Welcome to Meditation Moments, and again the old-fashioned greeting: May the Lord bless you and make you a blessing.
As I’m sitting here in the heart of Los Angeles and praying about this message, this meditation that we’re to bring to you, not very far from where I am there is this terrible situation, this rioting that really is just like anarchy. It’s more like a war than anything I have known since war days. 1
As I’ve been sitting here, I’ve read the 140th Psalm about the violent man, because we are living in an age of violence. This has been a terrible situation—rebellion so vicious that you couldn’t conceive of it unless you had seen some of the things that have gone on here. The brutality of it has been a terrible thing.
Just a few moments ago the announcement came that a mother was sitting with her two children out in the front yard to enjoy a little of the breeze, because it’s such a hot day, and a sniper killed the one child and wounded the other child. Cowards have been shooting in the dark and not even allowing the firemen to get to the fires, trying to stop them from driving the fire trucks, and so the snipers would try to kill the firemen. It just seems impossible that such things could take place.
A hundred million dollars of destruction and burning buildings! One entire block of stores burned to the ground. Up to this time there have been 28 that are dead and nearly 700 wounded. Most of the big markets in this area have been burned, and now even the food problem is acute because of food spoilage.
How can these things be? How can they come to pass in such an age of enlightenment? Let me read this passage first from God’s Word:
“Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man: preserve me from violent man; which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually they are gathered together for war. They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips. Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow our goings. … I said unto the Lord, Thou art my God; hear the voice of my supplications, O Lord. O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle. Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked desire, lest they exalt themselves. As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them. Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire, into deep pits, that they rise not up again. Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth.”
Psalm 140:1–4, 6–11
I pause here at that verse, because last night on the television I heard some of the most evil things that were said, even about our country, and the arguments that came as a result of this awful thing that’s taken place. That verse closes with these words, “Evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him,” and I’m quite sure that God will fulfill that verse. Some of these that are so violent, surely they are going to reap that which they have sown. (Galatians 6:7)
“I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted and the right of the poor. Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name, and the upright shall dwell in thy presence” (Psalm 140:13)
I heard so many excuses made for this riot, for which there was no excuse whatsoever. One excuse from a certain group was that they were hitting back because of police brutality. (And the poor police, I might say, if you ever saw a group of men that worked hard and in a dangerous, dangerous situation.—This awful disrespect for the police!) It’s only a rebellion against law and order, and that’s part of the anarchy that comes from these hoodlums and gangsters that perpetrated this thing, because they’re really a great part of this.
It’s not from the group that you think whatsoever, but there were in the city at this time a vicious element. Well, I might say that this is a rebellion against the old established order of things. As you read in God’s Word, how true it is that there will be a time when men shall “wax worse and worse,” God’s Word says. (2 Timothy 3:13)
We wonder about things getting better, and we hear about the Great Society ushering in so much that’s better, and some people are looking for a utopia. Instead of that, we seem to be moving into an age of violence, just like God’s Word tells us that these things shall happen in the Last Days. (Luke 21:25)
I started to say that this is a rebellion in the heart of men against the old established order of things, against constituted authority, and it’s found today in every avenue of life. We’ve seen it a great deal amongst our teenagers, and we listen to much of it, and we hear it over the air and on television. Some of this violence is even depicted in the movies. You look at the music of the day. Sometimes it sounds like someone has tripped over the lid of hell and let some of the rebellion from there just sound out. Music from the jungle, the beat of jungle savagery is really in some of our music today, and it shows forth this very rebellion against law and order and the old constituted order of things.
The same in art—I remember my trips to some of the art galleries, how perfectly amazed I was at some of the cubist art and the surrealism and all. The first time I ever saw it, I thought one of them was an unfinished painting. It was so ugly and distorted, and it hadn’t a bit of beauty about it. So much of the art today is something like that. I went to the Indian art exhibit some time ago in Long Beach. I couldn’t understand any of it, and I couldn’t see anything beautiful about so much of it, and it looked like some of the paint was sticking to the canvas against its own will. In this surrealism and this cubist art there is this very spirit of rebellion against the order of things.
And in literature.—The pornographic literature so prevalent today, and so much of sex and atheism. So rarely you run across a real good book that’s sweet and pure and uplifting. I don’t have to say anything about the dance, you have seen it if you have ever looked at television.
Some Christians won’t look at anything but the news and something scientific, something of that kind, but if you happen to let the program stay on a little longer, you can’t help but see some of the violence today, suggestive contortions and jungle jittering. Why, it looks exactly as if it comes from savagery.
Now may I just bring this thought to your own heart, because we have so little time on this program: Don’t you see that when you are rebellious towards God, when you are disobedient, then you also are a rebel in your own heart? When God has told you to do certain things, and when He speaks to your heart, it’s always for your own good. God wouldn’t tell you to do something unless it was for your good, unless it was that which would not only please Him, but that which would reap a rich reward for you in the future, as you follow Him.
But when there is rebellion in your heart, then it’s just part of this that we’ve been talking about. It’s just a little taste of what went on in our city in the last few days, this terrifying thing that came to pass here. When you refuse to listen to His voice and you want your own way, that’s some of the rebel that’s in your own heart.
There isn’t any place for compromise today; you have to be on one side or the other. There cannot be any conforming to this rebellious, violent world. There can be no conformity! We have numbers of times quoted the verses of Scripture which some of you know so well, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) The lines are so clearly drawn.
I know in some places people have tried to erase that clearly defined line that separates the conformity and the transformity. You can’t do it! The lines are gray there in some lives, but if you’re a real Christian, that line of demarcation is clearly drawn. You’re either on the one side or the other today, because in this age of violence and this age of unbelief, when men’s hearts are seemingly turning against God in so many cases, you see that you become a part of this thing.
They look for the causes. I said a while ago, some try to lay it to police brutality; others try to say that it’s because of the conditions among the people in the ghettos, and that they’ve never had a chance, and this and that and the other. But the trouble is that it’s just in the heart of man, which God’s Word says is desperately wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9) And it is desperately wicked. Your only hope is to yield that heart utterly to the Lord Jesus Christ. Your only hope to keep from having a rebellious heart is just to yield absolutely in a full surrender.
You know what surrender means to a soldier: Just throw up your hands and give up completely. That’s what the song is about. There’s one verse that says,
“I work so hard for Jesus,” I often boast and say
“I’ve sacrificed a lot of things to walk the narrow way.
I gave up fame and fortune, I’m worth a lot to Thee.”
Then I heard Him gently say to me,
“I left the throne of glory and counted it but loss.
My hands were nailed in anger upon the cruel cross.
Now we’ll make the journey with your hand safe in mine,
So lift your cross and follow, follow me.”
Adapted from “Follow Me,” by Ira F. Stanphill, 1953
That’s the only safe place, and oh, the reward. I can tell you what a reward it is, and how He will bless your heart and give you peace and rest. Obey Him, listen to His voice. Do what He bids you. God bless you.
- The Watts Riots was a civil disturbance in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, from August 11 to August 15, 1965. The 5-day riot resulted in 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries, 3,438 arrests and over $40 million in property damage.—Wikipedia.