In Romans 1 there are three particularly frightening verses [24,26 and 28]. In each of these we read that ‘God gave them over …’. Persistent and unrepentant human rejection of God and of his self-revelation in nature and in his Word eventually results in God giving us over to the godless life we have chosen and to the inevitable impacts of that choice.

This withdrawal of God’s intervening, controlling hand is evident in Isaiah 3:

•    Physical survival is in jeopardy [verse 1]
•    Political and social leadership deteriorates [verse 3-7]
•    Sin becomes overt, deliberate and unashamed [verse 8,9,16]
•    God’s order of responsibility is discarded [verse 12]
•    Social justice disappears [verse 14,15].

But the most devastating aspect of God giving us what we want is the removal of his Word, or of the understanding of his Word:

In Isaiah 6:9,10, God instructed Isaiah:

‘Go and tell this people:
“Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.”
Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.’

In Isaiah 29:9-14 we read of deep spiritual ignorance brought on as the judgement of God:

‘The LORD has brought over you a deep sleep:
He has sealed your eyes (the prophets);
he has covered your heads (the seers). …
Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.’

Amos records this even more clearly:

‘”The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD,
“when I will send a famine through the land –
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.
Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it’ [8:11,12].

Indeed, Jesus quoted from Isaiah 6:9,10 when he explained why he taught in parables [Matthew 14:10-15].

In the absence of knowledge of the truth about God all manner of human ideas, whether individual or collective, take over our minds and our hearts, and we embrace these human ideas as if they were the word of God. This is particularly stated in Jeremiah:

‘A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land:
The prophets prophesy lies …
and my people love it this way’ [5:20,31].

‘How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name …’ [23:26,27; read verses 25-32].

We do not have to look very far in our world today to see these flow-on impacts of human rejection of God. Secular humanism and evolutionism with their denial of God’s existence have hi-jacked human minds and human hearts. The hopelessness and meaninglessness that have resulted are expressed in the postmodern mindset of relativity and despair. Within this mindset moral definitions have dissolved – sin is blatant and shameless, respect for human life is diminishing, leadership figures lack dignity – and substitutes for God’s truth are multiplied.

Why? Why does God give people over to this terrible outworking of their choice to reject him and his Word?

God is ever the God of grace, the God of love. That love, that grace are right here in this most devastating expression of his temporal judgement: it is all with this end in view – to bring us to the realization that life without him is not at all what we thought it would be, and thus to bring us to our knees before him acknowledging him in penitence and faith. Like the waiting father in Jesus’ parable, God lets us go only to finally motivate and joyfully welcome our return. Driven back to God by this drastic temporal judgement those who respond by acknowledging him, the one true God, escape the ultimate, permanent, eternal judgement.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2014