The first is of the horrific school shooting of Uvalde, Texas. It has again raised the cry in our land that we must do something to stop the slaughter of our innocent children.
“Laws must be passed,” many are saying. “More must be done to protect children!”
That is the first story. The second is this: The state of Oklahoma has passed the toughest anti-abortion law in the nation, supposedly completely banning abortion in that state from the moment of conception.
This news story has raised another cry in our land in support the right of women to choose whether or not to keep their child.
“Give women the right to choose what to do with their bodies!” is the shout of many. “The right for a woman to choose what happens in her body cannot be the decision of a few men in power!”
The irony in all of this is that many of these voices (and I would say most of these voices) who are calling for stricter gun laws so that children can be protected are the very same voices that are speaking against laws that prohibit abortion—an injunction that potentially will save the lives of millions of children who are living inside the wombs of their mothers.
By some sort of contortionist bending of the mind, the people who are expressing both of these two disparate views somehow consider the school classrooms of children to be sacred and protected places where the lives of the children should be secure and sheltered, but the womb of the mother is not. One of these should be a sanctuary for children, they are saying, and the other should be left open to be broken into and the children within not only to be slaughtered, but torn limb from limb in the process of killing them.
Does not anyone else see the irony in all of this?
How have we come to this point in our country? Have we all become blind to what is clearly visible in our society?
What Happened in Ancient Israel
In our church services during the past several weeks, we have been examining some of the events of ancient Israel in the years of their decline as a nation. It was a decline that came about because of the loss of their relationship to the Holy God.
Eerily, we have seen many parallels between what had happened with Israel’s relationship with God with what has happened to our relationship with God in this country.
Israel had been a nation that in those years was designated by God to be the spokespeople for his word. They were to be the demonstration to the world what a people and a nation could achieve if they followed the ways of the Lord. They were the recipients of the blessings of God.
In the years of Israel’s history that we have been studying, we have seen their persistent failure in responding to God’s plan in calling them, and thereby refusing his promises of blessings for their nation. We have seen them falling away from God and rejecting the command to follow his word. They piled up rebellious acts upon an already disobedient lifestyle.
As a result, we have seen how God did indeed finally withdraw his blessing from them. After that, we saw how things began to go wrong within the nation of Israel. Horrendous events happened. Disasters occurred and armies ravaged their lands. The people lived in fear, not knowing what terrible incident would happen next and not knowing what to do about it.
Nevertheless, through all of this, God still spoke. He sent his prophets and he sent his spokespeople. God told the people why events were happening as they were.
“From the days of your fathers, you have turned away from My statutes and have not kept them,” the prophet Malachi told them.
Likewise, another prophet, Jeremiah, wrote the words of the Lord when He said:
When I brought your fathers out of the land of Egypt, I did not merely command them about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but this is what I commanded them: “Obey Me, and I will be your God, and you will be My people. You must walk in all the ways I have commanded you, so that it may go well with you.”
Yet they did not listen or incline their ear, but they followed the stubborn inclinations of their own evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. From the day your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have sent you all My servants the prophets again and again. Yet they would not listen to Me or incline their ear, but they stiffened their necks and did more evil than their fathers. (Jeremiah 7:22-26)
But the ears of the people had become deaf to the words of God. They still did not understand why all the horrific things were taking place in their country, a country that had once been so richly blessed in the past.
When God had given these words to Jeremiah to speak to the people, he also gave to the prophet realistic expectations as to what to expect from the Israelites in response to his words.
God told Jeremiah:
When you tell them all these things, they will not listen to you. When you call to them, they will not answer. Therefore you must say to them, “This is the nation that would not listen to the voice of the LORD their God and would not receive correction.”
Truth has perished; it has disappeared from their lips. Cut off your hair and throw it away. Raise up a lamentation on the barren heights, for the LORD has rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath. (Jeremiah 7:22-29)
God clearly had had enough of their rebellion. “Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem?” God said to them. “Who will mourn for you? Who will turn aside to ask about your welfare? You have forsaken Me. You have turned your back. So I will stretch out My hand against you and I will destroy you; I am weary of showing compassion” (Jeremiah 15:5-6).
“I am weary of showing compassion.”
Israel had failed God. They had rebelled against his word, and they had followed their own perverted passions and desires. As a result, they had seen the blessings of God removed from their society. Evil things happened.
What Happened in the United States of America
For the past two hundred years, we in our own nation have been a nation blessed by God. Our actions have not been faultless, certainly, but our culture had been one largely based on the teachings of Scripture. We have lived by the blessings of God.
We sang, “God bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her, through the night with the light from above.”
But our words belied what was in our hearts. At the first, our relationship with God became merely ceremonial. We may have made overtures of following God’s word; we may have kept attending our churches, but our hearts were far from obeying God. We instead immersed ourselves in following our own passions. Celebrities became our new idols and sports became our new religion. These were the things that actually occupied our time and our thinking—those and other forms of self-entertainment.
But God said to us as he said to the ancient Israelites, “I did not tell you to merely perform outward signs of piety and of your commitment to me. I told you that if you obey me, I will be your God, and you will be my people. If you walk in all the ways I have commanded you, it will go well with you and I will bless you.”
But our ears had become deaf to the words of God. He spoke, but we did not pay attention. We did not hear.
Then terrible things began happening in our country. A new strain of virus came that killed a million people. Storms that were some of the strongest that our nation has ever experience began flooding our land, and great winds flattened entire towns. A decades-old drought is currently plaguing the western states. We became engulfed in wars overseas that had no clear objective. Our economy began to collapse. Violence on our streets have become worse than war zones, because no one on the street even knew that they were in danger until they were gunned down.
And we ask, “Where is God in all of this?”
God has responded just as he did to ancient Israel and has said from the beginning, “If you walk in all the ways I have commanded you, it will go well with you and I will bless you.”
But again, we did not hear. Instead, we only increased in our perversions. Then we saw what happened at Columbine. We saw what happened at Sandy Hook and Uvalde. There were many more. Another school is ravaged by violence. Innocent children slaughtered. And again, we ask “Why?”
We may speak our words, our words of empathy and sorrow, but do we not see that these actions are not those of an assault rifle and single individual? They are the results of all of our actions.
What Happened in Teaching Our Children
For many decades, we all have been killing our children. First of all, we are teaching our children that their lives actually have no value. It was just their stroke of luck that they were not aborted before they were born. They are alive today only because they had parents who decided to let them live. But these same parents could have just as well killed them before they were born, because after all, their lives while they were still in the wombs of their mother had no rights.
Then, for these children who are lucky enough to be born, we immediately begin to teach them that they were not created in the image of God. In fact, we teach them that they were not created at all. They are the result of a random series of accidents that happened sometime in an age too distant in the past to be able to examine or question, and in which there was no one to see it occur.
By some strange coincidence, this random series of accidents caused life to arise out of something that was not life. Then these first living cells continued experiencing this series of accidental events. Some of these accidents ended up becoming plants, some became insects, some fish, and some even became animals.
We may not say it in so many words, but is this not telling our children that their lives have no special value in this world? Their lives are not ones created in God’s image, and their lives actually have no value above any other life form in our ecosystem, either plant life or animal.
Then to continue our perversions with our children, we begin to distort their view of sexuality as God created us to be. As it says in some of the first words of the Bible, God created a Man and a Woman, he created them male and female.
But we are teaching our children that this is an anachronistic view of sexuality. Today there is not only male and female, not only a “M” and an “F,” but there is an alphabet soup of other genders. There is also an “L” and a “G” and a “B” and a “Q.” After that, the acronym started to become too long to have to repeat constantly, so that we just added a + sign for any other perversion that someone may come up with in the future.
There are even some who choose not to identify as human at all, but like to think that they are an animal—a cat or a dog or some other “furry” creature. We have now reached the point where we have truly become animals.
To those who teach evolution, would this be called “devolution”? Should we now expect to begin our return to a primordial swamp and finally devolve into “unlife?”
Then to add to our perversions of how God made us as people, we now subvert the honorable title of “mother” with the Orwellian sounding term of “birthing person,” because after all, we are teaching our children that men can also become pregnant.
The few who speak against acting contrary to God’s design of sexuality have usually been met with hostility, and have been labeled “unloving,” or “hateful.”
But the truth is, it is these teachings that are hateful and that have been killing our children for decades. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Uvalde, all of the other school shootings—these are not the only fatalities in our schools. They are only the most obvious. The greater the fatalities are the millions of children who have been taught that their lives had little or no meaning. Because of what they have been taught, they have been denied the knowledge and experience that they are a special creation of God, loved by him, and who wants them to have a fulfilling and happy life.
Of course, added to all of these casualties are the sixty-four million souls whom we have not even allowed to be born at all since abortion became legal. These lives were cut down while still in what should have been for them the safest place in the world.
Should we wonder that we are experiencing a growing sense of insecurity and foreboding in our country?
What Happens when We Forsake God
God told Jeremiah, “Both great and small will die in this land…I am going to remove from this place, before your very eyes and in your days, the sounds of joy and gladness.”
When the people asked the prophet, “Why has the LORD pronounced all this great disaster against us? What is our guilt? What is the sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?”
Jeremiah was told to answer them:
It is because your fathers have forsaken Me, declares the LORD, and followed other gods, and served and worshiped them. They abandoned Me and did not keep My instruction. And you have done more evil than your fathers.
See how each of you follows the stubbornness of his evil heart instead of obeying Me. So I will cast you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your fathers have known. There you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.’ (Jeremiah 16:10-12)
Also in our day, the sounds of joy and gladness are difficult to find. They are being drown out by the sound of gunshots, and by the shouts of angry people and the cries of bitter sobbing. People are asking, “Why are all these disastrous events happening to our nation? What is our guilt?”
We do not need to look further than Jeremiah’s response to the people of his day for the answer to our questions. “Our fathers have forsaken the Lord and have abandoned his instruction. We have acted with even greater evil. We have followed the stubbornness of our own evil hearts.
What Can Happen
But this path is not irreversible. There is a way back.
We often think of the Biblical prophets as speaking mostly of the judgment of God, but actually, they speak more of the promises of God. Those promises still apply today:
Why do you cry out over your wound? Your pain has no cure! Because of your great iniquity and your numerous sins I have done these things to you. Nevertheless, all who devour you will be devoured, and all your adversaries—every one of them—will go off into exile. Those who plundered you will be plundered, and all who raided you will be raided. But I will restore your health and heal your wounds, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 30:15-17)
This is what the LORD of Hosts says: “Return to Me, declares the LORD of Hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of Hosts.” (Zechariah 1:2-3).
“From the days of your fathers, you have turned away from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Hosts (Malachi 3:7).
“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning.” Rend your hearts and not your garments, and return to the LORD your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving devotion. And He relents from sending disaster. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him (Joel 2:12-14)
Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His presence. So let us know—let us press on to know the LORD. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the earth.(Hosea 6:1-3)
Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me, and I will be saved, for You are my praise. Behold, they keep saying to me, “Where is the word of the LORD? Let it come now!” “But I have not run away from being Your shepherd; I have not desired the day of despair. (Jeremiah 17:14-16)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
But in this way God has fulfilled what He foretold through all the prophets, saying that His Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped away, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus, the Christ, who has been appointed for you. (Words of Peter, Acts 3:18-29)
Lastly, the words of Jesus:
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)