Is North Korea going to to drop a nuclear bomb on the United States? I’m not talking about an attack on Guam, or South Korea, or even Japan–which are also very real possibilities–but whether they might, at some point in the not-too-distant future, attack us? As I write, their Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un, has already developed and tested a long range intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon anywhere in the United States, including as far as our nation’s Capitol. And, while most of us are still refusing to consciously acknowledge the frightening implication, that–which to many of us is unthinkable–has actually become possible.
“After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.” (Genesis 15:16 NLT)
God promised Abraham that after four generations his descendants would displace the Amorites from Canaan, and He even specified why Abraham wasn’t getting that land now–why it would take so long–because “the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.” Other translations refer to their sins not yet “being complete.” Even though they eventually would be, at that point their transgressions were not yet such as to warrant judgment.
We don’t like to talk judgment–personal or national–yet Scripture discusses it extensively. Perhaps we don’t want to think about it because we believe we as a people are somehow special–that we are different. Other nations were judged for their sins, but we won’t be. Yet God’s Word clearly says, “…God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” (Acts 10:34-35 NKJV)
Yes, we had a prodigious start. The Puritans were God-fearing people who fled religious persecution to these shores; George Washington spent time on his knees in prayer seeking Divine wisdom and favor; we had revivals, we sought and honored God in the past, individually and as a people. But, we have forgotten our beginnings.
Today, we are lost in our diversions and entertainment, and have abandoned our First Love. To the contrary, we can barely mention our Lord’s name in public without risking a loss of credibility. Our corporate arrogance, immorality, idolatry, greed, disrespect for human life and outright fist-shaking at God and His Word–all witness how far we have sunk as a nation. But have we transgressed far enough to “warrant destruction?” Is our “sin complete?” Will God abandon us? Would he? To answer this, let’s take a look at His response to Israel, Biblically identified as His chosen people. How did God respond to them when they obstinately refused to stop sinning?
“The Lord replied, ‘Did I not rescue you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites? When they oppressed you, you cried out to me for help, and I rescued you. Yet you have abandoned me and served other gods. So I will not rescue you anymore. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen! Let them rescue you in your hour of distress!'” (Judges 10:11-14 NLT)
Israel was not obliterated from the face of the earth because God had a future purpose for them–but they were judged. God allowed them to be conquered and destroyed, and their people carried off to captivity in Babylon for seventy years. Other nations were not as fortunate. Sodom and Gomorrah were physically obliterated from the face of the earth. The people groups of Canaan were destroyed through battle and driven out.
Yet there are examples of God staying His hand of judgment when there is genuine repentance. Nineveh repented when the prophet Jonah finally delivered the news that God was going to destroy them for their wickedness, and they were spared.
So, what’s it going to be for us? Are we going to come to our senses, or will we be destroyed–by North Korea or any other agent God sees fit to judge us? I realize I am preaching to the choir because those who read this are already concerned with godly living, and others won’t be reading this in Newsweek or The New York Times. Yet while it may be unpopular, the message of judgment on unrepented sin must be spoken.
Certainly it will not be welcomed: the prophet Jeremiah was thrown in a well to be silenced, so aggravating was the message of destruction. We may sound foolish: I’m sure Noah seemed utterly deranged talking about a Flood while trying to convince people to repent during the years he was constructing the Ark. We may not be believed: even Lot’s sons-in-law thought he was joking when he urged them to leave the city because it was going to be destroyed.
So why should we speak out? Why should we preach a message of the necessity of repentance–both for the here-and-now and for eternity? Because, God is concerned about righteousness, whether or not we are about to be imminently destroyed. May we say with the Apostle Paul:
“…I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.” (1 Corinthians 9:16-17 NIV)
Dear Lord God,
Help our “…nation…[fear You] and…[work] righteousness” so we would be accepted by You. Amen.