long-term unemployed, those who were living from paycheck to paycheck and now have no income. Loving mercy means doing something because we are concerned for those who have been most effected by racial strife – victims of prejudice, good police officers who now feel vulnerable because of lack of support from public officials, business owners who had already suffered major economic setback, and now have had their place of business looted and/or destroyed.
The fourth verse says more about what it means to “walk humbly with your God.”
2 Chronicles 7: 14 – “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.”
Lord Jesus, heal our land.
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AN ALARMING MISUSE OF SCRIPTURE
The second thing I would like to talk about is Episode 1 of Season 5 of the Netflix series Queer Eye, which was recently released. Queer Eye is a series which features a team of five LGBTQ+ persons, who are known as the Fab 5, who work with someone and give that person a makeover in some area of life. Episode 1 features a number of ELCA pastors, including the Rev. Noah Hepler, who needed help in accepting his sexual identity; the Rev. Megan Rohr, the ELCA’s first transgender pastor; and Bishop Guy Erwin, the ELCA’s first gay bishop. This episode lifts up the LGBTQ+ lifestyle as well as what has come to be called “Queer Christianity.” Because of the fact that potentially this episode could be seen by millions of people around the world, it is important that people know what is being promoted and how they can respond to friends and family members who see the episode and might be persuaded to accept its LGBTQ+ ideas. A link to the trailer for season 5, including episode 1, can be found here.
One of the things that should be most alarming to Christians who take seriously the authority of the Bible as the Word of God is the way that this movement, called “Queer Christianity,” views, misuses, and misinterprets Scripture. Hermeneutics has to do with how we interpret the Bible. It is alarming how those who follow the principles of “queer hermeneutics,” as illustrated in this episode of Queer Eye, interpret the Bible.
I urge you to read my full article so that you will see how advocates for “Queer Christianity” do not listen to and follow the clear and obvious meaning of Scripture. Instead they use Scripture in order to get Scripture to support their LGBTQ+ perspective. And I urge you not only to read my full article, but to share it with others. This is not just a matter of different views of human sexuality. Rather what is at stake is the authority of the Bible as the Word of God and the foundational principles of the Christian faith. Click here for a link to the full article.
LIST OF CONFESSIONAL RESOURCES
Finally, for your summer reading, I would like to refer you to the List of Confessional Resources which Lutheran CORE has prepared. Many thanks to all the pastors who have contributed to this list of books, videos, commentaries, ministries, and movements. Click here for a link to this annotated bibliography of confessional resources.
If you have a resource that you would like to see added, please let us know. May you be blessed by and during your summer reading.
Blessings in Christ,
Dennis D. Nelson
Executive Director of Lutheran CORE