Phyllis Fox Plum
OUR HEDGE OF PROTECTION IS GOD
The most visible sign of attacks on ancient Israel show-up even today where their ruins lay fallen, where their pillars, their temple, their walls are stacked in a heap. When they worshipped idols, God let their enemies overtake them, and remove them from their land, their comforts and routines. Is that what happened on September 11, 2001 in America when the Twin Towers fell in a heap? What did we think of our horrible wreckage and loss of life? Do we remember Ground Zero, and strive to let God be God, He who protects?
Through His prophets God repeatedly warned Israel to remember the Covenant (He be their God, they be His People). The prophet Isaiah reminded them that judgment was coming because of their rebellion, disobedience, and idolatry (Isaiah 5: 5,6), I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste ... I will make it a ruin ...."
When God's People turn away from Him, He honors their freewill, and retreats, but His protection goes with Him (Genesis 19: 26), and we become subject to even greater disorders. Like the prideful Israelites responded with "The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars" (Isaiah 9:10), so too America promised each other the same, to rebuild, and so they did. We also lost a sycamore tree on that site, but planted another, yet it struggles to stay alive. After being punished, is the determination of Israel and America to rebuild, a prideful act?
Nothing happens by accident, yet noticing God's responses to sin escapes us. We are too busy and self-impressed, insisting we can do what we choose -- without Him. Following the 9/11 disaster, there was a spiritual stirring in our Nation, prayers rose to God's Heaven as multitudes gathered to support one another with "God Bless America." It was short-lived. As time passed so did the spiritual awakening, no revival unfolded. America did not keep God alongside as time lapsed into years, likened to Israel's self-reliance and preferences over and over and over. "For the people turn not onto Him that smite them, neither do they seek the Lord of Hosts" (Isaiah 9:13).
When God is ignored and silenced, our hedge-of-protection is remove. We become vulnerable to our weaknesses and failings that we are so experienced at accomplishing. Are we aware that dissention has consequences? Ask Adam and Eve how that works! They had only one rule to follow: avoid that great-looking tree in the center of the garden, as Eve said, don't even touch it (Genesis 3: 2).
In order to avoid our own calamities, we have the Ten Commandments and the Eight Beatitudes, guaranteed for safety and goodness, clearly presented, and easy to review in Sacred Scripture, because both the good along with the immoral suffer the same in disasters (Job 21: 17). Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18).
In 2001, our citizens intensely mourned one of the greatest disasters to strike American soil, yet the people in general failed to recognize its deeper meaning. They did not relinquish their unholy ways nor did they take the calamity as a wake-up call. Rather, like the Israelites, they hardened their hearts and listened to their human political leaders who defiantly proclaimed how they would proudly rebuild. No humility?
Are catastrophes expected in every generation? Yes, because we don't appear to learn from mistakes. "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity" (Horace Mann, 1859). Therein, awaken. "God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3: 17). That is Good News. Avoid rebellion, idolatry and immorality that assaults everyone!
Let the righteous praise His Holy Name. "Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being. Do it for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3: 23, 24). Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong (1 Cor. 16:13), recognizing who is in charge!