“There’s too many men, too many people
making too many problems
And there’s not much love to go around
Can’t you see this is the land of confusion?”
Without the context of where those words come from, they may just be words on a page to you. Remember back a few weeks ago when I mentioned in a sermon about having sermon ideas come at some of the most random and inopportune times? Well, those words I just read are some of the words which came through my earbuds as I was mowing the grass on my riding lawnmower a couple of weeks ago. They are words which can be found in a song which shares the same title as our sermon this morning.
Back in 1986, the English rock band Genesis was the first to release the song “Land of Confusion”. The song then was a political song which questioned the wisdom of world leaders at a time when the world was focused on the Cold War.
The version of the song I heard while mowing the yard was a cover or a remake of the original song. The cover version was released in 2005 by a band called Disturbed. The overall point of both songs released almost 20 years apart is a message about the chaos of contemporary times. Even though there are different things going on in the world in 1986 verses in 2005, the original meaning of the song focuses on the idea that there is always confusion, always chaos, there is always political and social scandals, implications of corruption and other problems that seem too large for the average person to handle.
When I heard this song while on my mower, a place where I get a lot of time to just think … I couldn’t help but think about how applicable the song is still today, roughly 34 years later. When looking at the news and seeing all the social unrest, the protests, the unmoral and unethical lifestyles, the decisions some people make, with the worship of self and the whole the “ends justifies the mean” mindset, the not knowing what story or what version of the story to believe because of all the twists and spins the news or public opinion puts on things … There’s too many men, too many people making too many problems and there’s not much love to go around. Can’t you see this is the land of confusion?
Nothing new though right? It’s the same old song and dance … just in a different time and in different space.
When I heard this song while mowing the yard, it took me back to where I was at in my devotional reading. I had just read Judges chapter two and with the unrest, the back and forth of the Israelite people, it definitely seemed like a land of confusion.
Let me briefly try to set the stage for you leading up to our reading. After the Israelites were freed from their bondage of slavery in Egypt, Moses led them through the wilderness for 40 years. After that 40 years was up and a new generation has been born, the people were allowed to enter into God’s Promised Land. Joshua, not Moses, was the one who would lead them in to take possession of it.
Joshua, with the help of God, would lead the tribes of Israel in the extermination process of the land. Joshua was commanded by God to rid the land of the Canaanites, Amorites, Perizzites, and the other “ite” like people. The reason for the extermination of them, the reason for the conquest to take over the Promised land? Well, these “ite” like people who possessed the land worshipped a bunch of different false gods. So what better way to make sure that God’s people don’t get distracted in who they should be worshipping than eliminating all the distractions.
Even though the people were told to eliminate everyone … they didn’t. At different times they decided what they thought was best which didn’t line up with what God’s plan was for them.
Toward the end of Joshua’s life, he calls the people out on the fact that some were worshiping false gods and some weren’t. Joshua says in chapter 24, “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (24:14-15). The people confidently boast that they will serve the LORD … but their actions show otherwise.
Fast forward a bit … Joshua dies. We’re told right before our reading that the people did serve the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the elders who outlived him. However, after a generation had passed, so roughly 20 to 30 years, after a generation had passed, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel (Judg. 2:10).
The people then did what was evil in God’s eyes and worshipped all the false gods. Because of this, because the people forsook God and served the Baals and the Ashoreths … God allowed them to be plundered and defeated.
God would raise up judges to save the people … but the people wouldn’t listen. They would continue to worship the false gods. Later, when a different judge was successfully raised up, the people would turn back to God’s ways and they would be saved … but only as long as that judge lived. Then they would go back to worshipping the false gods and the people returned to even more corrupt ways.
There’s too many men, too many people making too many problems and there’s not much love to go around. Can’t you see this is the land of confusion?
Fast forward to today … it’s the same old song and dance. Tragedy strikes … people turn back to God … only to fall back into their old habits. Another tragedy strikes … people turn back to God … only to fall back into their old habits and even worse habits. With everything going on … don’t you just want to climb into the safety of your own personal little bubble and pretend that everything is okay out there in the world?
The problem is … even in the perceived safety of our own little bubble … we aren’t safe. Even though we and our households follow and serve Jesus as our Savior … sin has still found a way in and corrupted us. You see … there’s too many men, too many people making too many problems and there’s not much love to go around. Can’t you see this is the land of confusion?
The battle we fight, the war we find ourselves in is really not against flesh and blood, but as Paul says in Ephesians 6, our struggle is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (6:12). Individual humans are not the enemy we face, instead they are the victims and the tools of the enemy.
As much as you and I try to fight this battle and want to win this battle … you aren’t strong enough, I’m not strong enough. No one is as our sin makes us weak. Our sin makes us fall for temptations and evil schemes. As we prayed earlier … we all face spiritual battles on a daily basis as Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh work constantly to undermine our faith and draw us away from our Savior. We need help.
“Oh, Superman, where are you now? When every thing’s gone wrong somehow? Men of steel, these men of power, I’m losing control by the hour.”
I relate to those words from the “Land of Confusion” song. Or as the beginning words of Psalm 13 says, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and everyday have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (13:1-2).
In the midst of all the earthly confusion going on, it may very easily seem like God is distant … but He’s not. In the midst of the confusion, it may seem like God is losing the battle … but He hasn’t.
In a marvelously clear way, the all-powerful God took the initiative for us by sending his own Son to go to battle on our behalf. Jesus came to defeat and free us from our sins and heal us. In our Baptism, God has marked you as his own and gives you the promises of Christ. In all of this God tells us that you matter to him, that he pays attention to you, and that you are precious to him. One day, one day we will fully know, everything will be clear to us, there will be no confusion as we live in a new land and look upon our Savior in the awesome perfection. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our clearly victorious Lord and Savior, now and forever. Amen.