Don't you know when James suddenly calls the recipients of his letter "You adulterous people!", it shocked and startled the readers? Even though his letter is full of admonition and correction, up to this point, James has referred to his readers as brothers. After this sudden outburst, James continues to refer to them as brothers, but this statement had to jolt them.
James makes this forceful declaration, much like an OT prophet, to convict the readers of living and acting like the world. By declaring friendship with the world equals being an enemy of God, James was forcing his readers to choose a side, the kingdom of the world or the kingdom of God. You can't serve two masters! Who are you going to trust? Upon whom will you depend? What is the basis of your faith?
For me, today's reading emphasized that point. In Numbers, life was for those willing to look at the bronze serpent on the pole, not looking to Egypt. In their rebellion, God disciplines the nation and offers salvation from what seems an unlikely source. How many people refused the offer? God is displaying Himself as the only one worthy of trust, even if it appears strange to the world.
In Psalm, David describes what God did to get the nation's attention: rejected them, broke their defenses, made the ground shake and caused them to stagger. But He also set up His banner, so the people will return and rally around Him. God is the place of salvation because salvation from other men is vanity. He alone is the rock that is higher than I.
In Isaiah, God proclaims Assyria to be an instrument in His hand, His rod and staff. So why would the Israelites and Judeans place any faith in a tool rather than the craftsman who uses it? The king of Assyria boasts of His strength and wisdom, but LORD of hosts used the same analogy to compare the workman and the tool in verse 15. The light of Israel uses those opposed to Him, as the king of Assyria, to discipline His people so that they will return to Him. He always provides and protects a remnant who will.
So the problem James addresses is not new to the recipients of his letter. Just like my forefathers, the question for me is, upon whom will I depend, trust and serve. Fortunately and unfortunately, I am old enough and have been foolish enough to have placed my faith and confidence in the things of the world and learned the lesson James is teaching. Every decision is a constant choice. Does the decision I am making display the Spirit He has placed in me? Are the words of my mouth appropriate for one of the remnant? Are my actions pleasing to the world or the LORD of hosts?
The rest of James 4 gives many commands for those who desire friendship with God rather than the world. Please pray though James' instructions as you resist the devil and draw near to God this morning.
Light of the world, may every reader of these words know You are the only safe place in all the world. The world in which we live is dark, but You are light. Please, make us lovers of the light, those who turn from darkness and run to the Rock who is indeed higher than I.