Pastor Doug Wilson preached a really helpful sermon this last Lord’s Day on the role of prophets and prophetic ministry, which if you weren’t here for, you really should go watch or listen to. The very short version is that prophets have two major roles: they speak to the people on behalf of God – this part we are familiar with, foretelling what is to come, but often forthtelling about their sorry state of sinning, idolatry, and folly and God’s impending judgment. The second half of prophetic ministry is speaking to God on behalf of the people, most importantly at that point in the prophetic cycle when God’s wrath is beginning to justly fall on His people. I think I first heard this from James Jordan or Peter Leithart, who I believe were drawing off of the Jewish scholar Abraham Heschel, suggesting that prophets are members of God’s council. We see this in Abraham’s intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses’ intercession for Israel after the golden calf episode, and all of it culminates in Christ Himself who stands in the breach for His people, accepting the cup of judgment in Gethsemane, suffering on the cross, averting the wrath of God, causing God to turn from His course of action.
Now, as it happens, I heard Doug say something else that I thought connected to all this. I caught an Ask Doug episode where Ben Merkle asked him what folks should be doing with their time and energy in the 2020’s given everything. Doug began by pointing out that everyone has been accustomed to asking, “How much longer can the madness continue?” And the answer has been repeatedly, “Apparently longer.” Just when you think the homo-madness couldn’t get any more insane, the tranny madness says, “hold my beer.” Just when you think the abortion bloodshed couldn’t be worse, Drag Queen Story Hour and Pedophiles-R-Us spring into action. Just when the COVID Krazy couldn’t be more mindless, Dr. Fauci suggests two masks and so on. And Doug develops a very helpful answer from this broader point and defends a postmillennial eschatology all at the same time. But putting these two points together (the need for both sides of the prophetic ministry and the “Lo, the madness descendeth to yet another level” motif), helps to explain how the madness is not merely hard-hearted rebellion (it is that), but how it is also Divinely inflicted and therefore how it can keep going on. So first, a few texts demonstrating that God sometimes sends madness.
Several Texts on Madness
“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee… The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart” (Dt. 28:15, 28).
“I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not” (Is. 66:4).
“…because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:10-11).
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened…Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves… For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even the women did change the natural use into that which is against nature…” (Rom. 1:21, 24, 26).
This point regarding homosexuality, I also learned from Doug years ago: Homosexuality is not merely a bad sin that may incur the judgment of God, Romans 1 teaches that homosexuality is itself a judgment of madness that God gives peoples over to. When God’s judgment falls, He sends strong delusions of folly and fear and perversion so that people believe all sorts of lies and live according to them, so that they will be damned, because they love unrighteousness. If this is the case with homosexuality and fear explicitly, it is no great stretch to apply this to the tranny madness, fiscal madness, covid madness, and so on. We are being handed over to this madness so that God can send our nation to Hell.
The fact that this madness is divinely inflicted judgment from God suggests that it is a type or preview of Hell itself, which can help explain how it can keep descending to deeper and deeper levels, how it can go on and on (and on) — how the three-eyed monster can grow a fourth eye and sprout hair. The Christian doctrine of Hell, the eternal, conscious torment of human souls, is an awful, sobering glory. But my point here is that it goes on forever, and if that is possible, then the type of that judgment in this world, in history, can surely go on for far longer than we could possibly imagine.
Now, there is also plenty of evidence throughout Scripture that God remembers mercy, even in the midst of His wrath, and if Jesus is the Great Prophet who stood in the breach for us on the cross and who now stands before God in Heaven and intercedes on our behalf and on behalf of all the elect, we have good reason to hope that God will relent from His current fierceness at some point. And yet, that doesn’t seem to be reason at all for apathy or laziness in the meantime. The pattern throughout Scripture is this assumption of human responsibility, even in the midst of God’s great and terrible sovereignty. There is never any conflict between Divine sovereignty and human responsibility. As Charles Spurgeon once put it, when asked how he reconciled these two claims, “I never reconcile friends.” What we are told is that the secret things belong to God (e.g. the eternal decrees), but those things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever (Dt. 29:29).
Therefore, what will we do with the revelation of God’s fierce wrath being poured out on our nation? It might seem that we are still in the relatively early stages – we are still relatively wealthy and prosperous. But what is it called, when a nation willingly butchers 60 million of its own children and counting? What is it called when we harvest their organs? It’s utter and complete madness.
We are not at all far from another form of madness found in the curses of Dt. 28:
“And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee… The tender and delicate woman among you… her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, and toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear…” (Dt. 28:53, 56-57).
We are not yet knowingly eating our own children, but we are apparently being vaccinated with stuff that was harvested off of our murdered children. While Israel was threatened with the curse of madness that might eat its own children in the midst of a terrible siege, the flailing desperation of starvation, we are harvesting our babies in the midst of fatness and gluttony and obesity. Perhaps we are further down the judgment hole than we might imagine, and perhaps it goes down much further than we can even fathom.
And so, what must we do? We cannot argue ourselves out of this mental state, this complete cultural mental breakdown. We cannot run someone for office who will put this right. You cannot reason with madness. But this is my main point: The One who is doing this, all of this, is God Himself. He is behind this strong delusion; this raving, drunken lunacy is from His righteous hand. God is the One doing this to us. He has given us over to it. And therefore, He is the only One who will hear us. It will not stop until God determines to stop.
As we noted above, there is no conflict between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, and therefore, there is no conflict or tension between God’s sovereignty and any secondary causes or means. God can determine to relent through the faithful preaching of a minister who simply proclaims the cross of Jesus and Reformation breaks out. Or God could determine to relent by allowing the West to crumble into ruins and one by one the people wake up from their stupors. Or God could determine to hear the desperate prayers of His people to please stop the madness.
So none of this means that we should not continue the first half of the prophetic ministry, declaring what God says about sin and the judgment that results from it, resisting lies and defending Christian liberty, but this does mean that we must begin to give far greater attention to the second half of the prophetic ministry, declaring to God that His reputation is on the line, pleading with Him not to destroy the righteous with the wicked, and most importantly lifting up the cross to God, reminding Him of the work and reputation of Christ and His glory, and going boldly before the throne of grace in our time of need.