In adjacent psalms, David exclaims: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psa. 11:3) and cries: “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men” (Psa. 12:1). There is a clear link between the destruction of society’s foundations and God’s removal of godly men from among us. Society is based on justice, truth and righteousness; where these are denied or even neglected, not only are society’s foundations shaken (as in Isaiah’s day; see Isa. 59:11-15), but also few godly men are around to protest at the destruction.
Back in 1977, at a day seminar held in Glasgow city halls, James Packer saw a parallel between King Jehoiakim’s attempt to destroy God’s Truth (Jer. 36:23-24) and similar trends in our society.
1] First, he observed, Jehoiakim rejected the Truth because he regarded it as a merely human product, not as God’s Word in man’s mouth. Today, the nation’s leaders refuse to submit their policies and their defence of them to the Word of God, but rather do what is right in their own eyes.
2] Second, the king thought that as Scripture is a merely human product, it need not be believed. Similarly, through the destructive work of Bible critics, many today view the Bible as nothing more than a record of ancient Jewish religion and the expression of early Christian disciples. Consequently they feel no obligation whatever to believe its truths or follow its moral demands.
3] King Jehoiakim’s third error was to imagine that the Word of God could be destroyed. That is why he cut up the prophet Jeremiah’s scroll. Soon, however, the king himself was destroyed, but the Word of God is still with us today. The lesson is clear: if we as a nation continue to turn our backs on God and His counsel, we shall fall under His judgments. Indeed, they are already upon us.
4] Jehoiakim’s final mistake was to regard the Word of God as no basis for human society. Instead, he placed his trust in forbidden alliances with Egypt and Assyria. Today, many of our leaders and people seek the safety of society in alliances with Europe and the United States of America, whereas our only safe course is to return to God. We are not to say ‘a confederacy,’ that is, ‘our society can flourish only in alliance with other nations.’ But we must “sanctify the LORD of hosts Himself,” and make Him our fear and our dread. Then He shall be “for a sanctuary” to us (Isa. 8:12-14). God was our strength and defence in Queen Elizabeth l’s and in Oliver Cromwell’s day. Should we not beseech Him to be so in ours?
As we look around us, we see a society that regards God’s Word as virtually worthless, yet pays vast sums of money to people who lie to us, deceive us and entertain us. Spin, ‘double-speak’ and the avoidance of all responsibility for wrongdoing are rife. We live in a society manipulated by deception. What would King David say if he could see today’s media in all its ugliness, fantasies and pride?
So the question still presses on Christian believers: “What can the righteous do?” Surely the answer, for both Church and State, is “re-lay the foundations.” Just as Samuel relaid the foundations of God’s covenant with His people (1 Sam. 12) and Ezra relaid the foundations of God’s temple and law (Ezra 3-6; Neh. 8), so we should seek to re-lay the foundations of justice, truth and righteousness in our character, conduct and speech. Then, with God’s blessing, we may hope to see society transformed and reformed according to the written Word of God, as it was in the Reformation.
“What is the secret of Britain’s greatness?” an African chief once asked Queen Victoria. “The Bible,” she replied, handing him the sacred book. We have no desire to make the Word of God a servant to British prosperity or imperialism. Rather, we wish to honour it in every aspect of our national life. For “them that honour me, I will honour;” and “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” May God in His mercy restore justice, truth and righteousness to us before it is too late.
John M. Brentnall is Editor of Peace and Truth, the magazine of the Sovereign Grace Union. This article is taken from Issue 2007:2, with permission.