For more years than I can remember, I’ve spoken somewhere on weekends surrounding America’s patriotic holidays. Sunday, 03 July 2016 will be no exception, but will be one of those rare occasions when I will speak at the church that Debbie and I call “home”—North Auburn Hills Baptist Church.
Approaching America’s 240th birthday, reflecting on the current election cycle, and considering the condition of our country, I must confess grave concern for the country that has been my home base for 66 years and counting. So as not to discourage you, let me quickly disclaim that I believe there is hope!
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah opens one of the Bible’s most horrific chapters with a ray of hope this way—Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither is His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. However, he then proceeds to describe the dark days in which America … er, Israel, was living.
Skipping from the opening verse, we find a summary description of America today—a parallel—that should arrest the attention of thinking citizens, sober our thoughts, and lead us to petition the God of Isaiah 59:1, as described in Isaiah 7:14! Consider just four common characteristics between Israel of some 700 years before Christ and America today—highlighted in four critical words.
(Isa 59:14a HCSB) Justice is turned back … In the vernacular, we would say that justice has been turned on its head, upside down, everything is backwards. America’s victims of crime watch a never-ending stream of criminals going free, restitution never paid. Be strong and of good courage, my friend, for God the Righteous judge rules over all the earth. Remember verse one—He hears and He can save!
(Isa 59:14b HCSB) … righteousness stands far off … In a practical sense, righteousness is simply “morally good.” A deep study is not necessary, when a casual glance at television, a movie screen, or newspaper reveals daily that America increasingly is anything but morally good, choosing rather to trust in vanity. Take hope my friend! There’s still hope in verse one—only one call away!
(Isa 59:14c HCSB) … truth has stumbled in the street … (“fallen” in the KJV). The meaning is the same—truth doesn’t matter in our culture today! History is being rewritten. Truth is being hidden, while falsehood is being paraded as though it was the truth, in order to accomplish someone’s agenda.
The truth is, God’s agenda will be accomplished in the end. By the closing chapter of this world’s history, all liars (those who refused to live truthfully) will find the burning truth forever in the horrific abode of the father of lies, yet eternally separated from the truth, the way, and the life! That is not something in which one should glory, but rather with broken heart, fear and trembling, choose to be a living sacrifice, that others might hear the truth while there is time!
However, if you are reading these words, be encouraged! As long as we have breath, we have hope—and it still stands back in verse one!
(Isa 59:14d HCSB) … and honesty (or equity) cannot enter … At the end of the day, honesty is a proper dealing with the three aforementioned qualities—truth, righteousness, and justice. You see, it is possible for one to know truth, but be dishonest and unjust, thus missing the boat on righteousness as well. That’s why in our courts of law, a witness swears an oath—hand on the Bible—to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The purpose is to bring about justice, making something that was wrong right again.
That’s also why sinful man needs the hope back in verse one, a hope ultimately found in God alone. All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, but He is near and willing to give to us His own righteousness. Justice for our sin was served some 2000 years ago, when Jesus Christ willingly made an in-full payment for us. His death was not about His own sin, but rather your sin and mine—which brings us back to the hope in verse one!
BTW, do you pray? If so, would you join me in asking God to draw America back to Him, that we as a nation might become a country of justice, righteousness, truth, and honesty once again? Or perhaps you feel like God is far, far away. Not so, my friend—He is only one prayer away! Call on Him today while He is near!
Finally, in spite of all the woes of our world and country, my fellow Americans, let’s celebrate the freedom that we enjoy and for which much of the world longs! Happy 240th Birthday, America!
(2 Chron 7:14 HCSB) (If) my people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.