Why Our Present Moral Corruption
Thesis: Moral corruption results from our piled-up glories pushing God out of His rightful place.
For two reasons Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom) had gradually excluded God from their lives. Isaiah offers God’s people a spiritual antidote to their spiritual sickness.
CIT: Isaiah declared that God would exalt His majesty by judging mankind’s morally corrupting idolatry and pride. Bible scholars have recognized for generations that Isaiah’s prophecy reached far beyond the borders of Palestine. For instance, chapter 24 seems to describe the end of our world as we know it. Some theologians, as far back as the late fifties and early sixties, saw in Isaiah’s prophecy the end of the world by nuclear holocaust.
Two spiritual reasons Israel and Judah became morally corrupt.
(1) Idolatry. The people gradually turned to worship other gods. (see v. 6)
(2) Pride. The people gloried in their own achievements and self-sufficiency.
Our moral corruption results from God being driven out from our lives (2:6-11).
We must interpret idolatry in our day in a different way from in Isaiah’s day. They made figurines and called them gods, and adopted the worship rituals and religious teachings of the false gods. Idolatry in our day, according to Paul Tillich, means “the elevation of a preliminary concern to ultimacy.” That is, we take something that’s conditioned by this world (created) and make it our unconditional concern. This can mean anything in heaven and earth with which I’m ultimately concerned. Whatever I make my ultimate concern determines, shapes, and influences my thoughts and actions.
What was Judah’s ultimate concern?
(1) Economic prosperity (v. 7a). Under king Uzziah, Judah experienced unprecedented economic growth. This was because of two influences. (a) No threat from a super power. There was a vacuum of power in the world of that day. (b) Foreign trade enabled by a lack of warfare.
(2) Foreign religious influences brought about by foreign trade. (v. 6).
(3) Economic prosperity that led to foreign trade, that led to foreign religious and cultural influences led to the people giving their hearts to foreign Gods and forgetting the God of their fathers.
In light of these facts, our moral corruption as a nation isn’t difficult to understand. Our society is experiencing these same influences, to the detriment of the moral and ethical structures that have guided our nation from the very beginning.
ILLUS. David Carroll’s book, Spiritual Parenting—A Loving Guide to the New Age Parent. Seems as if Christians parents ought to go right out and buy it. But don’t. Listen to this paragraph taken from the book.
“Spiritual parenting is written for parents who wish to raise their children with a deep and abiding sense of the sacred in an age dominated by material and secular concerns. Based on the teachings of the great religions and the ideas of spiritually-oriented educators, this book is a practical, non-denominational guide for teaching children and young teens how to tap into their better selves.”
You would almost want to applaud the book. But the book is actually a hodgepodge of teachings from practically ever religion that functions among us today.
Judah had another ultimate concern that led her into idolatry (v. 7b). During this lull whenthere was no super power to threaten them, Judah build an impressive military complex. The prophet says, “There land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots.”
I received an email the other day that showed the stockpiles of America’s unused military aircraft. I had no idea that there were so many. There seemed no end to them.
The problem God had with this in Judah was that the people trusted in their military might and not in Him. Our modern problem is that we, for the most part, don’t even believe there is a God anymore, so we trust in our military prowess.
Verse 11 is scary. “The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” Israel didn’t listen. Neither are we.
Our moral corruption results from our piled-up materialism (2:12-17).
Dagobert runes, in his dictionary of Philosophydictionary of Philosophy, defines materialism in different ways. The simplest definition he gives is this: “only matter is existent or real.” He continues, “. . .everything is explainable in terms of matter. . .and energy or simply matter.” The one he cites most is this one: “. . .a proposition about values: that wealth, bodily satisfactions, sensuous pleasures or the like are either the only or the greatest values man can seek or attain.” (p. 188)
John M. Keynes is credited with being the founder of modern economics. He realized that prosperity in an international scale could occur only through the corruption of moral laws. To bring this type of prosperity to full operation Lord Keynes is credited with having said the following: “If we are to succeed, we must call good bad and bad good for a little while longer.” This shouldn’t be hard for us to understand. If you’re to become prosperous, you must lie, cheat, and steal. Since materialism is our philosophy in life, it, and not some antiquated moral code must be our guide.
Illus. If we lack basic nutrients in our diet, we can suffer from malnutrition. The cure is simple. Take vitamins. Once your need has been fully met, you may continue to take them, but after that some of them cease to be beneficial. Too many can harm your health. In other words, “If a little is good, then a lot must be a lot better.”
The same principle relates to money. If at one point in time we lacked money for the basic necessities of life, that money, when it finally came in abundance, was a blessing. The same logic applies to materialism. “If a little is good, then a lot must be better.”
Like you, I grew up hearing how bad the depression was May parents didn’t want us kinds to grow up and experience what they went through. The inference was is money can make for a better life, then lots of money can make for a great life. So they pulled out all of the stops to make sure there was ”a car in every garage and a chicken in every pot.”
But I would ask you. We’ve achieved unprecedented wealth and materialism in our society. Are we a better people?
So, what’s the prescription for what ails us as a people? The prophet Isaiah says it’s to forsake our idolatry and materialism, repent, and return God to first place in our lives. If we refuse, only judgment awaits us. (vv. 12-21).
God tells us to stop trusting in man. Are we likely to do so?