All of you who follow our ministry and read this weekly commentary know of our deep concern for the condition of the church and our beloved nation. Early one recent morning during a time of reflection, the Lord prompted me to pick up my Bible and directed me to the following scriptures:
“Make this announcement to Israel,
and say this to Judah:
Listen, you foolish and senseless people,
with eyes that do not see
and ears that do not hear.
Have you no respect for me?
Why don’t you tremble in my presence?
I, the Lord, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline
as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross.
The waves may toss and roar,
but they can never pass the boundaries I set.
But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts.
They have turned away and abandoned me.
They do not say from the heart,
‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God,
for he gives us rain each spring and fall,
assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’
Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings.
Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.” (Jer. 5:20-25, NLT)
After reading this passage, I felt the Lord was reaffirming the precarious, even perilous, condition of our nation. There is such a strong parallel here between Israel and America. God had commanded the prophet to speak to the nation of Israel. He referenced them as “foolish, senseless people” with eyes that do not see clearly, if at all, and ears that have been dulled or even deafened as it relates to truth. The term “senseless” refers to their lack of sound judgment and wisdom.
I am reminded of the noble suggestions concerning America’s challenges that President Obama referenced in his inaugural speech. None of them can be properly dealt with apart from wisdom that only comes from above. The idea of government as the primary solution to our nation’s pressing problems, rather than one of the greatest contributors to the problems, will lead to absolute failure. All the hope of people coming together will be lost without the power and love that can only be found in the unlimited love of our heavenly Father. Sitting in the counsel of the ungodly or listening to those with an inverted worldview will continually contribute to the crisis and compound the problems.
American leadership and extreme partisan politics clearly indicate that much of the population is unable to discern what is best, and they lack the commitment necessary to make meaningful changes. What brought about this serious condition? Lack of respect for God contributes to our perilous condition. People do not live in awe of His presence because they have not witnessed firsthand the transforming power that comes when we abide in the presence of almighty God. Few Americans fear God and the consequences of rebellion because they have little respect and reverence for our heavenly Father. We will continue to see threats against our nation from without and threats against our children and families because there is little respect for national leadership or fear of the consequences of evil actions.
God illustrated the absolute importance of boundaries, which provide a hedge of protection, by referring to the boundaries that the waters of our ocean must not cross. When the waters rage beyond these boundaries (as in hurricanes, tsunamis or other natural disasters) the consequences are catastrophic and deadly. The seas must remain within the parameters God has set in order for the storm-tossed waters to be calmed and tranquility restored.
The same is true of human beings who foolishly and in selfish, sinful rebellion cross boundaries established by God. We can see the consequences of such actions. God said that because of stubborn, rebellious hearts, and the fact that people have abandoned Him and are not choosing to live in reverential awe of Him, the benefits of the spring rains and fall harvest will be lost. Wickedness has taken a toll on our economy, and brought about the loss of opportunity, blessing, and prosperity that can assist those in need.
The hedge of God’s protection and principles has been cast aside. When marriage is being redefined and the lives of innocent, unborn babies are being destroyed, America “continues to be deprived of wonderful blessings and robbed of all good things.” It is this rebellion against God that has led to the lack of judgment and excessive practices, leading us to our present place of economic despair, recession, and potential depression. Only the love of God will lift us above the division and polarization that prevents meaningful dialogue. The togetherness the president called “necessary” in his inaugural address will only occur when God is put back in first place.
The cure is to return to God. As 2 Chron. 7:14 says, “We must humble ourselves and pray, seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways.” There is no greater wickedness than the refusal or failure to put God in the only place He can fill, and that is first place.
I found it interesting that as I shared this passage in Jeremiah with my wife and assistant, they both glanced at the verses preceding the passage (vv. 15-18) and saw how a foreign nation and people who speak a language we do not understand, one without wisdom, will come to devour the harvest, sons, daughters, flocks, herds, grapes, figs, and their security. A new belief system, a different—even godless—worldview will destroy peace, blessing, and prosperity.
If you wonder why this happens, the prophet Jeremiah said, because “you rejected God and gave yourselves to foreign gods in your own land; and now you will serve foreigners in a land that is not your own.” For Israel, it was an invading army taking over. For us, it is a pervasive, subversive, European-socialist worldview determined to control the thinking practices and policies of a nation. It will be the proven-to-fail worldview of foreign nations, and it has now come to America in the form of radical statism, progressivism, secularism, and a dependence on a source other than God. Never doubt, a dangerous sense of entitlement leads to dependence, which ultimately leads to bondage.
When this happens, we not only prove to be void of the wisdom and understanding necessary to make the decisions to get us out of the ditch, but also lack the character strengths necessary to restore the foundation, rebuild the walls, and accept the boundaries God has established. We never actually break the laws of God. We defy them, and the consequences of that rebellion will ultimately break us. Such is the case today. Just as Paul warned the Romans, “while professing to be wise, you proved to be fools.” The ungodly replace biblical absolutes with evolving views and substitute passionate politics for proper principles.
While the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, under the anointing of almighty God, sang the powerful words “His truth is marching on” at the inauguration, I couldn’t help but wonder about some policies and practices being encouraged by national leadership—ideas that discard and even deny the very truth the song reflects and commandments in the Bible upon which hands rested while taking the oath to uphold the Constitution. The modern “progressive” view is not a continuation of the founders’ visions, but a complete reversal. We need not look for the blessings of God upon people who refuse to acknowledge Him as God, who fail to bless Him by blessing others, and all the while expect Him to bless in spite of their disregard of Him, His truth and His Word.
There is hope when we allow God to change hearts and actions. He will renew our minds and pour out showers of blessings and restore the land. There’s no shortcut, but there is a simple solution: get right with God by putting Him, His Word, truth and, yes, commandments back in first place.
Betty and I celebrate 50 years of marriage and ministry this year. We are determined to lift Jesus high, while encouraging others to do the same, believing He will draw people unto Himself. The light of His glory and truth shines brightest in the darkest hours. Believers must live yielded and committed to God, enabling the world to see that He is our source, strength, and God. They must see His beauty and power in consistent, compassionate lives.
Please mark your calendar for July 18-20. We would love for you to join us for our anniversary celebration—a dynamic spiritual awakening conference that will be held at our home church, Gateway, in Southlake, Texas. We will bring back some of the powerful, anointed speakers that spoke at our annual Bible conferences in the past, as well as current gifted speakers who are delivering God’s Word to the church and nation at this moment in history. Be in prayer for the conference, and make plans now to attend.