(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)
Who will be Judged, and What will that Judgment Look Like?
I imagine that you may have been aware that America has turned away from God before reading this message. No one can mistake the fact that our country is less Christian every day. And if you have read your Bible at all, you know that this turning away evokes judgment. But now let us ask two follow-up questions: on who will this calamity fall, and what will that judgment look like? The answer to the first question is all Americans. America has sinned as a nation, and America will be judged as a nation. “What?!,” you will say, “I haven’t done (some of) these things!” “The Lord will not sweep away the righteous with the wicked, will He?” First, I must remind you that while many of us do not have “tree sin” in our lives, we are nurturing “root sins” in our hearts. Second, I take umbrage when Christians say that “the Lord will not sweep away the righteous with the wicked.” They seem to imply that so long as there is one ‘good’ person in the crowd, the Lord will not do anything. Or at least that he will whisk his chosen ones away to some sort of vacation resort from which they will watch the destruction poolside with drink in hand.
The phrase “the Lord will not sweep away the righteous with the wicked” is taken from Genesis 19, where Abraham implores God not to sweep away the righteous along with the wicked in Sodom and Gomorrah. In response, the Lord agrees to not judge the cities if He finds only 5 righteous there. But we must remember that in making this promise to Abraham, the Lord was not issuing a policy statement. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abed-Nego (6 persons, for those keeping count) all lived in Judah prior to its destruction and yet their nation was overthrown. And while the lives of these six men were spared during that judgment, they all suffered greatly.
Daniel, as an example, was exiled to Babylon and had to serve the government that destroyed his home. How would you feel if China destroyed the USA, and you had to spend your life serving the communist government in Beijing? And we must also remember that the Lord may indeed take the earthly lives of the righteous when He judges a country. Ezekiel 21:3 says “Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold I am against you; and I will draw my sword out of its sheath and cut off from you the righteous and the wicked.’” The Lord does not have to spare a nation on behalf of a handful of righteous men and women, and He may not even spare that handful. I fear that others are hoping that the falling away of America and the judgment that is due is a sign of the impending rapture. But surely it is hubris to say the end of one’s nation signals the end of the world. The Roman Christians thought the world was ending when the city of Rome fell over 1500 years ago, and yet the world continues to spin.
But you may say “look, I know I’m not perfect (no one is), but I have the blood of Jesus.” The precious, costly blood of the Savior is only proffered to those who repent of their sins. That doesn’t mean being sorry for sin, it means turning completely away from sin. And for those who have received the gospel and continue breaking the law of God, that blood results in infinitely greater judgment. Hebrews 10:26-31 says “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witness. How much more severe a punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of Grace. For we know Him who said ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘the Lord will judge His people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” If your hands are truly clean, then good. But remember to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) and do not count on grace to cover your unrepentant sins. Remember also that Jesus said “if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24) Are you truly doing this?
Judah’s History Lesson
Now that you know who will be judged, let us see what this judgment will look like, using as a base case the Lord’s judgment on another people that once claimed to be a nation under God: the nation of Judah. I say as a base case as our judgment will be greater since we have rejected not only the law but the Savior. The judgment of Judah is described by the eyewitness Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations. I urge you to read this book with open eyes, but here I have listed the judgments brought upon His people described in the book (with citations):
· Loss of precious things (1:7, 1:10-11)
· Falling into the hands of the adversary (1:5, 1:7)
· Nakedness exposed to mockery (1:7,8)
· End of public religious activities (1:4) – that’s right: no more church
· Desolate cities (1:4)
· Children taken (1:5)
· Homelessness (1:7, 5:2)
· Astonishing (i.e. unpredictable and unexpected) fall (1:9, 4:2)
· Food shortage, hunger (1:11, 2:11-12, 4:4, 5:6)
· Failure, inadequacy of strong ones (1:14-15) – remember my warning about the military
· Death of religious and political leaders (1:19)
· Rejoicing of enemies (1:21, 2:17)
· Throwing down of strongholds (2:2)
· Desecration of church buildings abandoned by the Lord (2:6)
· No religious holidays (2:6) – no more Christmas or Easter
· Destruction of walls (i.e. boundaries) (2:7)
· No law (2:9)
· No vision from the Lord (2:9)
· Faintness and death of little children (2:11-12, 4:4)
· Captivity (2:14)
· Derision and contempt (2:15-16)
· False visions (2:14)
· Cannibalism (2:20)
· Death by sword (i.e. by violence) (2:21-22)
· Terror (2:22)
· Prayers not passing through to God – the Lord is veiled (3:44)
· Refugees are detested (3:45)
· Vengeance (3:6) – beware anyone with an axe to grind in days of judgment
· Crop failure and destruction (4:9)
· Starvation (noted as worse than death by the sword) (4:9)
· Enemy occupation (4:12)
· Public disrespect for leaders (4:16, 5:12)
· Failure of and betrayal by allies (4:17)
· Submission to enemies in exchange for food (5:6)
· Judgment on account of previous generations (5:7)
· Deprivation of land’s resources (5:4)
· Danger in obtaining food (vulnerability) (5:9)
· Famine (heat, drought) (5:10)
· Rape (5:11)
· Forced child labor (5:13)
· Loss of glory (5:16)
I don’t know about you, but this list truly frightens me.
Now you may say “but what if the nation repents?” Some may think that repentance is possible, but I do not. Hebrews 6:4-8 says “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.” And I emphasize that the nation, not a portion of it, would have to repent for the nation to be spared. When God spoke of His impending judgment upon Judah, He said that “even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves.” (Ezekiel 14:14) The city of Nineveh was spared from the wrath of God because they “believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.” (Jonah 3:5) The nation must repent, or the nation will be judged.
What to Do?
I hope by this point that you see the desperate plight of our country and are asking yourself “what should I do?” First and foremost, get down on your knees and beg God’s mercy because of your sins, ask for a renewed heart, and beseech His help to live a life set apart for Him. When you arise, listen to John the Baptist, and “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8) I know this is hard, and may take time. But you can turn off the TV now. You can put the bottle down now. You can put away the junk food now. You can dispense with Facebook, Instagram, and all their ilk now. Rid your life of distraction and voraciously devour the Word of God, for “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Spend every spare moment in prayer. Fast, if you can. As this transformation takes hold, you will feel a growing separation between yourself and this wicked culture. You will no longer be able to bear “the house of mirth.” (Ecclesiastes 7:4) Idle distractions and diversions will become empty and even annoying. The sin around you will appall you. You will want out. And when you are finally willing to let go of this world, you must get down on your knees again. But this time you must pray for guidance. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate.” Ask the Lord how He would have you separate yourself and your family. But, and I cannot emphasize this enough, do not do so until you are truly willing to do what He says, no matter the worldly cost to you and yours.
I cannot tell you what He will say, and I beg you to listen to Him, not me. But I suspect that in many cases, He may ask you to move away from your current job, extended family, and friends. Why do I think so? First, historically the Lord has moved His followers to “high ground” before the storm hits. Noah entered the ark before the flood (Genesis 7). Lot and his family were taken out of Sodom and told to flee to the mountains before the fire and brimstone fell (Genesis 19). The people of Jerusalem were warned to flee from Jerusalem before the Babylonians came (Jeremiah 6:1). “The prudent man sees the evil and hides himself, but the naïve go on, and are punished for it.” (Proverbs 22:3) Do not think that this will be the poolside resort option I facetiously referred to above.
Noah spent months trapped on a boat that must have stank to heaven (Genesis 7-8). Lot wound up living in a cave (Genesis 19:30). And those who did flee from Jerusalem before it fell wound up exiled to Babylon (2 Kings 25:11). Secondly, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to live a Godly life and raise a Godly family surrounded in suffocating proximity by a culture wholly hostile to your God and insistent on drawing you away from Him. I realize the Church has always been in the world, but this culture is demonized. Its lamp has been removed, and its doom is certain. You may read the Bible everyday, attend a mid-week study, and go to church on Sunday (twice), but these few hours are not enough to counteract the rest of your waking hours spent marinating unavoidably in the world. A few precious hours of clean, fresh air will not save your lungs if you spend the rest of your time in the midst of a tire fire. And the worldly marination for your family is worse for your family if your children are being educated by this culture. You can’t raise healthy fish in a cesspool, no matter what you feed them yourself.
Many will object firmly to the idea of leaving their family and friends behind, and I recognize that doing so may result in intense friction or even rejection for you and your family. But I must remind you that Jesus said “he who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:37) Even more seriously, I must tell you to remember Lot’s wife, who upon turning back to look at Sodom and Gomorrah was turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). Do not make your family, friends, or home church an idol. You owe obedience to your Savior more than you owe loyalty to them. And who knows whether they will follow you in the end?
You may also worry about leaving your job or business. But will the Lord call you to a new place and not provide for you? Anyway, who isn’t surrounded by “help wanted” signs these days? Now, the new job may require a cutback in lifestyle, but “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Heed well the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27).
I previously wrote that the Lord may tell you to move. I also suspect that He will encourage you to depend as little as possible on the culture around you and to be like the ant that “gathers her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:8) Noah built the ark before the rain. I realize that no man is an island and that complete self-sufficiency is not an attainable goal. But to depend as wholly as you probably do on a nation due for destruction does not seem wise.
What would you do if there was no electricity, no water from the tap, no garbage trucks coming, no hospital available, no pharmacy open, no food in the grocery store, no gasoline for sale, no cash in the ATM, no police or fire department coming, or (gasp!) no internet or cell service? To be frank, most Americans couldn’t survive a week without these services. It should not be so with you. To not take steps to mitigate these dependencies is not living by faith in God, but rather living in faith in America. And you should know better by now.
How I hope that you are listening. The time is indeed short, and shorter now than when you started reading this message. I leave you with the words of Revelation 18:4-5: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.”
You have been warned. I am absolved of your blood before the living and avenging God. Flee in haste to the mountains.