This morning I was enjoying a cup of coffee and some time with the Lord in His Word. I was in the book of Lamentations in my daily Bible reading. This book is the sad, broken-hearted song of Jeremiah as he considers the wreckage brought on by the rebellion of God's people and their unwillingness to repent. God sent Jeremiah, as well as other prophets, to warn His people to repent and return, and yet they continued in their ways. No one truly took to heart that what Jeremiah was saying would actually come to pass. In the end the destruction God had promised overtook His people. What we see in Lamentations is the heart of God, broken over the destruction that had to come upon His people to bring them back to Himself. You see, He is committed to our best. Our best is that we turn from futile, sinful ways and return to Him with all our hearts. His preference is that we would hear His Word, be convicted by it and repent. But, when we will not listen to Him or His prophets, a process begins. At first the judgments are smaller (and mercifully so - were He to act in full accord with His wrath we would be instantly consumed) but in time they will become more and more devastating. If we do not turn - they will intensify until we do repent. Our stubbornness can result in judgments that would destroy an entire nation and people. Such is the love of God for us - and His commitment to His purposes being fulfilled in our lives. To leave us in our sin without discipline would be to act unlovingly and contrary to His nature.
There are two reasons I write such things. The first is simply to help us grasp the Scriptures - the revelation of God to us - and the call from God to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. That is consistent in the Scriptures - and it is something we should study and know in order to know our Father better and love Him more. When I came upon these verses this morning they made me tremble. The verses I read grabbed my attention - and honestly - made me fear God and what is surely coming upon our nation. This may be coming sooner rather than later. Let me begin by sharing the verses - then explaining them a little further - then offering an admonition to all of us in light of them.
"The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any inhabitants of the world, that the adversary and the enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem. Because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who have shed in her midst the blood of the righteous; they wandered blind in the streets; they were defiled with blood so that no one could touch their garments. Depart! Unclean! they cried of themselves. Depart, depart, do not touch! So they fled and wandered; men among the nations said, "They shall not continue to dwell with us." The presence of the LORD has scattered them, He will not continue to regard them . . . " Lamentations 4:12-16
First, they speak of a FALSE SECURITY. The kings and inhabitants of the world saw Israel and Jerusalem as a strong people militarily. No one thought that they could "enter the gates of Jerusalem." The gates and walls of a city represented the defense of that city. When the city was strong no enemy could break down those defenses. This is how the United States has been viewed for decades. We were among a couple of super powers since the 1950's - and became the lone super power after the fall of the Soviet Union. At the close of the 1980's we stood stronger than any nation on earth. BUT . . . such power did not make us grateful - it made us proud. We did not seek God with greater passion - but departed from Him - embracing more and more the sins that eventually destroy nations. Greed abounded in the late 80's and through most of the 90's. Sexual sin has contiued without pause as we embraced the sexual immorality that began in the 1960's with little or no public outcry. We did nothing to a president who openly forsook his marriage vows and had sex in the White House with one of the interns who worked there. What began as a movement to stop same sex marriage - with overwhelming voting victories in every state - has deteriorated into a nation who is about to embrace this practice nationwide. Abortion still kills close to a million babies a year - and racism continues to rise up as cities are embroiled in controversy. In the midst of all this - we have grown to be a people who no longer understand that, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." We think our powerful military is the key to security, not grasping that God has shattered great military powers again and again throughout history. Security - true security is found only in the blessing of God upon a nation or people.
As I read Lamentations I trembled because I could see in my mind's eye a day coming upon the United States. It is a day that will cause all of knees to shake. It will be a day where we feel an emptiness in the pits of our stomachs - as we react in shock and horror to what has happened. It will be a day of defeat - of shocking defeat - and horror as the gates of the United States fall and our wall is breached. Please understand that I do not like this. I am a patriot who loves this nation - warts and all. But to reject the Word on what God does to nations who depart from Him as horribly as ours has - is only to hide my head in the sand like a fool. As I read more though, the reason why such horrific tragedy happens made me tremble even more.
Second, these verses speak of FALSE PROPHETS AND PRIESTS. One of the safe guards that God has for any nation is His prophets and priests. In the United States this would be the pastor's of this nation. They are there to see the truth - and warn God's people about the devastating effects when they choose sin. The prophets are present there to warn. Their fundamental purpose is not to tell everyone that they were awesome and that only good things were coming to them. In fact there are multiple passages that warn against the false prophets of health, wealth, and prosperity. A nation filled with such false prophets was usually a nation about to fall. These false prophets will steer clear of actually warning a sinful people of the consequences of sinning against God. They will ignore sin and, in so doing, fill the streets with blood as they ignore what will come upon those who ignore God and walk in rebellion and disobedience. When God brings His judgment on that nation, He will single out these false prophets as both prophet, priest, and people fall together. I won't take a great deal of time on this point. Suffice it to say that our airwaves and pulpits are filled with those who promise continued prosperity. They do so not even mentioning the sins of the church and the sins of our nation. It is almost as if they think God does not see our sin. Some even denigrate anyone who speaks openly of sin in biblical terms. We also read that these false prophets have the "blood of the righteous" on them. You see, there will come a time soon when these false prophets and priests will join the wicked as they seek to silence those who embrace God's righteousness - even to the point of violence. But God promises that eventually judgment will come upon these false prophets and priests. The pastor's who refuse to stand on biblical righteousness - will fall - and will fall with the very followers who fund their message to the masses.
What are we to do in a situation like ours? Precious saints of God - we need to do what has been done by others before us who feared God. First, we need to look to our own hearts. Turn to God, seek His face, repent, and cry out to Him in humble prayer. The spiritual pollution that dominates our day - has risen even the point of flooding into the church. Begin with you - as I began with me this morning. Once we have cleansed the temple of our own hearts, cry out that God would then do corporately what he has done individually. Pray for the purifying and cleansing of His church. Peter instructs us that judgment begins at the house of God - it begins with His people returning to Him. When we have done that - join with others to pray for our nation. Begin by praying for those around you - family, friends, coworkers, associates - anyone who is in your sphere of influence. Pray for your neighborhood, then your city, then your state, and eventually our nation! Pray for mercy - and pray for revival and spiritual awakening in our city, state, and land.
I know that I've said this in the past - but this morning's warning from the Scriptures was sobering. It also had an urgency to it. I would like to tell you that God's patience will last a long time. But even though He is long-suffering, we should know that our nation's turn from Him and His ways has been going on for a long time. The last time we had a major revival was probably in the late 1800's. We are a people who do not seek God intensely. The trend has been away from two week long revival meetings (common in the 1940-s and 50's) and even away from week long ones (common in the 1960's and 70's). The trend moved to only a weekend of meetings - and now even that is a rarity. We prefer a conference where a self-help topic is discussed. Talk of repentance and revival is no longer in vogue in the church. Please understand that I am not hawking for extended meetings or some future revival meetings. What I would much prefer is an extended time of prayer meetings - followed by a genuine revival.
I know that this has been a tough read. I don't take any joy in having to say these things - and yet I know that to not say them would be far worse for us. It is my prayer that first by example and then by precept God will grant me mercy to lead us in this. May we be a people who turn to Him, cry out to Him, humble ourselves, and receive His gracious mercy.
Most of these articles are taken from the Calvary Courier, a weekly newsletter that is sent to the folks who attend Calvary Chapel Jonesboro. Due to the response to these articles, we've decided to print some of them which proved to be very helpful to God's people at the fellowship.
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