Isaiah 1:4-6 (NIV): Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness– only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.
Even though God takes no delight in it when His people go astray, He will discipline them, taking away His hand of protection and letting sin-broken nature and sin-twisted humanity take their course. His desire in this discipline is for His people to realize their faults and their need for God, and turn again to Him so that He can heal them and restore their land.
Bur in Isaiah’s day, the people refused to admit their wrongs. Even though the wealth of their nation was falling to ruins, even though their national leaders had turned away from pure worship of God to feathering their own nests and pushing forth their own agendas, even though many of God’s people had idols in their homes that they poured out offerings to in order to try to ensure good crops, they still believed that they were doing nothing wrong, and that God should happily accept the tag-ends of devotion that they were willing to spare Him out of their busy agendas and crowded weeks. This continued among the vast majority of them, even as their nation continued to slide further and further from God’s commands and His standards, until He finally took their nation from them and sent them into exile until they repented. Israel never did – Judah took 70 long years.
We are seeing the same dynamics at work in our own nation right now. God’s people in America (and other parts of the world, but let’s focus on America) have drifted away from full, whole-hearted devotion to the Lord and obedience to His commands. Even though the wealth of our nation is falling to ruins, with huge deficits robbing the people of financial prosperity in both the present and the future; even though many of our leaders in local, state, and national positions have turned away from God, and instead are totally focused on their own political futures; even though the vast majority of Christians spend more time and emotional energy and money on their TV shows, their leisure activities, and their entertainments than they do on time with God and involvement with His agenda; even though many “Christian leaders” have become false prophets, pointing people away from the pure words of the Bible and infecting them with humanistic philosophies, moral relativism, and popular culture; even though all of these things are true, God’s sad, broken people still believe that we are fine. We believe that our relationship with the Lord is fine, and that He is pleased with our half-hearted, once-a-week devotion to Him. We look in vain for “outside causes” for the problems that the nation is facing, refusing to see that a nation rises or falls based on the solidity of God’s people – not on our “faith,” but on our whole-hearted devotion and total obedience to God, His agenda, and His commands. The problems, tragedies, and woes that God is allowing to impact America right now are designed to turn the hearts of God’s people back to Him so that He can heal and restore our land.
If we, God’s people, refuse to repent and return to Him with all of our hearts, leaving all of our worldliness, our sinfulness, and our divided hearts behind, things will get worse and worse until the nation is lost. There is no “political solution;” no “social program” that will fix the wounds, welts, and open sores in our society that are just now becoming visible for what they are to most people. As God said to the people of Isaiah’s day, so He says to the people of America today: “Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18-20 NIV)
Father, Your analysis of our plight and its cause is, of course, absolutely correct. Thank You that You are still willing to pardon us and heal our land if only we will turn back to You. Thank You that we have not yet hit the point of no return (As Jerusalem did). Help us Lord! Turn our hearts back to You. Spark a great revival among Your people, that we may hear Your voice clearly, that we may be struck to the hearts, and that we might truly humble ourselves and pray and seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways, so that You will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land. (2 Chronicles 7:14) Amen.