by David C. Grabbe
CGG Weekly, December 19, 2003
"The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions."
The apostle Paul gave a warning to the church at Thessalonica that we would do well to heed:
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (I Thessalonians 5:2-3)
Far from being a reference to Sunday—or the Sabbath, for that matter—the "Day of the Lord" is when Jesus Christ returns, overthrows the governments of the earth and anyone else opposing Him, and establishes His Kingdom on earth. Though the ultimate end will be happy, the Day of the Lord signifies a great deal of calamity and destruction!
Those who believe in a sovereign God know that military might, offensive or defensive, is of relatively small value. God protects whom He chooses to protect, and He destroys whom He wills to destroy. The size of the armies was irrelevant when Gideon's 300 men conquered 120,000. Physical stature mattered not when David brought down Goliath. The Empire of Egypt was all but eliminated without Israel so much as raising a sword. Even Satan was powerless to harm Job—until God lessened His protective hedge. This may be impossible for secular Americans to grasp, and even difficult for religious Americans to comprehend, if they do not take God at His Word. But from these examples it is evident that neither size nor skill of armies is relevant. What is relevant is God's will. What matters is which side God is on.
How much longer will God be on our side? How long until our sins—national and individual—demand a reckoning?
There is little doubt that America is on top of the world right now. Economically and militarily, we are essentially unchallenged. Ancient Israel, too, was at the height of her power when God saw fit to allow her to be conquered. Her wealth and her armies could not save her, just as America's power will not save America if God's will is to the contrary. If God be against us, who can be for us? As history repeats itself, the same stench that arose from ancient Israel is now wafting up from modern America.
The book of Amos records an almost exact parallel account to what is happening in our day. It chronicles the social, political, economic, military, and religious conditions and attitudes prevalent in ancient Israel in about 760 BC. This was about forty years before Assyria invaded and completely devastated the nation. So awesome was Israel's defeat that, as far as the world is concerned, her people disappeared from history and are now considered the "Lost" Ten Tribes of Israel.
What were ancient Israel's sins? Ezekiel 20 lays the charges of idolatry and Sabbath-breaking at their feet. Amos goes into great detail in describing greed, materialism, pride, oppression of the weak, perverted justice, an overall moral degeneracy, and a religion that allowed them to feel good about themselves even while bringing in heavy elements of paganism. They were complacent about immorality—within themselves or in the culture at large—because of their wealth. They were "rich, and increased with goods," and by their own accounting they needed nothing—physically or spiritually. Are things so different today? Are we not mistaking our physical blessings as signs of God's acceptance of our behavior?
This nation collectively crowed over the capture of Saddam Hussein. But have not more human beings been killed in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade than at Hussein's command? This is not a defense of Hussein, but a questioning of this nation's appropriation of the moral high ground.
God truly is merciful. But He is also just, and in being just He cannot allow blatant sins against Himself or His creation—of which mankind is preeminent—to continue indefinitely. Without national repentance, there will be national calamity. Using ancient Israel as a guide, being the world's sole superpower matters not a whit if God is against us. In this past year, decade, and century, there has been a steadily increasing moral decline that is begging for attention.
Our biggest threat was not Saddam Hussein, nor is it Osama bin Laden, or any state. Our biggest threat is our own proclivity to trample on the instructions and the intentions of the Sovereign who decides the fate of nations.