(The LORD said) "But this command I gave them: 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.' But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward." Jeremiah 7:23-24
Every once in a while someone tells me that people are getting better and becoming nicer.
They are welcome to that opinion. Indeed, I'm glad to see they have met enough generally nice people in this world to help them reach that conclusion. Now while I have also met a whole host of individuals who do their best to be caring and compassionate human beings, I am not prepared to say the human race has been making sizable strides toward perfection.
Jeremiah, speaking by inspiration, would agree. Quoting the Lord, the prophet says, the human race has disobeyed the Lord and followed the disobedient paths dictated by their evil hearts.
The end result is we have gone "backward and not forward."
Case in point: when it was being fought, the global conflict was not known as "World War I." On the contrary, it was popularly referred to as "the war to end all wars." It received that nickname because people were sure that common sense and lessons learned would never again allow us to become involved in such a terrible bloodletting.
Truly, the "war to end all wars" was terrible. Mechanical advances allowed the machine gun to mow down enemy soldiers like a combine's blade.
Then, of course, there was the tragedy that began on April 22, 1915. On that day, just a bit over 100 years ago, a yellow-green cloud crept from the German lines into the French trenches. In five minutes, 1,200 soldiers were painfully, agonizingly dead. They were the first victims of chemical warfare.
They would not be the last.
Today, there are any number of countries that have stockpiled sizable quantities of poisonous chemicals -- chemicals which make the horrors of chlorine gas seem like a walk in the park. Naturally, none of these nations have any intention of ever using such weapons of mass destruction. Even so, the thinking of these nations goes, it's nice to know we have the stuff on the shelf.
Knowing that the intentions of the helpless human heart are evil from our youth (see Genesis 8:21), the Lord decided to do something about our lost condition.
He sent His Son to save us.
According to divine standards of perfection, Jesus is the only Good Person who has ever lived in this world. Thankfully, He lived for us and has won forgiveness and eternal life for all who believe on Him as their personal Savior.
Moreover, having seen the Savior's sacrifice, Jesus' people are given a new heart and a new spirit, which can transform them. Because of the Savior's gifts, we are eager to live our lives thankfully to Him and lovingly toward each other.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the news is filled with examples of humankind's sinful condition. Grant that we, washed of our sins in Jesus' blood, may be different and set a different -- a better -- example for others. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries