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What on earth is happening? (1)

Therefore God gave them up …. to ….       For this reason God gave them up to ….       And since they did not …. God gave them up to ....       Romans 1: 24-28  [written c. AD 57]


In all the busyness of life the big issues are pushed into the background. There are so many things that I don’t understand – I’ll leave them alone – I’ll never get to the bottom of them.


One of these big issues is all about cause and effect – chicken and egg – “who started it” – who’s to blame. So many awful happenings in our world. What caused them? If there is a God was He the cause?


See bold above for a statement (“God gave them up”) used three times in a few short sentences. The subject of the verb is “God.” The object is “them”. What does the verb “give up” actually mean? The original Greek verb is “paradidomi”. The “didomi” = “to give”. The “para” changes it to “give up”.


Paradidomi” is used in all four biographies of Jesus Christ (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Jesus said that he would be “given up” by the Jews to the Romans and that he would then be “given up” by the Romans to crucifixion and death. And the biographers also use “paradidomi” to describe the action of Judas when be “gave up - betrayed” Jesus AD 33. Not good.


So Jesus was “given up” to the cross – “given up” in fact to God’s judgment upon the sinfulness and sin of others.....”given up” to death.


That’s another big issue that Jersey folk decide that they don’t understand, decide to leave alone, decide that they won’t attempt to bottom.


Come back then to the words in bold above. Three times. “For this reason God gave them up to ...” Do the three repeats together explain the big picture of what’s happening in our seriously dysfunctional world of wars and killing, starvation and plenty, possession and exclusion from possession?


It seems so. This ancient New Testament letter was written by Paul, a Jewish Roman citizen, to Christians in Rome in AD 57. What on earth was happening then? Nero had succeeded Claudius as Emperor on 13 October AD 54. Nero was mad and bad - a mad murderer and, in AD 64, actually set fire to Rome itself. Paul had some explaining to do – maybe more than if he had been writing to us.


The first thing to explain was the “therefore”. What was the real reason why things were as they were in AD 57? In describing the “therefore” he also described the “them” – those whom God Almighty had “given up.” It wasn’t only Jews. It wasn’t only citizens of the Roman Empire. It wasn’t only those alive in AD 57. It included Jersey folk AD 2012. The “they” were folk who, despite abundant evidence of a Supreme Being and Immortal Creator, claimed to be wise and then decided to live ignoring that fact. The “therefore” was that very decision itself, way the reason why God “gave them up”.


And, finally, to what are they “given up” by God? That is so very, very interesting and important. What is staggering in its overpowering logic is that the “therefore” (the reason why God “gives folk up”) is identical to what they are given up to...... They are “given up” to lives that are God-less. Because there is nothing but the merely mortal, they engage in merely mortal things to the exclusion of all else. Those things are mad and bad.


Since around 600 BC a book written by and about a man named Jeremiah has been preserved in the Israeli National Archives down the centuries. Here is an extract. Were Paul and Jeremiah at one? 


 Then the LORD said to me [Jeremiah], “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! And when they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: “ ‘Those who are for pestilence, to pestilence, and those who are for the sword, to the sword; those who are for famine, to famine, and those who are for captivity, to captivity.


Because they decided that there was no God therefore God gave them up to that decision and their own God-less devices….


Is that what’s happening? On earth? And in Jersey?

‘God had condemned sin before, but never so efficiently as in the death of his Son.’ (C H Spurgeon, preacher and writer, 1834-1892)
‘In God’s ultimate judgment he gives sinners over to their sins.’ (R C Sproul, American Pastor)
Richard Syvret

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