I know, I know. It sounds like a bad joke.
But it’s not funny. In fact, to quote The Office‘s Andy Bernard, “It’s pretty freakin’ unfunny!”
Ancient Egypt, North Korea, and the rest of us have something seriously unfunny in common.
In Exodus 7 and 8, God begins to reigns plagues down upon Ancient Egypt, the oppressors of His people. Blood in the water, frogs, gnats, and flies to be precise. Why? Because the Ancient Egyptians had fashioned god’s for themselves out of plants and animals and natural resources, and the God who created plants and animals and natural resources was teaching them a lesson about who is in charge.
God is in charge, and he will not allow His people to be ruled by anyone but Him. He will not share glory. He will not share power. He will not share His rule. At least with anyone who seeks to steal these things for themselves.
This is what North Korea has in common with Ancient Egypt. Kim Jong Un, the dear leader, has established Himself as god, claiming a sort of divine right if kings, passed down from his father and grandfather before him. For the last 65+ years, North Korea has lived under the rule of a true megalomanic. A glory stealer. An oppressor of the innocent. A paper prince. A ruler not unlike the wizard of Oz, hiding behind smoke and mirrors and a creepily boyish face. God will judge the leaders of North Korea for their false rule and fierce oppression. It will happen.
So, on to the really freakin’ unfunny part. What could we have in common with these terribly sinful regimes?
the Apostle Paul explains it well in Romans 1:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Do you see it? All unrighteousness of men will be judged equally under God’s wrath because ALL people have placed something else upon the throne of their that is not the true God. Egypt and North Korea represent the blatant sinfulness of man, but the way that we value money or relationships or children or entertainment or work or the environment above Jesus represents the much more pervasive and dangerous reality of sin that wreaks havoc on our hearts.
But there is a solution, something that can and does set us apart from the idolatry of false rulers.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
The power to live a full and abundant life is found in the gospel of Christ. It tears down the idols that have held sway in our hearts and places control of our lives firmly into the hands of a God who is gracious and perfect in all that He does.