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Thursday, July 1, 2010

The United States in Prophecy - Part 3

We have seen that the destiny of nations is determined by how they respond to God and the gospel light He graciously shines on them. We have also seen that the future Tribulation presents some trying times for nations and the people in those nations. An early church father said You have to know the poison before you can prescribe the antidote. In order to know what can be done for our nation to spare it a trying future, we need to see how nations fall, how nations decline and ultimately are destroyed.

Sodom: An Example of How a Nation Falls

Sodom was a city-state that was notorious for its homosexual promiscuity (Gen. 18-19). Sodom was ultimately destroyed by God. But Sodom was not judged by God simply because of its immorality. Sodom’s immoral homosexual conduct was a symptom of a deeper problem. Through the prophet Ezekiel God tells us of the root problems that led to Sodom’s downfall. In Ezekiel it states:

· Ezekiel 16:49 - 49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

In this passage God is comparing the degradation of His people with that of Sodom. In the process He notes four root problems that led to the downfall of Sodom. God used Sodom as a measuring rod for nations that would be judged by Him. He did this with Israel and it can also be applied to any and all nations. What were these four characteristics of Sodom that led to God’s judgment?

First, national pride. Pride in the presence of God was Satan’s sin (Is. 14; Ezek. 28). There is nothing wrong with patriotism. But when a nation becomes proud, forgetting that all that they have comes from God, that is a major problem. The Bible states that pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

In America today a debate is going on in the courts as to whether a National Day of Prayer is constitutional or not. We are a nation where there is less and less prayer. Prayerlessness is a symptom of pride. Pride is defined by its middle letter “I.” The sense of it is I can do it. I don’t need any help. I’ll do it my way. If prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God, prayerlessness is a declaration of independence from God. But all a nation has comes from God (Deut. 8:18; Ps. 127:1; Prov. 8:18; 10:22). Failing to recognize that makes a nation ungrateful and proud before the Lord. On its own, without the Lord, a nation will fall. National pride is the first and most significant step in the downfall of a nation.

Second, self satisfaction. Sodom had “fullness of bread.” She was self satisfied with her lush surroundings and fruitfulness. Bible teacher Jon Courson makes the following comment: “Like Sodom, we have fullness of bread but leanness of soul. Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Now, however, our country says simply, “Give me.” We want more and more and more. With our money, we have done mighty things. But the more we have, the less happy we have become, as evidenced, among other places, by our drug and alcohol consumption, song lyrics, and the subjects of our movies and literature.”[1]

Third, idleness. With its fruitfulness established Sodom slacked off and became a country of recreation. The Sodomite’s idleness and lack of purpose led to immorality and perversity such as homosexuality. The United States, like Sodom, is a nation that has become more obsessed with sports, entertainment, and recreation than industry and focus on the Lord. We have also become a nation that is more and more sympathetic to the homosexual agenda. Someone has said that idle time is the devil’s workshop. We are a nation that spends more and more time in front of our TVs, computers, and other electronic devices rather than spending time with the Lord.

Fourth, neglect of the needy. Sodom had become so self-absorbed that it neglected the needy around them. It wasn’t that Sodom didn’t give to the needy. It was that they didn’t “strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” They didn’t invest in and help the needy to find practical ways out of their situations. They didn’t have time for the needy. They were too busy with their idle recreational activities.

Later in the book of Ezekiel the LORD enumerates the sins of Israel that led to her captivity. These sins give further characteristics of a nation that will fall. In Ezekiel 22 the following list of sins of Israel are given:

1. Shedding blood – a devaluation of the sanctity of life (Ezek. 22:1-5). Israel had forsaken God and adopted the pagan gods of the surrounding peoples. These pagan gods such as Moloch incorporated human sacrifice and often child sacrifice. For this God judged His people. Today our nation murders 1.5 to 2 million babies a year through abortion. Can we be surprised if God’s judgment falls on us?

2. Corrupt politicians (Ezek. 22:6, 12, 27). The leaders of Israel were guilty of shedding innocent blood and taking bribes. In the United States we see a myriad of scandals amongst the ranks and file of our politicians. Financial abuses, misuse of position, personal profiteering, immorality aplenty, and disregard for constituencies is commonly found in the leaders of our government. From presidents on down scandal is found. This is s symptom of a departure from the Lord.

3. Devaluing family (Ezek. 22:7a). Fathers and mothers were mocked. Traditional marriage is being assailed. Daily and persistent efforts are being forced to expand the definition of marriage to include same sex marriage. Divorce is rampant. Family breakups and breakdowns are more common than ever in the United States.

4. Oppression and mistreatment of the stranger (alien), fatherless and widow (Ezek. 22:7b). The United States has always been a haven for foreigners. There is a serious immigration problem in our country today. It needs to be solved justly but also with an eye of mercy toward the stranger in the land.

5. Profaning God’s holy things – irreligiousity (Ezek. 22:8). In Israel people lost an appreciation for the holy things of God. In the United States anyone who believes in Jesus and the Bible is caricatured and mocked in the media as buffoons. Bible believing Christians are being more and more marginalized and verbally persecuted. Secularism and false religion is prevalent. There is little to no sense of the holiness of God in the land.

6. Lewdness, perversion, immorality (Ezek 22:9-11). Pornographic images taken from pagan cultures were adopted by God’s people. Pornography and every form of perversity are rampant in the United States today. Gay Pride parades where homosexuals, transvestites, transgender and other perverse groups parade themselves haughtily and seek acceptability in society today.

7. Corrupt religious leaders (Ezek. 22:23-26, 28). The Roman Catholic Church reels from its epidemic of pedophile and homosexual priests. Many TV preachers fleece the flock of God. Occult, cult and outright demonic groups are on the rise today and attaining legitimacy in our country.

8. A populace that is oppressive and steals (Ezek. 22:29). Israel became a nation of thieves. The United States government can’t account for a large proportion of its cash flow in this country. We are a country that is bending and near breaking under the burden of taxes.

9. A people that is unavailable and uninterested in being used by God (Ezek. 22:30). Israel was not interested in seeking the Lord for its problems. Today in the United States church prayer meetings are the worst attended of all church meetings; if you can find a church that has them.

10. A nation that is judged by God (Ezek. 22:31). Israel was sent into captivity by the Lord. If the United States continues down this present road away from the Lord, its future is bleak.

Certainly when we look at Sodom and Israel and the characteristics they had before their fall we can unfortunately see that the United States is just as guilty of sin as these fallen countries were. Like the Babylonian king Belshazzar, the finger of God has written an indictment against our nation (Dan. 5). If God judged Israel for their sin, we can expect God, with whom there is no partiality (Rom. 2:11), to judge all nations for their sin, including the United States of America.

But there is hope. With God there is always hope. The scriptures were written to give us hope and to lead us to the God of hope (Rom. 15:4, 13). In the next part of our study on The United States in Prophecy we will answer the question what can we do for our nation? Keep praying for our country and don’t be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.

[1]Courson, J. (2006). Jon Courson's application commentary : Volume two : Psalms-Malachi (635). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

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