Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Will God Judge America?

Another Fourth of July is almost over. Sitting here watching Myth Busters, overstuffed with hamburger and bratwurst and listening to all of the fireworks being shot off outside. Got to thinking about a preacher I heard recently telling his television audience how God is about to judge America. It seems like every time there is a natural disaster, there are the “usual suspects” telling any camera they can find that it was God’s judgment on the hapless community. The wind hadn’t died down from hurricane Katrina, before some claimed that it was God’s judgment on the area for various reasons. The reasons cited for judgment ran from abortion to gambling to Mardi Gras to witchcraft. Billy Graham once said, “If God does not judge America, He is going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."

Were these things God’s judgment? Will He judge America? I don’t know. It’s up to God to say. What will be the basis for God’s judgment? I guess that if you asked Christians, more than a few would say, “They will be judged for their sins.” The Old Testament has many stories of God passing judgment on Israel and others. There is also the story of God being willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of a few righteous people.

Since a city or a country is nothing more than a collection of people, I think that it is helpful to look at the individual and then try to apply whatever we come up with to the whole. What’s true of the individual? His sins have already been judged, the verdict was guilty, the sentence was death…spiritual death that is. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, he took the penalty, the death sentence, upon Himself. He took the cause of our death (sin) upon Himself and became sin on our behalf. That was a wonderful thing, but unfortunately we were still dead. What does a dead man need? Well, he needs life. Jesus rose from the dead, so that He could give His life to us. When we ask Him to save us, we receive His life into us and are instantly transformed from death into life…spiritual life. Looking at it another way, our death sentence has been commuted into a “life sentence.”

What does that have to do with God’s judgment of America? Everything, or nothing! It seems to me that only thing that America can be judged for is sin and sin has already been judged. Every person that is born is born into that judgment and they all stand guilty. So where am I going with this? I don’t know, I am just kind of winging it. I guess what’s on my mind lately are Christians whose primary focus is making people behave through political action leading to legislation. Lord knows I hate a lot of the things that go on in America, but where some see a sin that needs to be controlled by passing a law, I see a lost person doing what lost people do. The same thing Christians would do apart from the power of God working in them.

The Bible tells us that the power of sin is in the law. Paul tells us in Romans 7 that the law rouses sinful passions within us. Human experience tells us the same thing. Try telling someone that they can’t have something; it just makes them want it all the more. The same thing happened during prohibition. So it seems that some Christian groups are trying to accomplish what the Bible they are thumping tells them won’t work. They are trying to make people behave by working to get laws passed.

I have a novel approach that they might consider. Instead of lobbying legislators and praying for laws to be passed or righteous candidates to be elected, how about trying this? Let’s pray for people to be saved. Instead of hitting lost people over the head with a bible, tell them about Jesus in your words and your actions. When people get saved, they no longer need the legislature to control their behavior; they will have the Spirit of God.

This rant has reached its terminus.



P.S. I just noticed the bible quote of the day:
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)

Coincidence?

6 comments:

Rocky Moore said...

Intersting post! I think maybe you are confusing judgement for individual sin (salvation/grace) for earthly national judgement.

When we are born again and have turned unto Jesus for our slavation and received grace, we will not be judged for confessed sin again, it is gone, taken away, not to be remembered again. That is a bit different from nations who turn their back on God or who become evil in their deeds, God will at times send judgement as a whole upon them. This was done is throught the Bible.

It is intersting though to note, that God is in control of all governments on the planet. He has placed good or evil leaders into positions of power. With that being the case, why would He place the anyone that is evil into a position of power? From what I can see, as an act of judgement upon that nation which often results in their destruction.

As bad as this nation has become in with very little "salt" showing, it would not surprise me to see great judgement fall up us as a nation. Who knows why kind of judgement, but I am not anxious for the next election :)

I do believe the problem is that the Body of Christ has fallen down in its job to lead by example. I agree, it is not for us to bother making laws to "force" people to be moral, that does not work, it is for us to lead by example and to reach the lost that they may have a conversion of heart, the only way to bring in true morality.

People have wanted to get God out of our society, which they have accomplished partly here in the USA, now we all pay the price in the corruption and lack of morals to the point you practically have to have a body cavity search just to fly on a plane..

Anyway, I think that is mostly the reason people refer to God sending judgement upon the USA. Even Daniel prayed saying "We" have transgressed against God even though he himself had not, he understand he was part of the nation that did allow transgression against Him.

More of God is the only answer to a free and blessed USA..

Gary Kirkham said...

Hi Rocky,

Thanks for dropping by. You may be right, God may judge America. I'm not going to be dogmatic about it. It seems that we agree that people need Jesus and that is where our focus needs to be.

Before I was saved I went through a series of circumstances. From my human perspective, at the time, they were bad, but looking back they were the best thing that ever happened to me. Those circumstances caused me to turn my eyes to Jesus and I got saved. To be clear, I didn't get saved to try and avoid those circumstances, but being saved did change my attitude toward those circumstances. I no longer looked at them as a bad thing, but as God's way of getting my attention. Was that God's judgment upon me? I don't think so.

Is that sort of thing applicable at a national level? I don't know. It would seem that if God brought hard times upon a nation it would be for the express purpose of bringing individuals into a saving relationship with His Son. Are those "bad" circumstances God's judgment? Maybe so, but is it something to be feared or should it be embraced? Are Christians willing to endure hard times in order to turn peoples hearts toward Jesus? Time will tell.

In Christ,
Gary

Rocky Moore said...

>Thanks for dropping by.<

Actually, I have been a subscriber to your RSS feed for a while now :)

I agree, a lot of things are put in place to drive people to God or back to God. It seems that it is only after a nation does not listen and continues not to, that a nation is judged. God even brought judgement upon Israel for not listening, but Daniel, who was not really part of it, God provided for even throughout the judgement of the nation.

In the gospels, when Jesus sent them out to all the cities, He told them that any city that did not receive them nor listen to them, to shake off the dust under thier feet as a testimony against them and to tell them it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgement than for that city. I think maybe that is where the orginal reference in your post might have come from.

My grandmother use to say that people need to see trials persecutions before they will wake up and turn their face to God. 9.11 got a lot of people thinking about God and started a revival in many churches. A lot of that effect though seems to be fading and people appear to be falling back into thier old rut of life.

There is another aspect of all this though that have been going around in my mind lately. I have noticed that a few places where revival was strong, a few years later, bad things happen to the area. As an example, it was not that long ago there was a huge Christian revival in Venezuela and not Hugo Chavez is leading the nation to a dictatorship.

In other nations in Europe, they were great revivals followed many years later by corruption and tragedy. Some nations that had huge revivals in Africa, where they became Christian nations, are now turning away from God to Muslim beliefs.

Not sure if there is a pattern to this, but it seems like there might be one. Maybe Christians become complacent and the drive that brought Revival fades and evil sweeps in to fill the gap.

Anway, that is what has been floating around in my mind for a few weeks. I am concerned of the course of our nation as a whole, but I feel the only answer to the issues is more of God in everyone's life. It seems as though a good portion of the Body of Christ is spending all their time trying to see how close to the world they can live and still be a Christian instead of trying to be as close to God and still be able to remain here. I know in my life, I need a closer walk than I current am in and fall into that trap of the "cares of this life"..

Gary Kirkham said...

Rocky,

Addressing your comments about revivals, I have been thinking lately about the whole concept of the invitation (or alter call as some call it) and the "sinners prayer." These have long been a staple of the revival and church services. The whole point is to get people to come down and say a prayer, and by that prayer, get saved. Saying a prayer isn't what saves you and I think you end up with a lot of false conversions.

I was talking with someone just recently and he was telling me about an old time evangelist by the name of George Whitefield. He would come into a town and preach and then he would leave. He would not give an invitation of offer to help someone recite a prayer. He would simply preach and then leave. He would often comment that he felt that there was great conviction in the that place. The interesting thing about it was that he would return some time later and there would be churches that had sprung up all over town. The place would be completely different. In complete contrast to Venezuela and the other places you had mentioned.

I believe salvation is a work of God in a person's life, from start to finish. It seems to me that walking an aisle and saying a prayer somehow makes it a work of man...here are the steps you follow to make God save you. I won't say that someone can't be saved in a situation like that, but I suspect that they were already saved before they ever started down the aisle.

In Christ,
Gary

Rocky Moore said...

Well, first, I am not one who believes in Eternal Security to the point you cannot throw your salvation away, nor in predestination to the point where God does everything, chooses who will or will not be saved and goes against their will (which I have heard this doctrine pushed to the point that people actually considered God created people to be damned and that even as a baby who really does not know anything yet).

That said though, I know from personal experience that just saying a prayer does not do it nor tears and begging. When I was little I heard that all you had to do was pray this little prayer and you would be changed and your would "Feel" different. I prayed that prayer many times through my lie and never "felt" one thing, zip, nothing.

In Feb 1990, I was walking down the bike path late at night with a big old moon out there and proceeded to tell God, "I do not care if I feel anything, I need you in my life and I will server you regardless of what I feel". Yep, you guessed it, did not feel a thing. I went home, broke out a Bible and began to read. The next day I purchased a Carman worship tape, and only listened to it.

Over the next three days, my life completely changed and a hunger for God consumed me to a point I could not even work on my computer (for a computer programmer, that is bad news ;) ).

What was the difference? I figure that all those other times, I prayed expecting something to happen as maybe a proof that God did exist. This time, it was that I knew He was there and I did not want my life as it was (even though there was nothing negative in my life at the time, for a sinner, it was not a bad life).

I think it was all the seed that had been deposited in my spirit since I was little that finally matured brought forth that measure of faith to believe that Might God did exist and Yeshua did pay the price for my sins.

So, where am I heading with this? If the time is right and you truly believe God exists, that Yeshua paid the price, then the prayer is the point of contact, that time when you cross the line and your Spirit is born again. The prayer is probably the outcry of your Spirit to be raised from the dead.

In the good old days, they would say that you go to the altar and pray "until" you know you are saved. That could be useful to be brought back as many pray the simple little prayer but do not hook up and make the connection, they end up fading right back out instead of pushing in.

Of course, that time of a the altar call is not just for salvation, it should be a time for people to reach out to God in a corporate environment and seek God's face for their needs. Ray Boltz has a good song called "The Altar", nice view.

Anyway, that is my experience and how I figure it plays into the situation. It does not matter if you are in a church or out on a bike path, if the heart is ready, it is time and the prayer of repentance and abandoment of yourself works, otherwise it just might be seed for the future.

Judah Himango said...

Hey Gary and Rocky,

Enjoying reading the posts and comments here, interesting stuff.

Gary, you said, "Saying a prayer isn't what saves you and I think you end up with a lot of false conversions."

Bingo, I think you hit the nail on the head there. As far as I'm aware, there are no examples in the New Testament of someone saying a "come into my heart" prayer, and thus becoming "saved".

Saved is an interesting concept by itself, I'd like to see a blog post from you detailing what you believe "saved" means.

My question is, saved from what? From death? Spiritual death? Physical death? Why do we deserve death? Is it because of sin? What is sin, what defines sin?

There is some interesting prophecy in the Tenakh/Old Testament regarding being saved. Joel 2, for examples, says that in the "great day of the Lord", anyone who calls on the name of the Lord (which I suppose is Yahweh/Yehova) will be saved. However, I don't think the great and dreadful "day of the Lord" has come yet. To me, that's when Messiah comes back as kingly, triumphant, son-of-David Messiah, the one prophesied in Daniel and Revelation to come back and conquer all the nations, bring lasting peace, and reign in Jerusalem. That's my take on the "great and dreadful day of the Lord", so maybe Joel's description of being saved isn't applicable today, yet.

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On the topic of judgment, let's first acknowledge that God is gracious and merciful. If it wasn't the case, we'd all be in trouble, myself absolutely included. If God wasn't merciful, God would've wiped His hands clean of Israel and the Jews long ago. And He wouldn't have sent His son as a substitute sacrifice to atone for our sins.

That said, judgment on both people and nations are required if God is a just God.

Think about it - it has to be the case! Imagine a human judicial judge who has compassion and mercy on criminals who are truly repentant. You might call him a merciful judge. But if he pardons every criminal that comes along, even if the criminal is unrepentant, that judge is not merciful, that judge is foolish and unjust.

Likewise, if God let everyone and every nation off the hook, no matter the sin and even if unrepentant, God would not be a just or merciful God; he'd be a push-over god. Mercy does not always imply pardoning, sometimes it means loving correction. To me, correction of a nation is judgment on that nation.

Has God judged the United States? I don't know. It is interesting that things like Katrina happened just after the United States pressured Israel to give God's land to Islam (forcing 9000 Jews to be homeless), which broke several eternal commandments in Scripture, going against the grain of God's promises to Israel. "I will bless those that bless you, and curse those that curse you."

Another interesting bit is that the last few leaders of Israel who have given away God's land have met premature ends, be that through assassinations (Yitzhak Rabin, for example) or terminal medical issues (Ariel Sharon, for example). I speculate that is God using natural means of judgment on Israel for its ignorance of God's ways and commandments. I speculate the same is true of the United States.

I do believe the United States is becoming less godly, more secular, more tolerant of sinful lawlessness, less tune to God's ear. If we're not repentant, are we to assume God's will still have mercy? Why mercy when there is no repentance? Wouldn't that make God an unjust god?

The Samson Blinded blog recently had a good writeup about historical tolerance of sin in societies and nations and the end result: read Deviate, But Quietly. To quote the post,

All-permissiveness historically correlates with decadence which kicks in before societies enter free fall. Affluent and afraid of violence toward themselves, people shriek from violence to others. In search of still more enjoyment, they abandon moral restrictions and in their arrogance disregard what they see as irrational values.

Isn't it interesting that nations which have tolerated "all-permissiveness" (e.g. anything goes, complete ignorance of God's ways and commands), leads to physical downfall and destruction. Why should we believe the United States will be any different?

I think it's time to wake up in this nation and get back to God in a strong way. But I sometimes wonder whether it's too late for us. We're so far drowned in secular humanism, it seems nothing short of a big-time move of God's spirit will turn this sin-bent nation back.

I'm reminded of this old Messianic song based on some of Paul's words in Romans:

The night is far spent,
The day is close at hand,
When Jesus comes as the Son of Man.

Why do we slumber when it's time to rise?
Wake up, you sleepers, His coming draws neigh.
Let's walk honestly in His sight,
Shedding the old ways we did in the night.
Let's put on new clothes, the armor of His light.
Let's do His word, before the end of night.