Sometimes I fear that we, as a nation, look at things much like Israel of old did. What is the basis of our security and national strength? We do have grand cathedrals, and most Americans are quick to pray to God during times of national tragedy. Though the atheists and agnostics among us don't care for it, the majority of Americans are pleased and do feel more secure when we respond to crises by "calling on the name of the Lord", each in his own way. Many think we are safer because of this. But some of this confidence has eroded due to the prevailing culture wars. Believers in the fundamentals of the faith are the butt of much negative treatment in the media while their enemies are protected and exalted. There has been quite a change in this over time; 2008 saw much more of it than did 1958!
That attitude of self-sufficiency without God is much like ancient Israel. Consider the prophet Jeremiah's message:
3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, "Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.
4 "Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.'
5 "For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor,
6 if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin,
7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.
8 "Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail.
9 "Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known,
10 then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, "We are delivered!' -- that you may do all these abominations?
The temple and the Law and the sacrifices were precious things, but nothing can substitute for sincere devotion of the heart of the people. No one should ever be satisfied with a surface religion hiding sins and carnality underneath. The only way to build on the Rock is to obey the Lord from the heart.
May God bless you in 2009; and may God bless America with a greater national awareness of our need for Him and a greater awareness and willingness to repent to those things that will ultimately kill us.
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 16.1 January 2009