Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Isaiah 5 as a warning to America

Isaiah Chapter 5 - What Can America Learn From Isaiah?

The following is from the 5th chapter of Isaiah. It begins with a parable of a vineyard - Israel, in this case Judah, and then explains God's case against the kingdom of Judah. The similarities between ancient Judah and present day America are....  Interesting. Following the Biblical Text I have pointed out what we can learn from God's dealings with rebellious Judah.

Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:
My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill. He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes. “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, Did it bring forth wild grapes?

And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: 
I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will lay it waste; It shall not be pruned or dug, But there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds That they rain no rain on it.” For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for  help.

Woe to those who join house to house; They add field to field, Till there  is no place Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land! In my hearing the Lord of hosts said, “Truly, many houses shall be desolate, Great and beautiful ones, without inhabitant. For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, And a homer of seed shall yield one ephah.” Woe to those who rise early in the morning, That they may follow intoxicating drink; Who continue until night, till wine inflames them! The harp and the strings, The tambourine and flute, And wine are in their feasts; But they do not regard the work of the Lord , Nor consider the operation of His hands.

Therefore my people have gone into captivity, Because they  have no knowledge; Their honorable men are famished, And their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore Sheol has enlarged itself And opened its mouth beyond measure; Their glory and their multitude and their pomp, And he who is jubilant, shall descend into it. People shall be brought down, Each man shall be humbled, And the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled. But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, And God who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness. Then the lambs shall feed in their pasture, And in the waste places of the fat ones strangers shall eat.

Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, And sin as if with a cart rope; That say, “Let Him make speed and hasten His work, That we may see it; And let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, That we may know it. 
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those  who  are  wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man!*
 Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, And the flame consumes the chaff, So  their root will be as rottenness, And their blossom will ascend like dust; Because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Therefore the anger of the Lord is aroused against His people; He has stretched out His hand against them And stricken them, And the hills trembled. Their carcasses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still. 
He will lift up a banner to the nations from afar, And will whistle to them from the end of the earth; Surely they shall come with speed, swiftly. No one will be weary or stumble among them, No one will slumber or sleep; Nor will the belt on their loins be loosed, Nor the strap of their sandals be broken; Whose arrows are sharp, And all their bows bent; Their horses’ hooves will seem like flint, And their wheels like a whirlwind. Their roaring will  be like a lion, They will roar like young lions; Yes, they will roar And lay hold of the prey; They will carry it away safely, And no one will deliver. In that day they will roar against them Like the roaring of the sea. And if one  looks to the land, Behold, darkness and sorrow; And the light is darkened by the clouds.

Various authors and Bible Scholars have, of late, begun to draw comparisons to Israel's covenant relationship with God and the founding of this Nation and the founders dedication of the newly minted Country to the service of God at Fall's Church. I'm not sure how much this applies since, with the advent of Christ we are now under grace through faith in Messiah, Jesus. Nevertheless, covenant or not God is not idle in the face of sin and rebellion.

One thing that is unquestionably certain is that God's nature does not change. Ever. Knowing that we can safely (I believe)  conclude that when a Nation that has benefited from a rare and special blessing - not necessarily a Covenant but certainly a blessing. I believe that this blessing was based on the Nation's Founders dedication of the Country to Biblical principles and promise of humble obedience to Christ's commandments to love God with all your heart, mind, soul & strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. It stands to reason, and is entirely consistent with God's nature to bless and continue to bless a peoples who Governed and lived according His will and purpose.

However, once this nation made it legal to murder babies in the womb - essentially sacrificing them on the alter of convenience, it set the country up for judgment. Again, God's nature would seem to dictate that if He chose to bless a peoples for their obedience He would certainly, at the very least, cease blessing them in the face of rebellion. Ever since Roe v Wade this Nation has moved further away from God. With every step away from God the rate at which our society has moved toward sin and ungodliness has increased exponentially until here we are today - an almost completely secular, amoral and perverted version of what we should have been. If Roe v Wade can be considered America's first truly ungodly act of rebellion and Idolatry, then Obama's support for same sex marriage and the country's acceptance of the Supreme Court's decision on the subject must be seen as the final signal that God no longer has a place in the governance of this Nation.

Additionally, our popular culture has made it abundantly clear that a large and growing segment of our population not only reject God, but they deny He even exists. When references are made to God or Christianity they are contemptuous, vituperative and blasphemous. And, the Gulf has widened to the point that in a country that was founded on the free exercise of religion, Christians are coming under persecution for their very faith while Islam, an ideology one would think our free wheeling culture would reject outright, is welcomed unquestioningly with open arms. 

Our God is loving and long suffering. He is also Holy and Righteous and He will not withhold judgment forever. I believe we have been seeing the fruits of this for some time. It is naive to think that the change in fortunes this country has experienced over the past decades are coincidence. There is no such thing. Everything from our decades of economic disasters which have led to a mountainous debt to Sept 11 to our modern version of wicked king Ahab - Barack Obama -  all speak of judgment. Judgment for turning the nation's back on God and worse: Idolatry, for what else would you call the sickening and degenerate spectacles of the various music awards shows or our societal need for every gadget and gizmo under the sun. We have gone from a national witness to the greatness of the true and living God and His Son, Jesus Christ, to the purveyors of the greatest blasphemy against Christianity.

We have taken the blessings of God which propelled this country to the very pinnacle of wealth and power and then spat in God's face as we denied Him any part in His creation. Instead the country worshiped itself at the alter of child sacrifice while the people wallowed in every kind of sin, each doing what was right in his own eye. Exercising their new found place in the popular culture, Sodomites used bullying and a sycophantic media to assault each and every tradition that celebrated the Church, morality and family until finally the final and deadliest blow was struck. At the very height of hubris the highest court of the land, thinking itself superior to God Himself, sought to change the nature of that which was created by God to be the mortar by which man and wife, and thereby the family unit, were bound together, as well as a testimony to the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Church. The sacred bond of Marriage.

 With the degradation of the Holy Covenant of Marriage came an onslaught of persecution and hate towards Christians, particularly those who would not compromise their faith in the face of this new and Satanic weapon forged by the Supreme Court. Yes, I said Satanic. While the country was walking according to Christian principles I believe that, just as described in Job, God placed a hedge around it, protecting it and forbidding Satan to molest this national witness to Christ. As our behavior became more and more godless the hedge began to die and soon it was full of gaps and holes allowing all manner of evil to sneak through. God did not kill the Hedge. Our sin did. However, because of our sin and rebellion God, in my opinion, allowed us to kill it. Free will you know...

With the death of the hedge America has found itself suddenly being exposed to the forces of darkness other pagan peoples had dealt with for years. This has even shown up in the headlines of our major media.  In the past decade the call for Exorcisms has gone up by several hundred percent. Strange incidents such as the case in Indiana of demonic activity which was witnessed by police, emergency personnel, even DCS case workers are becoming more and more prevalent not to mention the rise in Satan worship,  which has come out of the shadows to become a "legitimate" religion, going so far as to erect a nine foot statue of a goat headed figure adorned with Satanic symbolism being worshiped by two young children in downtown Detroit. Then, there is the sudden surge of violence. Adolescents killing their parents and unable to remember why or how, teens bringing guns and explosives to school intent on killing everyone. Groups of blacks singling out at beating elderly white people to death, even raping the elderly women. Our media inexplicably covering up for these crimes and for crimes by Muslim Jihadists. Our Govt refuses to secure our borders leaving us wide open to attack yet for some strange reason no one seems able to act. Surely Satan is laughing.

Dear readers,  America is under judgment by almighty God and rightly so. It would be foolish to think that God would simply overlook such overt and contentious rebellion.

Psalm 66:7
He rules by His might forever; His eyes keep watch on the nations; Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.

"If you will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God. "If you will not listen to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the command of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers.

Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

This does not mean that the country is doomed, that nothing can be done. We know that our God is loving and full of mercy and grace. As individual Christians we each have our own intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and that despite the darkness overtaking the Nation, individually our hope is secure. Not only is our Eternity safe in the hands of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but we have God's promise to protect us from the evil one - our own personal hedge I imagine. However now more than ever the Church, meaning all true believers of Jesus Christ - for we are all members of the same body - can no longer be satisfied with our current role in today's society. The church must become active in the political arena as well as taking a stand against our popular culture and the media. For too long we have been satisfied with supporting our missionaries overseas, helping the local community with various good works and so forth. All these are worthy activities and must continue. But we must do more.

In the late 70's and early 80's Jerry Falwell's moral majority wielded tremendous influence because of the sheer numbers of voters - Christian voters - they represented. If some city were considering legislation that was in conflict with Biblical principles they could amass thousands to protest and more to write and call their legislators. They were a force to be reckoned with.

Today there are a number of smaller organizations but they lack the sheer numbers of Falwell's organisation. If we can put aside our petty differences, focus simply on the Gospel Truths and the Resurrection and unite the body under a single banner - imagine the influence the body of CHRIST could have on politics, legislation, abortion, even things that seem mundane but are still important, such as movie ratings, the smut currently permitted on network television, evolution in the schools and on and on. The Church has the numbers but we are divided quite often more by tradition than doctrine. If you agree with what I have written, please, join me in prayer asking the Lord to speak to the hearts of the leadership of the various Church coalitions throughout this nation. Ask, that, if it is His will, that he would bring them together in fellowship and unite them in a single unit in accordance with His will.

I believe America is ripe for a revival if a large enough mass of witnesses were to come forth in unity proclaiming the Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ and lovingly pointing out why it is imperative that the Nation turn from its Sin, humble themselves and pray, seeking God's face. Why they must turn from their wicked ways and be saved. Revival can happen, the harvest is ripe but the workers are scattered.

Father God, if it be your will, raise up out of your body, an army of witnesses who can put their doctrinal differences aside and unite under the truth of the Gospel and the Resurrection. Send them forth, Lord, to teach the people of this Nation where they have erred and why it is so important that they repent and seek salvation in Christ Jesus. May your Holy Spirit go before them opening the hearts of sinners. Let your will be done Father. It is in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen

2 Chronicles 7:14
 If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.

*emphasis is mine

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Trump Question

The Trump Question

I know that right now Donald Trump is riding on a high of public opinion in this run up to the Republican Primary. His popularity is undeniable, transcending race, rich, poor, even political affiliation. Why?

To me the answer is simple: He says and does what people have been wanting from their Representatives for years. Unlike the typical candidate, when someone from the press or one of his opponents says something negative or derogatory about Trump or his campaign, true or not, he doesn't just politely protest. Instead he aggressively goes on the verbal attack, changing the focus to his opponent who he then typically insults. Often his responses are humorous. Getting people to laugh at your opponent or the issue or accusation, even if it is truthful, basically negates it.

Trump has made this an art. Scolding the media, even the moderators during the debates. He is bombastic and bullying. The reason this seems so refreshing to people is that for years Conservatives, particularly Christians have been singled out by a biased media. Instead of aggressively fighting back against biased statements or insinuations prior candidates, and even many of those running this very year, knuckle under, afraid to confront their opponent or interviewer. Trump has been well schooled in this in the Shark tank of multi-billion dollar business. Making the kind of deals he does and dealing with corrupt govt. officials, greedy real estate agents, incompetent contractors and banks wanting a piece of every dollar Trump has had to develop a kill or be killed method of making the deal. This translates well to the campaign format. It makes him formidable in the area of tit for tat media politicking.

Most of the media and few candidates have had that experience in dealing in an aggressive and intentionally confrontational manner. In fact, until now, Republicans have always shied away from confrontation fearing a public backlash. Trump doesn't care and he is willing to go in front of the American people and completely lambast a popular media personality such as Megyn Kelly. Because he is able to dominate the narrative - successfully portraying himself as the injured party by bulldozing through the media's attempt at damage control and forcing the issue - he is able to win the public opinion.

But what about the man. What kind of man is he and what kind of President will he make?

I admit, I have grave concerns in this area. Mr. Trump likes to boast of his accomplishments and his arrogance is undeniable. I have never heard him give credit to God for his success or his talents. Trump is perfectly happy to take all the credit and then some. Also, while his confrontational manner may be beneficial at this point as he slogs his way through the mud slinging of the left and even his own party how will it serve him when he is dealing with Vlad Putin over the placement of nuclear missile launchers? When his decisions are questioned will he listen to experienced council or bulldoze through. Most importantly, does he consult with the Lord? Ever?

Another significant problem is that when it comes to our government, the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Federalist Papers, our military and its chain of command, the separation of powers and on and on - Trump has little or no clue. His entire focus has been on business. Now, his knowledge of the law regarding trade, commerce, taxation etc. seems sound. But there is more to governance than business law and the board room. I am concerned that the learning curve with Mr. Trump will be such that issues which will require his immediate attention and action will languish as he tries to get up to speed. This is bound to be compounded by his arrogance and air of 'knowing enough already'.

Part of this is not his fault. Obama, when he leaves, will have left our country tottering on the edge of a precipice. One wrong move and WWIII will erupt with us the target of Russia, China and Iran. We have a financial time bomb with seconds left on the clock and our nation is socially divided to a degree not seen since the civil war.

His fault or not the challenges facing the next President will require finesse, sound judgment and a mature and calculating thought process. It will require a statesman who knows when to bend and when to strike.

Mr. Trump is a shrewd businessman. I see little if any of the statesman in him. Instead, I see a thin skinned braggart who retaliates by calling people names and when faced with legitimate criticism, changes the subject to his many accomplishments. I see a man who calls himself a Christian but does not  behave like one. All this said you might think I don't care for Trump. That is not true. As I listed earlier he has some important qualities that will serve him and the country well if he is elected. I certainly would take him over any of the Democratic candidates any day. However, I have my concerns. I also have concerns with the other candidates. The only real contender is a man I do not feel is Constitutionally eligible for the position - Ted Cruz. However, it must be noted that the Democrats rammed Mr. Obama through who, even excluding evidence his citizenship was surrendered when he lived in Indonesia, is still, Constitutionally, not a natural born citizen of the United States (his father was not a US citizen). However, because the Democrats ignored the Constitution does not make it appropriate to make exceptions for Mr. Cruz who was born in Canada.

Ultimately we must place our faith in God as we prayerfully consider our choice in this Primary. As citizens of a country where it is incumbent on the civilian populace to decide on who will represent us, we must engage in the process. Christians must not use the excuse of "the Church doesn't have a place in politics." Well, in a Representative Democracy that is not true at all. In fact it is the DUTY of the Church to help the people in making a Biblically Sound decision not just on Candidates, but on legislation as well. For too many years the Church has remained silent, now look at the moral condition of this country!

It is time for a new Moral Majority to sound out on the issues - wielding the influence of the millions of Christian voters in this country - to check the moral decline in this country and its government and hold our Representatives accountable. 

I will close with scripture:

James 4:16 New King James Version (NKJV)
16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

Jeremiah 9:23,24  New King James Version (NKJV)
23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Psalm 49:6-9 New King James Version (NKJV)
Those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the multitude of their riches,
None of them can by any means redeem his brother,
Nor give to God a ransom for him—
For the redemption of their souls is costly,
And it shall cease forever—
That he should continue to live eternally,
And not see the Pit.

Proverbs 28:26 New King James Version (NKJV)
26 Those who trust in themselves are fools
but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

Psalms 146:3 New King James Version (NKJV)
Do not put your trust in princes,
nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.