Recent events have had us reeling in our minds when it comes to grasping what is happening in our world. One of the reasons for this is because our news reporting agencies and our governing officials have a humanistic world view. When they see the Paris attacks, the Colorado Springs and San Bernardino shooting rampages - they only see things from human perspective. They have rejected even the thought of God - and some even shame anyone who says that they are praying for those whose lives have been devastated by these events. "God is not fixing this," is their rallying cry. Therefore WE have to fix it. The inference in this is that there is no God - only human understanding and human action.
Things were not always like this. There were those in our past who saw God's providential hand and dealings in all that He allowed in this world. When calamity broke loose upon a people our leaders turned to God - especially if such things came in a time of spiritual decline in the hearts of those throughout the nation. Abraham Lincoln called for a day of fasting, prayer and public humiliation (meaning humbling of oneself before God and confession of sin) in the midst of the Civil War. He spoke of things like our national pride and arrogance - and urged humbling ourselves before Him. This happened often in the early days of our nation because our leaders - and especially our pulpits were filled with men of God who did not shrink from declaring the Word of God to our nation. Today I read one of the passages that they would turn to in times of distress - and it spoke like a thundering from heaven to me. I hope it will prove helpful to you as I share it this week.
“You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment? Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Does a young lion growl from his den unless he has captured something? Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground when there is no bait in it? Does a trap spring up from the earth when it captures nothing at all? If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the Lord done it? Surely the Lord God does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy? Amos 3:2-8 | NASB
Amos prophesied in Israel in a time of horrific sin and decline in the nation. The early chapters of his prophetic word from the Lord were filled with what God was going to do because of the gross sins of the nations. The pagan nations were being punished because of terrible sins that are shocking to our senses as we read of them. But when the Lord speaks of Israel and Judah - their worst sins were departing from Him and turning to other gods who led them into godless and sexually immoral living. To read of the disaster that was to come is to read of far more than shootings - it is to read of entire armies destroyed and cities demolished. Just as in our day - those in their day asked the question, "Why?"
Amos starts with a statement: "I chose you among all the families of the earth - and therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." Whether we get it or not - that is a very loving promise, because the Lord disciplines those He loves. After Amos makes this statement from God - he goes into a series of easily understood analogies. All of these statements are those that no one would question until he reaches his last question. "If a calamity happens in a city has not the Lord done it?" We find ourselves nodding in agreement without question until we read over this last and most important statement. Well - we do in our day. But that is because we've bought into the lie that we are the masters of our own fate. God, through Amos, presents a different view of things.
First of all - calamity - is from the Lord. This is especially the case when it is calamity in a nation that has rejected Him and run after wickedness. God brings calamity to turn us from our godlessness. That is the kindest thing He can do considering the facts of eternity and His final judgment that is coming. But Amos gives us more to think about here. God also does nothing unless He first reveals His secret counsel to His prophets. You see a loving God also warns us when He is about to do something. He does so through His prophets as He reveals Himself to them. It is their responsibility to announce His Word to the people. The way that Amos refers to this is by saying the following, "A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord has spoken but who can but prophesy?" Maybe we should take a look at this.
When God speaks in this situation, it is as a lion roaring. That is a figure of speech that is meant to incite a sense of fear and trembling. God acts in allowing calamity in a nation to bring it to a point where it fears God and turns to Him. But this is only known when God's prophets speak - and do so boldly. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks America seemed to turn to God - at least the churches were much more full than they were before the attacks. But for the majority there was no prophetic message coming from the men of God. After our current string of attacks we find rather than a turning to God that there is a mocking of Him. Prayer is considered by many as a useless platitude that changes nothing. Those who would pray are shamed for doing so. But in all honesty - who can blame them when what passes for prophecy lately is the words of the false prophets who say that all is well. When prophets steal their words from one another saying that God is going to bless you with health, wealth, and prosperity even as you act wickedly and spend your faith-obtained riches on yourself and your pleasures, there is not a true prophet in the whole lot of them. They are blind guides leading the blind - and both will fall into a pit as things continue to turn worse in our nation.
We need a true prophet of God who will speak boldly against sin - first his own in broken repentance before God in his personal times with Him - and then that of a church and nation that has turned far from God. He needs to speak without reservation about what IS happening in our nation - and where God is acting to bring us back to Himself. He must speak as the roaring of a lion publicly - and yet have the heart of a Jeremiah who weeps over the wound of his people. We desperately need such men in this hour.
Dear saints of God - here is the truth. What has happened in San Bernardino - and in many other places is only indicative of what IS going to be happening in the days ahead. The shootings and rampages will get worse - and no law passed by government will be able to stop them. What is happening with the growing unrest and discontent over race relations is only going to increase to the point of riots that cause smoke to rise from our cities as they burn in the throes of raging protests. What happened in 2008 where we saw the stock market plunge with trillions being lost and fortunes being lost - is only a drop in the bucket of what is on our horizon. In addition to this we are going to begin watching as our military is decimated in future encounters as they no longer have the blessing of God upon their endeavors. I fear worst of all is the specter of a mushroom cloud billowing over one or more of our cities as the discipline of God reaches its peak. Fear and trembling will grip our nation as it reacts in horror to these things. And yet - as long as there is the possibility of repentance and return to God - there is hope. Recently a young man asked me whether there is any hope for America. My answer to him was that Nineveh was 3 days from being destroyed - and when the people repented - God showed them mercy and relented from the evil that was coming. Therefore there is hope - but not a hope in government (on either side of the aisle). There is hope - but not in manmade solutions of no guns or more guns. There is hope - but not in our bank accounts - fancy new cars - massive homes - or even new jets for a television false prophet. Our hope is in the mercies of God. Our hope is in people turning to Him in prayer - in repentance - and in humbling themselves and turning from wicked ways. I do not say this lightly saints - but outside of this - there is no hope nor is there any future for our nation.
God is disciplining and punishing our cities. God is speaking through His prophets. He is roaring in our land. Are we listening? Have we heard? Will we respond?