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Like People, Like Priest

People in Isaiah’s day knew that something was wrong with their world, but not with themselves; the people blamed the priests, and the priests the people.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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CA Farmer 230:5 (March 1, 1969), p. 39.

One of the less popular verses of the Bible is Isaiah 24:2. Isaiah, in speaking of the coming judgment on the Kingdom of Judah, declared: “And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.” People in Isaiah’s day knew that something was wrong with their world, but not with themselves; the people blamed the priests, and the priests the people; the buyer blamed the seller, and the seller the buyer, and so on. And they were all right; corruption extended to every area of society. Therefore, God declared through Isaiah, judgment would affect them all equally.

What about our situation today? On all sides we hear extensively a chorus of complaints about everyone. Especially of late we have heard complaints about our politicians, and the complaints are true. But it is possible to say, that, with all their faults, our politicians may still be better than we deserve. Allan Nevins, in his study Grover Cleveland, wrote very wisely: “Character is not made overnight. When it appears in transcendent degree, it is usually the product of generations of disciplined ancestry, or a stern environment, or both.” Let us apply this to the situation today. If a people lack discipline and character, will they elect to office, call to the pulpit, or call to the schools men of discipline and character? And if the homes and schools do not produce young men of Christian faith and stability, how can we then expect to find such character in any area of life? “Like people, like priest” (Hosea 4:9).

If the roots of a tree are diseased or dying, the tree will produce diseased or withered fruit. If the roots of a people, their Christian faith and character, are diseased, then their fruits, their children, and their lack of Christian training will bear an ugly fruit, and the results will be written largely across all society.

We have many needs, but certainly one of the basic needs is Christian regeneration and reformation. The family cannot expect the world to do its work for it by disciplining its children. The family, church, and school must be truly Christian, and this means work. There is no harvest in any field without hard and patient work. This means families must take their Christian responsibilities seriously. It means reestablishing truly Christian churches, and forming independent Christian schools. Our most hopeful sign for the future is that many are doing this. Until then, let us not be surprised that as our people are, so shall our society be.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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