The Lofty Looks of Man
James 4:14 says: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
The God who created the vast Universe, and knows each one of the stars, is the God with whom we have to do. Our accountability to Him implies that life is a test wherein He examines our choices in the light of His Word. There is truly no partiality with God nor any discharge from the ultimate trial which He has placed each and every man and woman under. Mankind’s overall miserable condition on earth reflects the truth that our fall in sin is deep and very serious, making it evident and logical that there is a long and arduous road that must be entered, and traveled to completion, in order to be lifted out of this dire condition and restored to Paradise. People generally want to believe that our prognosis is not so bad, but that is a delusion and choosing to believe in a lying prognosis is in itself fighting God and kicking against the verdict which He has laid down in the Bible.
This is a key reason why places like Disney World are so evil (besides the occultic and perverted stuff which they also promote). The essence of the Disney concept is that “we’re in paradise now and all is happy” when that is simply not so. It is a denial of reality and the sale of a phony paradise. Look at what they call their main theme park “The Magic Kingdom.” Regarding God’s everlasting kingdom, which is not make-believe, there is a symbolically bloody death to self and sin, and a vicious spiritual war to fight and overcome in, before that kingdom will ever be entered into and seen by a person. The spirit behind Disney and similar entities is the total opposite of that in terms of the effect it is intended to have on men’s minds. It is so utterly contrary to the genuine way of salvation laid out in God’s Word, and also utterly contrary to what is so blatantly and obviously reality when all the smoke and mirrors, and all the pretending, is done away with.
Reading then from Matthew 22:17-21: “Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny (not a penny as we think of one; this was a coin worth significantly more). And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Man was made by God, in His image, for God’s service and God’s purposes. Man’s body and every aspect of man was made for God. When that is carefully considered and comprehended, it is utterly awesome and terrifying!
Matthew 22:35-39: “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Revelation 4:11: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
Romans 1:18-23 then reads: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”
And also along these lines, God warned a man in the Bible through His servant Daniel, in Daniel 5:23 of his imminent judgment for not glorifying God, and rather worshiping idols, in the pursuit of his own pleasure and glory: “And the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” Daniel would go on to tell him in verse 27 of the same chapter “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.”
The people who were building the Tower of Babel were united in their anti-God/antichrist attitude. That unity led to this great effort. God saw this imagination and He intervened to scatter them and to confuse their language so that going forward there would be separate peoples with separate nations with their own language. To treat a nation like its border is a light thing, as if its border laws are trivial or nonexistent or unrighteous, is at its core defiance of God. It is rebelling against the verdict of God which was handed down through the confusion and scattering at Babel. It is the telling of a lie in a practical way, as if fallen mankind is good, as if people are pure angels who don’t need boundaries and restrictions, and as if these people at Babel should be justified who were bent on rebellion in founding a one-world government where humanism reigned and the knowledge of the true God and His ways would be suppressed. It is similar to how not covering up one’s body is now, after the fall of man, at its core defiance of God, since of course God decreed that man be clothed after he fell into sin. He even deemed Adam and Eve’s fig leaves to be insufficient covering (hence He clothed them with the more thorough covering of animal skins). It is likewise similar to how not limiting marriage to a biological man and a biological woman, and not limiting sexual relations to being only within such a marriage, are at their core defiance of God, who decreed that marriage should be between a man and a woman; and appointed sexual relations in that context alone.
The people at Babel, like the people who were killed during the flood in Noah’s time, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorroah, Pharaoh in the Book of Exodus, Goliath, Nabal, Haman, Herod, and a multitude of others learned the hard way that God is not mocked, that His truth will prevail over the counsel of the heathen, that the lofty looks of man will be humbled, and that pride does indeed go before a fall.
Psalm 33:8-11: “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought (i.e. nothing): he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.”
Ecclesiastes 10:8: “He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.”
Psalm 119:21: “ Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.”
Proverbs 16:17-18: “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
And yet man wants God’s favor without death to self and sin. Man wants to think that there is another way into God’s favor or wants to think that death to self for righteousness’ sake is past, when it has in reality been brushed off and avoided. Man is in truth under probation from God and has been put in circumstances which testify of the misery and dire condition of his spiritual state (see Genesis 3:16-24).
In Genesis chapter 4 we see how Cain was okay with giving the extra of his own labor to God. That was something he was comfortable with and could take pride in. Yet God didn’t accept that. It was not consistent with His directions. The way Cain devised was not a threat to his self-image and self-esteem. For Cain to actually put aside his own ideas of what he thought ought to please God, and to actually listen to directions which attacked his own perceived self-sufficiency, was more than he was willing to bear. He surely needed to get the best of Abel’s flock to make an offering that would have been acceptable to God. That probably would have cost him more economically and bruised his ego badly too, since it would be an admission that he needed his younger brother’s help. And it possibly would have bruised his ego for other reasons too. Cain was unwilling to forsake his confidence in his own intellectual ability, and even confidence in his own spiritual ability, to figure out what is proper worship before God. He had this self-sufficient, independent attitude that to forsake like he would have needed to, in order to obey God’s directions, would have killed him (in a figurative way). He was unwilling to suffer in such a manner and die to himself before God like he ought to have.
Does God require more than just good words and attempts to please Him? Does He actually expect man to die to self and suffer to do righteousness in His eyes, without cutting corners? Yes, absolutely! Imagine the Prodigal Son going home and hoping to be received apart from his godly father’s terms, without having to be subject to his godly father’s rules and discipline, without being ready and willing to lose face in, and as a result of, such subjection. Don’t believe that God wouldn’t require you to suffer in order to do what’s right before Him. You’re not repentant towards Him when you have cutoff points which are derived from that concept or influenced at all by that concept.
Modifications don’t cut it. Conflicts of interests must be decided in favor of the truth of the God of the Bible. Neither will man’s innovations substitute for true submission to the God of the Bible. He must be worshiped in spirit and in truth according to His own terms for one’s worship to be acceptable to Him. Cain learned this lesson in a hard way early on in Scripture; and God’s rebuke to him to drive this lesson home is the first instance where man’s anger is recorded in the Bible. Man’s own ideas to get around submission to God, and man’s offering of the leftovers of his life to Him, thinking God will be pleased with such, provoke Him to anger.
Malachi 1:8: “And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.”
1 Samuel 15:22b-23a: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”
It’s obvious that multitudes will go to hell for not abandoning that which is obviously wicked and immoral in God’s sight. I could quote dozens of Bible verses about how fornicators (all who are sexually immoral in any way), liars, idolaters, murderers (including all who practice, justice, and/or promote abortion), thieves, those who dishonor their parents, those who practice witchcraft and all sorcery, etc will surely have their part in the eternal lake of fire. That is certainly true! Yet someone may not be blatantly immoral, yet still lack a proper recognition of God’s authority, power, and sovereign right to us.
Luke 18:10-14: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican (i.e. tax collectors employed by the Romans who had a reputation for greed and dishonesty). I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
This man (the Pharisee) that exalted himself didn’t break before God through a recognition of his deep obligation to God and his deeply deserved condemnation for his own sins. He rested in the fact that he looked better than others who did not seem so moral outwardly, and who were not as religiously scrupulous, as himself. Yet someone who glories like this inevitably comes short of worshiping God in spirit and truth. He is thus no better off before God than the openly immoral. And when a person, whether they had been openly immoral or not, gets the message and repents of their treason towards the Lord and every expression of that, so that they worship and glorify Him from the heart like the shallow religious man failed to do- and follows through with works in keeping with repentance, there will be forgiveness, justification, and life. And that is because God is merciful and gracious in a way which the world in general does not esteem, and the religious world especially does not embrace, but rather is offended by (especially because of the shallow and cheap counterfeit concepts of grace which already reign within it). No flesh will glory in God’s presence. And those who retain their natural pride, their lofty looks, and retain concepts which oppose the true God and the Lordship of Christ will not be ready to stand before God.
Hear though King Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony when he had finally learned his lesson before God after he had been rebuked, chastened, and brought low severely.
Daniel 4:34-37: “And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counselors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”
In the opening verses of Luke chapter 17 Jesus gives a command which could potentially be extremely difficult to follow. This causes His disciples to ask Him to increase their faith. It was basically like they were saying, “How can we possibly do this?” And in verse 6 of Luke chapter 17 Jesus basically tells them that they don’t need this great, unattainable type of faith to do anything God commands. In verses 7 to 10 He gives them an illustration to help them have the faith that they actually need to do what He says. And it boils down to the fact that God can rightfully claim us as His servants. And we should indeed see ourselves, and reckon ourselves, as His servants in truth. This implies that His satisfaction supersedes our own wants and desires. We have needs, we have wants, but the Master’s satisfaction is more important. Some people say that to be a Christian you must give up your rights (if you’re talking about perceived rights to sin, then yes!)- but this is not altogether true. A Christian has rights which often he can, and sometimes must, exercise. Yet what is true is that we must view any right which we might have in its proper place. The servant has a right to eat; but not when the Master is hungry. Even if the servant has worked much for the Master in the field, when he comes in and the Master tells him to prepare dinner, he has to prepare it and serve the Master before he eats his own dinner. And this is nothing extraordinary, the Master isn’t being too harsh and the servant isn’t being generous in obeying Him to the point where he is doing his Master some favor. And Jesus is basically saying that if you find a commandment of God hard, and you need faith to do what God says, believe and take to heart this illustration. When we see God in His proper place and ourselves in our proper place, that eliminates any room to think that what God commands us is too hard or to think that we have any rightful cause to grumble that His commandment is unreasonable. We can even say that no one is going to be in heaven who didn’t give God glory, and put themselves in their proper place on earth, when there was temptation to go contrary to God’s commandments and their constraints.
In considering God’s sovereign authority and His absolute right to man, and in considering man’s low state on earth when reality is acknowledged, there is an aspect to modesty which might have nothing to do with sexual lust. When we think of modesty overall we should think of moderation. Not provoking others to sexual lust indeed is one aspect to that, but other aspects are not showing off in general, not seeking to make ourselves the center of attention, not being gluttonous, not being luxurious, not being excessive when it comes to possessing stuff, being willing to help those in need and not being tied to our excess money and goods in order to truly help those in need, doing what is in our power to not provoke others to strife, not unnecessarily shaming others by our wealth, abilities, good circumstances, etc. Those are all aspects of modesty.
Even Israel’s King had restraints put on him by the Law of God in terms of obtaining riches and other expressions of power. He even had to write out his own copy of God’s Law, something other men did not have to do. This was so he’d be reminded that he is still just a man despite his position, is still a servant, and even especially a servant, due to the advantages and opportunities he has to do righteousness, execute judgment and justice, and to help the needy in his position as a king (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20).
With this in mind, there is never any great blessing or fortunate circumstance which a person might righteously attain which doesn’t in some way increase His obligations and accountability before God.
Jesus said Luke 12:48b: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
Man’s state on earth is so low and pathetic, that even the thing which man most esteems, riches, tend to bring great problems, temptations, and stress. And rich people still get sick, rich people still die in car accidents, rich people still can be in great physical pain, etc. Along the same lines, no one is ever beyond things like sweeping and cleaning toilets. There might be times when such things are our main jobs. But even when such things are not our regular jobs, we are never too great for such jobs. And beyond that, doing such jobs is never some great act of humility for anyone (besides Christ Himself whose very incarnation was a great act of humility).
It’s important then to recognize the weak, frail, temporal status of every individual, rich or poor, strong or weak, great or small (by man’s understanding, man’s terms), or whatever other contrast we might make. We all have an appointment with death and with God on Judgment Day. You think you’re special, this is you. You think you’re not so special, you have the same appointment as the rich person, or the strong, or the beautiful, or whatever person who seems to have whatever you think you lack and need. In reality every living person is a miserable, temporary being headed for death. The one and only way to find glory, honor, and peace beyond the temporal, momentary, terrestrial state of fallen man is to identify with Christ in death to sin and self-interest to do God’s will by submitting to His Word and walking therein. Suffering for the sake of righteousness on the terms of the Holy God of Scripture is what the natural man shutters and squirms at- and will often go to any length to avoid. And yet that is his only hope out of the death trap of life to a happy resurrection on the other side and an incorruptible glory which will not fade away!
Psalm 39:4-6: “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.”
Psalm 103:15-18: “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.”
Psalm 75:4-8: ‘I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn: Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck. For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.”
Closing with Isaiah 2:10-22: “Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?”
Reach brother Aaron at: [email protected]