Choosing Jesus in America!
Have you ever stopped to think about the reality that one day we will have to choose between the country we love and Our Savior? Have you ever considered the passage in Isaiah 6 where God asked a simple question, "Whom Shall I send, and Who will go for us?" I will have to admit, this passage has much bearing on my life since I was 14. How can a young man ever forget the day that God asked him this question, only to see him do his best Jonah impression and attempt to run like the devil in the opposite direction. Born the son of a preacher man, I never aspired to preach or even teach others. I wanted, and still want, a quiet life, one filled with as little turmoil as possible. I saw the life of a minister of God and I cared little for it. People always upset at you when you deliver the word of God which is aimed at sin in the life of the body of Christ. People literally spitting venom at you through choice words and threats of how miserable your life would be if you ever spoke such words again. Who would want that job? When I was 14, I understood very little of this passage in Isaiah 6. I only saw the question by God and the answer by Isaiah, "Here am I Lord, Send me!" In reality, I often wonder if that is not where most of us stop in reading of this passage. It is a feel good verse in which we hear a call from God and see one of His faithful servants answer. But there is so much more to this Chapter of Isaiah's life. You see, Isaiah lived in a time of great prosperity in Israel. Things were going pretty well for the "children of God." Peace somewhat resided over them and they were all making a nice living off the land. However, we know that they had strayed in their hearts from their first love, God himself. They had traded in God for their own imagination of who God was. God was the "go to guy" if things got tough or hard and he was the "buddy" they could depend on. However, in the day to day living for Him, things had changed quite a bit. People had become complacent in their lives, enjoying the fruits of this world and what it had to offer them. Sure, they were still going to the Temple for the weekly gatherings, they were still living a "more moral than the rest of the world" life, and they were't doing any "horrible" sins! However, they had wandered away from God being their ALL in ALL, their only passion, their only desire. He had become a part of their lives vs being the entirely of their beings. God had chosen little ole pathetic Israel to be His people, he had set them free, driven out their enemies, forgiven their waywardness, and still yet again, they had began the process of simply "enjoying the good life." Unfortunately that meant they were self centered, self focused, and forgetting to care for those in need around them. They began to put so much attention on their own lives, that the needs of those around them became the thing to ignore. Eventually, they had become deaf to the cries of the starving children and the widows in need. Eventually the neighbor who was having a tough year just needed to do better for himself. Eventually, it became a nation of people who lacked any resemblance of God and his nature all together. That is when God asked the question "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us!" That is when Isaiah, considered the most righteous man of his day, jumped at the opportunity to tell people God's instructions and see his people return to God. That is what Isaiah wanted. Isaiah loved Israel, his country and his people. Isaiah longed for revival to sweep their land and for people to return to being the light of God in a dark world. No wonder Isaiah was so quick to leap at the opportunity to lead his people back to the foot of God's throne. I would feel the same way! After all, when it was all said and done, the people would adore Isaiah and thank him for being willing to serve God and draw them back to His side, right? Well, that is where the story turned south for old Isaiah! Right after he threw his hand in the air like an excited school boy to answer his teachers question, Isaiah had God's real intentions handed to him:
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (NIV)
9-10 He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Listen hard, but you aren’t going to get it; look hard, but you won’t catch on.’ Make these people blockheads, with fingers in their ears and blindfolds on their eyes, So they won’t see a thing, won’t hear a word, So they won’t have a clue about what’s going on and, yes, so they won’t turn around and be made whole.” (MSG)
Now if I am going to accept God's call to go to his people with a message, the least I would like to see is some results in the positive direction, right? How many people you know are willing to sign up for the "Call" knowing they are going to be used as the one to harden their hearts vs free their hearts? No way! Not me! That is what I have been saying since I was 14. Sure, I will go preach, I will go to the people, but God I want to see them redeemed, not condemned. Not run out of their homes and their lands. Isaiah felt the same way, look at this:
11-13 11-13 Astonished, I said, “And Master, how long is this to go on?”
Isaiah was not exactly thrilled at this either. Who wants to go out and preach to the people to repent and return to God only to see them turn away even more. How frustrating that kind of ministry would be. But it was the call Isaiah had on his life and it was during a time that Israel was living large in the land. People feared Israel because of all God had done for them in the past. but Israel had become proud and haughty and lifted themselves up over God. So God sent word to repent, knowing that in their prosperity, it would only harden them even more to continue to live their "okay" lives and enjoy the fruit of the earth. Even the king, Hezekiah, friend of Isaiah, showed his true nature when in Isaiah 39 he was told all he had and all that had been accumulated by the forefathers would be hauled off to Babylon along with Hezekiah's sons. His response was the following: Isaiah 39:8 Hezekiah replied to Isaiah, “Good. If God says so, it’s good.” Within himself he was thinking, “But surely nothing bad will happen in my lifetime. I’ll enjoy peace and stability as long as I live.” (MSG)
Let us be honest. Is that not truly our mentality? I hear it all the time, "Boy I really feel for the next generation, my kids, their children. This world is getting so much worse, I hate to imagine what it will be like for them!" But do we really stop to make a difference through how we live? Are we concerned enough to fall on our knees, repent of our complacent lives, and Pursue Jesus with a fervent passion? (2 Chronicles 7:13-22) Or are we simply content to continue to enjoy our peace in our lifetime and hope they can figure it out?
The final verses of Isaiah 6 are so disheartening to the prophet when he hears:
11-13 Astonished, I said, “And Master, how long is this to go on?” He said, “Until the cities are emptied out, not a soul left in the cities— Houses empty of people, countryside empty of people. Until I, God, get rid of everyone, sending them off, the land totally empty. And even if some should survive, say a tenth, the devastation will start up again. The country will look like pine and oak forest with every tree cut down— Every tree a stump, a huge field of stumps.
What a devastating outlook for a newly commissioned ministry. No wonder Isaiah struggled with this new found calling. I know I only felt like running the more I grew to understand what God was saying. He was literally planning the full destruction of Israel right in front of Isaiah's eyes and all his pleading and preaching were simply going to be ignored. However, God did not leave him with absolutely no hope. No, he gave Isaiah a small treasure on which to hold as He finished by saying this
But there’s a holy seed in those stumps.”
My fellow believers, God raised up America in a very short time to be one of the greatest powers on the earth. We were a beacon of hope to those in need. "Come rest your weary souls here," was the cry and we set our foundations on the simple hope of having a place where we could freely worship God as we saw fit apart from the Catholic Church, The King, and the Pope. But as time has passed, we have puffed out our chest and we have said "Look at what we have built!" literally putting God out of our minds. Mindlessly laughing at sin portrayed on our TV sets and in the movies. Willingly turning our heads to those in need simply by choosing to ignore the fact that most of the world lives in utter poverty while we live in extravagance. Choosing to prioritize this life over life eternal. Choosing money over God on a daily basis. Choosing to simply stay quiet so we can live a life of peace and free of turmoil that comes when speaking the truth. Choosing to be religious rather than being righteous.
What God has raised up, just like Israel, He too will level to the ground until it is nothing but a field of stumps! Thankfully, He is also leaving a holy seed in the stump, a remnant to grow again for His glory. America will fall, history has proven it time and again. The greatest nations on earth have always crumbled when they turn their back on God. The choice we will face is do we love America or Jesus more? Do we want our nation saved from destruction more than we want souls delivered from eternal destruction? Do we want our way of life in America to continue, or do we want God to be glorified and the Gospel given to all nations? Which do we love more, Jesus or America? These are questions we will have to answer, or better yet, should answer today!
May God Himself Provide us the Grace that we may we choose Jesus when that day arrives.