Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Lord’s hand is not Shortened

The Lord's hand is not shortened

Isaiah 59:1-15:
“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue has muttered perversity. No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity. They hatch vipers’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a viper breaks out. Their webs will not become garments, nor will they cover themselves with their works; their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace. Therefore justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us; we look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness! We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as at twilight; we are as dead men in desolate places. We all growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before You, And our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And as for our iniquities, we know them: In transgressing and lying against the LORD, And departing from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him.” NKJV

In the wake of Nigeria's independence day, I would like to reflect on the state of the nation. I wrote this message as a Newspaper article between 1984 and 1990 but I believe the message is still relevant to our situation today.

When you look around you, people are really suffering in their thousands. Many people have nearly reached the point of giving-up the struggle for existence. Nothing is within reach. It is very difficult now to think of an average man. On Sunday mornings, stand at the corner of the street, and you will see people in their thousands streaming to their places of worship. I believe each of the worshippers throughout the Federation prays for the situation in the country. But the situation rather than getting better is getting worse. Has God ceased to hear and answer prayers? The situation is no different on Friday when thousands of Muslims prostrate to pray across the nation in their mosques. Does their Allah not answer too?

We know that God has not changed. He is still the same and is not capable of change. God still hears and answers prayers. All over the world and even in Nigeria there are testimonies of prayers answered. Why then does the situation of Nigeria as a nation defy solution? Is our sin beyond pardon? Has God removed Nigeria from His list of nations for mercy? God has not, and our sin is not beyond pardon. The problem is neither in God nor in Nigeria as a nation but in us all Nigerians as a people.

The climax of the writing of Prophet Isaiah in confronting his people Israel with their sins is in the passage we quoted above from Isaiah Chapter fifty-nine. He pointed out (to them) a number of things wrong with them which had hindered their prayers from being answered. He emphatically re-echoed – “God’s hand is not shortened that He cannot save, nor His ear heavy that He cannot hear” . There is nothing wrong with God. The fault is also here. Let us look at the faults and see how they compare with our own situation.

Their hands are defiled with bloodshed: We cannot plead innocent of this charge. In all quarters, high and low, there is blood guilt. The nation is blood stained.

Their lips speak lies and their tongues utter perversity: We even have what we call official lies here. From the Bishop to the peasant in the Church; from the Chief Imam to the least in the mosque; from the highest in government to the cleaner in the office – lying has become a way of life. No truth in their dealings. All lies. Some lies are so transparent, and yet the liar holds on to it. It is here with us.

No one calls for justice nor does any plead for truth: Over the years I have been made to understand that there is an undeclared relationship between the criminals and those supposed to bring them to book. A criminal will gladly go to court because he is almost sure to escape. No one calls for justice. Cases in courts lie for months and years until they are struck out for lack of prosecution. Who will you blame – the police man who arrested the thief or criminal or the judge who granted him bail? Is it the lawyer who only asks for a date each time he comes to court or the prosecutor who has not got all his witnesses and facts? No one asks for justice and no one wants to hear the truth.

Their feet run to evil and they make haste to shed innocent blood: No one can give an accurate figure for the number of lives that are lost in Nigeria every day through carelessness and violence. Some of these are organized to eliminate the innocent man. But God has His records correct. Some of the people who organize the evil still go to Churches and mosques to pray to God or Allah. They think that as they seem covered from man’s eyes, they are also covered before God. No way – they are wearing dresses made with cobwebs. God sees them through and through. The Bible says: “Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.” (Isaiah 59:6)

Wasting and destruction are in their paths: Here also we are a wasteful and a destructive people. Wasting and destruction of human, natural, economic and indeed all resources we have. Do not forget, God has placed all these in this nation for the good of the citizens; but we have wasted and destroyed them. Stop for a moment and think, is there any nation again in the world as blessed as Nigeria? Our soil is very fertile and rich in mineral resources. Our weather is one of the best in the world. We do not have any of the natural disasters that plague other nations. The Nigerian brain is one of the best in the world. Give any Nigerian child an opportunity he excels. Most of the Universities in the world are filled with Nigerian students and lecturers and professors. Outside, they are experts; inside here – we waste and destroy them.

The way of peace they have not known: How can they know peace when we are putting the Prince of Peace out of our national life? How can we know the way of peace when there is no justice in our ways? How can we know the way of peace when we have made for ourselves crooked paths? “There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.” (Isaiah 57:21)

Conceiving and uttering from their hearts words of falsehood: If it is possible to read the mind of people and see what is in their hearts, many would die of shock. The heart of man is desperately wicked. With the lips he laughs while planning iniquity in his heart. There is insincerity in every facet of our national life. In the Church as well as in the market. In the government as well as in the governed. We make and present beautiful plans but in truth we had made plans to counter them and sabotage the effort so as to make personal gains. James in his epistle says: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:1-4)

He who departs from evil makes himself a prey: Is that not what obtains here now? Anyone who wants to stand for truth and justice is victimized. How many have been retired or redeployed because they do not cooperate to play the card? How many have been denied employment and or their rights to promotion because they refused to dance the popular tune? “Nothing goes for nothing” has become a national chorus.

What we have forgotten is “Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him, that there was no justice” (Isaiah 59:15) God sees all that we are doing. He sees beyond our “smartness”; He sees our intentions, actions and hears all our utterances.

He withheld His hand that it may not save until we turn from our iniquities and sins to Him in truth and sincerity for forgiveness. God’s eyes are too holy to behold sins. His hand is not shortened that it cannot save nor His ear heavy that it cannot save nor His ear heavy that it cannot hear; our sins and iniquities have separated us from our God.”

Let us today return to God and ask for His pardon. God is looking for a man that will lead this nation back to Him in repentance; are you that man?

God bless you all.

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