Looking at the world around us, the news is not good. Two hundred and fifty million children are living under dangerous conditions, especially where Islamic groups are seeking dominance. In Russia, any efforts to share beliefs have been outlawed for believers of all religions. Charges are pending on several who have given testimony of their faith to others. In the Far East, just over half of the women in China have been ordered at one time or another to have an abortion to be in conformity to their one child only policy for social/economic reasons. While here at home in Canada, abortions are largely personal, the result of a lack of partner support and/or financial reasons. In brief, the destruction of millions of babies is mostly a matter of expediency and convenience, sorry to say. Evil takes on many other forms but the source of it is what needs to be addressed first.
Insofar as the stark realities of everyday life in our world can be unsettling, the true diagnosis of evil can be traced to the spiritual condition of the heart. The Biblical prophet Jeremiah speaks of the heart of man as deceitful (Jer. 17:9). Over time mankind has proven that it has a penchant for doing evil. Several decades ago, archeologists uncovered a city which was rated among the worst in the land of Canaan (present day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel). In Jericho, its citizens practised incest, homosexuality, sex with animals and children, and burned their children as sacrifices all in the name of their gods. So bad was the situation that after its destruction, God pronounced a curse on any who would rebuild that city (Joshua 6:26).
Here in Jericho, lived a prostitute named Rahab. She had been used to hide two Israelite spies that had surveyed the city in preparation for the impending attack. In return for her help, Rahab had asked them to preserve her and her family. She had changed her allegiance from the Canaanite gods to following the only true God of the Israelites, and in so doing had demonstrated unwavering faith in God. Her faith was founded partly on the many reports she had heard about how God had delivered the Hebrews from the Egyptian soldiers at the Red Sea decades earlier and recent conquests over the Amorites. God’s continuous miraculous intervention left a deep impression on Rahab so that her convictions were firmly with Jehovah. Now she believed in the true God and because of her faith both her life and her family’s were spared.
Knowledge about God and His work, however, is not enough to save anyone, if it is not met with action. Similarly, the Canaanites knew about Jehovah and His miraculous deeds, but rather than turn to God like Rahab had done, they chose instead to remain disobedient and as a result grew more fearful (Josh. 5:1). We are told in the New Testament that even the demons believe and tremble with fear (Ja. 2:19). Today, spiritual self-deception, where about 70% of North Americans say they believe in God, is rampant. Of these only one in five actually read their Bible each day. The problem is not about how to get them to up their commitment level but about nominalism—when someone is a Christian in name only. They see themselves as Christians but their lives do not show it. A pretentious faith that relies on nothing more than a religious claim based on religious family roots or is germane to the influences of the immediate culture on them has become a dominate fixture in many areas of our land. This is especially true of those found living in the Southern Bible belt of the US. Empty professions leaves a false idea about what saving faith really is, not to mention the untold millions who have made claims on a false assurance and are at risk of eternal damnation. Rahab demonstrated that her belief was real by putting out a red ribbon like she was told to do over the outer wall surrounding the city to identify her lodging so that she would be spared from being killed with the rest of the Canaanites. She did this in faith much like she did when she hid the spies, and misled the Canaanite search party from finding them. All told, her actions supported her new found faith in God!
We live in an evil world and it is getting worst. We need to recognize that sin is inherent in all of us, that it is natural for each individual to do evil and more can be expected unless hearts are changed. Just as important, we must learn from the testimony of Rahab where in the book of James we are told that she gave evidence of saving faith from what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and set them off in a different direction (Ja. 2:25). Faith is granted to those who recognize their own sin and turn to God. It would appear that our world is fast becoming a macrocosm of the concentration of evil in Jericho just over thirty five hundred years ago, and like this ancient city final judgment will one day come upon our civilization with no possibility of escape.
The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the Lord. (Je. 25:31).
Though judgment cannot be averted, preparations can be made. The good news is that God saved a woman from her sins, where neither her immoral lifestyle nor her cultural identity could stand in the way of God reaching her with the gospel. No one can say that they are beyond saving. We meet people all the time who insist that their cultural differences and moral state (good or bad) prevents them from truly knowing the Christian’s God. Rahab is an outstanding example of a sinner whose identity and practises had little to do with the ways of God. Yet, on that day, God singled her out from the thousands to serve as a testimony of His Saving Grace, and what He can do, teaching us that none are unreachable, regardless of our religious diversity, or sinful past. Yet, seeing the state of the world may indeed leave you with the impression that some appear too hard to be reached with the gospel and seemingly beyond hope, but do not stop your prayers or witness. Look to God to save them. He saved Rahab did He not and numerous others like her since that time.
See, the LORD’s hand is not too short to save, nor are his ears too dull to hear. (Isaiah 59:1)