A Refuge of Lies vs. a Revolution of Truth
By David White
All Scripture references are New King James version.
In his book 1984, George Orwell wrote, “In a time of universal deceit—telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
Grieved over the backslidden state of his nation, the prophet Isaiah addressed the leaders and those who followed by boldly declaring, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scornful men, who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, because you have said, ‘We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves’” (Isaiah 28:14-15).
Isaiah was calling for nothing less than a revolution in dealing with and delivering the people from falsehoods that had blinded them from seeing the obvious things that were separating them from their God.
Discerning the Righteous From the Wicked
Those called to serve as priests of the Lord were given the responsibility to teach people the difference between the holy and the unholy, the clean and the unclean, with no regard for how controversial their doing so could become. This was so that God’s people could discern the difference between those who served God from those who merely served themselves.
“And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. In controversy they shall stand as judges, and judge it according to My judgments” (see Ezekiel 44:23-24).
“Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Malachi 3:18).
Biblical history reveals times when God’s people were ruled by those who did what was right in the sight of the Lord as well as those who did what was evil. Some were known as champions and defenders of truth, while others became masters of deceit and enemies of the truth. The latter led people into exchanging the truth for lies and progressively into captivity.
It is written of Hezekiah king of Judah, “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done” (II Kings 18:3). Hezekiah is described as a leader who, “trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went” (see II Kings 18:5-7).
As a result of Hezekiah’s obedience to the commandments of the Lord, both he and those he led prospered. Hezekiah gained the most coveted testimony of truly great leadership when it was written, “the Lord was with him.”
On the other hand, the Scriptures record when Jeroboam, king of Israel “did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin” (see I Kings 15:26). Jeroboam was a wicked leader whose own rebellion against God led the people he ruled into rebellion and its consequences.
Isaiah warned the rulers and people of his day that although they took refuge (shelter) in lies and hid themselves in falsehoods, eventually their perceived covering would come crashing down. Isaiah declared, “For the bed is too short to stretch out on, and the covering so narrow that one cannot wrap himself in it” (Isaiah 28:20). There would be no place to hide or remain comfortable. What Isaiah describes as “the overflowing scourge” (see Isaiah 28:15, 18) was coming, and God was their only refuge and hope. They only had to turn back to Him.
Isaiah reminds the people that the Lord set the standard for justice and righteousness by which all will be judged. No agreement or allegiance with darkness and evil will rescue them from the righteous justice of God. “Also I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the plummet; the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters will overflow the hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overflowing scourge passes through, then you will be trampled down by it” (Isaiah 28:17-18). Isaiah continues by promising that as God’s justice unfolded, “it will be a terror just to understand the report” (see Isaiah 28:19).
Previously Isaiah explained how the reason for their dilemma could be found in their pride and refusal to walk in the way that would have given them what they were really looking for. Instead of believing and following God’s truth, they trusted in lies. He reminded them how God had spoken, “This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest,” and, “this is the refreshing”; yet (sadly), they would not hear” (see Isaiah 28:12).
After describing the terror that comes upon those who refuse the knowledge, counsel, and rebuke of the Lord, the wisest king who ever lived, Solomon, wrote, “But whoever listens to me (God), will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil” (Proverbs 1:33).
The Scriptures have much to say about wicked versus righteous leaders, the importance of us wisely choosing between the two, and what happens in a society where the wicked rule. Here are just a few examples:
“Like a roaring lion and a charging bear is a wicked ruler over poor people. A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor” (Proverbs 28:15-16).
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2).
“If a ruler pays attention to lies, all his servants become wicked” (Proverbs 29:12).
“For the leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyed” (Isaiah 9:16).
“The righteous should choose his friends (or leaders) carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26).
Although history is filled with examples of both righteous and wicked leaders, one thing remains the same, God! He never changes in spite of who might rule over the governments of men. His Kingdom is unshakable and ever expanding on the earth, especially within the hearts of men and women who know and follow Him. His truth endures forever!
Truth Sets and Keeps People Free
“Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.’ Then they said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me’” (John 8:39-45).
Jesus was a revolutionary and enemy to those whose desire was to do the deeds of the devil, the original liar and father of all lies. Jesus came as the Truth to tell the truth that could both set and keep men and women free. But most could not listen because they had been blinded by the lies in which they trusted, lies that would lead to their certain captivity and eventual destruction.
Without question, the most revolutionary statement ever made was when Jesus declared, “and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (see John 8:32). He alone was and remains, “the way, the truth, and the life” (see John 14:6). Jesus is the stronger One over every strong man and stronghold of deceit (see Luke 11:22).
The world is ready for a revolution of truth which involves speaking the truth, believing the truth, following the truth, living the truth, but most of all, knowing and loving Truth-Jesus. He is still calling men and women out of darkness to come to Him. Join the revolution that will never end.