Christian Responsibility in a Broken World

Indian slum. Image Credit: Ashley Wheaton/flickr/CC BY 2.0 license

In the course of a day, how many times do you make contact with the suffering of another living being? Really, if you counted them, how many would there be?

It is 6:00 a.m. your radio alarm clicks on and reports that another suicide bomber took out twenty-three more people somewhere in the Middle East (one). Good morning. After mining the nighttime crusties from your eyes and brushing your teeth, you take a scroll through Facebook. Your college friend just got back from India, a medical mission to the slums, and she brought back scads of photos (two). Joe, whom you haven’t seen in a decade, is fighting cancer . . . for the third time (three). A pro-life meme reminds you that more than sixty million have been aborted in America since 1973 (four). The contact points are racking up and you haven’t even had your coffee yet.

Overwhelming Problems

We live in a troubled world. The magnitude of the problems is disheartening. We want to see the problems solved, but they seem too big, too far removed. What can we really do? It is a question worth asking. I suspect I can’t entirely answer this question for you (I don’t yet have a complete answer for me). Only you know all the gifts and abilities which the Lord has given you, and only you are acquainted with all of the opportunities He has sent you.

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells a story about a master who leaves on a journey. He leaves his possessions (the passage calls them talents) behind him in the care of three servants or slaves. He entrusts these slaves to take what he has left in their care and improve upon it. He does not give them detailed instructions on what to do to gain an increase; he simply entrusts them with the task. Now, when the master returns after a long absence he finds that two of his slaves have taken the talents and put them to work, and they have yielded an increase which doubled what they were given. “Well done, good and faithful slave” says the master, “you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things.” The third slave, however, did not yield an increase. He hid the talent he had been given fearing that he may lose it and his master would be angry. The response of the master, receiving back the uninvested talent from his slave is, “You wicked, lazy slave . . . take away the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents.”

What are Your ‘Talents’?

What does this story, told by our Master, have to do with how we can personally help tackle the world’s biggest problems? Well, there are several things this story shows us which may help us toward an answer to this daunting question.

First, this parable is given as part of a larger teaching on what the kingdom of heaven is like. The Master is about the business of building His kingdom, and He involves his servants in the work.

Second, we are the slaves in this story. We are to serve but one master, and that master is Christ (I Corinthians 7:22–23).

Third, our Master gives us things which He fully expects us to use and invest to produce growth in His kingdom.

Fourth, slaves are responsible for the use, good or ill, of what they have been given.

These basics get us thinking about what we can personally do about suffering in the world around us. We can get more specific by asking ourselves a few questions:

Am I working in tangible ways to bring increase for Christ’s kingdom?

What are the talents the Lord has given me? What skills, resources, opportunities, and abilities does he expect me to use in doing His work?

Does fear of failure keep me from doing godly work in the world as I see opportunity?

Stepping Up to Responsibility

These types of questions help us focus on what is our responsibility rather than what isn’t. News travels fast in the age of the internet. With the printing press came newspapers, and with the television came the nightly news, and with the arrival of the internet the updates on mayhem and tragedy sound the alert moment by moment. The overwhelming volume of suffering leaves us deafened.

We can take note that in the story the Master did not hold his slaves responsible for what He had given someone else. The mere fact that we have heard about a problem does not necessarily make it our responsibility. What He does hold us responsible for is what He has specifically given us to do. When we are responsible with small tasks He gives us more to manage. Our responsibilities start small and close to home and expand outward. If we want to see the larger problems of the world solved, but are not being faithful in performing our duties within our personal lives, our families, and the local community, we should not expect our Master to give us even greater responsibility in His kingdom.

To be sure, it is the responsibility of the servants of the King to take the Gospel of the Kingdom to the nations, teaching them to obey. The solution to all that ails the world is found in obedience to Christ. We should desire greater responsibility in His kingdom, and have an Isaiah-like attitude of “here am I Lord, send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Our Master’s words, “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things” should ring in our ears, urging us to daily faithfulness in every small thing that comes our way, while keeping us alert to greater opportunities for service.

Return on Investment—Kingdom Economics

It encourages me to remember that in the economy of Christ’s kingdom, faithfulness in the mundane holds great value. It is true that faithfulness in small duties fits us to carry greater responsibility in the kingdom. It is also true that the duties we see as small may actually have far rippling effects. Our view is myopic, and so we don’t see how our faithfulness at home affects the world at large. What does it matter in the grand scheme of things if I honor my father, care for an orphan, pray for the persecuted, or keep my word to my neighbor? These things aren’t going to bring about world peace are they?

You may not be single-handedly rescuing all of the unloved children from the slums of India, or discovering the cure for Joe’s cancer, but your small faithfulnesses do matter. Each time you choose obedience over faithlessness you are living the life of a faithful slave to the One True Master. You are planting the seeds of the kingdom in your family and local community. As our Master tells us, the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which is small when planted, but grows into a tree larger than any in the garden (Mark 4:30–32). It is possible that your talents, if put to work, will plant a kingdom seed that will grow into a tree and offer shade far beyond the borders of your garden.

Posted in Culture, Kingdom Series

Fire & Fury Warfare: When & How

Image attribution: DonkeyHotey/flickr/license

Kim Jon-un & Donald Trump, caracatures by DonkeyHotey/flickr

With the dogs of war close to being released and rockets even now likely being readied, it seems a wise time (past time) to ask what our nation ought to be doing in relation to belligerent buffoons like Kim Jong-un Jong Madman. By ought I am referring not to the rules of political normalcy but to the higher laws of the Lord of all nations. For the biblical God who created all men and who establishes the nations has opinions about warfare that we ought to learn. Our political leaders especially ought to know His rules so that they can act righteously and wisely.

Policing the World

Our attempts to act as god lording it over the nations has been a persistent choice for our nation for several decades. We regularly act outside the authority God has given our country as we work at nation building around the globe. We have fumbled bumbling our way across the Middle East trying to make recalcitrant Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, Egypt and Libya and Syria into democracies friendly to western values (whatever those might be). Nothing has worked. In every case we have rushed in to get our diplomatic and military noses into business not our own. And in each case we have embarrassed ourselves with our clumsy boot-stomping methods in kitchens where we were never invited and never belonged. I am reminded of the Proverb:

Like one who takes a dog by the ears Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him (Proverbs 26:17).

One of the obvious lessons from this Proverb is that not all strife belongs to us. The fact that some somebodies somewhere are in conflict is not proof that we need to get involved. There is tremendous temptation for us to see all conflicts everywhere as situations in which we need to meddle. We are certain (though no one can say why) that if there is trouble anywhere we are called, as a nation, to go and act as a big brother for the nations involved. We worship our own power believing it to be far greater than it actually is. We believe we can bring peace to the nations. Yet God has never assigned us that task. Most of the fights between nations are best left up to God to resolve and we are not Him.

When asked why we ought to be the world’s policeman our fellow citizens most often reply with a supposed rhetorical question, “Who else will do it if we don’t?” Well, okay, who would do it if we did not? If we are talking about earthly powers, maybe nobody, or maybe somebody we never expected. But why would we consider only earthly powers? Maybe the Lord of all nations has a plan He wants to accomplish and we should stay out of the way. Maybe He is working all things together for good in ways we cannot guess. Maybe He never gave us an official police badge to go out and police the nations. That could be, since police are never once mentioned as a legitimate office in the Bible. The Bible has no police in it. They are not there for us to imitate. So the concept that our nation has been called to be the world’s policeman falls flat from the outset. It always was an unbiblical and foolish idea.

But This Situation is Different!

It may be that this situation really is different. North Korea has (judging by news reports) threatened to launch nuclear bombs toward Guam, California, and even Chicago. Now much of these threats may be mere bluster since North Korea’s abilities to deliver missiles is mostly untested. Nevertheless, we recognize that our knowledge about North Korea’s abilities and intentions is definitely limited. What can they really do and how crazy is their god-like leader? If we believe his threats—pretty capable and pretty crazy. I am just not sure I believe his threats. Maybe if he launches a missile it will land on his own country, like the anvil on the coyote. Kim Jong Un is kind of a cartoon character after all, especially with that hair.

Biblical Example for the Nations

The best place for us to look for wisdom regarding the right actions for nations is to the first nation that God established under His law—Israel. The nation of Israel was God’s own people set up to be a light to all nations (Deuteronomy 4). The nations of the earth were to look at Israel and say:

“See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. “So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’  “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?” Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:5–8).

When we look at ancient Israel we see a nation that did not meddle in the business of other nations. Oh—but you say, “What about all those Jubusites, and Hivites, and Amalakites (Canaanites all)? Surely Israel interacted with them pretty closely!” So, yes, surely they did. The seven nations God instructed Israel to displace were chased from the land or killed. Given the special nature of the case (God specifically told Israel to displace them) it is not one we can imitate.

Israel, however, was surrounded by several other nations such as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Moab, Edom, and California. Alright, not California, but these other surrounding nations were often in conflict with Israel. Yet one thing we never see in any of the records of Israel’s conflicts is any story about Israel meddling in the affairs of their neighbors. We never once read of Israel trying to transform another nation into a democracy. There is no story about Israel conquering the Moabites so that Israel could keep them from building iron chariots or Moab so that dangerous cavalry could be blown up before they became too many. Even though Israel often went to war against larger invading armies that were better armed, Israel is never once instructed to get the upper hand through a pre-emptive attack. The armies of Israel, God’s covenant nation and the example for the world, fought only defensive wars not offensive wars. In the case of King Josiah, he lost his life fighting against the Egyptians who only wanted to cross his land and not bother Israel (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:20): We see there that even a defensive action was evil in God’s sight if the enemy did not need to be fought. An enemy army just passing through the southern desert was to be left alone. Offensive foreign wars would have been even more heavily sanctioned by God under God’s perfect law of liberty. God does not call our armies to roam about the world looking for trouble.

So What Should We Do About North Korea?

One thing for sure is that we ought to, wherever possible, avoid going over there and provoking the North Koreans. God has not given America a special mission to police and control North Korea or any other nation. Our military is to protect our own nation not the entire world.

We could rightly let North Korea know that any attack against America by their nation will bring immediate and devastating ruin to their military by our military. We will not tolerate any attack by them.

If war ensues we should follow biblical rules for just war. This means we do not generally attack civilian populations we attack their armies, navy, and air force. We do not attack and destroy orchards or infrastructure (Deuteronomy 20:19).

We ought to defeat our enemies and go home (possibly making the defeated enemies pay tribute to at least cover the cost of the war) just as David did when he defeated the Moabites (2 Samuel 8) and many others. King David never stayed to run the countries he defeated, he just took his army and went home. This is our example.

It is Better to Be Biblical Than to Be Conservative

While conservative political positions are sometimes the same as biblical positions this often is not the case. As Christian people we must push for biblically right behavior by our nation not conservative behavior. We must emphasize Christian values over conservative ones. Our commitment to Godly values is what marks us as different and righteous in a sinful world. The Lord never gives us a spirit of compromise on moral issues, He commands obedience. When it comes to warfare we cannot let conservative politics guide us above God’s word and wisdom. Douglas MacArthur famously stated that in war there is no substitute for victory. He was quite correct about that, but Christians must also realize that in war there is no substitute for obedience—obedience to God’s law. May God’s Spirit and Word be our constant guides and may we humbly ask Him for victory over our enemies.

For Christian Civilization,

Dr. Don Schanzenbach
Mission to Restore America

Posted in Foreign Policy Tagged with:

Is the Drug War a Second Prohibition?

Children holding up "Drug war is a Failure" signs.

Children holding up "Drug war is a Failure" signs.

Photo credit: sari_dennise/flickr/license

The drug war, so called, has become a fixture in the news cycle as every city, county, federal agent, cop, detective, undercover agent, or agency hack of whatever stripe, has stacked up his career arrest record picking up anybody that has a bit of weed or a little package of naughty powder stuffed under a seat. This is a war alright, but for what precisely are we fighting? More importantly, what Biblical principle are we attempting to enforce?

Difference Between Sins & Crimes

If there is anything we can understand clearly from Biblical law it is this: that for anything to be a crime punishable by civil penalty it must be a sin. Sin is a violation of God’s law (Romans 7:7 and surrounding scripture make this sparklingly clear). It is God’s law that defines sin for us. Nothing else can. Without the law we would have no knowledge of sin. With God’s law we have a concise and complete definition. God has not asked us to add to His list other ideas we think important. We are not mini-gods who are supposed to be dreaming up a few more good items to forbid or new ways to punish. God has defined all those things as He saw fit. He has not changed the principles for righteousness. Somehow we have allowed this drug war to convince us otherwise. We ought also to note that not every sin God names is punishable by civil means. Many sins are simply to be repented of by the individual, but not punished by the state. You shall not covet does not carry a jail sentence or a fine under the Law of Moses. A failure to tithe did not merit any civil punishment, though God Himself could choose to go after you. A failure by a farmer to leave food for the gleaners was a sin, but the government could not punish that farmer. Hence, we may learn that we also, our civil governments, ought not punish every behavior we find obnoxious. This lesson is hard learned now because the government views itself effectively, as do we, as the god of our time. We no longer look to the God of the Bible as our living God of law, grace, and life. Rather, we view the civil government in that role. We think that morality and law ought to come from the government without reference to the Creator of the universe. His opinion is outdated, but our opinions are wisdom incarnate in legislatures of sinful men.

Are there Illegal Substances in the Bible?

As I look through my Bible I find nothing whatever in God’s law forbidding the ownership of any type of plant or mineral. I see that God declared everything He made, “very good” (Genesis 1:31). This being the case I am wondering how it is that the things God declared as very good can be construed by man to be irrevocably evil. Ye olde hemp plant was created good , even very good, but now is so dreaded as a focus of moral evil that if you are found to have one growing wild on your farm the government can seize your land and never give it back. This is somehow construed to be more just than allowing that plant to do whatever God intended it to do in its natural state. If you cultivate this plant that God declared very good, you could spend years in a steel-barred gaol wondering when you might see the light of day. All of this is supposed to be for the enhancement of public morality. Yet, these treatments rudely violate multiple precepts of God’s law. This would be the same law scripture declares to be God’s perfect law, wonderful law, and other complimentary terms which would be mere flattery, except they are true. If we simply assume that God is right, and that He is right about everything, we will come to better behavior everywhere, including in our civil government. It has been argued that legalizing these plants that God has called very good would surely lead to rampant crime, thefts and murders awash as these sellers of very good plants foist them on unsuspecting humanity. Seemingly, no one has noticed that the actual law of God punishes theft (the thief must re-pay two to four times the value of what he stole?Exodus 22:7) and murder (capital punishment?Numbers 35:31). For causes unknown these stripes are deemed insufficient or perhaps unwise. Rather, we are convinced it is of a superior logic to convict our citizens of crimes that are not crimes and give them punishments that are not righteous punishments. Why then, is it these purported malefactors we consider mad? How is it that they are the demons and we are the angels? It is a system run crazy.

gods of the Drug War

This war we are fighting is more a war against the God of heaven than it is a war against violators of His law. As a nation we hate His law. We hate the idea that our Creator defines good and evil and that we do not. Our hearts have risen up to the heavens demanding to be as gods in our own right. We lust for the power to create and enforce law on our self-appointed standards. We will set the measure. We will establish righteous bounds. We will be our own god, while the Maker of all things is shoved to the outskirts of society. Our arrogance must astonish even the angels. Yet, for us, our behavior feels blithely normal. This should scare us all. Biblical law establishes boundaries for liberty. This is the way God’s law always works. The forbidden behaviors are named. They are the definition of sin. In all else we have liberty from God Himself. This terrifies sinful men. We imagine dark evils unnamed in Scripture and make lists. We forbid what God has not mentioned or even what He calls very good. It was the Pharisees and scribes who asked Jesus (here we land with both feet in the New Testament),

Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders?


Rightly did Isaiah prophecy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.’ But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.

Those Pharisees we deride as hypocrites? We have become them. We are the hypocrites who neglect the commandments of God (restitution, capital punishment) and hold to the traditions of men. We are the ones.

Prohibition, Phase 2

This drug war is phase two of the unBiblical Prohibition foisted on the nation by religious Progressives early in the last century. The Progressives were religious liberals who thought they could improve society by banning that which God never banned in His law. Their battle against all alcohol was particularly ludicrous when we read in Deuteronomy 14:26 that God’s chosen people (that would be the church according to the New Testament) were to use their tithe money to buy wine or strong drink for their celebrations. In the New Testament the Lord they purportedly were following, used wine in an ordinance of the church, but to aberrant churchmen, serving grape juice, made us believe that wine without alcohol was something other than an oxymoron. The absurdity could make you run straight up the wall but the church latched unto it like a hungry crappie on a minnow. Now, here we are, roughly fourty years into the drug war, with no progress and a litany of lost freedoms and innocent lives ruined as the consequence.

Repentance & Liberty

We really do need to stop this madness. Our brethren often express fear that a return to God’s law as the standard for society will be oppressive or cruel. There is an assumption that our own invented statutes will be superior, granting greater liberty. This is a false dream. The laws of man quickly become cruel and are by definition unjust. They do not promote liberty nor do they build up the kingdom of God. They are in fact a hindrance to the progress of His kingdom. Those of us who have supported these unbiblical laws ought to change our direction and repent. We are the Pharisees if we do not. The Pharisees were consumed with special washings of cups and bowls while forgetting the laws God had given them. They held to the traditions of their elders but rejected the Biblical law of liberty. We must end this immoral drug war and return to God’s law as our standard everywhere. Our liberty hangs in the balance.

Posted in God's Law, Liberty

Leaders Tear Down Culture & Rebuild (Gideon Pt 3)

Construction worker with hard hat on.

Image credit: Saad Akhtar/flickr/license

American Sins are Not New

It was only a few years ago that parents worried about their children worshiping Wiccans (Harry Potter), or watching morally debauched TV (Friends). Now children are also being abused within debilitatingly stupid school curriculum (Common Core, No Child Left Behind). We are long past the earlier calls for obedience to God, like needing better behavior in church and school, or obeying parents daily, or not gossiping about our friends. We drove past those “goin’ like sixty” six decades ago. It just keeps coming at us. Who will lead us toward better precepts? I read a report the other day that some American sixth graders were being given biological drawings showing them how sodomy works. It never ends. I could suggest what the next rotten step downward will be, but I would likely already be behind the current evils of my time. If we had been discovering the secrets of space flight as fast as we are always discovering the next strata on the slide toward evil, we would have flown to Mars a long time ago. Heck, we would have flown to Alpha Centauri and half way back again. It seems we can all agree—we need leaders. We need leaders with answers.

For reasons unexplainable I feel a little better when I realize the sins of America are not new or are not worse than some of what we see happening in Scripture. When the angel came to Gideon addressing him as valiant warrior Gideon was living under the judgments of God—judgments Israel deserved due to her gross sins and intransigence. That is the way it always was, the traversing of the moral compass from obedience to disobedience and back again. When life finally became hard enough the Israelites would cry to the Lord (Judges 6:6, 4:3, 3:9) and God would deliver them from His judgments with a godly leader. This is where Gideon comes in.

Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior” (Judges 6:11–12).

Leaders Who Listen

After the valiant warrior conversation the Lord spoke to Gideon two more times that same day. With all these conversations there is something going on here that we ought not miss. God was speaking to His chosen man, His warrior. The voice of God was perhaps unusually clear (If the angel of the Lord stands right in front of you and gives you instructions that would qualify as “unusually clear”.) Though two times there was only the voice and no angel there was something different going on. Nevertheless, we notice that when God spoke Gideon listened. This is what Godly leaders do. It is an important first step if we want to lead the reconstruction of our nation and return to the God of the Bible. I don’t know if the angel of the Lord will appear to any of us, but I do know that we can still hear the voice of the Lord. God often refers to His word as the voice of the Lord and that also tends to be unusually clear if we read and apply it rightly. God told the nation of Israel numerous times not only to listen to but to obey the voice of the Lord (Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 13:18, 26:14, 30:20; Jeremiah 3:13). Gideon proved he was a leader when he decided to obey.

Tearing Down Comes First

Now on the same night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down.” Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had spoken to him; and because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it by day, he did it by night (Judges 6:25–27).

This command to pull down the altar of Baal took courage for Gideon to obey. It was risky to pull down the Baal altar and the Asherah and doubly so when they belonged to his father. Gideon was putting his relationship with his father behind the call to obedience. It was as Jesus said later on:

“They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:53).

Gideon’s determination to obey God and tear down his father’s idol marked Gideon as a leader of men. In fact he took men with him for the work, another mark of leadership.

Building Up

Gideon courageously obeyed God by promptly tearing down the Baal idol. He used it to kindle a fire to offer God a sacrifice. It was a double insult to the people who worshiped Baal. Gideon was a leadership example for us in America. If we want our nation to return to the God of the Bible we must find ways to replace our national idols with biblically sound alternatives. The idol of civil government needs to be exchanged for systems that advance the kingdom of God. It is one thing to tear down but quite another to build back in a better way. But Gideon could do it and so can we. Our challenge is before us. Will we continue to shame ourselves by serving the Baals of our day or will we tear them down and rebuild society based on Biblical precepts? The Scriptures are full of answers to our problems. The voice of the Lord tells us how to live. We must decide if we will listen to the Lord and lead the way to a godly society, or if we will continue to follow the idols of our day.

Posted in Culture

Do Not Be Ashamed of God’s Law

Woman covering her face in shame. (Image credit: Katherine Evans/

Merciful Justice & Cruel Compassion

Why do we label biblical justice archaic, culturally irrelevant, or downright cruel? We often render guilty verdicts against God’s law without even knowing what it says. We draw grotesque caricatures of commands we would rather not keep. If we read God’s law, we find that justice is not a cold rendering of graceless verdicts. It is spoken of in direct relation to love, mercy, compassion, righteousness, and so on. Justice isn’t the arch nemesis of mercy and love, it is their heroic defender.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Here Micah unites justice, mercy, and humility while the world, and worldly church-goers, would convince us they are locked in bitter conflict. “God isn’t about judging” they say, “He’s about love and mercy.” What they mean is that it is arrogant to apply God’s law to the culture we live in because Christians are supposed to be compassionate instead of judgmental.

Don’t accept their guilt trip. Proverbs tells us “the compassion of the wicked is cruel.” It is humility, not pride, that teaches men to say “Amen” to God’s laws which demonstrate the administration of both justice and mercy.

The humble He guides in justice,
And the humble He teaches His way.
All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,
To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.—Psalm 25:9-10

Mercy and justice are not distant relations or bitter rivals. They are knit together in those who are humble before God. This makes us decidedly unlike our wickedly compassionate neighbors who may endlessly orate guilt-inducing speeches on social justice while having no clue what establishes equity. Their animated feelings and vehement demands erupt from an authority no higher than their personal whims. Proverbs warns us, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand all.” Our sin is that, we think we can resolve injustice by following evil men. By soliciting godless answers we become purveyors of wicked compassion rather than champions for the oppressed.

Perverted Justice: A Problem for Christians to Solve

This is not a new problem. Throughout the biblical narrative God’s people are rebuked for perverting justice and oppressing the fatherless, the widows, and the strangers in their land. Proverbs says, “The violence of the wicked will destroy them, Because they refuse to do justice.”

This rebuke hits scarily close to home. Isaiah didn’t sugar-coat when declaring God’s displeasure with His people as they fastidiously performed ceremonies and sacrifices while failing to do justice in the land.

Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me…
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.—Isaiah 1:13

Should this concern us as we attend worship every Sunday, singing our hymns and nodding our heads to the preaching, all the while unmercifully leaving the problems of injustice toward orphans, widows, and strangers in our land to be managed by the wicked? Does it turn away our guilt if we shrug our shoulders saying, “What can I do about it?”

Our love for God is displayed in how we treat our neighbors (Leviticus 19:9-17, 1 John 5:2-3). Jesus said, the greatest commandment is to love God, followed by loving our neighbor. ALL the law and prophets hang on these two things (Matthew 22:37-40). God’s word, not only tells us to do justice but tells us how to do it—if only we will listen.

Isaiah’s call to repentance is needed now as much as ever.

Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.—Isaiah 1:16-17

Studying and applying God’s word justly is not effortless. We will wrestle with application and weary of clearing the obstacles wicked men place in our path. It will take detailed thought married to vigorous action, but first it will require humble repentance.

Posted in God's Law, Justice

God Bless (or Curse?) America

Image Attribution: Marcus O. Bst/flickr/license

Run-down storefront with american flag painted in window.

American Covenant

I have read the Mayflower Compact (Covenant) numerous times. The Compact formed the first civil government by Europeans coming to America. It was written and signed in 1620 by the Pilgrims before they got off the ship. This was the start of American Christian governance. While short, the Compact does carry several references to it being a covenant. It was not called a constitution, a charter, a Bill of Rights, or any of the other titles we might associate with modern western style governments. It was a Compact which in the language of the time was a synonym for covenant, the word used in the body of the text.

Our Christian forefathers did not invent the word covenant. Rather, it is used in the Bible (Old and New Testaments) 293 times. It is a term that permeates Scripture and forms the back bone of Jewish and Christian culture. It is not a minor concept it is a central concept for the chosen people. Given that we are “a chosen people a royal priesthood” (see Peter) it is massively important for us to understand what God and our forefathers were talking about when they wrote covenant into the fabric of Godly government. If we can begin to wrap our brains around this concept we will re-acquire a grand Biblical concept for the restructuring of the crumbling American nation. It may literally save our lives.

What is Covenant?

Now, even though the concept of covenant is replete in Scripture it is difficult to find a concise definition that covers every case. Hence, I offer my own: A Biblical covenant is a firm promise to be lived out under the jurisdiction of God’s will and law. It is also useful to note that, in every case, covenants succeed to following generations (“to you and your children,” the text will sometimes read). A great deal could be said about this but definitions are boring so I will move on. Theologians can continue to write lofty-minded articles but we will do something different here (not to diminish good theologians—we appreciate their work).

The main reason we ought to care about covenants is that God cares about them. God covenanted with His people at numerous times and places as He advanced His story about Jesus and the redemption of man. The classic text that is used to discuss the idea of covenant as it relates to the Godly nation is Deuteronomy 27:9–29:15. This is the record of Moses charging the nation to obey God’s law for blessing or to disobey His law and be cursed. What always strikes me as I read this is the shortness of the promised blessings section and the extended length of the promised curses if God’s law is not obeyed. The structure of this national covenant is clear. Obey and be blessed or disobey and be cursed. If you are unfamiliar with this passage please take a few minutes and read it. Then, like me, take a life time and meditate on it. It causes us to desire the righteous way and to fear the unrighteous path. It is food for our souls.

Are We Cursed or Blessed?

The reasons I refer to covenant as a building block for the Christian nation are few but of supreme importance. Almost no one, at least no one in public media, ever discusses our national malaise in terms of God’s cursing or blessing. Yet, Biblical thought often follows that precept. The prophets are filled with dire warnings to the nation to repent or be destroyed. This is something which deserves our attention. Our nation was begun in covenant with this same God. Our early forefathers spoke often of this very fact and feared for our demise should we turn away. One of the things I noticed about the national covenant is that we do not personally have to be there to be bound by the covenant. In Deuteronomy 29:14 Moses instructed,

Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God and with those who are not with us here today.

So, like Israel, we have no excuse in claiming that the covenant was for others but not for us. It does not work that way. Of course we all want the blessings part, but what we need to consider in light of our national immorality is the curses section. Nationally, we are fitting those later definitions.

Covenant Promises & Biblical Laws

Besides this keeping-of-covenant concept there are other ideals tied to this. Covenant is a uniquely Biblical teaching. Every thing we do, every promise we make is to be made under the jurisdiction of God’s law. God forbade His people (that is us now guys, the church) to enter into covenant with any of the pagan people. A Biblical covenant could only be rightly implemented under the jurisdiction of God’s law. Part of the reason for this is that covenants with pagans leads us into compromise with those foreign gods as well. Another reason is that without a common set of laws by which to live no covenant between men can be expected to work. If we all submit to the same law we can have national unity and progress. Christian civilization is possible.

When our forefathers covenanted together to form a civil government under the God of the Bible they did a profound deed. Many of them understood the American continent as the equivalent of Israel for them. They were bound to God to build a fresh nation, to evangelize their new neighbors, and live in peaceful Christian community. I read that the original Pilgrim community was able to live for eighty years at peace with the Indians. The Pilgrims are often faulted with being war-like or grasping for land not theirs. But, as of late, we are a nation that starts some kind of war several times a year. I believe we too easily berate our founding brethren.

Repent & Obey

Whether we understand it or like it we are the covenantal heirs of a great nation. The concept of covenant set our feet on this land. It helped propel us through time to our current state. God has not forgotten those early promises. He still wishes to bless us if we will only repent and obey Him in all things. It is to us and our children that the covenant applies. We are a pivotal generation. We may advance faithfully toward repentance and blessing or we may be crushed by the strength of unmitigated curses. I am praying today that we make that better choice.

Posted in God's Law, Government Tagged with:

One Thing that Will Propel a Nation to Victory (Gideon, pt. 2)

Image credit: Nicolas Raymond

Christian flag. Judgment on Israel—Gideon’s Back Story

In my previous article on Gideon I discussed the importance of one righteous man standing in the face of impossible odds. We saw how the angel of the Lord selected one courageous obedient man to lead a nation. And we read from the text that the angel of the Lord spoke to Gideon “O valiant warrior” launching both Gideon and Israel (and maybe America if we imitate them) on a trajectory toward total victory. There is a back story though that we ought to notice.

The back story is about national suffering and the repentance of God’s people. This story about Judge Gideon fighting for Israel is not the first of a judge saving their nation. There had been four judges prior to him who brought justice (hence the title ‘judge’) for Israel before her enemies.

Under Joshua Israel reaped great success defeating their enemies on every front. After he passed from the scene though we read:

The sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years (Judges 3:5–8).

First Israel served the Baals and the Asheroth then as punishment God made them serve Cushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia. If they wanted to serve someone other than the Lord, then God gave them over to a human entity which, in the long run, is what the Baals and Ashteroth were anyway. They were manifestations of man’s imaginations and more darkly, of the Devil’s kingdom. It was the Judge Othniel, Caleb’s younger brother, who led them to war and victory after the people called out to the Lord and repented (Judges 3:9).

We Don’t Want to Worship God

The reason we should care about this is not because we need to have a fascination with ancient history. Rather, it lays out for us the importance as a nation of remaining faithful to God. It shows us that from the earliest eras nations of godly citizens were quickly misled into the worst of deceptions, even though they were the apple of God’s eye (Zachariah 2:8). America, given our many providences and protections, may also be understood as the apple of God’s eye as can any faithful Christian nation. We too have found and may find the protection of the Lord and His prospering gifts as we worship and serve Him rightly.

But the problem we find as individuals and as a nation is that we do not want to worship and serve God rightly. We dream up every possible notion about why God’s word does not apply to us at this time in history. We suppose that His definitions and demands for righteousness and justice have changed over the centuries and no longer apply. We tell each other that God’s perfect law of liberty is imperfect and cruel, and outdated, and only for national Israel four thousand years ago. We think that the definitions for justice have somehow changed so that what was once righteous and just is now to be set aside for different, modern ideas. These are deadly notions that lead us and our nation directly into God’s gun sights for judgment instead of blessing. We have become Israel needing judgment but do not understand our danger. We could live more righteously and justly and attract God’s blessings but we think ourselves wiser than we really are as we stumble along toward Gomorrah.

National Israel went through the cycle of righteousness—disobedience—God’s cursing and judgment—repentance—blessing—numerous times. Here in Judges we see three or four times before Gideon was raised up to save them once again.

Knowing Good & Evil

In a second judgment God from which God saved His people we read:

Then the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died (Judges 3:11).

Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD. And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees. The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. But when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab (Judges 3:12–15).

This time it was Judge Ehud who led Israel to victory. The passage tells us that Israel “did evil in the sight of the Lord” and this was the reason that God raised up the king of Moab against them. We may wonder why the description of what Israel did wrong was so short. What exactly did the nation of Israel do to deserve the Lord’s judgment? How can any nation know when it is getting into trouble with God? How can Americans know when our behavior will attract the judgments and discipline of God? That is what we really need to know. How can we know when we have done evil in the sight of the Lord? Why such a short description if its answer is critical to a nation’s survival? It may appear to be a thorny problem at first glance but God expects us to know the answer easily.

God expects us to know when our nation is doing evil because He gave us His law to inform us. God’s law found across all His word but primarily in the books of Moses contains only about 630 laws we and our nation, need to obey. We are doing evil when we disobey God’s law. Our disobedience brings God’s judgments. The formula is pretty simple. Human governments pass hundreds of thousands of laws with our own US Federal Government passing 200–400 new regulations every day. God’s law is not like human law. His law is relatively short and simple and direct. Most of it can be understood by an ordinary high school student. God has given us the standard for right and wrong, good and evil. We have no excuse. We should understand when God tells us that Israel did evil and we ought to understand when He judges America because we have done evil. We should understand why our heads are on the chopping block so to speak. The eternal histories in heaven will read, “And America did evil in God’s sight and God sent _____ against them.” God’s definitions for justice and injustice, good and evil, have not changed. We ought to know.

Law & Judgment

Israel knew but did not believe, they were not paying attention. Of a third judgment we read:

Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died. And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. The sons of Israel cried to the LORD; for he had nine hundred iron chariots, and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years. Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time (Judges 4:1–4).

Once again we read that Israel, “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Sometimes it seems that Israel simply did not learn from their mistakes. Again they cried out to the Lord and again He saved them. The next judge was Gideon. In our previous introduction to Gideon we found him beating out his grain harvest in the wine press. Israel had again forgotten God and He had brought them under harsh judgment. Gideon whom the angel of the Lord called “valiant warrior” was raised up to save the nation. We will discuss that more but for now the all-important lesson from Israel, Gideon, and the judges is that God promises nations either blessing or cursing depending on their behavior. If they keep His holy law He blesses them and if they break His law He judges them. We Americans ought to learn from Israel. Our disobedience to God and His law will surely bring further judgments. Those judgments will become more severe the longer we make ourselves enemies of God by our sinful living. If we want God to raise up deliverance for us like He did with Gideon and all the preceding judges then we need to repent. We need to start obeying the Lord in all things. This is the consistent lesson from Scripture. It is under that national commitment to obey God that greatness and victory are found.

Posted in God's Law

Fake jesus Cannot Save

image credit: Eduardo Cunha/flickr/edited

Evangelism is hard, fake jesus makes it harder. Talking with someone ignorant of Jesus gives you somewhat of a blank slate upon which to sketch an understanding of the person and work of Christ: His love, justice, compassion, holiness, His call to repentance and promise of forgiveness. On the other hand, someone who’s already BFFs with fake jesus is a tougher case. Introducing them to Real Jesus requires exposing the counterfeit as an obsequious pretender. This is challenging when the ear-tickling message of a synthetic savior carries no whiff of judgment, no call to obedience, no demand for worship. This manufactured messiah, so eager to accommodate, stops just short of begging people to sin just so he can forgive them. Perhaps I sound overdramatic.

A True Story

An email conversation I recently had with a “Christian” woman who was planning to murder her unborn child by abortion is a vivid illustration:

Me: God commands us in His word, “You shall not murder.” What do you think of this command?

Her: This might be a question of how many times will God forgive it. Not if it is morally wrong or not. I know it’s wrong, but I had fun [fornicating].

Me: You know murder is wrong, yet you plan to do it anyway. If you are doing so relying on God to forgive your sin, you can have no assurance that you will be forgiven.

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment.”—Hebrews 10:26

Her: I don’t want to be driven to feel bad. I know what abortion does and will do if I decide to still [do] it.

Me: Your flippant attitude toward murdering your own child when you know exactly what you are doing puts you in a very fearful place. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. “Murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8). This is what you are storing up for yourself right now. You may think you are getting a better life for yourself by doing this, but your “fun” on earth will end one day and you will have to stand before God for judgment…I urge you to STOP what you’re doing, repent of your attempt to murder your child, and have mercy on your baby.

Her:  I have been to many church services. Jesus died because He loves us and wants us in Heaven. I would have never accepted Him if it was all about how wicked we are.

Me: Your actions right now and your attitude toward God’s commands suggest that you did not accept Him like you think you did. The Bible doesn’t teach that everyone gets forgiveness from God; it teaches that God forgives those who repent and turn away from their sin and call on Him for His mercy.

Her: All sins can be forgiven. That’s what love is all about. If you ask and believe you will be given mercy. Why accept Jesus? To go to heaven after your sins are forgiven. God is not strict or hateful to keep me away if I want to ask forgiveness later [after I abort]…I have enjoyed myself [while sinning].

Me: God absolutely does forgive sinners. But the Bible is clear that forgiveness is given to repentant sinners who know they have broken God’s commands and sorrow over what they have done because their sinful actions offend God. We should never treat Jesus like He is a ticket out of hell so we can keep enjoying our sin. He is LORD. He calls us to honor, worship, and obey Him. I’m NOT saying you can’t ever be forgiven, but you can have no assurance that you will be unless you repent of your sin.

Her: Yeah well, whatever…I tried God. I would still try God if I wasn’t so into my own life. I can’t lose my salvation. I can walk away [from God] but I can’t lose it.

Me: It is true that God’s people cannot lose their salvation. You tell me you have accepted Christ, but your words and actions say that you have not. You reject His laws and commands. You reject His call to obedience. You reject His rule in your life. You refuse to give Him honor, praise, or worship. You hate His words in the Bible. Saying you have accepted Him is a lie. What, exactly, have you accepted? God doesn’t ask us to try Him. He tells us to repent and believe and follow Him.

Her: I accepted Jesus to go to heaven and I believed it. I accepted Jesus because of love. What kid doesn’t?

Me: You say you have accepted Jesus and these are the things Jesus says.

Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”—Luke 13:5

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”—John 14:15

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”—Matthew 7:21-23

This is the Jesus you will meet on judgment day. You should think about what this Jesus (the real Jesus) will say to you when you stand before Him. I know these things seem harsh to you, but I tell you about who God is and what Jesus said because it is true. You are a person worth telling the truth to.

Her: I would be more entertained if we could talk about how not to be zombie bait. Or how not to be sick when the apocalypse hits…you talk about Jesus too much.

Me: Funny.

Her: I believe in God and can ask forgiveness any time I want to…do you know how people are drawn to God? His love! It is not conditional and grace and mercy are always available. I want to miscarry. No more abortions with a miscarriage and no more baby. [Problem] Solved.

I’m gonna get another ultrasound. If something is wrong with the baby at all I’m aborting…I will keep the [ultrasound] pictures as a memento. I don’t care it is murder. I don’t have malice in my heart.

Me: The dictionary defines malice as “a desire to cause harm to another person.” That definition is a perfect description of what is in your heart. You have murder in your heart toward your child. So, yes, you do have malice in your heart that you need to repent of.

Her: I don’t want to say I’m sorry when I’m not sorry at all.

This conversation was startlingly real, and carried on for several months. You will be relieved to know, this woman’s baby lives (no thanks to fake jesus for helping her feel safe in her sin). Conflict was brought into this woman’s life when she heard God’s perfect law. Though she felt no motherly affection for her babe, she let him live and be cared for by others. An introduction to the real Jesus put restraint on her hand of harm against her own child.

As far as I know she still hasn’t bowed her knee to honor the King, her jesus is not LORD. The rotten fruit she bares makes this frighteningly obvious. She dishonors the almighty risen King with her empty acceptance. This woman is not alone in her religiosity. She is one among thousands who believe themselves to be saved while living the life of the damned.

Speak the Whole Truth

Friends, please voice the whole truth of the gospel, though it may not be accepted. Demonstrate how to bow before the King, though many stiffen their necks in rebellion. We cannot understand God’s astonishing forgiveness until we get a whiff of the putrid stench of our sin in His nostrils. We will not smuggle sinners into heaven by enticing them to accept an unholy jesus who winks at sin and washes no one clean. Practicing a slight-of-hand that makes the call to repentance less offensive by shuffling it away for later, merely makes us shysters hawking tin fiddles to tone deaf people. We congratulate ourselves on our sales and plug our ears when they start to play.

Take the trouble to introduce fellow sinners to the King of kings while there is yet time to repent and believe. No matter how sweet his hissing sounds, fake jesus cannot save. God’s grace is glorious because His judgment is real, and trembling before His holiness tunes us perfectly to sing His praise. The Message is not ours to alter, and why would we want to?

Jesus reigns, He always has! The psalmist is not speaking in jest when he says, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way.”

Posted in Culture, Faith, Morality

Civil Government—American Idol

Civil Government, American Idol

image credit: Desai/aschaeffer

The great sin we all remember from the Old Testament stories is that of idolatry. With tiresome repetition we read of the Israelites whoring after the idol gods of Baal, Asherah, Moloch and others. We read how they burned incense to them on every hill and under every green tree. They were sent prophets who warned them in the clearest of terms that they must turn away from those idols and worship and serve only the Lord (Yahweh). We read these prophetic shoutings and shake our heads in wonder at how blind and foolish these people were after all God had done for them. How could they possibly miss who was God and who was not? It was not, after all, any of those other gods who had parted the Red Sea. None of them had produced manna from heaven or water from a rock. Yet, Israel persisted not only in offering incense but their children as well to these false deities. How could they think they were making any progress in replacing the Lord with these earthly gods?

The close meaning for Moloch, god of the Phoenicians and Ammonites, was shameful king. The name was fitting because of the sacrificial acts required for Moloch worship. In a bizarre ritual, parents would give control of their children to Moloch. That act was considered so heinous that God Himself pronounced destruction on Israel for their faithlessness and immorality. It is bad enough to destroy yourself, but doubly wrong to destroy your children. Understand that these idol gods were not simply religious figures with limited influence. Moloch and the other ancient gods were heeded as rulers over the civil realm as well. They were consulted for guidance for the courts, warfare, personal morals, standards for justice and all else in society. They were the face of society and government for the people of their times. Foreign kings prayed to them before determining battle plans, hence, the idol gods reigned above the earthly kings.

Idolatry in American Life

We think ourselves more socially and civilly developed than those ancient people. We know about Jesus. We have truth on our side. We would never bow down to an idol or offer it our children. We do not trust in any idol to answer our prayers, provide for our daily bread, fight our battles, pay for our medicine, or take control of our children. That was them not us. OK—that pay-for-our- medicine part cannot be proven about the ancients, but the rest…?

I fear we have long ago tumbled into the same sins our spiritual ancestors embraced. We have different names for our idols now but the sin remains the same. We know Jesus but they knew Yahweh, the same trinitarian God we worship. We all have fallen essentially into the same sins and are deserving of the same judgments. The Jewish people deserved famine, plagues, tumors, and eventually invasion and destruction for their idol worship. Why, I may ask, would we deserve less? We act like they acted, idolizing a higher power that does for us what Moloch did for them. We find our security in our idol government god very similar to the way they found security in their idol government gods. Are we really any better? They handed their children over to unbelieving priests where that foreign religion led to the child’s destruction. We, being supposedly wiser, hand our children over to the high priests of a humanistic religion, where their souls are stolen and their faith ruined, leading to the eternal death of those very children we said we loved.

American Government is Overgrown

It appears we also worship a shameful king. We have not been satisfied to contain the civil government within the constraints of Biblical boundaries. God’s law gives the civil government only very narrow duties and rights. As a nation we have expanded those duties and rights far beyond anything God allows. We have erected for ourselves an idol to which we may turn for those benefits God Himself was supposed to bestow. We find it nearly impossible to imagine life lived within a social context of Biblical allowances, morality, and faith. Rather, we expect daily, to raise holy hands in supplication to the more visible god of government to meet all our needs in its fading glory.

Time to Reject Modern Idols

I know the words I am writing today will, in many cases, feel like a lead weight to the hearts of many. We are patriotic. We live in the greatest country on earth. We are the last superpower. Without us the ends of the earth would unravel. This was also true of Rome, and Greece, and Babylon. Remember with me that it was from those very kingdoms that God rescued humanity and brought them to freedom in Christ. That freedom was not just a freedom from eternal damnation. It was also a freedom that extended to life on planet earth. Christian liberty derives and expands from our faith to the nations, as Christ’s kingdom conquers the idols of every age. We could start our quest for liberty by taking back our children. We are living in an era of unbounded opportunity for the church if we will only turn back to our God and reject the idol(s) of our day.

Posted in Government, Worship

God May Yet Save America—Gideon Shows Us How (Part 1)

God May Yet Save America--Gideon Shows Us How (Satallite image America lights at night)

image credit: NASA/GSFC/flickr: woodleywonderworks

A Place to Start

Gideon, one of the greatest freedom fighters in the Bible began his walk into fame by merely doing the work God gives men generally; trying to feed his family. The background to his story begins here with the Midianite people overrunning the land:

Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years. The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. For it was when Israel had sown, that the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites and the sons of the east and go against them. So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, they would come in like locusts for number, both they and their camels were innumerable; and they came into the land to devastate it. So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the LORD.

This was a rough time for the nation of Israel. God had promised to protect and prosper their nation as long as they obeyed God and did not worship idols. As usual the people of Israel disobeyed God and began worshipping idols. God judged them just as He always has and still does judge nations who disobey His law. As a nation, for us, we may see our possible future if we do not return to God. He can and will overthrow our country if we continue to resist His word and ways. These lessons are not just for ancient people they are for us as well.

Tough Obstacles

Gideon faced tough times. Most of the people in Israel were hiding in the mountains, in caves, having abandoned their homes and farms in the face of the Midianite onslaught. Life had become desperate as the Midianites stole every animal and every crop they could find. God was merciful though and eventually sent a prophet calling Israel back to repentance and back to their faith:

Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD on account of Midian, that the LORD sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery. ‘I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land, and I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.”‘

And perhaps God says to America today, “I am the Lord your God who brought you into a new continent and gave you victory over your enemies on every side. I gave you My word and I covenanted with your forefathers to be your God and for you to be My people. But you have disobeyed Me. You have worshipped the gods of mammon and state power, making the civil government your god and forgetting Me.” And now we find ourselves in the midst of a collapsing economy, banks that are bankrupt, taxes beyond all reason, a government that is out of control as it oppresses the people daily, schools that are godless, and immorality on every side. While our problems are not exactly the same as Israel experienced we can certainly wonder where God’s blessings have gone and why His curses seem to be overtaking us from every side.

Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. Then the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.”

The Turning Point

This was the turning point for both Gideon and Israel. Gideon was a brave man planting and harvesting in the land even in the face of the Midianite invasion. His work was, seemingly, impractical and had no chance of success and every chance to attract attention from deadly enemies. Foolish though it likely appeared, Gideon was the only man who decided to do what was right and strong and brave. He planted a crop to feed his family in obedience to God’s known will as the head of his household. While other men cowered in the caves and dens in the mountains Gideon went down and began the work of re-occupying the land according to God’s will. He had not forgotten God and God had not forgotten him. Gideon stood alone in obedience to God. It was at that point that the Lord appeared to him announcing “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” The Lord was with him and he did not stand alone after all.

Rise Up, God is Calling!

American men, American women—understand that the Lord is still calling tough-minded people who have not lost hope to stand for Him in this culture now. We are not at the end of the age. Our situation is not hopeless though it may seem so listening to the daily news. In the past the Lord has called people of strength and courage to stand and work for the advancement of His kingdom though the odds appeared certainly against them. God has turned the nations upside down when courageous people called on Him and walked in His Holy Spirit power. God has not changed. He is calling right now for leaders, perhaps unlikely leaders, to begin the work of reconstruction of our country. God is looking for uncompromising people (valiant warriors) who will abolish (tear down) the evil works of our culture and rebuild on biblical foundations. The church and the culture need people with the courage and strength of Gideon. This is the time for strong leaders to step out in faith, leading the culture back to obedience to God and His law.

It was from a simple beginning, planting a crop and harvesting it that raised Gideon above all other Israelites and earned him the title ‘Valiant warrior’. He went on in God’s power to save his nation from ruin from an invading army. Our nation has been invaded by a humanist army just as certain to enslave and ruin us as were the Midianites in Gideon’s time. Christian culture is under attack on every front from entertainment, education, literature, the arts, or the sciences. The church needs, even cries for, valiant warriors to stand and rebuild based on wiser, biblical ideas. The call for valiant warriors goes forth!

Read Part 2 Here: One Thing that Will Propel a Nation to Victory!

Posted in Culture, Faith Tagged with: