Monday, September 29, 2008

Isaiah 23 Vanity Fair Overthrown

Isaiah 23 is about the fall of Tyre. After a brief description of the response of its citizens, the chapter proceeds to explain the cause for Tyre's fall by indicting the city for its excesses and materialism. Pastor Minnick noted that the descriptions of Tyre's wares closely resemble what is bought and sold in John Bunyan's Vanity Fair. It is possible that this chapter and others describing Tyre's commerce were on his mind as he wrote the Vanity Fair scene in The Pilgrim's Progress.

At any rate, God was determined to humble Tyre on account of her greed and materialism. So many parallels to our country were evident. But just as I sat there mentally "tsk, tsk-ing" the greed on Wall Street and the glitziness of a society that flaunts automobiles they'll never come close to actually owning, houses they can't really afford, and expensive THINGS they didn't actually give money for, the application was placed in my lap. The Bible addresses an admonition to people preoccupied with money in opposite ways. See, there are those who greedily store up too much, and then there are those who are anxious that they might not have enough. Both responses to money are wrong, because no one can slave for two masters. God and wealth are both full-time employers. No one has ever slaved for them both, and no one ever will.

Here's my lesson. So, I don't see myself on either end of the money-slaving scale. But I was reminded of my position of being "on top of the heap" when it comes to possessions. Who cares how much stuff I've got; very, very few Americans can rank themselves anywhere else on the global economic heap. And what I sat there thinking was, "Where's the sacrifice in moving down just a few notches to spend my life as a missionary? Who says I deserve my top spot? The Bible is telling me of the tremendous blessing there is in working in a church full of poor people." Don't tell the poor guy to fend for himself while you find a good place for the potential donor. Serve the poor who can't pay you back, because their Redeemer is strong. If I busy myself with the affairs of the rich for my whole life, there is a strong possibility that I'll never encounter anyone in need of a cup of cold water.

Remember Who made the promise, "He shall not lose his reward."

[The audio of this sermon is available for purchase here.]

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