Why America is not Healed
WHY AMERICA IS NOT HEALED:
SINS THAT EVOKE NATIONAL JUDGMENT
Text: "If my people, which are called by my name, shaft 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" (II Chron. 7:14).
The text is probably as well known as John 3:16, but the meaning of II Chronicles 7:14 is often passed over with an attitude of nonchalance. It is the implications of the text that we would consider here; it is the applications that most people are either too careless or too neglectful to apply.
The People To Whom The Verse Is Addressed
Note first, that while the verse is addressed to Israel, yet it is to be applied by the people of God in every land.
Note second, that if God would have His people to take the verse at face value, then we should understand that the Spirit of God here speaks to His people only. The verse is addressed to those who are "called by my name." Consider as well the use of the passive voice. The verse is not addressed to people who call themselves the people of God, but it is neither addressed to them who "are called by my name." The people to whom the verse is directed are people who are acknowledged to be the people of God. These are not people who call themselves Christians, but people-who are identified by others as being true Christians.
If "my people" will - 1.) humble themselves, and 2.) pray, and 3.) seek the face of the Lord, and 4.) turn from their wicked ways, "then", --these are the conditions, and here are the promised results: "I will 1.) hear from heaven, and will 2.) forgive their sins, and will 3.) heal their land."
True Christians: A Blessing To Any Land.
True Christians are a blessing to any land. They are the people responsible for Godís blessing. God deals with nations according to the way that they treat His people. Therefore, when a nation turns upon the people of God and persecutes them, that nation cuts its own throat.
But in America, this generation has witnessed the proliferation of people who profess themselves to be true Christians, but who are a people in love with pleasures and with possessions. Most people in this generation have not seen Biblical Christianity, nor have they known true Christians; and in the words of Whittier,
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been."
(Maud Muller, lines 105-106)
The Duties Encouraged
The four requirements for gaining Godís ear, and for receiving His forgiveness, and His healing of our land are, humanly speaking, the responsibilities of Godís people.
Christians need no doctorates to know the answers to social ills. They know the answers are found in the Bible. But, unless God gives people a willingness to hear, they will not listen to the people of God. All the worldís experts, and "all the kingís men," including all the talk show hosts are as Jannes and Jambres who withstood Moses, and who were "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Tim. 3:7,8). Instead, such people withstand the people of God even today. They "resist the truth" and suppress it (Rom. 1:18).
Now, if the healing of our land is predicated upon the people of God 1.) humbling themselves, 2.) praying, 3.) seeking the face of God, and 4.) turning from their wicked ways then it is on account of these things that our land is not healed.
Why America Is Not Healed
Here implied are the reasons our land is not healed: 1.) Pride, arrogance, 2.) Prayerlessness, 3.) Failure to seek the face of God, and 4.) Continuance in known wickedness. These are the sins that evoke Godís Judgment, and that call down His wrath upon us. In the words of John Donne, "Men perish with whispering sins, sins that never tell the conscience they are sins, as often as with crying sins."
Pride is accompanied by the sins of arrogance, and haughtiness. In Scripture, proud people are also described as being stubborn, stiff-necked, and impenitent.
Solomon wrote, "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look..." heads the list (Prov. 6:16,17a). "Pride goeth before destruction, and haughty spirit before a fall"-(Prov. 16:18). Pride leads the way, it carries the light, as it were, before destruction. Look well toward them who are proud and haughty: so shall you witness their fall.
The prayerlessness of Godís people evokes God s judgment upon their land. The people of God cannot intercede for their nation when they themselves no longer depend upon the Lord. They cannot stand between the dead and the living so long as they live like those who are dead already.
Let us be honest with ourselves: people do not pray because they do not think they have a need to pray. Prayer has become trivial to the 20th-century saint. To him, work is more important. It is only reasonable that when people no longer seek the face of God in prayer that they would no longer see the face of God in other areas of life.
*Failure To Seek The Face Of God
To paraphrase the words of Donne, "Men perish with sins that never tell the conscience, they are sins." Christians rarely seek the face of God: instead, they turn to the psychiatrist, or to the welfare officer. Other people place their confidence in their insurance company, but like other people, it is not in the Lord. "He that made the eye shall he not see" (Ps. 94:9b)? The confidence of Christians in the 20th century is in MAN. But what is to be expected of Godís people when they continue in known wickedness?
*Continuance In Known Wickedness
It is strange that the Lord would find His people guilty of "wicked ways!" "Men perish with whispering sins, " wrote Donne, "sins that never tell the conscience they are sins, as often as with crying sins." Christians are indeed guilty of wicked ways Ėways that the Christian pulpit rarely recognizes, such as the horrendous evil of willfully sending their children to public schools where they will be taught atheism, and where they will be coerced into accepting an unbiblical morality. It seems a bloody persecution will be necessary before the church will purge herself of her fictional members, and the Church of God be brought to an obedient temper.
When Christians go to the Food Stamp Office, and accept rent subsidies and other socialistic programs instead of seeking the face of the Lord, is God pleased? And, what might be said of television viewing of filthy programs! This, however, belongs to another category, because
people who engage in this know they are doing wickedly.
Is God blind? Does He not see? He does, and He answers, "Shall I not visit them for these things? ...shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this" (Jer. 9:9)? So long as Christians look to legislators, to psychologists, and to educators for answers to their problems, they have not humbled themselves, and prayed, and sought the face of God; neither have they turned from their wicked ways. Therefore, Judgment must fall.
Can one be a leader who has only a few people who are willing to follow?
Text: "Then said Jesus unto the twelve, ĎWill ye also go awayí" (John 6:67).
The greatest leaders in the history of mankind have been social outcasts. They have been men who were nearly friendless. Consider
Noah, for example. For 120 years, wherein "the ark was a preparing" (Pet. 3:20), Noah faithfully warned the people who lived before the flood of impending death and destruction. With the single exception of his family, no one -not one person took his warning seriously. Yet, the reader would not dispute the fact that Noah is among the chiefest of leaders in the history of the world.
Consider The Prophets. Which of the prophets was able to turn back apostate Israel to the Lord? Not one! Perhaps the prophets lacked leadership qualities? No, this was not their purpose. They were called instead to bear a vital testimony to their generation.
Has the reader considered The Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus, the sinless Son of God, who "knew what was in man," did not, "succeed" by His teaching and preaching in changing the government of Rome. This was not His purpose. Certainly Jesus Christ is the greatest leader this world has ever seen, yet after teaching the multitude, the people left Him "and walked no more with him" (Jn. 6:66). Jesus turned to the 12 disciples and asked, "Will ye also go away?" It would be blasphemous to suggest that Immanuel, "God with us" lacked leadership qualifications.
How many stood with Moses when his brother Aaron, and his sister Miriam joined the multitude against him? How many followed the leadership of Elijah during the years of famine? And, when God commanded Isaiah to walk "naked and barefoot" three years (Is. 20:1-4), did the people hearken to the words of the prophet? When God instructed Ezekiel to eat cow manure in the sight of the people 430 days, did they support the man of God, and receive his words? No doubt modern psychoanalysts believe Ezekiel would have profited from their classes on the techniques of good leadership.
In the history of the Christian Church, Ambrose stood virtually alone in his day in the struggle to maintain orthodoxy. So did Jerome, and after him, Augustine. When someone reminded Athanasius how unpopular he was on account of his defense of the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity, and said, "Donít you know the world is against you?" the man of God responded, "Then, I am against the world." In another era, John Bunyan ministered in his church to about 75 people; and Matthew Henry lamented, "Many have left us: few been added."
It is the distinctive mark of true leaders that they more often than not have to "go it alone."
"Building A Work" vs. Bearing A Faithful Testimony
No minister of the Gospel is commanded to "build a work!" It is true that ministers are commanded to make disciples, i.e. "learners" of all nations, but no minister of Jesus Christ was ever called to "build a work." They are called instead to bear a faithful and vital testimony to their generation. "Building a work" only serves to promote ourselves. It does nothing for the Kingdom of God.
Conclusion: People who walk by sight and not by faith esteem one to be a leader who appeals to the masses, but true leadership --the leadership that God blesses, is that which is most often exercised when one finds himself alone.
Text: "Then said Saul to his servant, ĎBut, behold, if we go, what shall we bring the man? for the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God: what have weí" (I Sam. 9:7)?
Saul, with a servant, was in search for his fatherís asses. They passed through Mount Ephraim, through Shalisha and Salim and the land of the Benjamites and did not find they. They came to the land of Zuph before Saul decided to give up the search and to return home.
Suddenly, the servant recalls that in the city was a man of God --that he was an honorable man who spoke the truth. "All that he saith cometh surely to pass," says the servant to Saul, and he persuades his masterís son to visit the prophet and to ask his advice whether they should continue their search or return home.
Ingratitude and Bad Manners
Saul hesitates, "But behold," he says, "if we go, what shall we bring the man?" It would be callous ingratitude to appear empty-handed before the servant of the Lord. How ill-mannered it would be to ask help from the prophet and to leave behind only their remembrance!
The Matter of Respect
It is only just that he who sows spiritual things should reap carnal things from them who benefit. Even the wicked King Jereboam when sending his wife to inquire of the prophet Ahijah recognized his duty, and sent her with a present (II Kings 14:3). Neither Samuel nor Ahijah would have refused their help if no gift was brought, but it was a matter of showing respect for the prophet, as well as for the prophetic office. How calloused would it be to do otherwise!
The Value of the Office
Saul and his servant brought a gift as a token of the value they placed upon the prophet and his office. How things are altered in our day when people are governed by covetousness, ingratitude and ill manners! How many servants of God suffer at the hands of materially minded saints in our day! It used to be asked, "What shall I bring as a present for the man of God? but in our day, people consider it to be no sin to keep from Godís servants all they can.
Note what the gift was that Saul and his servant brought? It was "money" -the fourth part of a shekel. Like everyone else, the man of God required "money" to live. But note as well, who it was that offered the quarter shekel: it was not Saul, the masterís son, but the masterís servant who brought it. Most people are like Saul -they appreciate the truth of God so long as the expense of it is supplied by someone else. (reprinted from The Angelus, July-August-September, 1985)
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"Because America will not remain good, she cannot remain free."