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Is This the End of America?

June 22, 2020

In my devotions this morning, one writer made reference to Isaiah 6, where the prophet sees the Lord.  Considering what precedes this section of Scripture in Isaiah, that he had called out to a rebellious people warning of coming judgment unless they repented, Isaiah’s response is one of abject horror and despair.  Why?  If anyone could stand in God’s presence, surely it would have been Isaiah.  It’s as if no matter how righteous any descendent of Adam is, before a holy God, we are filthy deserving of nothing but God’s righteous anger.

This had been a time of national crisis following the death of King Uzziah in 740 B.C., the entire nation of Judah was in turmoil providing an opportunity for looking anew at their relationship with the God of Jacob.  As in our own country today, it seemed that Judah had lost its way and was adrift from God and His Word.  Isaiah, in an earlier plea to the nation (Isaiah 5), the prophet had warned the people of coming judgment unless they repented.  Surely this would mean that Isaiah was in good standing with God, right? 

Some time ago, while doing a field day clean up in our home, we lifted the coffee table off of the area rug we had in the living room.  We had vacuumed around the coffee table without moving it, and to our eyes, the area rug was clean of the usual pet hair, crumbs, and dirt that usually accumulates in any household.  But, when we took the coffee table off of that one area, we were confronted with how the area rug should look and were taken back at the difference between what we perceived as clean and what was truly clean.

So, Isaiah’s response upon seeing the Lord was a natural outgrowth of his understanding not only of Judah’s sin but his own as he stood in the presence of God.  I once heard a man say something that, at first, shocked me, but the more I thought about it, the more accurate it was.  He had been told that apart from God’s grace and the completed work of Calvary by Jesus, even someone viewed as righteous as Billy Graham would bust hell wide open.  When we compare ourselves with others, especially those who are recognized by society as evil (Idi Amin, Adolph Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc., etc., ad infinitum), we can seem to be pretty well off.  But that comparison gives anyone doing so a false sense of security as Isaiah and others found out.

Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”  Isaiah 6:5 NLT

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”  Isaiah 6:5 NIV

“Woe to me! I [too] am doomed! —because I, a man with unclean lips,living among a people with unclean lips, have seen with my own eyes the King, AdonaiTzva’ot!”  Isaiah 6:5 CJB

America is at a crossroads that will determine how long we, as a nation, shall go on.  Voices have been calling for some time for the dissolution of that upon which our country was founded.  We seem to want to decide for ourselves, apart from any outside interference, what is right and good.  The sexual revolution with abortion on demand rejected what God had said about the purity of the marriage relationship as well as the value of life itself.  This pattern continued as the idea of there being more than two genders (at last count, I think there are supposedly over seven!) based not upon science (though some argue for scientific justification of such), but upon how one feels about oneself.  This is now to the point where national stores allow men in women’s bathrooms; this pattern is repeated in public schools and even in prisons!

“All things are equal, and nothing is forbidden,” is the cry of these modern-day ‘prophets.’  What once was sacrosanct, is now considered old-fashioned and passe’.  Recently while one group was deemed to be selfish and self-serving for demonstrating peacefully for businesses to be allowed to re-open, others who rioted in our streets, causing tremendous damage, as well as the injury and deaths of many, were lauded as heroes.  What was right before is now thrown aside, and I have to wonder (perhaps as Isaiah had) what would be the end result.

“The Upward Look (6:1–4)

With the upward look, Isaiah saw the Lord (6:1). We know when that was (740 B.C.) and that Uzziah was one of the great kings. His death was a time of national mourning.

Times of national crisis are opportunities for people to have a new experience with God. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way. Recent events have been opportunities for revival in our land, but I haven’t seen much indication that it has taken place.

Isaiah went into the temple. The earthly throne was empty, but Isaiah saw God on His throne. Regardless of what goes on down here, God is still on His throne.

Vines Expository Bible Notes, Copyright © 2020 by Jerry Vines. (emphasis added)

God told Isaiah that his commission was one of woe, speaking to Judah that they would hear and see but not understand and repent leading to God removing them from the land just as He had already used Assyria to remove Israel (the northern kingdom). 

Then I heard the voice of Adonai saying,

“Whom should I send?
Who will go for us?”

I answered, “I’m here, send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people:

‘Yes, you hear, but you don’t understand.
You certainly see, but you don’t get the point!’

10 “Make the heart of this people [sluggish with] fat,
stop up their ears, and shut their eyes.
Otherwise, seeing with their eyes,
and hearing with their ears,
then understanding with their hearts,
they might repent and be healed!”                                          Isaiah 6:8-10 CJB

This may seem almost evil on the part of God; after all, it seems as though He is going to destroy the nation, not allowing them to repent.  When you review the history of Israel and Judah, you see many times that God extended mercy and grace to them over their history.  Even a potential war among themselves following the death of Solomon was not warning enough of their wayward path.  Yet even with prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah pleading with the people, they went on their way to destruction.  Why?

The excerpt from Vines reveals what had not happened to Israel and Judah; they had neglected to look up and see that God is always on His throne.  In our country, where it seems that no place is protected from the mayhem and strife occurring, we must stop looking at others and find our focus upon God.  Only with such a focus will we individually and corporately find our way again.

Only then can we hope to indeed remain, “…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” 

13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.                                                                                2 Chronicles 7:13,14 ESV (emphasis added)

We, the Church, must remember that the burden is upon us to bring about change.  We cannot rely on any political solution as those will change with public opinion; it is not external to us that needs to change but, as the old gospel hymn puts it:

“It’s me; it’s me, O Lord, standing in need of prayer…”

We must remember how Mordecai admonished Esther when she had been asked to intercede on behalf of the Jews:

“…Who knows whether you didn’t come into your royal position precisely for such a time as this.”

Esther 4:14 b

This is the time for the Church to step up and make a difference; to show the world and our nation that violence is not the answer to any injustice.  Pastor Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s and, through non-violent demonstrations brought the impact of Jim Crow laws and segregation into the public spotlight that would not allow them to be overlooked any longer.  We can and must do the same now.  Remember God’s reply when Isaiah asked for how long he would be ministering the word to Judah:

“Until cities become uninhabited ruins,
houses without human presence,
the land utterly wasted;
12 until Adonai drives the people far away,
and the land is one vast desolation.
13 If even a tenth [of the people] remain,
it will again be devoured.”

Isaiah 6:11 CJB

God willing, this will not be our country’s end.

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