Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Big Picture

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack on America, the official response read into the Congressional record included a quote from scripture - "“The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone;the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” (Isaiah 9:10. NIV). Our leaders, with the best of intentions, unwittingly pronounced judgment on America. Had they studied the scripture in context (or even read one preceeding verse), they would have realized that the scripture was an ancient vow of defiance in the face of God's warning. Instead of repenting and turning to God, Israel swore they could rebuild and become stronger by their own strength. 9/11 was a wake-up call to America that brought about very little long-lasting Christian revival.

On Friday, I was encouraged to hear our President quote from the Bible in his response to the senseless school massacre in Connecticut. The Lord, he said, will heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. It's a direct quote from both Isaiah 61:1-2, and Psalms 147:3.  Readers, I encourage you strongly to read these entire chapters in context. I believe that through the words spoken by the leader of our country, God is presenting us with a strong and encouraging message.

Psalms 147 is a song of praise to God, who led Israel out of exile and back to their homeland. The words lovingly demonstrate how faithful and good our Lord is to a nation that honors and reveres His name, His commands, and His words. 

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him; who put their hope in his unfailing love. (v. 10-11)

What is God saying? He doesn't care how strong we think we are, the might of our military, how many gun laws we put in place, or how many locks we put on our doors. He wants our nation's obedience. What is the result of a nation that fears God?

He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat (v. 14).

Similarly, Isaiah 61 promises hope for a nation that follows Jehovah God!

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (v. 4)

Why does God allow violence and bloodshed? I daresay we allowed it, America. We have created a culture of hatred, violence, greed, selfishness and immorality. We have turned our collective backs on God. We have called "good" what He calls "sin." We are thumbing our noses at His word. We preach a snowy white feel good seeker-friendly message to build our mega-churches, and rob God's people of the truth they need to hear. All the while, God cries right with us in our own self-inflicted pain and suffering. 

“For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing." (v. 6)

I often shake my head at the news on television. I sigh heavily, and go back to my business. But this time, I cried. I cried for the children, for the parents, for the community of Newtown, and for America. I prayed, but hardly knew what to say except, "Lord, comfort the familes. And please, forgive our nation."

I hope and pray that President Obama's words bring comfort to America. But I also pray fervently that we all get the big picture... the entire message God would have us hear. Turn away from sin. Turn to God.  He loves us enough to give us the encouragement we need. 

Let's take the hint.