Bark beetles are messing with my life. Tiny little bugs that can quickly kill the grandest tree in the forest. Giant ponderosa pines surround my home in the Sierra mountains. Some reach one hundred, fifty feet into the sky. I love the sound of the wind through their branches, the aroma, and the view. But when the next storm winds arrive, they are ready to turn my house into toothpicks and splinters.
A century of heavy rain has turned the Sierra’s into thick and lush forests. Too thick for their own good. Several years of record drought have left too many trees and too little water in too little space. Man’s unwise desire to preserve every tree with limited lumber harvests, protected national forests, and the control of forest fires has allowed the trees to grow unnaturally.
What we have not allowed fire or sensible management to do has not thwarted the laws of God’s creation. Enter the drought stage left. Bark beetle, stage right.
Men also build up societies against God’s natural ways. They elect or otherwise end up with governments that rule far outside the guidelines of God. Exceed authority. Muck about in foreign nations with war. Elevate greed and lust to the highest character traits. Start thinking that they don’t need God because they have become gods.
Bark beetles mercifully thin out the forests and stabilize the ecosystem. Less trees fighting for less water makes for a surviving forest. Thinner. Healthier. Is God less concerned about nations than he is forests?
Droughts and bark beetles destroy forests that we refuse to properly care for. Wise people adapt, early. They repent of their poor foresting and cut down the dying trees before someone gets hurt and fires rage beyond control. We open our ears to the prophesies of helpful foresters. Believe me, I’m listening, now.
As Easter approaches, the passages in the book of Isaiah concerning the Messiah are being appropriately preached. Some book, Isaiah. This year I decided to take Isaiah from the beginning.
Isaiah warned errant kings of coming trouble due to their wicked ways. Of thinking that your lifestyle is just fine the way it is. That the only rules that God play’s be are his own.
America has enjoyed the world’s official trade currency. It’s had decades of buying whatever it wants at artificially-cheap prices. In turn it just prints more promises on paper money, money that the other nations have to honor. We buy their substance with the promises that we’ll make good on our debt. The table is so tilted that the debt is far from payable. But we keep borrowing, printing more money, and buying. Consuming everything our hearts lust for.
America has used a lot of its ill-gotten money to field the world’s most-powerful military. Gotten into the nasty habit of using it whenever it wills. To enforce our trade demands. To control the world. For our own benefit.
We like our wars. They are highly profitable for the banks and crony capitalists that pull the strings in DC. And they are a sure-fire winner for the aspiring politician. Wars give us flags to wave and something to get teary-eyed about on the 4th of July.
Like every other nation in the world, we are not exempt from God’s moral and ethical laws. No nation or people escapes his all-knowing inspection. Nor does any nation escape his wrath when his long-suffering patience comes to an end.
No affair shows our arrogance and foolishness than the issue concerning Ukraine. Russia has laid out its serious intent to respond with nuclear weapons if need be. If the US and NATO keep poking it in the eye with a sharp stick. That’s in nuclear weapons with the potential to kill millions of people and turn nations into compost heaps. Nary a word in response from the US, or its paid-for political leaders in Europe.
Visions of Alfred E. Newman can’t help but fill my mind. “What, me worry?”
I noticed the damaged trees in the surrounding mountains a few years ago. Reddish-brown corpses appearing here and there. Just a few. And they were so far off. Besides, “I’ve got the mighty ponderosa’s on my property! We are talking mini-sequoia’s, Dude. What, me worry?” Now my house, and life, are in real peril. I’m competing with neighboring land owners for the few lumberjacks around. To get the trees down. Before the winds. Before the fires.
Only God knows his plan for the world in the short run. He published the long-term plan a long time ago. Not being God’s chosen nation, it’s unlikely an Isaiah-like figure will show up to warn us.
But we are without excuse. We’ve been warned sufficiently in the Bible. Not to think ourselves able to please him. Not to think ourselves able to run any nation righteously. To be constantly in a spirit of repentance, seeking his mercy.
We aren’t very interested in the Bible. And even if a prophet showed us to warn us, would we repent? Can’t help but think we might saw him in two, alive, as happened to Isaiah according to the Book of Hebrews. Nothing angers a proud, morally-fallen nation more than being reminded of God’s serious concerns about our sin and his righteousness.
In the interim, if you start to notice the big and mighty things in the neighborhoods near your home dying off, get ready to deal with it. For deal with it you will, in God’s good and perfect timing.