The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty. . . Isaiah 24:5-6
Polluted – It’s the economy, stupid! Everyone is concerned. Everyone is worried (almost everyone). But no one seems to know what to do. Change, change, change. We might as well throw money to the wind. Until we listen to YHWH’s economic advice (and do what it says), all the changes won’t really matter. It’s His earth. It’s His order. Working against the grain of the universe won’t fix anything.
Isaiah delivered pertinent economic advice thousands of years ago. The world won’t produce because its inhabitants have polluted it. Of course, Isaiah is not talking about oil spills and garbage dumps. The Hebrew word is haneph. It means defiled, corrupted, profaned. The world is polluted by moral decay, not environmental disaster. Human sin has a direct bearing on the earth itself. The land is polluted by disobedience, and no amount of effort will stop the pollution until obedience to the Creator becomes the norm. If we want economic prosperity, we can dispense with the committees and the regulators and the bureaucrats We can replace all the entitlements and the stimulus packages and the bailouts. What we need is repentance. We are Nineveh. Our forty days are about to end. Until sackcloth and ashes are the latest fashion, there will be no brake on the decline. The economy is not the problem. We are the problem!
Haneph is associated with specific actions. These include the shedding of blood, divorce, breaking covenant obligations, corrupt priests and officials, association with deceivers, lack of active compassion for the oppressed, wealth that ignores the homeless, the widows and the orphans, and reliance on pacts with other nations. History demonstrates what God guarantees. No civilization has ever survived moral pollution of the land. Have we forgotten that the earth is the Lord’s?
Buber says, “ the human lot is decided by the dialogue between God and man, the reality of which fill the whole life and the whole world, . .”  He notes that the separation of religion from the operations of the state “claims to take from God’s actual leadership and from man’s actual response their character of reality, by fostering the mythico-cultic sphere independently of individual and public ways of life.” In other words, when we remove God as King and replace Him with the governance of men, we construct a government of idolatry and it will not stand. The most important function of governance is the obligation of officials to demonstrate obedience to YHWH and to insure the people follow His ways. No other social arrangement will survive. Jonah has arrived in spite of his resistance. The call has sounded forth.
Topical Index: polluted, haneph, defiled, Isaiah 24:5
 Martin Buber, The Prophetic Faith, p. 90.
 Martin Buber, The Prophetic Faith, p. 85.