My heart has been heavy lately. I find myself sad as I talk with friends and disappointed as I check my Face book homepage. I’m finding that as I open my Bible, the same message is being delivered to me over and over again. This Fall, I’ve been reading the major prophets and some minor prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel) and they have left a hard and painful impression on me. In fact, it’s nearly impossible at this point to look at my own life and the world around me, without looking through the lenses of their message.
Each of these men were given a word from the Lord for the nation of Israel. They warned relentlessly. And they were asked to do things that seem ridiculous to me, like Ezekiel laying on his left and right sides for over a year for Israel and Judah’s many years of sin. Jeremiah was imprisoned and asked God to just let him die. Daniel received visions that made him fall to his knees and become literally weak and sick. Hosea was told to marry a woman who would prostitute herself to many other men and he was to take her back over and over to represent how God would forgive Israel of even their most heinous sins. These men ached over the sins of their people to the point of illness. They cried and begged God for mercy. On several occasions, they asked God to forgo sending them to give the message that they were about to give to a people who didn’t even seem to care. Each time they were told the same thing by God. In so many words, “Go and tell them what I’m going to do if they don’t repent.” And it was always something awful. Many Israelites would be killed. Women and children were no exception. The sins of generations of people would be payed for by their very lives and it would be gruesome if they didn’t repent and turn to God.
However, there was ALWAYS a message at the end. It was one of love and forgiveness and it cannot be looked over. It was their only hope in an otherwise hopeless and helpless situation. The message was simple: “If Israel repents, I will forgive them. If they repent, I will save their lives and their people and we will have a loving relationship again. I will bless them abundantly if they repent and turn to me.” It was clear. Repentance was the key.
And this my friends, is why my heart breaks for all of us. I am afraid that we are in big trouble. We aren’t Israel, but as Christians, we are God’s representatives to this world and yet, this is what I see: hopeless people, who would rather guzzle a bottle of wine each night instead of getting on their faces before the Lord for their troubles. I see friends who are so easily amused that they invite all sorts of evil into their homes and talk about it publicly as though their choices wouldn’t appall God. We have friends whose marriages are breaking up-the very picture of Christ’s love for the church-and yet we hear from them, “it’s just not worth fixing”.
They worshiped worthless idols and became worthless themselves. 2 Kings 17:15b
I’m afraid that too many of us enjoy what we hear about God and we hold onto all that He can do for us, but we’ve broken our end of the covenant just like Israel did. How are you obedient to God’s Word if you’re not in it? How can you know what He wants from you and for you if your only time spent with him is grabbing a verse, twisting it to fit your life, and calling that a “relationship”? This kind of life is “worthless” before the Lord. I didn’t say it. He did.
When King Josiah, in 2 Kings 22 was given the books of the Law that were found in the Lord’s Temple, he read it and tore his clothes in despair! He called the leaders and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem together and read them what was found. He pledged to obey God and his commands with all of his heart and soul. And then the people followed suit. But, he didn’t stop there. He went on a purification rampage. He broke down idols, poles that were worshiped and tore down houses full of prostitutes. Then, he abolished the places that children were killed as sacrifices, brought by the hands of their very own parents.
These things sound so strange, but we’ve just “Americanized” the very same things. As a nation, we’ve uninvited God from our schools and many parents abdicate responsibility of teaching their own children about God, hoping that maybe they’ll catch it at church on Sunday (or just plain don’t care). And we kill over 1 million children a year-that’s more than 3,000 babies a day! We sell young children and teens to use as sex slaves up and down the coasts and probably even in your own town. We laugh at homosexuality in movies and sitcoms and for the first time ever, a president, our leader, publicly declared support of this lifestyle. I don’t hate any group of people, so putting words in my mouth is unnecessary, but God’s Word speaks clearly about how this lifestyle was a result of exchanging the truth of God for a lie. We sing music that degrades women and talks constantly about sex and we even let our children sing along…are you kidding me?!?
Is anyone actually still wondering if we need to repent as a nation?
I’m pretty sure that I may have just lost a few friends, but I’m honestly not too worried about it. The truth is clearly put before us. The question is, what will your response be to the truth? Will you be like so many others who ignored it and continued about their lives with not so much as a flinch or will you let the truth sink in and stop you in your tracks? Josiah tore his clothes in despair and then he moved to action. God saw his response and put on hold (until after Josiah’s lifetime) what was being planned for the nation of Israel. Pray for our nation and for yourself and your friends, like a faithful few who cried out in brokenness did and then make a choice. We are in a battle here. It’s time you took a side.