Part 1 here.
This past Friday morning at Bible study, we read from 2nd Chronicles 7:13-14—If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
“If I shut up heaven that there be no rain…” We didn't get a whole lot of rain here this year. Infact, we went for an entire month without ANY. There are wildfires burning out of control, devouring entire forests in California. What about all these diseases we can't find a cure for? Do ya think He might be trying to tell us something? When God begins to do something in a certain land, many times it is because of the condition of His people. Everybody is a CREATION of God, but not everybody is a CHILD of God. The children of God--church, the bride of Christ--must be pure, or God will pour out His wrath on the whole land. It was the same in the Old Testament. When did He pour out His hottest wrath? When the priests in His temple began corrupting it, corrupting His word and corrupting the people. The church in America today is in shambles. So many churches are seeker-sensitive and Purpose-Driven—compromising the word of God in order to “fill people’s needs” in order to build up their own “church”, while doing nothing to build up Christ’s church.
We’ve forgotten what prayer is about. We spend our time seeking pleasure and entertainment. We go to movies and watch TV shows we shouldn’t be watching. “If My people, who are called by My name...” His people. He’s not commanding heathens and unbelievers to do these things. We the church need to do these things. What things? Humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, turn from our wicked ways. ALL these things are necessary; it’s not an “either/or”. It’s not like the menu at Cracker Barrel, “Pick two of the following.” ALL these things are necessary. And the church isn't doing them. And the world sees this and laughs and says, “Why should I listen to them? They're no different than me. Fact, I just saw this guy I work with, says he’s a Sunday School teacher, coming out of” some R-rated movie. Because we don’t humble ourselves. And we can't pray, we can't seek His face, we can't repent of our sins unless we humble ourselves. Until we look at ourselves the way God looks at us. God won’t hear us unless we come to Him with a humble heart. James 4:6 says that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Then look at what will happen. “Then I will hear…forgive…heal…” A lot of times when we hear someone quoting this verse, they leave out that second part. About God forgiving our sin. And that’s singular. If you know Christ, if you are truly saved, God has forgiven your SINS. But one thing we forget is this: that God holds the church, as a whole, responsible for the spiritual condition of a nation. If that nation was founded as a Christian nation. Like this nation was. And if we want the LORD to heal this country of the things that are plaguing us, then His church needs to take the lead, set the example, cry out to Him for mercy. Then He will hear and He will heal.
Not only is evolution being taught in every public school, but even some churches have fallen victim to this thinking, and have begun interpreting the Bible according to evolution, instead of the other way around. “Well, they have all this scientific data, so they must be right and the Bible must be wrong.” I ain't got time to go into all that here. So now we have distorted teachings, heresies like “theistic evolution”, which says that God created the universe billions of years ago, and it’s been “evolving” ever since. Then there’s the “Gap Theory”, that says that in between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, there was a “gap” of millions of years, and that creation actually took place over the course of 6 long “ages”, not 6 literal “days.” You see how easy it is for the church to begin following the destructive ways of the world? When we let the world dictate what we believe about God, instead of allowing God to dictate how we see the world, we are useless to God. And we are no longer an influence in this world of corruption and godlessness.
You see, the atheist, the agnostic, the evolutionist—they don’t just want to coexist with Christians. They don’t want to tolerate Christians. NO!! They want to drown us out, and shut us up, and one day, they just might want to see us Christians dead. Muslims already do. Where were you that morning of September 11, 2001? Two jetliners filled with thousands of gallons of jet fuel slam headlong into the World Trade Center towers in NYC. One crashes into the Pentagon. One crashes outside of Shanksville, PA, probably headed for the White House.
Why? Why did these attacks take place? Some in the media tried saying it was because these Islamic terrorists saw our values and our culture, and this outrage was what drove them to do what they did. Wrong. These people were driven to acts of terrorism by a book called the Qur'an, which commands them to find infidels and kill them. If you weren’t here when we talked about Islam, let me know, and I'll give you the notes. These acts were carried out by men who follow a pagan god who commands them to kill in his name. And God allowed these men to do this in order to wake up His people, and bring them to repentance.
Which brings me to another question that was on everybody’s lips that day. “If this is a Christian nation, then why didn’t God stop this from happening?” Turn over to Jeremiah 2. This is the word of the LORD to Jeremiah concerning the nation of Judah. A nation of God’s people, the Jews. But if you were to read this whole chapter, it could almost be talking about the USA.
Verses 17-19—Have you not brought this upon yourself in that you have forsaken the LORD your God, when he led you in the way...Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and the fear of me is not in you, says the Lord GOD of hosts.
“Have you not brought this upon yourself?” If you have kids, and the younger one starts picking on the older one--the older one will put up with it for a while, telling the little one to knock it off. Then the older one pushes the little one down; the little one goes crying to mommy or daddy. What do you tell them? "He told you to knock it off. It's your own fault." Imagine God telling that to an entire nation. This horrible tragedy—and God looks down, says, “It’s your own fault,” and doesn’t have an ounce of pity for that nation. When a nation turns its back on God, God turns His back on that nation.
“Your own wickedness will correct you…” How many have ever woke up with a hangover? Whose fault was it? Just had to go and get drunk, and paid for it the next day, huh? The ESV reads like this: “Your own evil will chastise you…” In other words, “Keep it up, it’s gonna bite you!”
“Know and see that it is evil and bitter to forsake the LORD your God…” In other words, it’s bad enough for those who never know God in the first place. But it is infinitely worse for those who know Him, and then forsake Him. Jesus said of Judas that it would have been better if he had never been born.
Then look at Jeremiah 2, verses 26-28—As a thief is shamed when caught, so the house of Israel shall be shamed: they, their kings, their officials, their priests, and their prophets, who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ For they have turned their back to me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they say, ‘Arise and save us!’ But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble…
We have all these things we trust in, instead of trusting in God. We look to other things, and other people, and government as the things we trust in. But as we saw a few weeks ago, “blessed is he whose trust is in the LORD.”
Then God says, “…they have turned their back to Me…” Ever been talking to your kids, and they start to walk away from you? What do you tell ‘em? “Don’t you turn your back on me when I’m talking to you!” We’ve turned our back on Him.
But then when some terrible tragedy happens what do we cry out? “Oh God, arise and save us!!” Ever try to warn a friend not to do something stupid, and they do it anyways, and they call from jail, “Can you come bail me out?” Here, God is telling His people, “Oh, sure, now you cry out to Me? When YOU need something, when YOU want something. What about when I asked for your worship, did you cry out to me then?”
Part 3 tomorrow.