“Us” and “Them”

Luke’s genealogy of the Christ starts with Jesus, son of Joseph, and works its way all the way back to Adam. It ends with these words: “…son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”

In what sense was Adam the “son of God?” I do not know all of the ways in which that question cab be appropriately answered, but I know one thing: our children tend to resemble us, and Adam resembled God. Scripture says that when God made Adam He said “let us make Adam in our image,” or “in our likeness,” or, in some sense, “to look like US.”

Of course in Hebrew, Adam literally means “mankind,” and this is no coincidence. Just as Adam is a child of God, and thus “looks like” God, so all of mankind are children of God, who look like Him.

Plenty of other scriptures reaffirm this. Paul said of his prayer life: “I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” So in some sense, not only are we His children who resemble Him, but we also have His name, just as it is customary even to this day for a person’s children to bear their name. In His sermon on Mars Hill Paul proclaimed that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth… for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’”

Now when we get into trouble, who do we turn to to bail us out? Often, it is our family. This is the way it has been for millennia. In the book of Ruth, for instance, Boaz redeemed the household of Naomi because He was one of their closest relatives. In fact, in Hebrew, the word for “redeemer” and “close relative” is the exact same word.

No wonder then, that God Himself ended up being our redeemer, for ultimately there was no one else in the family who could help us with our sin problem. We were slaves to sin as Romans teaches, and slaves to the law, as we read in Galatians 4:5, and as the law in the Pentetuech lays out, a man needs one of his kinsmen to pay out the redemption money before he can go free. We might have hoped for a fellow human being to help us out, but the Revelation to John tells us that they searched through heaven, and found no one who was worthy except the Lamb. He was our closest and only kinsman who could bail us out.

Thus we are told by Matthew and Mark that the Son of Man (a title of Jesus that really emphasizes His kinship to us) came to give His life as a ransom for many.

So what do we learn from all of this? Well, we learn that there is no “us” vs. “them” when it comes to the worth of the various peoples on the earth. Yes, we have different skin colors, and we speak different dialects and different languages, and we have different customs and traditions and heritages and strengths and weaknesses. And there is no need to hide these facts. Rather, I think we should celebrate them. But when it comes to whose family is better than whose, there is only one family. We are all sons of Adam, sons of God. We all look like Him. We all carry His name.

Maybe sometimes those in power want to divide us into groups, and foster hate between us in order to make us easier to control. Or maybe sometimes it has little or nothing to do with those in power, and it starts at the bottom and works its way up because we, as humans, are distrustful of those who are not like us, or who we perceive as a threat to our own way of life. But when it comes to human worth, there is no “us” and “them.”

There is, however, a very important “us” and “them” that does need to be addressed. It is the “us” who accept Him as our redeemer and the “them” that reject His sacrifice in favor of some other god. It might sound discriminatory, but truly, there is a group that is special in His eyes. He calls them “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.”

This special people is his church. And while many today perceive His church as being bigoted precisely because they perceive it as an elitist group who think they are better than others and exclude those who are different from them, the truth is that the requirements for entry still leave room for quite a bit of diversity.

You do not have to be any certain color. You do not have to speak any certain language or live in any certain country or belong to any certain political party. You do not have to be attracted to people of the opposite gender. You do not have to be in a certain income bracket. You do not have to meet a minimum requirement for good deeds done per week. You do not have to have a clean criminal record.

You do have to trust and obey.

Matthew 25 describes a scene in which God “separates the sheep from the goats.” There will be “sheep” and “goats.” There will be an “us” and a “them.” Both “us” and “them” will have “red,” “yellow,” “black,” “brown,” and “white,” rich and poor, old and young, men and women among our numbers. Both “us” and “them” will have those who had our own struggles with alcohol, drugs, sexual immorality, and a host of other problems. But “we” will be faithful to Him wherever He leads, while “they” will turn their backs on Him when the right idol comes along.

This is the only “us” and “them” that will matter in the end.

I will stand with you in this life. But when judgment day comes, there will be a separation. On that day, will you be one of us, or one of them?

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Scriptures and Thoughts on Guilt

“What does guilt mean?”

Hebrew:

Awon – sin, wickedness, iniquity, often with a focus on the guilt or liability incurred, and the punishment that follows.

Rasa – “denotes behavior that is disruptive and destructive of harmony in the community and serves as a more generalized for evil understood as the opposite of what is morally good.”

Asam – guilt – “moral or legal culpability, so it has an objective dimension. Guilt designates the condition or state of a person who has acted wrongfully; it stands between the act of wrong and the punishment.”

Greek:

Aitia – “reason, cause, accusation, charge, guilt, wrong.”

Hamartia – “one of more than thirty words in the New Testament that conveys some notion of sin.”

 How does guilt differ from shame?

 Guilt, in its objective sense, is a status of someone who has done wrong, regardless of how they feel. Shame, on the other hand, is a feeling, or at least a status imposed on people subjectively by others.

No one can put more or less guilt on you than what you actually have, in proportion to the wrong you have done. The amount of shame you have or feel, though, can very greatly based on how you and others feel about the situation.

What is the right way to deal with my own guilt?

 (Luke 15:17-19) “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’

(James 5:16) Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

What is the wrong way to deal with feelings of guilt?

(Genesis 3:8-13) 8They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORDGod among the trees of the garden. 9Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

(Genesis 4:9-15) 9Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11“Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12“When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” 13Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is too great to bear! 14“Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15So the LORD said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.

In what ways can feeling guilt be healthy or unhealthy?

(2 Corinthians 7:8-11) For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— 9I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.11For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.

(Psalm 32:3-5) When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.
5I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin.

How can we let go of unhealthy guilt?

 (Romans 8:31-34) 31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

(Genesis 50:15-21) 15When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!” 16So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying, 17‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?20“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 21“So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

(Romans 3:21-26) But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Am I guilty even if I sin in ignorance?

(Romans 1:18-20): “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

(James 3:1) “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”

(James 4:17) “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

(John 9:40-41) “Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

(Acts 17:29-31) Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

(1 Timothy 1:12-14) 12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

(Leviticus 4:1-3) Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If a person sins unintentionally in any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, and commits any of them, if the anointed priest sins so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer to the Lord a bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed.

(Leviticus 4:12-15) ‘Now if the whole congregation of Israel commits error and the matter escapes the notice of the assembly, and they commit any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, and they become guilty;14 when the sin which they have committed becomes known, then the assembly shall offer a bull of the herd for a sin offering and bring it before the tent of meeting.15 Then the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the Lord, and the bull shall be slain before the Lord.

(2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

How can someone be motivated to recognize their own guilt?

(2 Samuel 12:5-9) Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.” Nathan then said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.

(Matthew 12:33-37) 33“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35“The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

(Matthew 18:15-18) 15“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.18“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

When is it appropriate to confess guilt to the whole church?

See Matthew 18 above for ideas.

(James 5:16) Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

What should I do when I am falsely accused of wrongdoing?

(Matthew 5:11) “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

(1 Peter 2:21-24) 21For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Scriptures and Thoughts on Hell

What does “hell” mean?

Hebrew:
Sheol – synonym of pit or abyss. A monster that is never satisfied (Proverbs 1:12, 30:16). Underworld (place to which people descend at death). Does not consistently carry a specific connotation of punishment or reward.

Greek:
Hades – properly, the “unseen place,” referring to the (invisible) realm in which all the dead reside, i.e. the present dwelling place of all the departed (deceased). Does not consistently carry a specific connotation of punishment or reward.

Tartarus – only occurs in 2 Peter 2:4, referring either to the negative side of Hades or to the eternal abode of the wicked.

Ge’enna – appears 12 times, all but once spoken by Jesus. Loan word from the Hebrew meaning “the valley of (Ben) Hinnom,” an actual valley associated with idol worship and child sacrifice.

            Hell is a place of fire:
(Matthew 5:22) “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

(James 3:6) And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

(Reveltion 21:8) But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Is there a difference between hades and hell?

The KJV translated hades as hell and gehenna as the Valley of Hinnom. Since that time, scholarship and critical reading of the text reveals that Hades is a more general term, like Sheol, while Gehenna is a specific term for the eternal abode of the wicked.

(Revelation 20:13-15) And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

(Acts 2:27) For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.

Is hell forever?

(Matthew 25:46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Revelation 14:11) And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

(Daniel 12:2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Do people experience eternal conscious suffering in hell?
See above references on hell being eternal.  Hell is also a place of conscious suffering:

(Matthew 13:50) And throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Luke 16:23) And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

(Revelation 20:10) And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Relevant passages for the “annihilationism” discussion:

(Matthew 10:28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

(Matthew 7:13)“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

(2 Pet. 3:7) “by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

(Hebrews 10:39) But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

(2 Pet. 3:9) “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,”

(John 10:28) “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

(1 Tim. 6:15-16) “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light.”

(2 Timothy 1:10) “Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”

(1 Corinthians 15:52-53).” “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality

(Matthew 25:46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Jude 7) Sodom and Gomorrah “are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

(Isaiah 66:24) “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

(Isaiah 34:9-10) “Its streams will be turned into pitch, And its loose earth into brimstone, And its land will become burning pitch. It will not be quenched night or day; Its smoke will go up forever. From generation to generation it will be desolate; None will pass through it forever and ever.”

Is Satan in charge of hell?

(2 Peter 2:4) God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

 (Matthew 25:41) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

(Revelation 19:20) And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

(Revelation 20:10) And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Do we talk enough about hell?

Could there be an excessive emphasis? Could there be an under-emphasis?

(Ezekiel 3) watchman principle

(Luke 12:5) But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

(Matthew 23:33) You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

(Mark 9:43-48) And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

(Hebrews 10:26-31) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”e 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Why will God send people to hell? How could He do something like that?

(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Galatians 6:8) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

(John 3:16-18) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

(Ezekiel 18:23) Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ declares the Lord God, ‘rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?’

(2 Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

(Matthew 10:28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

(Matthew 25:41) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

(Matthew 13:41-42) The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(2 Peter 2:1-10) protecting His people from harm.

(Matthew 3:12) His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

(Matthew 13:49-50) So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Matthew 7:13)“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

Other Discussion Questions:
Are you afraid of hell daily? Why or why not?
Is it appropriate to scare young children by teaching them about hell?

Are you in a Spiritual “Echo Chamber?”

Last week, when we dissected the account of the Prophet Jonah, we noticed in the first few verses that “Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” If you are familiar with the story then you know that his plan to physically run away from God did not turn out so well.

Jonah had to learn what David spoke of in Psalm 139:7-10: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”

And while we may not physically run away from God, are we not behaving in a similar manner when we silence our God-given consciences, or deliberately put His words out of our heads in order to avoid the feeling of judgment? Do we not bury our heads in the sand when we just disregard His commands?

“Yes, I know I should be sharing the gospel with people wherever I go, but… lets talk about something else.” “Yes, I know the Bible says those actions are sinful, but surely God wants me to be happy.” “Well, I should probably get baptized but… I’ll do it later.”

Just as Jonah’s running away did not actually remove Him from God’s presence, ignoring or forgetting God’s words does not get us off the hook either.

In the book of Micah it is recorded that the people behaved in this way. After being chastised for their wickedness and warned of impending doom it is said: “‘Don’t say such things,’ the people respond. ‘Don’t prophesy like that. Such disasters will never come our way! (Micah 2:6-7, NLT)’” It was as if the people believed that if they did not hear God’s truth, then it did not exist.

Instead, they wanted to listen to people that would tell them what they wanted: “Suppose a prophet full of lies would say to you, ‘I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and alcohol!’ That’s just the kind of prophet you would like! (Micah 2:11, NLT)”

Even the world recognizes the danger of surrounding ourselves by people who only tell us what we like to here. Recently there has been a lot of talk about the dangers of social media becoming an “echo chamber” in which we become surrounded by likeminded individuals who will not challenge us to grow in our understandings.

Paul told Timothy that the same thing could happen to Christians if they were not careful: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The truth is that there will always be someone somewhere willing to tell us what we want to hear just so we can feel good about ourselves and not be troubled with God’s truth. In this way, we can convince ourselves of whatever it is that we would like to believe, as though our obliviousness to reality actually altered the truth.

Beginning in Proverbs 1:20 we find a lengthy passage about wisdom crying out in the public square, asking if anyone is actually going to listen to her. The choice is yours. There are plenty of fools waiting to tell you exactly what you want. Or there is wisdom, crying out from the pages of the Bible for whoever is willing to listen.