T. S. Eliot captured the world’s condition following World War I with his treatise, “The Wasteland.”
The characters of the immoral Sweeney and the pious J. Alfred Prufrock were as empty as the culture that produced the horrific first world war our world has known.
If Eliot were alive today, he would find empty leaders on a worldwide scale, whose vacant inner-selves seem to care not that they are creating a wasteland of the earth.
The author of Hebrews was steeped in the message of the Old Testament. He knew, as we need to know, that God is active in human history to bring about his purposes.
In Isaiah’s time, Assyria and Babylon created a wasteland of the Middle East. Isaiah’s consistent message was that God was at work even through the pain of defeat and exile.
I worry about the lack of leadership among business and political leaders. I wonder if they are like Eliot’s Sweeney and Prufrock.
Like Isaiah, Hebrews sees God’s hand, not wasteland creators, in world events.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.”
This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what is shaken — that is, created things — so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe, for indeed our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12.26-29).
No one can doubt that the world is shaking. Volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, wars, social unrest, extreme poverty, and so much more fill the news.
If God is the One who is shaking the earth and not “natural disasters” and evil persons in power, then we can hope for a world that will be better than a wasteland.
We belong to “a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” We have a personal relationship with the One who is using events in history to remove what can be shaken.
Like the Old Testament prophets, on one hand, we grieve over human suffering. On the other hand, we work with God to see his purposes accomplished on earth.
The world may become a shaken wasteland, but we will not, provided we seek to live a Jesus-kind-of-life.
Prufrock was a very “religious” man, but like his counterpart had a wasteland for an inner self. How can we escape the trap of inauthentic religious experience?
I think Hebrews has the answer.
See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking, for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! (Hebrews 12.25).
This may seem simplistic, but I think two thoughts will serve us well.
(1) Take advantage of the access that Jesus provides his brothers and sisters and listen to the Lord each day.
(2) Once we have heard from the Lord, then, in the words of Jesus’ mother, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2.5).
Rudy Ross and I talk about Hebrews on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
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