For the week of December 17, 2011 / 21 Kislev 5772
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 37:1 - 40:23
Haftarah: Amos 2:6 - 3:8


The Blessing Battle

Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment" (Amos 2:6; ESV)

In 2009, American columnist Andrew C. McCarthy eloquently wrote:

Civilization is not an evolution of mankind but the imposition of human good on human evil. It is not a historical inevitability. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, because evil doesn't recede willingly before the wheels of progress (

About two thousand years ago a small team of Jewish men were given a mandate to bring the truth and reality of the God of Israel to the nations of the world. Israel's isolation and religious separation had come to an end; the Scripture was fulfilled, which said, "For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3; ESV). From that day little by little the message of the reign of God has infiltrated the cultures of the earth. Today there is hardly a place that has not been blessed in some way by the Good News of Messiah's coming.

The development of western civilization in particular is not a result of generic "progress" as if education and technology alone have made such a positive difference. The goodness and prosperity we have enjoyed has been due to the blessing of God in response to submitting to his ways.

This is not to say that whole nations and/or cultures have ever been thoroughly biblically based or that there has ever been a time when countries have been completely godly. But as societies' leaders and significant numbers of people have allowed themselves to be governed by the Bible's rules and principles, the blessing of God has been poured out upon them.

Sadly, the blessing of God has been taken for granted. Instead of acknowledging his involvement in our affairs, we have taken the credit for our well-being. We believe that health and prosperity has been due to "progress," as if the goodness we have enjoyed is the fruit of human ingenuity.

It is not just God-deniers who take God's blessings for granted. Those of us who reside in those countries that have been the most impacted by biblical principles often fail to see how much good we have inherited because of the sacrifice of godly individuals and institutions. We are too quick to focus on the imperfections and wrongs of a few. Instead of learning from the errors of the past, making whatever adjustments are necessary, and moving on, we want to completely disqualify whole communities who sought as best they could to do the will of God. It is too bad that people have not always handled their misdeeds in the way God directs, which would have in turn reduced their effects. Still, innumerable followers of Messiah gave themselves to the following of God's ways, resulting in a quality of life unknown for most of human history - a quality that is in danger of being lost.

Few are still willing to fight the battle for civilization. It's not a fight of sword and spear, tanks and bombs, but of words and faith, humility and good deeds. This is not the time to give up on the battle for the minds and hearts of our fellow human beings. To do so is to be taken in by the purposes of evil. Allowing ourselves to become lax with regard to God's ways, failing to dealt with sin in our midst, and refusing to confront evil in the society at large will continue to drive away God's blessing from our communities. It doesn't have to be this way. As McCarthy writes, "evil doesn't recede willingly," but evil will recede, if we are willing to serve God and follow in his ways.

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