Thursday, May 11, 2006

The World Today (3)

This is part 3 of chapter 9 of my book, Biblical Glasses.

Should Biblical and post-Biblical history affect us today?

Biblical history has already explained a great deal about our times; however, I lack ample space to discuss every detail of Biblical history that can be applied to our day. Nevertheless, several important connections are critical to mention.

First of all, the Bible shows that God used a patriarchy to bring about His chosen people. God intended for a patriarchal system of leadership from the beginning, especially spiritually. The family, as the one constant throughout all of time, is one of God’s primary instruments in causing His will to occur!

Israel was founded under a covenant made between its father, Abraham, and God, the Father of all. America, in a sense like Israel, was also established by founding fathers, under theistic principles and godly guidance. The patriarchy served as the means by which both Israel and America progressed. When the family fell apart in Old Testament Israel, the nation struggled. Consider the state of Israel under King David prior to his adultery with Bathsheba. Israel had not seen better times! After David’s adultery, familial struggles developed and ultimately led to Israel’s downfall.

The same has been true for America. The family, with Christ as the Head of Household, was America’s primary stronghold for many of her early years. Just as God cares for us as our Father, which He always will do, so the typical American father cared for his family. When divorce became prevalent, when parents decided that their desires (fueled by the sin nature) were of more value than God’s desires, when single mothers were forced to go it alone due to irresponsible fathers, the family disintegrated.

The teaching of morality, ethics, and spirituality was neglected by parents, who lacked these virtues themselves, and left instead for the public schools; now these values are practically gone, mainly because the father does not teach and discipline his children. But God teaches and disciplines His nation! God wants our priorities to be as follows: God first, spouse second, children third, and all other concerns—including job and hobbies—later. This is the way it was meant to be.

Since we just discussed the family, this is an appropriate place to discuss the role of women. Women’s rights have come a long way in twentieth century America, and rightly so! Women are men’s equal and often their superior in many aspects of everyday life. However, the Bible is clear on the role of women in two particular places within society.

First, within the marriage relationship, women are to submit to their husbands. This is not on account of inability or weakness; rather, it is because of the husband’s ordained responsibility to provide both materially and spiritually for his family. The Bible says: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Husbands are expected to submit also to their wives, loving them as Christ loves the Church. Christ sacrificially gave up His life for His Church, so husbands must be willing to do the same for their wives. The Bible says: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). It is difficult neither for a woman to submit to and respect her loving and spiritually nurturing husband, nor for that kind of husband to “love his wife as he loves himself” (Ephesians 5:33).

Second, women have defined roles within the Church. Women can contribute a significant amount to the progress of the Church, and again, their contributions are often greater than those of men. But women are not to be preachers within the Church. These Biblical guidelines may not be politically correct in today’s culture, but the Bible must not fall subject to society, as has unfortunately been the case within many liberal churches today.

Next, we see from Biblical history that God expects nations on which He bestows His abundant blessings to follow Him closely. Israel was expected to keep God’s laws and to carry the message about God to all the nations of the world. God would bless all nations through His chosen nation, Israel, which He has done in the Person of Jesus Christ. However, Israel did not live up to its end of the deal (as is most often the case in a covenant with God—only God is faithful); Israel disobeyed God’s laws and stumbled over the message it was supposed to spread. It failed to recognize the joy it was given and instead created its own false pleasures.

America has made strides in the work of the Great Commission to proclaim the message of the Gospel to all nations. Missionaries from American churches have been sent throughout the world, and lives have certainly been changed for the better. At the same time, America as a nation has become increasingly unfaithful to her Creator. Just as Old Testament Israel mocked God by worshipping idols, America mocks God as well, by breaking His laws.

When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but [on January 23, 1996], this is what they heard:

‘Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says: ‘Woe to those who call evil good’ [Isaiah 5:20], but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and
called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of Your will and to openly ask these things in the name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus
Christ. Amen!’

The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In six short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Reverend Wright is pastor, logged more than 5000 phone calls with only forty-seven of those calls responding negatively. The church is now
receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa, and Korea. Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, The Rest of the Story, and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired. With the Lord’s help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and whole heartedly become our desire so that we again can be called ‘one nation under God.’

Today a prayer like this one makes people uncomfortable. The Gospel today is not politically correct, but we must acknowledge that it never has been. Even in Old Testament Israel, people wanted to stray from God. In fact, since the fall of Adam, man has been a slave to the sin nature, denying the Holy Spirit and the message of the Gospel. The Bible says: “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant” (Isaiah 24:5).

In her infancy, America called on God before every decision, but not today. As it stands, our nation has lost sight of both God’s character and the seriousness of sin. The wealth of America has led to comfort, complacency, and lukewarm spirituality. Jesus said:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of My mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked (Revelation 3:15-17).
Third, Biblical history has shown that when nations blessed by God fall away from Him, it is usually on account of pride. Old Testament Israel reveled in its own glory, forgot about God, and relied on itself; on her own, America will do the same. Psalm 10:4 effectively says: “In pride the wicked do not seek God; in all their thoughts there is no room for Him.”

As mentioned earlier, America was undeniably founded on theistic principles. Our nation, from her lowly conception, had plenty of room for God, boasting not in her own accomplishments, but in God’s. America, prior to the mid-to-late twentieth century, had always been a proud, growing nation, wearing the kind of pride that thanks God for abundant blessings and safekeeping. The kind of pride mighty America now wears looks beyond God; it is all about the self. Isaiah 2:17 says: “The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.”

Everywhere you look, post-modern America encourages self, self, self. “Make your life whatever you want it to be!” The liberal media certainly encourages this mentality. Manmade religions certainly encourage this state of mind. But Christianity is all about God. Christianity encourages selflessness. “Make your life whatever God wants it to be!”

But what does God want your life to be? The world says, “Don’t worry, be happy.” The Bible says, “Don’t worry, be holy.” Our fast-paced society does not want to stop and think about the implications of humanism; people just want to follow the idea, “If it feels good, do it.” Since they feel it is okay to follow this idea, they presume, because America is a melting pot of different cultures, values, and ideals, it is okay for others as well. (This is today’s form of tolerance.)

Why is America just easing into post-modernism? Why only remove under God from the Pledge of Allegiance? Why not go ahead and remove God altogether from our nation. It has been done in public schools! Why not remove Him from our currency, our court systems, and our Congress? If the path America is heading down is not the wrong direction, if it is indeed the best way to go, why not go all out? Why not sprint down this path if it leads to greatness? If, on the other hand, it is sin, and America is willing to accept the consequences, why not sin boldly? Mighty America is proud today, because many of her people think her success has been all about her, but God said: “I will put an end to the pride of the mighty” (Ezekiel 7:24). America must repent, which Old Testament Israel did not do. Andree Seu said:

Be not proud, for we only ride the residual morality of our greater fathers, whose godly foundations are nibbled away at daily. Nevertheless, be not ignorant either of the recurring fact of history that wherever a nation has been tempered by the Word of God—be it ancient Israel or modern America—that nation is held to a higher standard. When she falls short of it, she is reviled by all. When she meets it, she is not praised, for it was only expected.
How true it is that America is held to a different standard—not just by God, but by the entire world! America is expected to perform and conform to higher expectations. The United States has eased the suffering of many a nation and many a people, but there is indeed still suffering, even in our own great nation.

When America lost just fewer than 2800 people on September 11, 2001, we thought, “What a horrific tragedy!” And rightly so! However, on that same day 2400 children died in Africa from malaria alone; on that same day 35,000 people died from starvation. In fact, those deaths in those quantities occur every day! 2,400,000 Americans died that year; the world lost nearly 60,000,000 people that year!

I do not mean to belittle the 9/11 tragedy, rather to simply point out that the world is full of death and suffering. We in America are desensitized to most of the harsh realities of every day life around the world. Even in war times, America loses a hundred of its military while fighting for another country’s freedom halfway around the world, and it is a catastrophe; Iraq loses hundreds of thousands of its own civilians due to chemical and biological weapons testing under its reign of terror, and many Americans do not even consider that an atrocity worth fighting against! Consider the following: America lost 500,000 men and women in World War II, and Russia lost nearly 21,000,000! These are gruesome statistics, but as John Piper said:

The Bible confirms the sad reality. It describes a flood that wiped out the earth’s population, and battles where 100,000 and 185,000 men perished (see 1 Kings 20:29; Isaiah 37:36). It also notes an epidemic that killed 70,000 Israelites (see 2 Samuel 24:16) and warns of coming wars and earthquakes and famines (see Matthew 24:7). Crucially, it describes the origin of these
calamities: Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (see Romans 5:12). This does not mean that there is a direct correlation between specific personal sins and a person’s suffering and death. The best people often die hard, and the worst die easy. It means that sin is more repugnant in the universe than suffering and death.

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