(Costa Mesa, California) — “America, for all that we have endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.” So began President Obama on Tuesday night in his 2015 State of the Union address to the nation and to a Joint Session of Congress. He was not the first American President to declare the state of the union “strong.” But with all due respect, the President is wrong. When a nation murders 57 million innocent babies, the state of the union is not strong. When a nation overtaxes and overregulates and over burdens the economy and drives manufacturers and other businesses overseas and leaves 92 million Americans out of the labor force with no jobs and few prospects to get a good-paying job, the state of the union is not strong. When a nation heaps $18 trillion of national debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren, and keeps creating more and more national debt with no end in sight, the state of the union is not strong. When a leader says, “no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” the state of the union is not strong. When a leader ignores the rising and existential threat of Radical Islam, the state of the union is not strong. When a leader does not take decisive action to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat, the state of the union is not strong. When a leader does not take decisive action to crush terrorist movements like al Qaeda and ISIS, and refuses to even mention “Islam” or “Islamism” or “Radical Islam” or even “al Qaeda” is his address to the nation, the state of the union is not strong. When the leader of the free world cannot see the gathering storm — and believes that “leading from behind” is true leadership in a world that is dark and getting darker — the state of the union is not strong. My goal in saying this is not to score partisan political points. Rather, I am deeply concerned about the future of America, and Christian leaders and lay people must speak out. Indeed, at this critical hour, let us consider Ezekiel 33:1-9 and how it applies to us and our times. 1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’ 7 Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. 9 But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.” Ezekiel was a Hebrew prophet writing more than 2,500 years ago. He was part of the Jewish people that had been conquered and captured by King Nebuchadnezzar and were now living in the Babylonian Empire. And the Lord came to Ezekiel and called him to be a prophet — to hear the word of the Lord, and then to speak it to the people. In this passage, the Lord says very clearly that He has raised Ezekiel up to be a “watchman” for the people. That is, his responsibility is to see threats and dangers that are approaching with God’s help and insight, and then warn the people about those coming dangers. He is also supposed to warn individuals about their sins, that they might repent of those sins and turn to the Lord with a humble heart for forgiveness. But the Lord tells Ezekiel that it is not simply his job to be a “watchman.” The Lord will raise up and appoint other watchmen over time. And it is the responsibility of such watchmen to see threats and dangers and sins and warn the people, or they will be held to account by the Lord Himself. Christians — and especially Christian pastor and leaders — must be clear-eyed about three grave threats that we face.
- The threat that America is not just in a season of decline, but that we face implosion — collapse — outright judgment.
- The threat that America and parts of the Church will turn against Israel & the Jewish people.
- The threat that Christians in the West will ignore or turn a blind eye to the existential threat posed by Radical Islam to our country, and/or to the barbaric slaughter and terrible persecution of Muslims as well as Arab Christians in the Middle East by Radical Islamic jihadists like Iran, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.
Let’s briefly consider each point in light of Ezkiel’s words. 1. THREAT #1: America is not simply in decline. We are heading for collapse, implosion, judgment. There are many reasons for this, including a massive and crushing national debt with no end in sight, the implosion of families through divorce and out-of-wedlock-birth and the assault on traditional marriage, violent crime, drug use, pornography and so forth. I wrote about this in more detail in my 2012 non-fiction book, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time?, so I won’t take time here to go into detail. But consider one number: 57 million. America is heading for divine judgment for murdering 57 million unborn children. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland. As I stood in an actual gas chamber that was used to systematically murder so many Jews, political prisoners and others, it was a horrifying experience. I’m Gentile on my mother’s side, and Jewish on my father’s side, and standing there thinking about how the Nazis created these murder factories to kill six million Jews was one of the most painful experiences of my life. But as I stood in that gas chamber, I could not help but think of how my own country, America — a country I love so dearly — has created murder factories to kill millions of people, as well. I was born in 1967. In my lifetime — since 1973 — the American people have legally murdered more than 57 million babies. If this is not stopped soon, we will reach 60 million. Think about that. If we really get to the point that our nation has systematically murdered 60 million human beings, we will have murdered 10 times more people than the Nazis killed of the Jews. Now we know how God judged Germany and the Nazi regime through a crushing defeat in World War II, and we believe that the Nazis deserved such judgment. What do we think is going to happen if continue to murder millions of children? We are going to face the judgment of God. It is extraordinary that it hasn’t happened already. There is hope, but we are running out of time. We could repent as a nation. We could turn from our wicked ways, plead with God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive our sins, and plead with Him to heal our land. The Bible says, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) This was specifically a promise given to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. But it is a principle we can apply today. We could plead with God for forgiveness, and He could grant it. He could give us a sweeping series of revivals that could culminate in a Third Great Awakening, with hundreds of millions of Americans — beginning with the Church — repenting of our sins, turning to Christ, praying, fasting, reading God’s Word and seeking to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is possible. There is hope. But again, we are running out of time. But let’s be clear: Without a revival, we are on the road to implosion. Indeed, the threat of implosion is far beyond what the next President or Congress can solve alone — we desperately need a Third Great Awakening. Will you and I faithfully teach and preach the word of God to the nation? Will America hear the word of the Lord that we have strayed far from the teachings of the Bible and allowed our land to become polluted with abortions and pornography and violence and wickedness of all kinds? Will we admit how far we are from God’s plan and purpose for our lives? Will we confess that our hearts are far from Jesus Christ and plead with the Lord for His mercy and grace and forgiveness? Will we fast and pray and earnestly seek God’s face, and implore Christ to give us a Third Great Awakening? Or will we ignore the word of the Lord and continue in our sins and watch our nation continue to decline, or even implode? Twice in American history we have seen sweeping spiritual revivals known as the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening, respectively. Millions of Americans repented of their sins during those seasons, became devout followers of Jesus Christ, began to read the Bible voraciously and to obey the word of the Lord. Nowhere in Scripture, however, has America been promised a spiritual revival in the 21st century, much less one that would be so sweeping, so game-changing that it would qualify as a Third Great Awakening. But who knows? Perhaps the Lord will show us tremendous mercy and forgiveness if we all humble ourselves and pray, and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways? 2. THREAT #2: What happens if — on top of all our nation’s challenges and sins — America abandons or turns against Israel? In Genesis 12, the Lord God chooses Abram, calls him out of Ur of the Chaldees (located in modern-day Iraq, 220 miles southeast of Baghdad) to go to “a land that I will show you,” which turns out to be the land later called Israel. The Lord promises to bless Abram, and through him bless “all the families of the earth.” Specifically in 12:3, the Lord says, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” As one reads through the rest of the book of Genesis, it becomes clear that this promise from God is passed down from Abram (who is later named Abraham) to Isaac to Jacob (later named Israel) and then to Jacob’s descendants, Israel and the Jewish people. Thus, the Lord is making clear that those who bless Israel and the Jewish people He will bless, and those who curse them He will curse. If America turns against or abandons Israel and the Jews after being their closest friend and ally for so many decades, God warns He will bring judgment upon us. Psalm 122:6-9 — This passage reads, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.’ For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, ‘May peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.” Clearly, people all over the world, including in America, need to:
- pray for peace in Jerusalem, Israel and the broader Middle East
- pray for Jews and Arabs in the epicenter
- love Jews and Arabs in the epicenter
- seek the good of Jews and Arabs in the epicenter
The Lord promises to bless and “prosper” those who do. 3. THREAT #3: What if Americans and our leaders ignore the gathering storm — the existential threat — posed by Radical Islam? What if the Church does, too? God forbid. Even if Washington is slow to understand or act, followers of Jesus Christ who love America, and love Israel, and understand the Word of God must not ignorant of the threat against us, nor be blind to the suffering in the Arab, Iranian, and Muslim world, nor deaf to their cries for help, nor dull to the terror and tyranny they face. We are witnessing a Radical Islamic offensive across the Mideast, from Gaza to Syria to Iraq. Leaders in Washington and across the world have been slow to see, and slow to act. But the Church must step up. We serve the King of glory. Our King was born in the epicenter. He died and rose again in the epicenter. He is coming back to the epicenter — and He’s coming soon. So we must pray for our President and leaders to wake up to the threat and protect us before it’s too late. At the same time, we must pray for help our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted in the Middle East. And we must show Christ’s love and compassion to Jews, Muslims and Christians in the epicenter. We need to LEARN about what is happening in the region and God’s plan and purpose for the people there. We need to PRAY for peace and healing and stability and calm in the region, and for open doors for the Gospel. We need to GIVE to ministries that are doing effective work in the region, ministries like The Joshua Fund. We also need to be willing to GO to the region if God sends us there to serve Him and serve the people in the name of Jesus. Is this hard? Yes. Is this dangerous? Sometimes. But Jesus laid down His life in love to save us. Will you and I lay down our lives in love to serve Him? When people and nations are in danger, will you and I blow the trumpet and sound the warning? Overall, most Americans are very supportive of Israel and find many ways to love and bless her, as well as the Arabs and others in Israel and the Middle East. This is good. But there are a growing number of voices who say it is time to:
- cut off military aid to Israel
- boycott Israel
- divest from Israel
- sanction Israel
- turn against Israel once and for all
- ignore the persecuted church in the Middle East as the darkness grows darker
- and/or ignore the Arab Christians and Arab Muslims and Kurds and Yazidis and others while they are being threatened and slaughtered
Some do so because of anti-Semitism or anti-Arabism, others out of a belief in isolationism, and others because of ignorance. Given the high stakes, one of the things we need to do is teach people about God’s love and plan and purpose for Israel and the Jewish people, and why this matters to America. We need to help more people — including our leaders and future leaders — understand why America’s fate is inextricably linked with how we treat Israel and the Jewish people, as well as her neighbors. We also need to teach people that God loves Israel’s neighbors and her enemies and we must, too. If a nation follows these Biblical principles — if they humble themselves, and seek God earnestly through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and read the Bible, and repent of their sins, and plead for God’s mercy, and if they choose wise and godly leaders to govern them, and if they love and bless Israel and the Jewish people, and do not divide the land of Israel, and love and pray for Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem and seek their good — then God will love and bless and show mercy to such a nation. But if a nation violates these principles — especially chronically and consistently — then there will be a day of reckoning. This is a sobering message. But in faithfulness to Ezekiel 33:1-9, we must lovingly and clearly warn people that the state of our union is not strong — we are in grave danger — and only by turning to the Lord do we have any real and lasting hope. ————— Must read: “The Spiritual State of our Union” by Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention —————-