The Cycle of Unbelief
Societies throughout human history have tended to cycle through the same patterns: acknowledging God, denying God, embracing moral depravity, receiving punishment and destruction from God, repenting, and then recycling again. The Israelites of the Old Testament repeated this cycle several times as recorded in the book of Judges. The pattern starts with human eyes looking upward, worshipping God. As time goes by, we tend to lower our eyes from God, gaze at ourselves, and proclaim that we are more wise and intelligent than God. Many decide that He’s unnecessary and pretend that He does not exist. Humans are then idolized—Caesars, popes, Hollywood stars, American idols. This phase of the cycle commenced in America in the last half century and is illustrated in the world around us in a myriad of ways.
Society claims to be wiser than God in saying that spanking your children is bad because it teaches them to be violent and hurts their self-esteem. Yet God, through Solomon, said that “he who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). Society has arrogantly elevated itself above God. Many in society say that capital punishment is cruel and unusual, yet God required the Israelites to inflict capital punishment for over 15 different crimes, and stoning someone to death was a typical form of capital punishment (Miller, 2002). By deluded human thinking, God is guilty of “cruel and unusual punishment.” Society says that God and government should be separate, but God says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalms 33:12). Society says that homosexuality and other forms of sodomy are acceptable lifestyles that should be endorsed, even encouraged. But God listed homosexuality as a crime worthy of death in the Old Testament (Leviticus 20:13), and said that homosexuals and sodomites will not “inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Society has elevated human beings to the status of gods capable of deciding what is morally right and wrong. Humans do not have to bow down to each other literally, to be guilty of self-worship. Elevating ourselves to the status of gods by disregarding the true God is sufficient. We are arrogant when we dismiss God’s directives, as if we need to understand the reasons behind everything that God tells us to do or not do in His Word. He says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). We are expected to trust Him (Hebrews 11:6).
As the cycle toward spiritual depravity progresses, humans move their focus still further downward--away from God--to elevate the animal to a status higher than humans (who already are considered higher than God). The reverence bestowed on animals by the animal rights movement of the last few years, illustrates to the world that America has reached this phase of the cycle, too. Think about it—in the last few decades, activists have splashed paint on women who wear furs, devoted themselves to saving the whales, encouraged using human embryos for testing to promote human welfare while seeking to outlaw the use of animals for research purposes, advocated going vegetarian, etc. It is a crime to break a bald eagle egg before the eagle has hatched, but killing a human baby before it has left its mother’s womb is acceptable to society (“Bald Eagle,” 2002). “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). God’s approach works. However, the end result of elevating animals is seen in many of the impoverished, primitive Hindu societies of the world, where people lay starving in the streets while healthy cows roam about freely because of their elevated status. Clearly, humans are incapable of making spiritual decisions effectively on their own. “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
Often, within this repeated pattern of spiritual decay, human eyes move down even further from God, and the Earth itself becomes elevated to the status of god. America is there, too. Enter the environmentalists. “Mother Earth” must be protected at all costs. “Save the planet.” “Go green.” “No carbon footprints.” Some advocate killing off certain humans that they deem as less useful to society in order to save the planet and its resources (cf. Harrub, 2006). The cultures of the past, those that Christian peoples have always regarded as pagan, are now being extolled for their worship of animals and the Earth. The theory of evolution says that the Earth is responsible for our existence and development—i.e., the Earth is our god. We must save it to survive, and we have the omnipotent power to control its destiny. Society says that we should not arrogantly “lord over” nature, since they are our ancestors and have as much value as we have. We humans have just happened to accidentally evolve further than them. (Consider Hollywood’s message to us about its view of nature and the sin of trying to control and have dominion over it in the movie Instinct). In stark contrast, God says that humans are to have dominion “over all the earth” (Genesis 1:26).
Should we be good stewards of God’s creation? Certainly. However, the Earth should never be elevated to the level of respect that it is being given today. Humans should never think so highly of themselves that they presume to control the destiny of the Earth. Contrary to the teachings of global warming advocates, it is not the almighty human who will destroy the Earth in the end. It is Almighty God (2 Peter 3:10-12). It is not murder in God’s sight to kill a plant, no matter how or under what circumstances it is done. God did not command capital punishment to be implemented on those who cut down a tree. Plants are not on the same value level as humans, regardless of whether a committee of morally confused humans decides such (cf. Willemsen, 2008)
On a positive note, if the typical pattern is repeating itself again, then the cycle may be nearing completion and may return to a sane, sensible appraisal of spiritual reality—returning us to the one true God, the Creator. America’s worship of itself, the animal kingdom, and the Earth has been going on for several decades, while worship of God is expelled as primitive. Unfortunately, divine punishment and destruction always occur before the cycle restarts. Although written 2,000 years ago, Paul’s words still hold true:
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1:22-25, emp. added).
“Bald Eagle,” (2002), [On-line], URL: http://midwest.fws.gov/eagle/protect/laws.html.
Harrub, Brad (2006), "Eliminate 90% of the Human Race?," http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1821.
Miller, Dave (2002), “Capital Punishment and the Bible,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1974.
Willemsen, Ariane, ed. (2008), “The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants—Moral Consideration of Plants for their Own Sake,” Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (Berne: Swiss Confederation), April.