God’s Hot Buttons

If you want to know what makes God mad, there is a pretty clear list in the 5th chapter of Isaiah. Each one is marked by the word, Woe! That’s Biblespeak for “Beware! Bad, bad things are coming unless big, big changes are made. When God says “Woe,” He’s upset about something.  God is angered by human behavior that, if left unchecked, will destroy His Creation. He says “woe!” with the same tone of voice that a homeowner uses when he sees termites destroying his home.  And for the same reason.

The first “woe!” in Isaiah 5 had to do with unchecked greed (See: “What Kind of Termites Anger God?”.)  The next one reads like this:

Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands.  (Isaiah 5:11-12)

Perhaps you are thinking, “It’s official: God is a killjoy and hates it when people party.”   No way!  If that’s what you think, you will be surprised as you read through the Bible.  God loves celebrations. Jesus provided the wine for one.  No, the problem here is that this drunkenness is constant (from early in the morning until late at night), it has become the new normal.  Beyond that, it has obliterated their capacity to appreciate and respect God and the wonderful oasis He created and provided.  

Imagine that you had inherited a beautiful mountain cabin that was carefully and lovingly built by your great-grandfather. It is nestled among pine trees, alongside a crystal clear, spring-fed lake. From childhood, you have forged deep and satisfying memories at his cabin and you consider it to be a precious and sacred refuge. Can you picture it?  Now, how would you feel if your kids hold a party up there, inviting their friends, who proceed to get drunk and wreck the place?  They break the windows, smash the plates and park their old and leaky pickup in the garden. Mad yet?  That’s how God feels when He sees insensitive, drunken louts trashing His garden.

But let’s look at the nature and extent of the damage:

Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst.Therefore the grave enlarges its appetite and opens its mouth without limit; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers. (Isaiah 5:13-14)

This warning was written to a people God had given special, privileged treatment.  He intended to use as the Jewish nation as a model, to show others how much better life could be if you loved God and lived according to His design and principles. He had set them up with their own land, and promised to provide for them and protect them.  But these privileges would only continue if they cooperated.  Their irresponsible behavior wrecked the place.  Consequently, instead of being protected in their own place, they were exiled to a foreign land. Instead of being physically and spiritually satisfied in God’s presence, they drank to find satisfaction and wound up with an unquenchable thirst.  Instead of finding life, they fell into death. Woe!

This warning, specifically written to the people of Israel and Judah, was tragically fulfilled in their history.  But it contains a principle that pertains to us all.  You and I live amid God’s amazing and beautiful Creation.  The more you pay attention, the more you seek to appreciate it and harmonize with the One Who gave us all this, the more wonderful life will be.  The key to living like that is given to us by Jesus.  Find Him and find real life.

Or, you could just get drunk and miss it.  Woe!

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