The Spirit of Death and the Stronghold of Mockery

My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me. Are not mockers with me? And does not my eye dwell on their provocation?” (Job 17:1-2)

In my near-death weeks over this last season, one of the attitudes of the heart that became most excruciating was to feel the Lord’s heart re: the spirit of accusation, animosity and mockery. As I wrote in my raw update: “This is the breath of hell.”

I believe this is what Job was describing when he also drew close to death in Job 17: “My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me. Are not mockers with me? And does not my eye dwell on their provocation?” (Job 17:1-2)

The closer Job drew to death, the more he could feel the heat of the Lord’s wrath against mockery, denigration, ridicule and scorn.

Both the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah identify the spirit of mockery among the people of God who are being judged – and the judgment against them was quite severe.

“Now therefore, do not be mockers, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts, a destruction determined even upon the whole earth.” (Isaiah 28:22)

Isaiah observes that when we allow mockery to become a part of our way of interacting with our world, “our bonds will be made strong”; meaning, the spirit of mockery will become a stronghold in our life; in our fellowship; and in our culture.

If I may be so candid: Mockery has become a stronghold in our American evangelical culture. From simple bumperstickers that read: “Let’s Go Brandon!” to endless memes and social media posts that ridicule, jeer and denigrate our political, theological and ideological opponents – our family loves to laugh at our enemy’s expense. In fact, the better we are at calling our foes “fools”, the more applause we give and receive unto ourselves. We love to “drop the mic” on our enemies.

This is no less true for those who mock and deride our former President. Mockery transcends political division. Our whole culture is rife with the spirit. It’s not a conservative vs, liberal issue, it’s a righteousness vs. unrighteousness issue; a crucified or uncrucified issue; an “I’m with Jesus” or “I’m not with Jesus” issue.

Isaiah also observes, mockery is an especially dangerous dynamic to harbor in our soul in the hour when the whole earth is under the threat of Divine destruction. Beloved, we’re living in such an hour.

Our Lord calls this attitude in our heart, “murder”; and strongly warns us that it will be punished with “hell fire”.

Whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ … ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22)

What this means is when political pundits, evangelical leaders, pastors, prophets laugh at, ingloriously condemn, belittle, sneer at, ridicule, make fun of, and foment half-truths and innuendos and conspiracies about our ideological disputants, (as shown in the few examples below) according to our Savior, we’re in danger of hell fire.

Beloved, let there be no doubt. In (Matthew 7:23) Jesus paints the picture of meeting many “righteous” individuals who can recite impressive Kingdom accomplishments. It is precisely their disposition to mock, curse and not forgive their enemies – all the things that Jesus has just covered in His sermon – that He, THE LAW-GIVER HIMSELF, deems as “lawlessness”.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!’ “Therefore… everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:21-24, 26-27)

The prophet Jeremiah learned the wisdom of “doing the will of the Father” and avoiding the spirit of mockery – even at the cost of his own reputation and social comfort.

“I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, for You have filled me with indignation.” (Jeremiah 15:17)

Jeremiah indicates that the Lord Himself filled Jeremiah’s soul with a loathing “indignation” for the spirit of mockery – and it cost him a seat at the table of influencers in Judah. He refused to engage in the mutual murder that had become rampant among the advisors. He “sat alone”; apparently disconnected from the levers of power that were available to him at the time. He wasn’t asked to give the plenary address at the denominational conferences; he was not perceived as one who had political clout, or rhetorical capital. He was “alone”.

Funny. The man who was alone is the man whose writings have endured. None of the provocateurs, the firebrands, the sages or the rabble-rousers of Jeremiah’s day are even remembered today, except through the journals of the man who refused to be applauded in the assembly of the mockers.

In short, Jeremiah learned the eternal value of being a man who brought his arguments before God in intercession, weeping and dialogue. It was in this forum (the tent of meeting with the Lord) that Jeremiah found efficacious and eternal solutions to the problems of his day.

When faced with the many-headed temptation to mock, deride and murder our adversaries, I am praying for grace to be like Jeremiah.

____________________
JSB • March, 2022

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