Speaking the Truth in Love

Swimming in the Muck

On a religious radio program aired several years ago, a woman described her father in the following way: “I know my father is saved. I know he’s going to heaven. He is a very arrogant person, though. My parents divorced when I was an infant, and he has had little to do with me since then. My father rejects me because I don’t have much money. But like I said, I know he’s saved.”

Confidence in such a man’s salvation certainly seems ill-founded. If the Bible teaches anything, it warns that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). A striking biblical text illustrating this point appears in Isaiah 25. The passage concerns Moab, an enemy nation neighboring Israel to the east.

In a judgment oracle against Moab recorded in Isaiah 16, the prophet has already rebuked Moab for “her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and her insolence,” her empty “boasts” (v. 6, NIV). But in 25:10 Isaiah uses a startling figure to warn of God’s impending punishment. The prophet predicts that “Moab will be trampled under him [the Lord] as straw is trampled down in the manure.” That is, God will utterly humiliate the proud people of Moab.

In the following verse the figure changes. The trampled straw becomes a living person struggling vainly to save himself from drowning in a cesspool. “They will spread out their hands in it,” Isaiah says, “as a swimmer spreads out his hands to swim. God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands” (Isa. 25:11, NIV).

A woman reluctant to think of her father as lost gains our deepest sympathy. However, our natural love for parents must never blind us to the reality of God’s opposition to arrogance. It is hoping against all sound reason to believe that God’s grace smiles on a puffed-up man who is “too good” to claim and cherish his own daughter!

Share This