American's seem so obsessed with celebrity. We have applied the slang term 'tinsel town' to Hollywood, the cradle of American culture. The word 'tinsel' has been used since the 1600's to allude to the fact that where there may be name recognition or much personality, there may be a total deficit of substance. "All that glitters isn't gold." That cliché actually originated from Shakespeare's play, Merchant of Venice: "All that glisters is not gold; Often have you heard that told". The apostle Paul alluded to the impotence of a loveless man's influence by comparing his words to "a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." (1 Cor. 13:1) In the more modern vernacular we refer to someone who is puffed up with certainty of his own importance as an 'empty suit'. In reality he is lacking in substance and his influence is mostly imaginary.
There is a common deception prevalent among Americans today. The obsession with personality over substance indicates a misplacement of proper priorities. Many are convinced that the economic, political and social problems of America can be solved by a person. All that is necessary to successfully climb out of this dark hole of despair is to find the right person to occupy the White House. Politicians and candidates seem to spend 90% of their time defending their past and 10% of their time casting a vision for the future of a struggling country. Substance plays second fiddle to persona.
Another cancerous deception eating away at the soul of America is the idea that our primary problem is political or economic in nature. The reality is that America has a spiritual problem that will require spiritual solutions. John Adams summed it up very nicely, "Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." A suit custom-made fits you well. The same suit won't fit the guy sitting next to you. Our government was custom-made for a God-fearing Christian people. Trying to force a godless people into the same suit only reaps disastrous results.
Perhaps John Adams was echoing George Washington who made a similar statement: "We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained…" What was President Washington saying in a nutshell? God will only bless us in our obedience. Rebellion and defiance will merit God's judgment, not his blessing.
America's success wasn't a freak accident of nature in spite of what the political or social evolutionists might want you to believe. America has been blessed of God. Now, it seems we have forgotten God. There are dire consequences for the individual or the nation that forgets God. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." (Psalm 9:17) I'll receive a ream of hate mail for making such a bold statement. It is interesting how times have changed.
Abraham Lincoln struggled to find a reason for a war that divided the nation he loved so dearly: "It is the duty of nations…to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins…with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy…The awful calamity of civil war…may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins." He is insinuating that the Civil War was God's judgment for a nation's sin of slavery. What might God's judgment be for a nation's sin of infanticide, evidenced by the murder of 53 million unborn infants since 1973?
President Lincoln continued his call for a National Day of Fasting and Prayer: "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven…We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God." If Americans had forgotten God 150 years ago, how much more have we forgotten God now?
When national or natural calamities occur we always ask the same question. "Where is our God"? Where was God during 9/11? Where was God during Katrina? Why do we expect him to be anywhere near? We didn't invite him to the party. He isn't on our guest list anymore. We no longer allow our children to study his love letter to them in government schools. They can no longer whisper his name before they partake of their meals. We have ripped down his formula for living together in peace and harmony from our courthouse walls. We applaud the empty suits of tinsel town who have become millionaires by making a profession of mocking God.
We seem determined to fill the cup of God's wrath. It is one thing to invite corruption into one's own soul, it is quite another to attempt to corrupt the souls of others. Nothing stirs the anger of God more. We have rejected Christianity in our education system and have replaced it with a pagan secularism. We charge children for their school lunch but the condoms are free. We are stirring the pot of God's wrath by exporting pornography, abortion and homosexuality to other nations and other cultures.
Do we expect God to shrug his shoulders and slump away? How will God react to American's rejecting him? That question can be answered because God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He never changes. He will react to us just as he did to other nations that rejected him. The pattern can be observed, especially by studying the history of Israel. Israel and America have a stark commonality. They were both founded upon the precepts of God for the purpose of being that "light upon a hill", the salt of the earth, examples to other nations of what a God-fearing country might become and accomplish.
America has followed the pattern of ancient Israel. First there comes a serious departure from God. America's divorce with God has gradually been realized over the last fifty years. Divorce is following by a warning to get back on course. The events of 9/11 and the economic collapse of 2008 may very well have been warnings to Americans of impending judgment on the impenitent. The failure to submit is evidenced by a spirit of arrogance, a fist in the face of God. When a people choose rebellion and revolt rather than repentance, multiple warnings are finally followed by greater calamity.
This calamity can be avoided. God's anger can be assuaged. The solution is to follow the formula provided in 2 Chronicles 7:14 "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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." Americans are busy seeking but they are not seeking the face of God. They are seeking wealth, comfort, pleasure, fame, and satisfaction of their own desires.
Storm clouds are gathering on the American horizon but let us be reminded that revival never comes during times of comfort and prosperity, revival comes through the hand of God in judgment. The pearl hidden deep in the difficult times ahead may very well be a revival that will stir the hearts of Americans to return to the God of their fathers.
Let those of us who are Christian vow to let our voices be heard. "I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call upon the Lord, give yourselves no rest." (Isaiah 62:6)
Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.