Friday, April 5, 2013

Liberty

“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family”-Lev 25:10
  That verse, or at least a portion of it, is inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. An associate of mine, a fellow street preacher, was arrested a few years back while preaching outside the facility that houses the Liberty Bell. The arresting officers cited his arrest as ‘separation of church and state’ to which the exasperated street preacher replied (while being handcuffed) “but there’s a Bible verse on the thing you’re guarding!”
  America, despite her current state, is a very special place, and though I personally don’t subscribe to the idea of America as any sort of ‘promised land’, believing that to be a misapplication of Scripture, I won’t deny that America has been a place where the gospel has been preached with more liberty than possibly any other place on earth.  America is also a place where impossible military victories were won.  I don’t subscribe to the idea that every American founder was a Bible-believing Christian, but I do believe the Bible held greater sway over the minds and hearts of the people of that day than it does now.
  Given America’s quick descent into a police state in the last decade or so, and her eminent financial collapse, it wouldn’t be hard to discern that something has gone wrong. I for one place the blame in a different spot than most of my brethren, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  Since Americans have lost more freedoms in my lifetime than most countries ever even see, I think it behooves us to look at, from the Bible, how a nation loses its freedoms.

Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know , and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.  And though they say , The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely.  O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved ; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return .  Therefore I said , Surely these are poor; they are foolish : for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God.  I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds….Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?.... Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the LORD: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say .  Their quiver is as an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men.  And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat : they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds: they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig trees: they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustedst , with the sword Jer 5:1-5,9,15-17

   The history behind this passage is that free Jews who set up groves and worshipped false gods became slaves in Babylon. This judgment fell not only on them, but on their children. While in Babylon they would be forced to do the very thing they had chosen to do while free; bow before idols. God had given them liberty and safety from their enemies so that they would be free to worship and serve him. They had taken that liberty and used it as a cloak for maliciousness, so God simply removed that liberty, using the ‘heathen’ as an instrument of his will. That can, and to a certain extent, has happened to us, but  not for the reasons that many  cling to.
  When the horrible events of 9/11 happened, people looked around for answers. Some of the answers were  better than others.   Few days after the attack, Jerry Falwell was asked his opinion. I provide a quote of his response, and then I’ll go into why I disagree with him.
“ I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the  feminists, and the gays, and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, the People for the America Way, all of those who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen’.”
  Pretty strong words, aren’t they?  Here’s where I think Mr. Falwell missed the boat. If the pattern in scripture on how God deals with nations shows us anything, it shows us that a nation slips into tyranny not because of the faithless, but   because of the faithful.  There is a story in the Old Testament where the ark of God falls into the hands of the Philistines.  They have problems with it, so they put it on an ox-cart and send it back towards Israel.  I remember reading this passage a few years back and realizing that  the Philistines had to have put their hands all over the ark during that story, and yet none of them died. God held those who did not know him to a different standard than those who knew him.  God didn’t   judge the Philistines, who didn’t know any better, the same way he held the Israelites accountable because they did  know better.
  What does this mean? It means that the problem isn’t that there are filthy, immoral shows on television; the problem is that so many of God’s people watch them. The problem isn’t that there are sodomite parades in our land, but rather that churches have stopped making their voice of protest heard at these parades. Across our land those that know better, act like they don’t, and lead lives of hypocrisy and sin.  So as much as I would love to  blames the pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, ACLU and  all their ilk, as a Bible believer, I must conclude that  the fault lies with people like me, not people like them.  If we were---if I was the person  and Christian I was supposed to be, and less inclined to sin, more committed to righteousness, more  bold with the gospel, things might not be so bad.
   So to what ever extent  my own personal shortcomings have brought us here, I'm sorry. All we can do as beleivers is repent and pray God to spare our land and our liberty, not so we can  watch more TV, but so we can give him the  honor and glory and praise he deserves.
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