From Gloom To Glory
From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs: “Glory to the righteous!” But I said: I am distressed, I am distressed, woe is me. The treacherous deal treacherously, they have dealt very treacherously. Isaiah 24:16
The above verse from Isaiah sounds strange and rather bewildering in our ears. It starts as it were, with the sound of a distant cantata of angelic voices: :Glory to the righteous.” But without any warning the prophet suddenly gives forth with a cry of deep anguish: “I am distressed, I am distressed, woe is me!”
What brought on that strident note? A little while back the prophet predicted God’s judgment to come upon all the earth. In this vision he saw the Lord vindicated and reigning supreme over all the nations and worshipped from one end of the world to the other by a redeemed remnant of His people.
However, the prophet suddenly becomes aware that the heavenly music is a symphony of the distant future, but right now, he is confronted with a wretched reality in which the “treacherous dealers deal very treacherously.” This realization brings forth from the depths of his soul the cry of anguish: “I am distressed, I am distressed, woe is me!”
Is this not the way how we, believers of this age, often feel? On the one hand there is that “Blessed Hope” of every believer concerning the coming of our Lord and the vision of His glorious reign over this world so terribly marred by sin and the wickedness of men. With the ears of faith we already hear the distant music of angels: “Glory to the righteous!”—Yet in the midst of it all we become aware of the miserable realities of the present. “The treacherous dealers” of our times do indeed “deal very treacherously.” And then our spirits, like that of Isaiah, groan in distress “Woe is me!”
Reflecting upon the dismal events of the past year we become aware of the enormous forces of darkness and evil which have dominated our national and international life. Just to recall these events would be like reciting a litany of untold suffering, wrongs, of misery and disasters.
We have witnessed at home and abroad a whirlwind of violence and strife, of racial, political and social turmoil, and rebellion. We have watched the breaking down of the fabric of our social structure, the loss of respect for all constituted authority, civil, parental and religious. All the spiritual and moral values which in the past have made nations great are now despised and held in contempt. We have exchanged liberty for libertinism.
Gone is the sense of security which we in America have enjoyed for many generations. We are caught in the throes of a war, which, though unwanted, nobody knows how to bring a decent end.
The whole earth is reeling from war and the subversive activities of violent men who seek to dominate the rest of the world or to destroy those who oppose them.We feel as if we were sitting on top of a volcano about to erupt. Few are the national borders which are undisputed or secure from treacherous invasions. Only a few months ago Czechoslovakia, which tried to liberalize its communist regime, was suddenly invaded by “big brother,” Soviet Russia. In aFrica, thousands of people are dying daily from hunger, not because there is no food, but because the exceeding wickedness of men denies it to them.
Israel, after three wars of independence, is still further away from peace than ever. She is surrounded by implacable enemies who have sworn to destroy her, and Soviet Russia is doing its utmost to keep the witches’ cauldron boiling. Under these conditions the daily greeting “Shalom”—peace, almost sounds like a mockery.
The Catholic church once so monolithic and united, is torn by inner dissent and rebellion. “The Infallible One” seems less infallible than ever. “t
Protestantism, if anything, is in an even worse plight, debilitated as it is, by ever deepening apostasy and unbelief in God and in His word. Not so long ago the Episcopal Bishop Pike declared publicly, that “the Bible is inspired in the same sense as Shakespeare was inspired.”
The so-called Ecumenical Movement has become the common denominator for every shade of unbelief and disbelief. The great spiritual powers, which the Reformation once tapped from the deep springs of the Scriptures, are now almost completely dissipated. All that remains is an elaborate outward structure and organizational machinery, but the Spirit has almost departed.
As far as the synagogue is concerned it has, by and large, become a community center for social activities and for entertainment, for the soliciting of funds for charitable causes, especially for the state of Israel, but her spiritual life has become all but extinct. The authority of the Bible, and even of rabbinical tradition, which used to be the basis of Judaism and of the daily conduct of. the Jews, is no more. Both the sheep and the shepherds have gone astray. Many thoughtful Jews realize their predicament, but know not where to find the remedy. Some years ago the Jewish poet, Si Tannhauser, eloquently described this plight.
There is no Face in pity bent
When by the way I fall,
No anxious, loving Shepherd comes
In answer to my call.
There are no tender eyes to seek,
No gentle arms to hold.
No nail-pierced hands to take me up
And bring me to the fold.
Is this a somber picture we are painting? It is indeed. But the facts of life are even more somber.
And yet, as Christians, we look beyond the darkness of the present time. We are looking to the coming of our Lord with power and with glory. The Word of God tells us that before the dawn breaks the darkness shall become even deeper. But the dawn of that great day is coming and our Lord shall yet reign supreme over all of mankind.
As far as men are concerned, we are pessimists but as far as our Lord is concerned, we are decidedly optimists. The final word in history belongs not to satan but to our God and Savior.
The veil of gloom and darkness which overshadows all of mankind will one day be lifted and glory shall dwell in Immanuel’s land.
And he will destroy in this mountain
The face of the covering cast over all people,
And the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death in victory;
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
And the rebuke of his people shall he take away
from all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
And it shall be said in that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him,
And he will save us; this is the LORD;
We have waited for him.
We will be glad and rejoice in his salvation Isaiah 25:7-9
In the meantime, as children of God, let us walk with our Lord and do His work, while there is yet time.