“The wicked sprout like weeds,
And all who do iniquity blossom;
To be destroyed, forever and ever.”
(Psalm 92:8 [verse 7 in English translations])
Paul writes in Romans 9:21-23 that God has created the wicked as vessels of wrath for the purpose of pouring out his power upon in destruction. The psalmist speaks in similar terms here. Though the wicked seem to sprout up like weeds all around us and those who revel in their sin seem to prosper, there is a purpose for which they were created…and that purpose is destruction. While the believer may be created, in the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever,” the wicked are created to face His wrath and be destroyed forever.
For most of us, that is a fearful warning, for though we may be believers we know many who are not. Indeed, some may be destined for this destruction. Others may be of the elect of God, yet in God’s providence they have yet to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The question is, might you be the one whom God will use to share the Gospel with such persons? Yet, such cannot take place unless you begin the conversation with them about what is true and what is eternal. The grass withers and perishes but the word of the Lord lasts forever. Will you be the one to share that word with those in your midst? Will there never be left any question as to your care for their eternal souls?
All too often we read passages like this and we fail to seriously consider the reality of hell and the horrors of such eternal destruction. The scriptures refer to it as the “second death” (Revelation 2:11; 20:14; 21:8). A dying that lasts eternally in all its fearful connotations, devoid of hope. Such is the end to which those this verse speaks of are destined…should it not make us shudder that we have friends, neighbors, and coworkers that will be found under God’s thumb of wrath. Will you warn them of the coming wrath?
“The man who is stupid does not know;
The ignorant one does not understand this.”
The language of one who is stupid and ignorant is used in a very specific way in the Bible. Today, we often refer to people who are uneducated as ignorant and use the term “stupid” as more of an insult. We might cruelly comment, “What are you stupid or something,” if someone just does not understand a basic idea.
But the Bible prefers to reserve these terms for a very specific class of people: those who pursue idols. It is the stupid man who bows down to idols of silver or of wood or who crafts such abominations for sale amongst the people. Those who are ignorant are ignorant in practical aspects of living — they cannot make the kind of decisions that will be wise for them or for their families. And since the fear of the Lord is the most basic decision we can make that leads to knowledge and wisdom, those who reject such fear reject that which will allow them to make wise decisions and live life well.
And thus, those who pursue idols or the illusion of atheism do not understand this. But what is the “this” in question? It is the strength of God and his mighty works. They don’t understand the basis for worship. For them, coming to church is either habit or foolishness, they don’t see it as an engaging with the God of the universe who rules over all things.
The condemnation, then, is there, for there are many in our communities and even in our churches that are stupid and ignorant because of their attitude toward God and life. And one need not be conscientiously an idol worshipper or atheist to fall into this category; many do so by their actions. So, beloved, the question is first, will we look at our own lives and honestly ask ourselves whether we are guilty of such things? And then, will we address those areas in a way that honors our God? In addition, will we then share what we do know about the power of God with those who are ignorant and stupid in our midst, pointing them to the God who claims our allegiance, our worship, and our obedience in every area of our lives…not just in what we do in church.