Wednesday, September 17, 2014

America the Proud!

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall”—Proverbs 16:18

Drop the moral ground out of the equation and the bottom line drops with it.  But rather than repent to reestablish that high moral ground in order to strengthen our bottom lines, most of the church in America is still stubbornly and defiantly redoubling their efforts to elevate their bottom lines above morality.  The Almighty Dollar is the church of America’s god (her idol), and because of this tragic fact, God is about to break the staff of her bread (her ecclesiastical economy); He is about to pull it down, pulverize it into a powdery chaff, and blow it away by the breath of His mouth.  If it were not enough that the church in America continues in pride and arrogance—with “fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness” (like wicked Sodom before her)—the church in America is now (also like wicked Sodom before her), not strengthening “the hand of the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49 KJV).  Indeed, “This was the sin of...Sodom,” she was “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; (she) did not help the poor and needy.  (She was) haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with (her)” (Ezekiel 16:49-50 NIV).

If “The punishment of my people (Israel) is greater than that of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment without a hand turned to help her” (Lamentations 4:6 NIV), then what makes us think that the church in America will not fall also (and by the same example pattern)?  Wicked indulgence always means more than mere selfishness; it always means oppressive treatment of others—ALWAYS!  Jerusalem, “the great city where the Lord was killed,” and “[…which is figuratively/symbolically/spiritually called Sodom and Egypt]” (Revelation 11:8 EXB) is, no doubt, being referred to in this verse of Scripture as apostate Israel—and by inference—the apostate church.  The idea that wicked self-indulgence is also an oppressive disregard of others is clearly seen in the remaining portion of Revelation 11:8 in the Expanded Bible: “Jerusalem is symbolically named after places judged by God for wickedness (Sodom) and for oppressing God’s people (Egypt).”

The New Jerusalem, however, is come down out of heaven, and is therefore unlike apostasy; it is rather of the divine nature of truth and fidelity (the opposite of “defection” or “revolt”—the definition of apostasy).  But just as the Lord said concerning Israel the whore, He is now saying to the apostate American church: “Now I will uncover her nakedness in plain view of her lovers, and no one will rescue her from me.  I will end all her religious celebrations” (Hosea 2:10-11 CEB).  The ordinary door of mercy is shut!  “But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV).  Because after God removed Israel’s idols—after He took her into the desert/wilderness experience to accomplish that—He restored her (albeit in humbled and numerically smaller form).  Likewise, God, in His wise and merciful counsel, is about to deliver the American church from her apostasy.  She is about to lose everything and have her skirt lifted up before the world in shameful and debilitating fashion.  But God’s exposure is redemptive.  As He said to Israel long ago, so He now says to us:

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.  There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.  There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt” (Hosea 2:14-15 NIV).

Of special note is the “Valley of Achor” as “a door of hope.”  The Valley of Achor was the site of the destruction of Achan (“serpent”), his family, and all he possessed.  He “troubled” (the definition of Achor) Israel by stealing what God had cursed in the siege of Jericho.  Jericho (which represents the human heart) was the gateway to the conquest of the entire Promised Land.  Any mistake there is a mistake of extraordinary consequence (out of the heart flow the issues of life).  The serpent and his serpentine family is issued a death sentence for what they did to us in the garden, and our complicity, that ties us to the serpent (and all his wicked children), is only completely destroyed at his destruction.  The Valley of Achor, the valley of our being troubled (tribulated or being narrowed and crammed into the kingdom of God), is the narrow door of our escape.  It is there that the serpent is judged to condemnation, whereas we are judged to victory in the same location.   “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?  Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:18-19 KJV).

The American church as she is presently constructed is being removed; her new mold will be less ostentatious and more spiritual.  Just as “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17 NASB), so are the lusts of the American church passing away, and all those who refuse to do the will of God in her midst.  The removal of what can be shaken (created things—inclusive of us—and certainly also inclusive of the American church and her apostasies)—“so that what cannot be shaken may remain” (Hebrews 12:27)—is upon us!  As Albert Barnes put it (in his commentary concerning this verse), “And this word, Yet once more - That is, this reference to a great agitation or commotion in some future time. This is designed as an explanation of the prophecy in Haggai, and the idea is, that there would be such agitations that everything which was not fixed on a permanent and immovable basis would be thrown down as in an earthquake. Everything which was temporary in human institutions; everything which was wrong in customs and morals; and everything in the ancient system of religion, which was merely of a preparatory and typical character, would be removed. What was of permanent value would be retained, and a kingdom would be established which nothing could move.”

Barnes further elaborated on the idea behind Hebrews 12:27 as follows:

“(1) All that was of a sound and permanent nature in the Jewish economy was retained; all that was typical and temporary was removed. The whole mass of sacrifices and ceremonies that were designed to prefigure the Messiah of course then ceased; all that was of permanent value in the Law of God, and in the principles of religion, was incorporated in the new system, and perpetuated.

“(2) The same is true in regard to morals. There was much truth on the earth before the time of the Savior; but it was intermingled with much that was false. The effect of his coming has been to distinguish what is true and what is false; to give permanency to the one, and to cause the other to vanish.

“(3) The same is true of religion.  There are some views of religion which men have by nature which are correct; there are many which are false. The Christian religion gives permanence and stability to the one and causes the other to disappear. And in general, it may be remarked, that the effect of Christianity is to give stability to all that is founded on truth, and to drive error from the world. Christ came that he might destroy all the systems of error - that is, all that could he shaken on earth, and to confirm all that is true. The result of all will be that he will preside over a permanent kingdom, and that his people will inherit “a kingdom which cannot be moved;” Hebrews 12:28.

“The removing of those things that are shaken - margin, more correctly "may be." The meaning is, that those principles of religion and morals which were not founded on truth would be removed by his coming.

“As of things that are made - much perplexity has been felt by expositors in regard to this phrase, but the meaning seems to be plain. The apostle is contrasting the things which are fixed and stable with those which are temporary in their nature, or which are settled on no firm foundation. The former he speaks of as if they were uncreated and eternal principles of truth and righteousness. The latter he speaks of as if they were created, and therefore liable, like all things which are “made,” to decay, to change, to dissolution.

“That those things which cannot be shaken may remain - the eternal principles of truth, and law, and righteousness. These would enter into the new kingdom which was to be set up, and of course that kingdom would be permanent. These are not changed or modified by time, circumstances, human opinions, or laws. They remain the same from age to age, in every land, and in all worlds.  They have been permanent in all the fluctuations of opinion; in all the varied forms of government on earth; in all the revolutions of states and empires. To bring out these is the result of the events of divine Providence, and the object of the coming of the Redeemer; and on these principles that great kingdom is to be reared which is to endure forever and ever.”

Now as pertaining to America and her church, mighty is God who judges her!  Yes indeed, in the end, all iron, clay, bronze, silver, and even gold (representing the different governing models of mankind) will be crushed, pulverized, and made like chaff to be blown away by the breath of the Almighty, as Jesus Christ, that stone which did all that crushing and pulverizing, becomes a mountain and fills the whole earth with a majestic and high government.  It is upon us, “the final removal and transformation of all [that can be] shaken—that is, of that which has been created—in order that what cannot be shaken may remain and continue.  Let us therefore, receiving a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:27-28, Amp.). 

The seventh angel then blew [his] trumpet, and there were mighty voices in heaven, shouting, The dominion (kingdom, sovereignty, rule) of the world has now come into the possession and become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (the Messiah), and He shall reign forever and ever (for the eternities of the eternities)! (Revelation 11:15, Amp.).

Our nation and the American church are increasingly proving themselves as vaporous as what man is within himself without Christ; he and everything he conceives of and makes with his hands is ultimately baseless.  But the good news is that Jesus Christ is not only on the horizon for all who cling to Him, but is Himself THE HORIZON.  “Therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tested Stone, a precious Cornerstone of sure foundation; he who believes (trusts in, relies on, and adheres to that Stone) will not be ashamed or give way or hasten away [in sudden panic]” (Isaiah 28:16, Amp.).  Do not fear what is coming upon the earth, and do not fear the fact that Jesus Christ and God have been removed from our nation; God is greater than our nation, and He can never fade away except in delusional minds and hearts.  Place your future on solid ground—that which cannot be removed—upon the Word of God made flesh, Jesus Christ.  America the proud is her downfall, yes, but mercifully—by the intercession of God Almighty—only to the baseline ground of Truth!