The dictionary defines harshness thusly: without mercy; finding fault with bitterness; unkind, pitiless, ungracious, oppressive, harmful, inelegant, discordant, strident and pungent. Bear with me; I am searching my mind and spirit; I am standing in judgment on myself because I do not want to be ungodly-surely these descriptions define the antithesis of God. If I need to repent, falling on my face before a most gracious God, pleading for forgiveness for treating my fellow human beings without mercy, then I want to do so forthrightly.

Please continue to watch and wait with me; I covet your prayers for this most serious endeavor—the searching of one's soul for grievous, hell-deserving sin. I am sure David searched his soul for devilish hatred when he cursed his enemies and wished their death; I imagine he would have rather just been remembered as the "sweet psalmist of Israel," without the distinction of having written a number of imprecatory Psalms.

Surely John the Baptist feared for his eternal soul when he called the religious crowd a bunch of snakes and adulterers. Maybe they are in heaven at this very moment and John is in hell because of John's harshness. Maybe if he had been kind and pleasant with them they would have turned to Christ and down deep Christ knows this and rectified the whole situation after the fact.

I could assume that three million of the Jews in the wilderness might have entered the Promised Land instead of just three of that generation if Moses had not been so harsh with the people, making them eat the ground-up gold from the idol his brother made for them. Dare we indite God Himself for his harshness toward Moses? It certainly seems harsh to have kept Moses from entering the Promised Land, after all he had gone through for forty years, all his faithfulness, all his meekness, just because he struck a rock rather than speaking to it to get the water to flow for the complaining people. (I almost said "complaining Jews," but that could have gotten me into even more harsh water.) And it certainly seems harsh of God to have said to the interceding Moses when he plead for the life of his sister, Miriam, that she deserved some punishment if her father had but spit in her face. Good God! What would happen today if they showed a parent caught on tape spitting in the face of one of our little darlings?

Maybe more, many more, would have been saved in the Flood if Noah had not been influenced by his great-grandfather, Enoch. Enoch was certainly a bitter, harsh man, for this is what he said to the religious crowd of his day: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Oh boy! It seems that these people connected with God's message are quite full of bitterness—we today might say, "piss and vinegar."

I just don't know what to do; my spirit strains within me because I want to be liked, loved, understood. I know. It just came to me; my solution is so obvious. I will quit reading Luther because I now clearly see that it is he who has seduced me to my bitterness against the Religious of today. I have secretly thought for years that if Luther had just been nicer to people, not quite so bold, that more people would have come on board with him and would have stayed on board. If he had just been a gentler soul maybe he could have been voted the most important person by the History Channel in the last two thousand years, even ahead of Christ, instead of just being voted the third most important person of the last thousand years. Just a little cooperation, Marty, and you could have been the really big man on campus.

Are you praying for me as I search my soul? Are you praying that I would understand Paul's words of Galatians One: If any bring not this gospel, let him be accursed! He says this twice. Maybe he was harsh, too, and a forgetful old man to boot. Maybe the disciple of love, the one who leaned on Jesus' breast at the Last Supper, was really a fake at heart, because he told his followers not to even bid a heretic "Godspeed," much less allow him into their homes. This is very confusing to me—all these people who seemed to speak for God being so harsh and unyielding.

Oh where, oh where, do I turn. Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Speaking of Christ, I will review how He treated those who should have welcomed him without hesitation. They were the ones in the know, the ones looking for the Anointed One. They were most serious in their search and in their religion. The Pharisees were some of he finest religious people who have ever lived. Let's look at how Christ treated them. Jesus said (John 8:21): "I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am go, you cannot come." What dreadful words, "I am going away!" Think how you would feel if your spouse or best friend said, "I am leaving you and never want to see you anymore. Don't bother trying to find me, it will be futile; don't even waste your energy, worm." Wouldn't you think this would wake up a person who wanted to be awakened? Of course. But not the religious Jews of Jesus' day. They responded, "Will he kill himself?" Seems they didn't much care about their Messiah. Did Christ not try to make himself known to them. Was He ineffective as a communicator; could Reagan have helped him out, given Him a few lessons on how to bring 'em in, close the deal?

Maybe I am seeing a pattern here. It seems to me that this pattern consists of these elements: God speaks, extends Himself toward His Creature for our own best good; the Creature, content with the Creation rather than the Creator, spurns our Creator—God; God, through His mouthpiece, the prophets, issues a severe warning which insults the spirit of His Creature; the Creature fights with all his might against these warnings; the Creature is aided by Satan in the battle; Light is turned into darkness; and those who have spoken for God are in one way or another summarily dismissed. Oh yes, there is one more element; those who speak for God are called "harsh."

Whew! That takes a load off. My search is over; I am proud to be called "harsh." If I am called harsh for trying to get my friends, loved ones, and this whole world to see the spiritual blindness which has taken over today, then harsh I will have to be. But I sincerely wonder, who is the harsh one? Is it me, or the loved one who will not take the time to thoroughly investigate with me the truth of the matter? They cling tenaciously to their religiosity and summarily dismiss me, even though I come with a great cloud of witnesses and testimony for them to hear and consider.

I say to them, "As in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be," They say, "Oh well, after 9-11, our pews are full." I say to them, "When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth." They say to me, "I love Christ; He cannot possibly be upset over my worship." I say to them, "This is My body." They say to me, "But 'is' means 'signifies.'" Is this not the ungodly speech Jude quoted Enoch as talking about? Of course it is, but they don't see it as such and because they don't see it as such, God must be a liar. But then I am the harsh one when I call them the liar. But so was David, Moses, John, Christ, Paul, and Luther.

The ones who have no mercy on the Word of God are not called harsh; nor are those who find fault with what God says and have much bitterness against it; nor those who are unkind, take no pity on, are ungracious, oppressive, harmful, inelegant, discordant, strident and those who consider the Word of the living God pungent.

Behold how all these nice Christians look forward to the coming of Christ, yet treat indifferently and harshly many passages in the Word regarding the Last Days. Surely they have read that in the last days perilous times shall come. Surely they have read that seducers and those who are seduced shall greatly increase. Surely they have read the words of their dear Lord: "When I come back, will there be faith on the earth?" Yes. They love their Lord so much that they pay no attention to His words; but continue in their love toward Him by treating His words most disrespectfully and harshly. They are without excuse, just as all the other people are who rebelled against the Word of God spoken by prophets. In an earlier paper, I have shown how all the conservative commentators write that the question posed by Christ regarding faith and His return are severe words of warning. Yet this people goes on in their stubborn belief that their religion MUST be pure in God's eyes.

Who is the truly harsh one in this illustration? A father, after repeated warnings, slaps his son and throws the son's belongings out of the house for calling his mother a bitch. Is it the father for doing his best to make sure his son is a respectful member of society? Is it the son for so shamefully disrespecting what God has established—motherhood and the family? If you decide the son is the truly harsh one, then you establish that the father is not harsh, but doing his duty. The father's word and duty were clear and unmistakable; his courage admirable. In like manner, God's Word is crystal clear and the truly spiritual hear it, though it kills their reason. And any person who has the courage and conviction of faith is admired by God for standing against this adulterous generation. May God remember me for good.

Let me die harsh as a testimony against this adulterous generation!

Forgive me if I seem harsh; it is nothing more than my clothing of faith masquerading as harshness.

February 29, 2004