The Warning: Sin Can Take Down Strong Countries
“Weep not for the dead, nor bemoan him;
Weep bitterly for him who goes away,
For he shall return no more,
Nor see his native country.”
Jeremiah 22:10, NKJV
More than once lately my 95-year-old father has told me he’s glad he won’t be around much longer. The America he grew up in is gone. It’s gone for you and me, too. At my age of 61 I can expect years of grief to come, knowing I “shall return no more, nor see my native country” again. The days of the country we once knew are past. Weep bitterly for yourselves, Americans.
Not that we ought to weep for all that we used to be. We were once a land of slavery, then of systemic racism. That was wrong and it had to change; but the change that came then was unlike today’s change. That one, still ongoing, was about virtue, and it grew out of religious roots.
Today’s is about change, in contrast, is about casting off all thought of God or virtue. It’s disturbingly similar to the Israel of Jeremiah’s day. While book of Jeremiah certainly wasn’t written for America, still there’s no denying its major message applies to us today. Read chapter 2; see how disturbingly familiar it sounds.
Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the LORD,
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.
(Jer. 2:12-13, ESV)
Argue all you want over whether America was ever “God’s people;” the rest fits. We’ve gone chasing after every other lust and trinket (“broken cisterns”), and we’ve forsaken God who alone supplies the living waters that satisfy.
Strong Nations Aren’t Immune
For those who love America, Jeremiah’s has an even more disturbing message: Strong nations can fall. They aren’t immune. They can fall. They can fall hard.
The land of Judah had enjoyed hundreds of years of relative stability, fending off enemies for the most part and maintaining reasonable economic health. Its political and religious leaders said, “Peace, peace,” — nothing to worry about, all is well. (Jer. 6:14)
Jeremiah said they were dealing falsely (6:13); there was no peace they could count on. Because of their sins— economic oppression, sexual sin, idolatry, sabbath-breaking, hypocritical religion and more — destruction was approaching. It would bring with it unbelievable famine. Exile. Bitter, bitter weeping.
It can happen to strong countries. We must heed the warning. In some senses we’ve already fallen, for the America that once was, is no more.
Some of that change has been exactly right for us. At least, we’ve been working on our sin of racism. Now we’re also grappling in new ways with the sin of men dominating women sexually. Good for us! — though we have a very long way to go on both counts.
The Danger We’ve Put Ourselves In
Meanwhile, though we’ve multiplied our sins against the next generation through abortion and uncontrolled deficit spending. We’ve harmed ourselves and our children through unconscionable exposure to lewdness (out in the open) and pornography (mostly undercover). We’ve turned a blind eye to rampant fornication, and promiscuity carried out in ways unimaginable to previous generations.
We’ve even exercised the unbelievable hubris of declaring the human man and woman to be creatures of our own making; and the same sort of error with marriage. We’ve made greed, comfort, and physical satisfaction our gods. And we’ve locked the true God out of much of public life.
These are the sorts of sins that another biblical writer, Paul, catalogued in the descent to destruction he penned in Romans 1:18-32. That slide reaches bottom at the point where the people“give hearty approval” to its practice. We’ve certainly reached that stage. The one thing that doesn’t get approval, it seems, is standing for what’s right in God’s eyes.
Time for God’s People to Prepare
I am no prophet. I don’t know what kind of destruction our country is heading toward, if any at all. I do know this, though: We may be strong economically, and our military may be united and powerful, yet we are proud fools if we rely on that to carry us when we’ve rejected both God and virtue.
I know this, too: It’s time for the people of God to prepare. If America is going to turn around, it has to start in the Church. Let’s start by humbling ourselves before Him in prayer. Let’s get the pornography off our computers. Let’s get in front of the #MeToo movement by confessing (to appropriate people) and repenting of other sexual sin.
Argue all you want over whether America is “God’s people.” The Church certainly is. By God’s grace, if we turn around, it could be our country will, too. And escape the danger even strong countries aren’t immune to.