Tag Archives: Termite

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!

What Kind of Termites Anger God?

If that question doesn’t make sense, go back one post and read “On the Other Hand, God Really is Angry“.  When termites threatened to destroy my house, I exterminated them.  In Isaiah 5, God explains that He is going to eradicate the “termites” that threaten to destroy His garden.  He doesn’t use termites as a metaphor but, rather, a vineyard that does not produce good fruit because of people wrecking the place.  What kind of behavior does wreck the vineyard, so to speak?  What kind of termites does God see?  Before we answer that, have a look at verse 7, to see what “good fruit” looks like to the eyes of God:

And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.  (Isaiah 5:7)

What does God desire for this world?  Justice and righteousness.  Not what we think of as justice, but perfect justice.  A world where a person’s position and wealth does not change what rules apply to him or her.  A world where corruption of any kind is non-existent.  A world full of people who intuitively do the right thing in a harmonious way.  (For more on righteousness, see “Jamming in God’s Band.”)  God desires a world in which there is no bloodshed – none.

But if that was all He said, it would resemble a vacuous speech at a beauty pageant (“I want world peace!”).   Specifically, what kind of human behavior does God see as termites?  He gave Isaiah several specific examples, beginning in verse 8.  These are representative examples of things people were doing in that time that wrecked God’s vineyard.  Many of these sound pretty contemporary.  Let’s just consider the first one:

Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.  (Isaiah 5:8)

When God sees wealthy people gobbling up vast tracts of land for themselves, building themselves house after house, not because they need a place to live but just because they have the money to do it, God sees termites.  Think about it:  God designed the Earth as a perfect garden and invited humans to live in it and enjoy it.  Whose garden is it?  How is it that some of the guests in God’s garden think they should fence off hundreds of thousands of acres, saying to everybody else, “Keep out! This is mine?”  It is not that God is opposed to holding property in a family in trust and passing it along.  What God sees as termites is the people who greedily attempt to own and control much more than they could ever need and who wind up isolating themselves from everyone else in the process.

I could be wrong about this, but I believe God sees termites when He looks down on how much of this country is “owned” by so few – not because they need to but simply because they can.  I think God sees termites in places where huge conglomerates make it impossible to make a go of a family farm.  It’s not just agriculture; I see similar things going on with the decline of “Mom and Pop” stores and restaurants, too.  I’ll bet that there are aspects of the forces behind enormous conglomerate corporations that God sees as termites.  Just sayin’

Of course the argument for those who do such things is that they do it to be successful.  Listen to what God says will be the outcome:

The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing: “Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants. A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine, a  homer of seed only an ephah of grain.”  (Isaiah 5:9-10)  (Note: the words, bath, homer, and ephah, all refer to an extremely paltrey amount for such big places.)

God says, “What you think is success will lead to utter ruin.  Mark My words!”  Why?  Termites!  Living like that wrecks the place.  That’s not the way God designed for the world to work.

That’s just the first example.  Next time we will go further

On the Other Hand, God Really Is Angry

Worker termite

Worker termite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the termite guy, there is only one colony of those nasty things that exists in my town, but it was centered right under my house. When he heard my address, he started making pessimistic noises. I hate that, when some repair guy takes his hat off, rubs his forehead and says, “Oh man…. Oh man…”

I looked under the porch of my house one day, shone a light in under there, and discovered that termites were tearing my house down and eating it! I asked them nicely to knock it off, but they ignored me. I sprayed them with water, and then cans of nasty aerosol stuff I had sitting around. It made sitting on the porch pretty unpleasant, but it didn’t faze those termites a bit. They didn’t even notice. They just kept on working in an organized way, with whole work teams (tiny little hard hats and lunch boxes…), harvesting my home!

Once I knew they were down there, it seemed like, no matter what I was doing, I could hear them, chomping and chewing, destroying the place. That house wasn’t the nicest one in the neighborhood, but I was pretty attached to it and all. It didn’t take long before I’d had enough. It may have seemed unreasonable to the termites, but eventually they experienced my wrath. I called in the termite guy and he knew what to do. He had a special suit, some big drills and special squirtem stuff. He wasn’t fooling around.

God’s anger is partly about trying to keep us safe (See: Why Does God Seem so Angry?). But there is another side to God’s wrath, the part where He zips up His hazmat suit, adjusts His goggles and becomes the “Termite Guy.” When God cannot get us to stop wrecking His garden, destroying His home, so to speak, eventually He puts a stop to it. He has been doing this in measured ways since the beginning – always with warnings, so folks have a chance to turn around. But eventually, He will clean house for good. You have to understand that final day is coming; it may seem unreasonable, but it’s not pretend. Jesus warned His disciples that God’s wrath would be terrifying (See: Matthew 24). But He offered a way out, for anyone who would believe in Him.

God made up a story to try to explain His wrath and the “why” of it. It’s found in the 5th chapter of Isaiah. Read the whole thing if you can. I’ll spend more than one post on it. But start with this: Listen to God as He pours out His heart…

The Song of the Vineyard

I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones
and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it
and cut out a winepress as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
but it yielded only bad fruit.
“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
What more could have been done for my vineyard
than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes,
why did it yield only bad?
Now I will tell you
what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge,
and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall,
and it will be trampled.
I will make it a wasteland,
neither pruned nor cultivated,
and briers and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds
not to rain on it.”
The vineyard of the Lord Almighty
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are the garden of his delight.
And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.
Isaiah 5:1-7 (NIV)