Friday, July 8, 2011

The Danger of Defying God: Is God Judging America?

‘Woe’ is a little three letter word filled with meaning and emotion. It means to ‘curse’ or to ‘damn’. It is the assignment of justice. The emotion behind the word may be anger, but it is also used with much sorrow. Think of those who were watching as the twin towers fell on 9/11. Their gasps and cries expressed shock and dismay. They were overwhelmed with sorrow at the loss of life within the towers as they crumbled to earth. Sorrow was finally followed by anger toward a cowardly enemy. This is the emotion Isaiah feels as he repeats this little word several times in chapter 5.

1. Greed for Material Things. “WOE to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing: ‘Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants.” (Isa. 5:8-9) God is declaring a judgment on the Jewish people because materialism had become their idol. They worshiped things rather than the Creator.

There are parallels between ancient Israel and modern America that cannot be ignored. We have become a very materialistic society. The accumulation of wealth has become our idol. We willingly sacrifice our families and our health at the altar of materialism.

Our houses have become desolate. Millions of homeowners have been foreclosed on in the last several years despite President Obama’s $75 billion plan to save homes. Our community (Columbus, Georgia) has many “fine mansions left without occupants.”

Because of their disobedience and betrayal God brought famine into the land.

2. Lust for Drunken Pleasure. “WOE to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine.” (Isa. 5:11) God punished a society that had decided to replace worship of God with a lust for pleasure. We run after alcoholic beverages and various drugs to help relieve the pain and boredom in our lives. We pursue our own desires and have “no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands.” (Isa. 5:12) These are cheap substitutes for the true Healer.

“There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the broken soul.” (African-American Spiritual)

The true God is patient and longsuffering but he cannot tolerate such disrespect indefinitely. So, God removed the restraints upon the Babylonians and they came into the land of Israel and carried them off into exile. “Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst.” (Isa. 5:13)

It is not hard to imagine thirst and lack of water in this part of the country. Florida, Alabama and Georgia have been raging a water war for over 20 years. Lake Lanier is a huge lake north of Atlanta that serves the city and those inhabitants that live south along the Chattahoochee River. There are approximately 5 million people who draw from the lake before its waters reach my area. It is very difficult to determine how to divvy the water fairly. Complicating the matter is the fact that Georgia has suffered drought conditions over the last several years. Few Americans have ever felt real thirst and hunger and they feel very comfortable that these elements will always be available in abundance.

Has American society outdone all others in its ability and willingness to seek pleasure and ignore God? If God released the Babylonians upon the Jews because of their defiance will God not also release judgments upon Americans if we don’t repent and turn back to God? There is no ‘teacher’s pet’ in this formula. God’s justice will not allow him to judge sin in one culture and ignore it in another.

3. Sin of Defiance. “WOE to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes.” (Isa. 5:18) A cart rope was made of unbelievably strong material. Its purpose was to attach a loaded cart to a beast of burden. The people of Israel were like mules pulling a cartload of iniquity behind them. They loved their sin and expended a great amount of effort to drag it about wherever they went.

They said, “Let God hurry, let him hasten his work so we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come, so we may know it.” (Isa. 5:19) These people were defiant in their disobedience. They shook their fists in the face of God and challenged him to bring the judgment he promised. They said, “This is our sin. We love it more than we love you. What will you do about it?”

They were behaving as the Roman soldiers did when they spit upon Jesus and mocked him as he dragged his cross to Golgotha. “The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” (Luke 23:36-37) No good can ever come from mocking God. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them” (Deuteronomy 32:35)

Our God, provoked to anger, is terrible in his wrath!

God forgive us for our arrogance. We sing, “God Bless America” and then assume that he will regardless of our own actions. We no longer hide our sinfulness and we have no shame for our evil ways.

Recently, a 56 year old man, scantily dressed in women’s underwear, boarded a passenger jet from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Phoenix, Arizona. When he arrived in Phoenix he was escorted away. It was astonishing that this man would pull such a stunt but the attitude he revealed was beyond belief. He had no shame. He was not hiding his face from the cameras. He was proud to have his picture made and wanted all to see.
We have become “haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning”. (Romans 1:30) We foolishly shake our fist in the face of God. We dare him to prove himself by reacting to our challenge.

Christians must sound a warning as Isaiah did, “They have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the Lord’s anger burns against his people.” (Isa. 5:25-26)

It sounds dark and hopeless but it is not. There is a solution to the dilemma in which we find ourselves. “If my people, who are called by my name, will 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.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

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