Look, a righteous king is coming! And honest princes will rule under him. . . . In that day ungodly fools will not be heroes. Wealthy cheaters will not be respected as outstanding citizens. Everyone will recognize ungodly fools for what they are. - Isaiah 32:1, 5-6
Where have all the heroes gone? What happened to the Lincolns and the Washingtons, the Roosevelts and the Churchills? Where are men of courage, principle, and integrity, who operate with vision, drive, and initiative, and whose achievements are plain to see, beneficial, and far-reaching? What happened to the great athletes who played through their pain, who believed they were role models to the young, and who invested their lives in their communities, playing for one team all their careers? People talk about the death of God. But what about the death of heroes?
Os Guinness, in his book The Call, cites three reasons for the conspicuous absence of heroes. First, we live in a cynical age that respects nothing and reveres nobody. Guinness wrote, “As modern people, we look not for the golden aura but for the feet of clay, not for the stirring example but for the cynical motive.”4 Second, we see fewer heroes for the very simple reason that there aren’t as many around! We have traded heroes for celebrities. As everybody knows, celebrities are just people who are famous for being well-known. It is not that they have achieved anything of profound significance or have invested their lives in some noble venture that will change the lot of humanity for the better. They just happened to be around doing something when the lights came on and the cameras started to roll. Third, we are lacking in heroes because we have lost sight of God as an active participant in human lives. So we lack the ability to see God calling men to live for him and his cause, which transcends anything humans can envisage. Having such a calling gave men’s lives grandeur and nobility of purpose, with the result that many became true heroes.
In Isaiah’s time it wasn’t so much that they lacked heroes. It was a matter of the people regarding “ungodly fools” as heroes. Perhaps that is nearer the truth of the situation in our culture. There is no shortage of celebrities who are considered “heroes,” whose words are recorded with awe and whose actions are followed with slavish devotion. It is just that so many of them are such incredibly ungodly fools! And people haven’t realized it yet!
The prophet looked forward to a day in the future when “ungodly fools will no longer be heroes. Wealthy cheaters will not be respected as outstanding citizens” (Isa. 32:5). It would be a time when their society would be turned right side up! Good would be recognized as good and evil as evil, and foolishness would be recognized as foolishness and accomplishment as accomplishment.
That day will finally come when the “Righteous King” (32:1) arrives to establish his kingdom. In the interim, God’s people need to recognize that in today’s world, any fool can become a “hero,” but in God’s economy a real hero is no fool!
For Further Study: Isaiah 32:1-8