We seminary students mentioned in our Sunday messages the coming dangers we foresaw in the early 1960’s. Otherwise, occupied with class room studies, full-time ministries, sermon preparation and pastoral work, we did little more.
While we chose not to get involved in the crisis, God enlisted others who did, sending into those anti-God movements workers who turned the leaders from political revolutionaries into warriors for Christ. The effort neutralized some of the worst effects of the violence otherwise unleashed.
What glimmered in the 1960’s GLARES in the 21st century. What began then as freedom of expression has now become Declarations of PERMISSIVENESS to be whatever the unconverted desire without restraints from Biblical morality, Christian self-denial and...Christ’s Singular position as the Only Religious Leader worth following. Until...it has now become the demand that each person is his own deity, and decides for himself what’s right and wrong—and no one can correct or criticize him.
The present tension in race relations also poses a question we must correctly resolve: what is going to be the RULE of society: a body of LAW that limits or individual FREEDOMS that defy restraint? It’s the old tension between the parts and the whole: the whole cannot remain intact if it lets the parts fragment it.
The Bible leaves no doubt. Authority must be obeyed, even if authorities misuse or abuse their position. Jesus taught that in Matthew 23:1-3 and Paul in Romans 13:1-2. Society and anarchy—and the present anti-authority movement in young people proves it is nihilistic—exist at opposite poles. Meaning they cannot agree or be in the same nation at the same time.
Examples galore prove it, of which I’ll mention but two. Law in 1850’s San Francisco couldn’t prevent growing violence and criminality. Just when it seemed NO LAW existed, Vigilantes appointed themselves the LAW, arrested criminals and summarily executed them. Under their pressure order was restored, but by an extra-legal authority as its own authority.
The Maccabean revolt against Syria in 167 B.C. gave autonomy to the Jewish people. Which, in passing decades the Jews through internecine struggles brought anarchy. Which introduced a rising imperial Roman presence in 63 B.C. in the person of General Pompey. He put an end to the internal violence—but at the cost of Jewish independence. And in the most aggressive way possible, violating the Holy of Holies and executing priests as they performed their labors. Disorder went into hiding, but ROME dictated behavior.
The moral is: any lawless society awaits only the STRONG Personality who puts an end to anarchy, but often by replacing it with his TYRANNY. The young people proudly demanding “defunding the police” are too ignorant of history to understand the stupidity of the slogan...but...the anarchists encouraging their protests know exactly what they want.
In conclusion, when, as a nation, the only way we allow God’s name and Christ’s name to be spoken in public is AS A PROFANITY, we need national repentance.
When, as a nation, we welcome all religious persuasions, especially those of Far-East Asia in classrooms, in the guise of yoga, while even the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag is debated, and prayer in Christ’s name is unwelcome, we need national repentance.
When, as a nation, our universities refuse to even consider Intelligent Design as a viable alternative to CHANCE in creation, and any professor suggesting it is fired, we need national repentance.
When a million babies are murdered by abortion every year in American—Americans must repent. And when 42 million babies—human babies—were murdered world-wide by abortion in 2019—unconverted humanity all over the world must repent.
SINCE repentance isn’t in the short list of anyone’s TO DO list, there is every reason to expect that COVID-19 and racial tension are but the beginning of a great tribulation in the world, in the United State especially. Fini
The Temperance movements of the 19th century gave a mighty voice to families who had become victims of irresponsible drinking by too many men. The last organized effort by Protestant Christians to control drinking habits of American citizens by legislation began with the adoption of the 18th Amendment in 1919, but repealed in 1933. Prohibition had sound reasoning behind it, but it didn’t factor the change in American society that prevented any meaningful enforcement. Too many nationalities, fond of wines and harder drink, had migrated to America, with distinctive drinking habits.
Changes in the direction of American society began almost surreptitiously in the 1950’s . They became visible in the 1960’s. With other seminary students this writer debated what it meant. Some saw no danger in the changes. After all, hadn’t other alterations occurred in culture, only to be subordinated to Christian teaching—such as the catastrophe of collapse experienced by the Roman Empire, when barbarian hordes crossed the Rhine/Danube frontier and surged through the empire. A waiting, robust Christianity taught them, convicted and converted them to Christ.
I personally disagreed and believed cultural norms had taken a decidedly anti-Christian turn which would harm, infest and pose a critical danger to Christian tradition. It didn’t take long before the change turned malevolent. I didn’t fathom the changes in church-centered America that weakened corporate Christianity’s response to the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, the influence of Elvis Presley, the Beatles and the shock of Woodstock with its drugs, free sex and hard-rock music. Followed by the Hippie movement, the Black Panthers, the Weathermen and the Viet Nam anti-war protestors. All of them anti-authority expressions of young people. End Part II
God appeared in a dream to King Solomon 20 years into his reign, after he spent seven years building the Temple and 13 more constructing his own palace. Though spoken to Israel, the content applies particularly to people benefitting from God’s Presence in their lives and societies.
For Israel it included both PROMISE and THREAT. Promise if they remained faithful to God. Threat if they didn’t. Only the threat remains in place for America and western culture because, in turning from God in Christ, we no longer inherit the promise.
Scripture everywhere demands that human repentance precedes God’s help. Since nothing that’s being written about COVID-19 and race tension makes any references to God’s word, no repentance is expressed by our nation, God’s wrath awaits us. We may not observe God’s holiness, but he defends it at all costs. We may not consider our immorality worthy of correction, let alone condemnation. However, since God considers human MORALITY-GOODNESS no better than a woman’s menstrual cloth, Isaiah 30:22, how much harsher does he condemn our wickedness!
Since we can call on God for help only in a state of repentance—a state that DOES NOT characterize America—we must prepare for God’s judgment—a sentence first felt by Christians, as I Peter 4:17-19 says. And why first on Christians? Because Christ made us responsible for preserving life from corruption, and we haven’t. He made us responsible for evangelizing the lost, and we’ve failed. He’s made us his welfare agency and community care-center and we’ve turned the tasks over to government. He ordered us to be powerful spiritual warriors in each generation, and we instead cower in fear of opposition, etc.
And now, with societal dysfunction everywhere, and opposition to Christ rising in culture, we expect Jesus to remove us by Rapture when life falls beyond repair? But did Joshua and Caleb escape the 40 wilderness years when they stood strong for invasion of Canaan while the 10 spies quailed before the Canaanites? No. Did Christians in the Roman Empire escape the troubles attendant on all its citizens when barbarians surged over the frontiers in the second and third centuries? No. Did Ezekiel and Jeremiah elude exile when God sent unfaithful Israel to the Tigris-Euphrates valley and the remnant fled to Egypt? No.
Why then should we expect God to rapture us from break-up conditions in America that will become more savagely difficult? When we have failed to be Christ’s light on a hill and salt of the earth? End Part I
1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, page 962.
By that very definition, Black Lives Matter is a racist slogan. Just as White Lives Matter would be. Just as Asian Lives Matter would be. Just as Brown Lives Matter would be. Therefore, if Kansas State Football players “will boycott all team activities until administrators create a policy that would allow a student to be expelled ‘for openly racist, threatening or disrespectful actions’, they must insist that the racist slogan, ‘Black Lives Matter’ be one of the “threatening or disrespectful actions” banned. San Diego U-T, 6/29/20, C-9 section.
When even a professor in a medical school in San Diego was reprimanded as a racist for saying, “good lives matter”, how can “Black Lives Matter” be exempt from racism?
Think People. Think rationally, not emotionally. And think spiritually, not humanistically. Which will be hard, if not impossible, for many, who have no belief or background in God’s Word. For it alone gives us the two reasons WHY ALL LIVES MATTER!
First, it’s due to our Origin--Genesis 1:26-27. All the creatures God made lacked HIS imprint on them. His Image distinguishes every human from all else in creation. Second, it’s due to our Destiny—Revelation 20:11-15. All human beings ever to be conceived in a mother’s womb are eternal persons, for life begins at conception, Luke 1:39-44, especially verse 41. Once begotten, they live eternally. Either with God or without God. In Heaven with the Godhead or in Hell with Satan and his angels. That’s why all human lives matter. Don’t be distracted by emotional issues that create an importance in the mind of some races that makes them superior to others. That’s pure racism.
The third lesson prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel teach is that every generation under God’s wrath, not beneficence, offers abundant evidence WHY!
This spells DOOM on America and western culture. The COVID-19 and the emotionally-charged race issue now dominating the news will be back-page, small-print reading before the mighty God-sent afflictions yet to come. Because...individual sins present in private life prior to 1960 became tolerated public behavior in the 1960’s, the tolerance giving freedom to wickedness that became national issues in the 1970’s and beyond.
Until...what glimmered in the 1960’s GLARES in the 21st century! It isn’t freedom the unconverted seek now, but PERMISSIVENESS to publicly be whatever they please, without restraint. Indeed, considering restraint on their activities unacceptable intolerance! Making Bible-based, Christ-centered Christians the enemy and only those accepting, welcoming and demanding their lifestyle are friends.
If America had started where America is now: with God and Christ marginalized; with world religions, especially the eastern variety, maximized; with homosexuality in its forms the norm in determining marriage, ministerial candidates and proper parents; with the instinctive anti-authority prevailing in black culture welcomed, not corrected; with organic evolution demanded as fact in every secular university setting; with intelligent design in creation, demanding an Intelligent Mind creating an unwelcome, unacceptable and insulting reproach to “educated minds”; with one million babies aborted in America in 2019...and on and on....
Had America started with such horrendous sins publicly accepted, it would never have been established. Why would we think America can be continued, welcoming such wicked immorality? Why would we think, with all the examples of nations falling at God’s behest in the past, that America is immune to God’s judgment though pridefully boasting against him? Fini
The second lesson we learn from Ezekiel and Jeremiah is the difference between preaching and singing. While God’s comfort encouraged the exiles in Babylon, it didn’t upgrade Ezekiel’s position as prophet. Indeed, 33:3-33 reveals God’s criticism of Israel’s affection for singing over preaching. “You’re my prophet,” God told Ezekiel, “but they think you’re their psalmist. You’re my preacher, but they think you’re nothing but a singer.”
Notice that God made a distinction between prophet and singer. And demanded that Ezekiel observe the distinction, even if the people didn’t. In other words, as a preacher, he had to always be true to what God expected from him, never to what people wanted from him.
Singing and preaching are two distinct gifts. While Christian music offers the melodic voice of God’s people praising, preaching stresses GOD’S written VOICE teaching the saved and unsaved.
Singing by nature is entertainment begetting worship. Preaching by nature is worship begetting correction, change, repentance and action, begetting deeper worship by hearing GOD’S VOICE in his word. Even passages such as Philippians 2:6ff and II Timothy 2:11-13, likely quoted from early Christian hymns, have special meaning because the apostle baptized them in the Holy Spirit’s presence by including them in God’s written word.
Music is an inspirational, not a teaching, venue. Above all, music is humanity’s up-reach to God while preaching scripture is God’s outreach to us. In short, music is the person’s sacred expression of faith in God while preaching is God’s expression of himself to ALL mortals.
That’s why, when hearing music, we listen and feel while, when hearing preaching we listen, think and RESPOND with action. That’s why, singing will often uplift our spirit and fill our emotions full, though not many songs will CAUSE us to think of the challenges, corrections and admonitions in God’s word. But God’s word, preached with preparation and depth, both admonishes and challenges AS it encourages and uplifts!
Preaching is what America needs now, and it has to start with preachers in their churches, preaching that stirs, rebukes and inspires God’s people. And one of the first messages we need to hear preached is: Repent, for the Kingdom of God has come. Because it’s time for judgment to begin with the family of God I Peter 4:17. End Part IV
The Old Testament texts used in Parts I and II teach several important lessons. This blog mentions the first: God’s greatest desire versus the human response that prevents its execution. As he said through both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he longed to smile on his people, to show them compassion, to forgive their sins, to express sympathy in their pain.
Consider three New Testament texts that embody that message. Read each, then the truth emphasized. Jude 3-4: when he wanted to teach privilege to Christians, he had to preach repentance. Galatians 4:19: when Paul wanted to change his tone with Christians, but their lack of spiritual growth kept his language severe. Luke 19:41: when Jesus wanted to protect Israel from wandering among the nations, their rejection of him activated God’s sentence.
In each case, sin in God’s people prevented God’s mercy and brought God’s judgment. Which reminds us of the title of this blog and the single truth it embodies: we can claim God’s help in any personal or national sorrow only by living in obedience to his will. Our obedience, proving loyalty to Christ’s Deity, every teaching he offered, and every claim he made, instantly envelopes us in God’s protective presence. The trouble may continue, but God’s personal peace will not desert us to it. We may find ourselves in as much difficulty as the unsaved, but we’ll never react to it with their anxiety, uncertainty and dread.
Christ’s promise in Philippians 4:6-7 assures us: the peace of God, which garrisons our soul as soldiers on guard duty protect their sleeping comrades, will keep our minds free from the worry that enervates and our hearts from surfacing the emotions our minds assure us we no longer need to fear!
Indeed, in the peace God gives, all distractions in life fade—to weak, to non-existent, to irrelevant, to...INVISIBLE. The peace of GOD is the Gift of God to all obedient Christians.
* * *
It is not the state of America today. And it will not be until far worse tribulations occur in our society. Remember the words of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:37, “And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” Yes, God is able. The king knew by personal experience.
The egotism the king expressed is alive in American culture, and warns us of a coming humiliation on America, western culture and the nations that, in retrospect, will see the COVID-19 and social tensions as but the beginning chapters of a larger volume. America and western culture because we’ve turned FROM God in Christ. And the nations because they have never turned TO God in Christ.
God will not be mocked, either by the arrogance of the former or ignorance of the latter. End Part III
Unlike the reprobates listening to Jeremiah’s preaching, Ezekiel’s listeners repented after 11 years under his tutelage. Jeremiah from his youth discovered how dangerous preaching could be when confronting those who valued only their opinion, not God’s word. Very much like America today. As a priest for years in Jerusalem, Ezekiel performed rituals the people loved. As a prophet in Babylon he preached God’s truth they detested and resisted. He had grown accustomed to the praise priests received. He had to LEARN to accept ABUSE prophets received.
God ordered Ezekiel to proclaim only what he revealed, not what the people wanted to hear. It’s a command that remains intact for every preacher today, without exception and subject to God’s judgment if refused. Ezekiel, therefore, preached condemnation on personal and national sins.
Then...after 11 years of captivity, hearing their prophet drum God’s wrath into their minds, the exiles: exonerated God for their condition and blamed themselves for what brought their exile Ezekiel 33:10. As always happens, where a strong action of denial occurs, an equally strong reaction of guilt savaged them. Which brought God’s comfort, with the added admonition to continue expressing repentance, 33:11-20.
That steeled them for the arrival of a lone traveler five months later, with a single sentence of four words, “The city has fallen” 33:21. They listened; heard; digested the information; contemplated the meaning. They could no longer doubt, deny or escape the truth: the city that embodied their entire culture lay in ruins. Nearly 900 years of Hebrew history vanished...nearly 500 years of great kings disappeared. FINALITY: Temple—GONE...Priesthood—GONE...Sacrifices—GONE...Homes—GONE. And the most horrifying news...DAVID’S DYNASTY—GONE!
Jeremiah’s eyewitness account of the end packs the pathos of his loss: rubble-strewn streets, buildings gutted, flattened, fires-burning unattended, forlorn people wandering everywhere, famished without caring, naked without shame, LOST in the CITY DESOLATE by being abandoned by GOD. End Part II
Jeremiah 1:17-19; 7:16, 11:11, 14
Unlike Samuel’s powerful preaching over 20 years that ignited spiritual renewal in Israel, the prophet Jeremiah found his nation immune to 40 years of his powerful preaching. Instead, under him Israel plunged into what America has become today—a nation subject to punishment by God-ordained afflictions.
Israel’s depravity reached such depths that God ordered Jeremiah to stop praying FOR the people. As in...“Don’t ask me to help them because I won’t. Don’t ask me to forgive them because I refuse. Don’t ask me to have compassion on them because they have crossed the line between my patience and my wrath.”
Jeremiah served as prophet from his youth and remained in Jerusalem until it fell in 586 B.C.—then unwillingly accompanied the remnant to Egypt. Ezekiel didn’t serve as prophet until a captive in Babylon. He had been carried off as a member of the upper class in the second deportation 597 B.C., eleven years before Jerusalem’s destruction. The first deportation occurred in 605 B.C., the third in 586 B.C.
In a point conveniently overlooked by our youth culture, young Jeremiah had no more success for God than the mature Jeremiah. Indeed, while aging never diminished his zeal for God, the nation’s proliferating immorality decreased their willingness to hear God’s word.
Both men found their people incorrigible sinners. Jeremiah’s...though seeing the destruction of Jerusalem. They remained rebellious against God even after watching Babylonian soldiers plunder houses, mansions and the very sacred precincts of God’s house! None of it effected repentance. Then, in naked violence against God’s WORD, they called him a LIAR! Jeremiah 44 has God’s chilling response to their final act of rebellion. End Part I
Wrong as Gandhi was in rejecting Christ as God’s Son, he simply anticipated our society’s attitude. We want Jesus...BUT...on our terms. For example, we expect anyone we want to be saved shall be—even if they don’t want to be. We expect those who embrace lifestyles that Scripture says will never inherit God’s Kingdom, I Corinthians 5:9-13, Galatians 5:16-21 as examples, to inherit it even if they have no intention of repenting—and we dare God not to save them.
That entire attitude is spiritual suicide! Jesus is a WHOLE PERSON, each part perfect and, in unison with other perfect parts, the PERFECT PERSON. He will not be fractured into compartments competing with each other. And won’t be divided by sinful humanity into their fragmented personalities.
If we won’t accept him as He revealed himself, he won’t accept us at ALL. Jesus honors those who honor him. Who seize the opportunity to be saved and tenaciously serve him. But it will always be on his terms, never on ours. And, unless we oblige his terms, we’ll die in our sins. And he won’t feel guilty sending us to Hell. And he won’t take responsibility for the decisions we made that put us there. End Part III