Isaiah 24:2 “And it shall be: As with the people, so with the priest; As with the servant, so with his master; As with the maid, so with her mistress; As with the buyer, so with the seller; As with the lender, so with the borrower; As with the creditor, so with the debtor.”
This is the opposite of the trickle down effect! We are inclined to think that the rich and powerful shape the social environment for us all. Here we have Isaiah predicting a time everything gets turned ‘up-side down’. In our time it’s hard enough for a person to move up in our money and prestige class system; how much harder is it for the masses to effect the elite they way Isaiah foretells. Not as ‘hard’ as we may think.
The prophet Hosea claims the same for the religious rulers; “They feed on the sin of My people And direct their desire toward their iniquity. And it will be, like people, like priest; So I will punish them for their ways And repay them for their deeds. They will eat, but not have enough; They will play the harlot, but not increase, Because they have stopped giving heed to the LORD.” (Hosea 4:8-10) Hosea tells us that the religious rulers have stopped following the LORD. They prance around in pretty vestments but have emptied their station of any real authority and power. Yet, they will have ravenous appetites.
Isaiah says the same; “The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate. . . ” (Isaiah 24:3-6) The Bible tells us that not only will people languish – ruler and regular guy alike, but also the land will be consumed and polluted.
When societies lose their direction, when leaders wander because they have lost their way a spiritual vacuum occurs in the ‘upper stratosphere’ of society. An unholy updraft occurs that carries all that is base and broken in the struggling masses and it moves upwards into the ‘privileged’ sector of society. Those who fancy themselves so good and so wealthy that they are ‘immune’ to the diversions and appetites of the masses become besotted with the very things they look down on. They eat and never have enough. They play the harlot but do not increase.
A spiritual ‘trickle up‘ effect becomes predominant. Those that rule cater to the coarser appetites of the people who they should be calling to higher standards to the point that they themselves and their children hunger for those very things. They believe their own lies and take the very yoke they entice or try to please others with upon themselves.
How does all of this work in our church fellowships today? People and priest alike dance an unholy pirouette around each other leaving God right out of the relationship. Ed Stelzer describes the dynamic; “Believers who think like customers contribute to the underachieving church in America. The damages move far beyond ineptness at engaging the mission of God. The incessant demands of a consumer congregation cause irreparable damage to those who lead such congregations. Some of the consumer demands are based on pastoral perception, too. Pastors often experience chronic anxiety because they fear their flock.” The pastor’s fear of God is replaced by the fear of man!
What happens to the Pastor? Ed Stelzer writes; “A codependent pastor needs a needy congregation. And we have too many of both. . . . It is a vicious cycle where everyone ends up disappointed—including God, . . . . The pastor who insists on being the focus of local ministry trains the body of Christ to sin; believers who demand all ministry to be done by ‘professionals’ lead the pastor to sin. So who started all of this dysfunction? Was it the needy, consumer-driven congregation? Or was it the pastor, hungry for significance? ” This social dynamic works much like a fractal at all scales of social organization from the local community to national politics, from the sacred to the secular.
How do we get out of this unholy codependent dance with our leaders? How do our leaders redeem themselves and their people? There is only one way out. The apostle Peter tells us the way in his confrontation with the leaders of his day; “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:30-32)
As a nation, as a community, as a Christian fellowship, as leaders and as citizens we must recognize and follow the one true King; “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10,11)
Come Lord Jesus!