When you do these things should I be silent? Do you think that I am like you? I accuse you, I lay out the matter before your eyes.(Psalm 50:21)1
I posted a video to one of my online social network sites which suggested 9-11-01 was part of God’s judgment on America because of its many sins. One reader took great umbrage with that idea. He believes 9-11 was simply the sinful act of “misguided” men, and is unwilling to believe God would permit all those innocent people to die because of the nation’s sins. Of course, that reader is not alone in his belief. I have witnessed the same idea promoted for years from pulpits and in religious magazines and newspapers.
I suppose the idea that God does not personally mete out judgment against sin can be traced to the God is Dead movement that gained ascendency in America during the 1960s. “I’m OK, You’re Ok” became a popular mantra, followed by, “There are no absolutes: No absolute truth, no absolute right or wrong moral choices -- everything depends on the situation.” As that philosophy slowly permeated the culture through the universities and the media, it ultimately found its way into the Church where, in the last few decades, parishioners hear from the pulpit more often than not, “God is Love” without the equally true biblical injunction, “Be holy, for God is holy.”
The morning after my online exchange, I sat in my recliner and began my usual time with the Lord. I opened the Bible to chapter 8 of 1 Kings to read Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the Temple. The prayer extends from verses 12 through 53, but my attention focused on only a small section of the prayer. Beginning with verse 33, Solomon asked this of God:
33 “When your people Israel are defeated by an enemy because they sinned against you, and then they return to you, praise your name, pray to you, and entreat you in this house,
34 listen in heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them back to the land you gave their ancestors.
35 “When the heavens are closed, so that there is no rain, because they have sinned against you, but they pray toward this place and praise your name, and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them,
36 listen in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants............
37 “If there is famine in the land or pestilence; or if blight comes, or mildew, or locusts, or caterpillars; if an enemy of your people presses upon them in the land and at their gates; whatever plague or sickness there may be;
38 whatever prayer or petition any may make, any of your people Israel, who know heartfelt remorse and stretch out their hands toward this house,
39 listen in heaven, the place of your enthronement; forgive and take action. Render to each and all according to their ways, you who know every heart; for it is you alone who know the heart of every human being.
40 So may they revere you as long as they live on the land you gave our ancestors.2
Solomon is not the only one in Biblical history to associate disasters – whether of nature or of man – with God’s judgment of sin. One cannot read Moses, or the prophets, or the epistles, or Revelation, and come away with a philosophy popular in much of today’s Church that God does not use nature or Man to judge sin – whether personal or national sin.
America has mercilessly killed more than 55 million babies in abortion clinics since 1973. Grasp the magnitude of that bloodshed. Fifty-five million. And in that time America has also elevated sexual perversions of all sorts to the place of protected legal status. We vote into political power men and women well-known for their deceit, thefts, murders, immoralities, treasons . . . and we love it so.
If we choose to believe earthquakes, floods, droughts, and other ‘acts of God’ are simply random acts of nature, and not God’s ‘wake up’ call to repentance, then there is no need for a sinful nation to repent, to change, and beg God’s forgiveness. If we choose to believe the tragedies caused by planes crashing into buildings on 9-11 were simply the work of evil men acting on their own free will, then we will not be open to the possibility that God is removing His protective shield over America because of our national sins. Therefore, there is no need to gather on our knees in churches across the land and repent, and change, because we have nothing to fear from God. After all, God is Love.
Do we really think God does not see? Or care? Or judge sin? In another of his writings, Solomon noted, “11Because the sentence against an evil deed is not promptly executed, the human heart is filled with the desire to commit evil—" (Ecclesiastes 8:11)3
There is, of course, a better way to live, and that is in accordance with the historic teaching of the Church, and the historic teaching of Scripture, which can be summed up in this axiom: When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise.
From one end of the Book to the other, Scripture tells us not only is God Love, but that He is also a Holy God. We say that sometimes too quickly and too easily. But let’s now say it slowly: God is Holy. Righteous. Sacred. Pure. Undefiled. And He demands of us the same. When we choose to live otherwise, then we have good reason to fear, as the historic Church and all the Biblical writers have warned.
God is not one to be mocked, wrote Saint Paul. Whatever we sow, we will reap (Galatians 6:7)4. The writer to the Hebrews added: “Our God is a consuming fire”, (Hebrews 12:29)5 and, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31)6.
God is not dead. And He is not asleep.