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I was in Conroe, Texas, Sunday morning, Sept. 11 this year, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I spoke and sang in two services in the large First Baptist Church, and made the following verses from the prophet Isaiah my theme:
As for Israel, within 65 years it will be crushed and completely destroyed. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.
– Isaiah 7:8,9
I was referring to the period in Israel’s history when the people had largely abandoned God, and the prophet had been given the assignment of pronouncing God’s reluctant judgment on them. I went on to draw analogies to the many serious ways in which we Americans have allowed ourselves to drift from under God’s protection and guidance – and are reaping tragic and ominous results, just like the people of Israel.
To my goose-bumpy amazement – with no previous consultation between myself and the admirable minister at First Baptist, Mark Denison – I heard him start with the same theme, but drawing his analogies from the prophet Jeremiah!
I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me, and followed me through the desert.
– Jeremiah 2:2
Starting from 9/11/2001, Mark detailed these sad, alarming facts:
- Average wealth of an American has fallen from No. 1 in the world to No. 7.
- We have lost 42,000 factories and 32 percent of our manufacturing jobs.
- Our high schools have dropped to the bottom half in the world in math and science.
- Only 57 percent of our children live with both parents.
- 50 percent pay zero taxes while complaining that the other 50 percent “don’t pay their fair share.”
- There have been 12 million additional abortions.
- Our national credit rating has been lowered for the first time in history.
- “Save and invest” has become “borrow and spend.”
- And most recently, not one evangelical Christian was invited to be a part of the Washington Cathedral service to commemorate 9/11 (though Buddhists were invited).
Pastor Mark went on then to refer to America as “the new Judah” (because history does repeat itself, and the Bible declares that the history of Israel was recorded for our example). Judah’s fall took 40 years from the time Jeremiah began to prophesy. Then Mark asked, “What happened 40 years ago in America?”
- Roe v. Wade was settled in 1973, legalizing abortion on demand.
- The result has been some 50 million legalized abortions in America.
- When we inaugurate the next president (Jan. 2013), it will have been 40 years since this horrific event, triggering and signifying the most profound moral and spiritual decline in our history.
Then, in one of the most alarming and revealing analyses I’ve ever heard, Mark detailed the glaring signs of this decline, starting with:
- Ungodly leadership. In Israel, it was successive Israeli kings: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and finally Zedekiah.
“The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah, and through the reign of Jehoiakim, down to Zedekiah” ( Jeremiah 1:2,3).
- Forsaking God. “My people have abandoned me – the fountain of living water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
- 87 percent of Americans believe in God, but only 36 percent attempt to live by His word.
- There’s a 58 percent decline in church attendance among those under 30.
- More teens have dabbled in witchcraft this year than have attended a single Christian church service.
- Only 20 percent of Americans attend church on any given Sunday.
- Moral collapse. “Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me” (Jeremiah 2:22).
- Only 35 percent say sex before marriage is wrong.
- Only 49 percent question the morality of homosexual behavior and actions.
- Living together, unmarried, has increased 1,100 percent since 1960.
- Pornography is a $14 billion industry in America! More is spent on pornography than on movies and sporting events combined.
- There are 100,000 pornography websites. Playboy and Penthouse outsell Time and Newsweek.
- 20 percent of those under 30 have sexually transmitted diseases.
- Reliance on foreign lands. “You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria” (Jeremiah 2:36).
- We now import 60 percent of our oil, making us dependent on Mideast enemies while leaving our vast reserves in the ground.
- Our trade deficit is $50 billion, each and every month.
- We spend $4 on Chinese goods for every $1 they spend on ours.
There was much more sobering analysis in Pastor Mark’s sermon, but I conclude with this summation:
- Today, China is Babylon – and America is Judah.
- We borrow money from China to buy things made in China – and build up the nation of China.
- Our national debt is approaching $15 trillion. No way to pay it off.
- This hour, we’ll accumulate $170 million in new debt. We borrow 40 percent of what we spend, and each of us now owes $50,000 as his part of that debt.
History confirms that Israel lost God’s protection and was taken into abject slavery in Babylon, having ignored Jeremiah for 40 years. Could they have avoided that catastrophe? And can we escape their fate?
Again, hear the prophet Jeremiah:
“If you repent, I will restore you” (Jeremiah15:19).
Our response? The same that Judah and all Israel failed to make:
“The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time. Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Can you imagine it? If we the people, at least the majority of us, actually got serious and called out to God, really tried to clean up our lives and behavior, and again sought His wisdom, we might surely find the cure for cancer, the miraculous new source of energy, restore our Judeo-Christian republic, reduce poverty, prejudice and injustice – and receive “great and unsearchable things” we will never know otherwise.
But here’s the catch, as the equally prescient and powerful prophet Isaiah relayed from God Himself:
“Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.”