“Your earliest ancestor sinned; your leaders sinned against me, and your rulers profaned my sanctuary. So I brought destruction on Israel; I let my own people be insulted”.
Isa 43:27, 28 GNB
Many years ago a doctor, examining a patient’s chest x-ray, explained that the unusual shadow in one place was not due to the patient’s habit of smoking. “It is just poor photography. Smoking gets blamed for many things it isn’t responsible for”. Later scientific evidence has proved that doctor wrong, although his diagnosis at the time was probably reasonable. Not only does smoking have consequences. So do many other habits, pastimes, customs and activities.
The prophet Isaiah was deeply conscious that the behaviour of the Israelite people had been the cause of their demise as a people. They were all from the two southern tribes of Israelites, based around Jerusalem. Their northern neighbours – all ten tribes of them, and blood brothers of the present people – had been defeated by the Assyrian empire some one hundred and fifty years earlier. Taken away, they had been lost. The two tiny tribes remained, and now most of them were in exile, probably wondering what fate awaited them in Babylon. They had failed to remain loyal to their Jehovah-God and that, for Isaiah, was sin. And the consequence of sin was that they got cut off from their God. They thought he would condone or ignore their lack of faithfulness. Isaiah knew better. He who controlled the destiny of nations had many lessons to teach his own chosen people.
We would be very chary of attaching consequences to any but the most scientifically-proven practices today. But Christian disciples will carefully assess the dangers of unwisely chosen lifestyle choices where medical science has clearly pointed them out.
Lord, guide me to make wise lifestyle choices.