Repentance, America, and the Judgment of God

D.A. Bass

How old fashioned is the notion of the judgment of God? Does He really do such things? History Today recently ran a piece by Jenifer Roberts on the Lisbon Tsunami of 1755. The earthquake and resulting inundation, in addition to leveling the city and killing countless thousands, was acknowledged by a Jesuit priest to be a judgment of God, for “It is scandalous to pretend the earthquake was just a natural occurrence for, if that be true, there is no need to repent and try to avert the wrath of God. It is necessary to devote all our strength and purpose to the task of repentance. God is watching us, scourge in hand.”

Ms. Roberts contemptuously dismisses such antiquated notions today, since “Science has told us about the movement of tectonic plates, seismic shifts in the Earth’s crust, and few now believe in the wrath of God.”

So convinced am I of the blindness and utter depravity of the human soul that I have no doubt that these very words “Few now believe in the wrath of God…” will bubble up from the lips of Ms. Roberts and many others even as the waters (or fire or earth) rise up to engulf them. I am certain many also felt the same way, under different pretexts, in Noah’s day, even the day before the Great Flood, or like the false prophets in Israel who reassured the people that God was not angry with them and would soon deliver them from judgment.

God is not obligated to persuade us that he is a wrathful judge as well as a merciful Savior. He has already declared as much in his Word and, as Abraham informed the Rich Man, “If they do not believe Moses and the prophets, neither shall they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31) So, as a consequence, many will bear the weight of wrath and be convinced in the life to come - with a vengeance. In the meantime, it remains to us to faithfully proclaim repentance in the face of God’s chastening warnings, for, “God is watching us, scourge in hand.”

Like the strike of a demolition ball to the foundation of a building, Katrina hammered the southern states of America. Other storm systems are building in the equatorial Atlantic even now and, scientists tell us, will continue apace for years to come. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) puts an earthquake in the greater San Francisco area as one of the top three disaster possibilities for America. Does it take a prophet to foresee what is on our horizon? While it is imperative that we do everything we possibly can to prepare for the physical consequences of these foreseen disasters, we cheat ourselves if we who live in the realm of the spirit refuse to appeal to the omnipotent Ruler of the universe of spirit and matter who “Makes his angels winds, and his ministers flames of fire.” Appealing to our fellow men for repentance and appealing to God for mercy and forgiveness is, ultimately, the only action, which will avert the utter destruction of our land. Again and again, falling like hammer blows, we find the Bible articulating this iron clad principle: Judgments come from God with increasing frequency and intensity, to the degree to which the previous warning has been ignored.

Additionally, what are we to say of the comparison of Katrina to 9/11 in its scope and destructive power? Is it coincidence? I think not! We have just finished commemorating the 4th anniversary of that act of war (not a crime; not a terrible tragedy; an act of war) perpetrated by an implacable enemy whose culture is moving 180 degrees in the opposite direction as ours and whose religion (Islam) fuels this war with a fanaticism that drives its proponents to throw away their lives with a smile upon their faces. There is a continuing threat posed by to America by 9/11, and its not because there are specific plans following the attacks for further mayhem by our enemies (although there certainly is), but because there is a nagging blind spot etched upon the soul of America that causes her to stumble around in the darkness. We keep asking ourselves, “What went wrong? Why did no one see this coming?”

We ask ourselves these and other questions, launching Congressional probes and investigations and reports like that of the 9/11 commission, as if, given enough hand wringing and perhaps an act of Congress, we might guarantee that it will never happen again. However, like the poor drunk who tries to swat a swarm of bees buzzing around his head with a hammer, all we end up doing is hitting ourselves in the head and further incensing the bees. No, that which plagues the soul of America is much more than an act of Congress can cure, much more than an FBI investigation can uncover. The blindness of soul in America is a spiritual blindness, a stubborn refusal to acknowledge the God of the Bible and return to the biblical principles that have made America great.

A nation’s greatness does not lie in the strength of its economy, although a strong economy is a product of that nation’s ability to produce wealth; a nation’s greatness does not lie in the strength of its military, although a strong military is a product of that nation’s preparedness and ingenuity; America’s greatness does not lie in her institutions and form of government per se, although her institutions and form of government are a product of the genius and wisdom of our Founding Fathers. No! The mainspring for all of these things is the Christian character of her people.

For example, very early in our history the famous French statesman and philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville spent several years living in and touring America for the express purpose of discovering what it was precisely that made America great and why liberty seemed to flourish here as nowhere else. The result was his famous book Democracy in America, published originally in 1835. In it he noted:

“Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention, and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.”

What was that religion? Islam? No! Islam, wherever it has determined the worldview of a people has brought with it nothing but tyranny, ignorance, and oppression. Hinduism? No! Look to India, where Hinduism has shaped the worldview for billions of people in an entire sub-continent. The caste system enslaves millions and banishes them to permanent status as unequal that will never achieve, never succeed, and never rise to better themselves and their families. The abominable doctrine of reincarnation creates the wasting superstition that Uncle Fred may be the cow munching grass in your field, so do not eat him! Thus you have the spectacle of well-fed animals wandering the streets of Indian cities while whole populations starve!

Was it paganism and tribal religions of Africa that made America great? No! Look to the Africa of today, where superstition reigns and keeps men in poverty and ignorance and where the immorality of its adherents allows them to indulge in sexual promiscuity, the real reason for the spread of HIV/AIDS in that pitiful continent. De Tocqueville articulates the religion that has determined our national character eloquently:

“In the United States the sovereign authority is religious. There is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation on earth.”

Can we still say that about Christianity in America today? Can we say that about the sway of the God of the Bible over the souls of the average American today? The Harris Poll tells us that over 2/3 of Americans say they are evangelicals, and yet:

1. Abortion remains the law of the land – Over 1.4 million babies are murdered every year in the name of a woman’s right to choose. O Christian, God hates murder and therefore he hates abortion, for it is the shedding of blood. “You shall not pollute the land where you are, for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.” (Numbers 35)

Make no mistake about this: we share a collective guilt, which we cannot escape! You are a citizen of a land in which the slaughter of the innocents occurs with a mundane regularity and you have done little or nothing to stop it. The horror of it, the abomination of it in the sight of God, has not struck you. You are absorbed and insulated in your daily routine and complacency until an act of judgment shakes you momentarily out of that rat-like maze and blindness, and you ask: “Why, O Lord?” When you know perfectly well it is your deadness to God and his ways as a people that has brought his judgments upon this nation. It is no mystery how God works; he has worked this way in the past and he will work this way again in the future. When, for example, Israel strayed from the commands and ordinances of the covenant God had made with them, He brought judgments as warnings to them, that they should heed them and repent.

“From the time I brought your forefathers up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying ‘Obey me.’ But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.” Jeremiah 11:7,8

Again and again, falling like hammer blows, we find the Bible articulating this iron clad principle: Judgments come from God with increasing frequency and intensity, to the degree to which the previous warning has been ignored. Have you heeded the warnings and repented?

2. Sexual perversion of all kinds continue to flourish without limit – We have become – instead of the land of the free and the home of the brave – the land of the freak and the home of the depraved. Openly gay men like Barney Frank are returned to represent an entire state in our national legislature; our highest court robs states of their constitutional right to regulate perverse sexual behavior; that same court now seems poised to approve gay marriage when it is before them. Pornography is a multi-billion influence, from the inner councils of organized crime to the inner councils of California government, where the pathetic pornographer Larry Flynt can make a serious run for governor. Christians are not exempt: O father, O husband, is this not a secret sin of yours? Would not pornography cease to be a multi-billion dollar business if only Christian men refused to patronize it?

O Christian man and woman, God includes divorce and adultery as a perverse sexual sin: “’I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel, ‘and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as with a garment,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Malachi 2:16

As much an act of war as the inferno of the World Trade Center was, as much of an outrage and barbarism as that attack upon our sovereignty was, the thousands who died that day were not strictly as “innocent” as we like to portray them.

“How many people working in those towers were planning their adulteries for that night? How many people in that building had pornography on their computers? How many people were living in the pride of life, as though God did not exist? How many had blood on their hands? God hates it all. Most of these people were not ready at all to meet God – and yet they did.” Rev. Douglas Wilson

Do not think that because you were spared that you or any of us are guiltless! 9/11 and, now, hurricane Katrina were warnings! Jesus himself tells us about a tower that fell in the ancient world, too, and killed many in his own day. He says:

“Those 18 who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think that they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you, too, repent, you, too, will all perish!” Luke 13:4,5

3. Greed, theft, and covetousness abound in America – Many secretly confess to stealing from their employers, from paperclips to PC’s. From Fanny Mays to Martha Stewarts, insiders trade and take advantage of investors. Enron executives plunder their companies and investors with impunity and get away with a slap on the wrist. Every state in the Union (except Utah) has a state sponsored, state run lottery, a sin and abomination in God’s eyes. Make no mistake, O Christian, gambling is a sin! The lust and desire for something for nothing is a deadly blend of the violation of the 8th and 10th commandments (“Thou shalt not steal,” and “Thou shalt not covet.”) We are already reaping the fruit of this sin in broken families, addicted gamblers, men who begin with a simple lottery ticket and end up bankrupt and broken in life and spirit.

Again and again, falling like hammer blows, we find the Bible articulating this iron clad principle: Judgments come from God with increasing frequency and intensity, to the degree to which the previous warning has been ignored. God has already warned us with an increasing tempo of judgments that we are speedily drifting from our moral roots and founding principles. Islam is a real threat and a genuine enemy to the West and our entire way of life and all of our institutions. But Islam is not our greatest enemy: our hardened hearts and collective, national drifting soul are our worst enemies. If you know your Bible, you know that God often used a people or nation more wicked than God’s own people in order to chasten and scourge those same people. For example, the prophet Habakkuk noted these very things in his warning to Israel:

“I have raised up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people. O Lord, you have appointed them to execute judgment, O Rock, you have ordained them to punish.” Habakkuk 1

The Lord has raised up the radical, militant Muslim and a hurricane to execute judgment, the fanatical Muslim (and, perhaps, a soon coming earthquake) to punish. Will you listen? Will you take warning? “Unless you repent, you, too, will all perish!”

What will it take? Do you think that because we have had a relative lull in terror activity on our own soil that we are exempt from God’s wrath? Do you think that because we have arrested or killed over 2/3’s of al Qaeda militants that the threat form militant Islam are over? Do you think that because we have defeated an entrenched foe in the mountain fastnesses of Afghanistan that God is somehow pleased with our lifestyle and us? Do you think that because our magnificent armed forces have conquered a nation with a repugnant and monstrous dictator that God will somehow restrain his hand of judgment in the future that we might continue in our rebellious ways?

What will it take, O Christian, for America to repent and turn to the God of its youth? Must one or more of our cities boil and burn in a nuclear fire for us to come to our senses? Must our streets be littered with rotting corpses from a biological plague introduced on our metropolitan centers? Must our bridges, tunnels, power grids, and transit systems be destroyed before we see that God is judging us for our calloused hearts towards him? How many more hurricanes or earthquakes must God unleash from his storehouse of wrath before we as a nation have our attention focused to our Master, like the proverbial mule who must be clobbered with a 2 by 4 before his stubborn distraction is overcome? God judges in increasing increments of warning; what will it take to get your attention? God’s patience is not infinite, at a time of his own choosing he will stop warning and completely destroy. At a point and capacity of his own secret measure, his tolerance of America’s rebellion and rejection of Him will be full. Then he will destroy us completely; then, you, too, will all perish!

“This is what the Lord says, ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry to me, I will not listen to them…do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress.” Jeremiah 11:11,12

Has America reached this point of no return? Are we at that place where God will bring upon us utter and complete annihilation regardless of what we say or do? Is America a place for which God will command his people not to pray for nor offer petition and plea? Most Americans can hardly believe that the God of the Bible can be like this, but that is because most Americans, while they say they believe the Bible is the word of God, cannot cite more than one or two of the 10 commandments, do not know who preached the sermon on the mount, and believe that “God helps them who help themselves” is actually in the Bible. In other words, they do not really know the God of the Bible nor do they know how and when God is judging us even now. We will know whether God is finished with us when one of two things obtains: when we either repent or experience a reformation of life and faith or else when God brings our rickety stance to a complete fall and destruction. We will know when either of these things happens. Both are radical differences from the status quo, but it is obvious that business as usual will only end in sudden, complete, sputtering death. It will be a surprise, a shock, a wonder, but – as the Bible makes very clear – a certainty that takes no prophet to foresee. O Christian, are your eyes open?

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