When God Abandons a Nation

Would He do that? Has He done that? How do we know?

In this age of Tolerance and GodIsOnlyLove theology, we often skip over vast chunks of scripture that loudly declare otherwise. Most people don’t care, as long as they are reasonably happy. But for those who appreciate the warning, Romans 1:18-30 gives some clear indicators that God has abandoned a nation. A quick glance can raise the hair on the back of your neck. Penned 2000 years ago, it is as relevant as the morning news.

Four prerequisites come before the abandonment:

1. First, a nation begins to willfully suppress the truth (v. 18-20). It is not for a lack of knowledge that a nation goes down; it is because of what they did with that knowledge. In the public square, it may sound like this: “I know the Bible says such-and-such, but we believe…”

2. Secondly, the predominant attitude of the nation shifts from God-reliance to self-reliance. They know their godly heritage. They know the ways God has provided, sustained, rescued, and blessed them. But they pride themselves on doing it “my way.” They are convinced that it was their strength, their resourcefulness, and their superiority that has earned them such success (v. 21).

3. Third, they develop an inflated sense of intellectual wisdom. They now have “science” as god and there is nothing this god cannot explain. They are too brilliant to need an invisible “Man in the sky” and look disdainfully upon the remnant that still clings to outdated religion to validate existence. Their “wisdom” says, “People believed the Bible before we had science. But we're too smart for that now” (v. 22).

4. Fourth, man-worship replaces God-worship. Even so-called Christianity becomes me-centered rather than cross-centered. Versions of this theme are pumped through the airways on Sunday mornings: “God thinks you’re awesome! He just wants you to believe in yourself! He wants to bless and prosper you, so start visualizing your success and God is bound to honor it!”(v. 23)

When these attitudes dominate a culture, God gives them up and it looks like this:

1. The first sign that God has abandoned a nation is that sexual boundaries are torn down. Perversions of every sort are not only explored but celebrated. The exciting sex goddess drives morality from its place of public honor and without a fight installs herself as the new empress (v. 24). She brings her glittery entourage: slavery, adultery, pornography, abortion, rape, disease, divorce, fatherless children, prostitution, and violence.

2. The second sign of God’s abandonment is that a nation no longer cares whether God is honored or whether He even exists. Money is more exciting. Pleasure is a higher aim. Self-fulfillment at any cost is an applauded goal and the most self-indulgent are celebrated as heroes. Entertainment drives the marketplace and the thirst for greater thrills, newer stimulation, and shinier gadgets is all-consuming (v. 25).

3. In the midst of this crumbling of a society comes homosexual deviance. Homosexual practice does not merely bring God’s judgment; it IS God’s judgment. Blatant sodomy dancing through the streets to the cheers of the spiritually blind is the third sign that God has abandoned a nation (v. 26). Women declaring no use for men, men proudly stating that man-boy love is the ultimate satisfaction are merely shouting the truth of Romans 1:26-27. They do not realize that they affirm the truth of scripture more accurately than the flashy TV preacher promising wealth.

4. AIDS. HIV. STD’s. Anacronyms that spell God’s judgment on a culture that has first abandoned Him. The mutilated bodies of self-defined transgenders flaunt themselves before the media and it becomes a crime to state the obvious. A sign that God has abandoned a nation is when sexually-transmitted diseases and obsessions are a national health crisis. They are “receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error (v. 27).

5. A fifth indicator that God has abandoned a nation is when the majority can openly commit any and all of the above sins with scarcely a shred of guilt or remorse. In fact, they’re proud of it and consider this lack of a conscience a virtue. Sin is a bottomless pit painted pink in which they continue to dig to their hearts’ content convinced that, if there is a God, He is pleased with them because they feel so good about it (v. 28). “God wants me to be happy, and this makes me happy, so I think He understands.”

6. When a formerly Bible-based culture tosses absolutes out the window in celebration of every form of evil, that is a sign that God has abandoned that nation. The nightly news could be a reading of Romans 1:29-30. These sins have always been a part of human history since the Fall. However, they have never been considered desirable by the masses. When millions of church-going Americans would rather Keep Up With the Sin-Laden Kardashians than with Jesus, it is a sign that God has abandoned that nation.

7. One often-overlooked item in this litany of sins is this: “they disobey their parents.” That one is jarring amidst such a cesspool of wickedness, so why is it there? Consider the last few generations. Has there ever been such open defiance of parental authority? What culture has long survived such blatant disregard for its elders? Children who should be adults by now continue to rebel like bratty toddlers: attacking, cursing, stealing from, and abusing their parents. Little children live secret lives via the smartphones bought by Mom and Dad. A parent trying to discipline a child can be arrested and jailed with one phone call. When an out-of-control youth generation disdains, dishonors, and disrespects its parents, that is a sign that God’s favor and protection have been removed from that nation (v. 30).

8. An eerie phenomenon has begun that also may indicate God’s abandonment of a nation. A growing multitude has a strange inability to comprehend what is right before them. As though a plexiglass wall stood between wise counsel and rebellious defiance, the hearer only blinks dumbly at the pleas for sanity. Verse 31 says that they are “without understanding.” This doesn’t refer to difficult trig problems. This refers to moral and ethical understanding. There is a new and chilling lack of understanding of the most basic common sense. They cannot see that up is not down, in is not out, and red is not green. They appear confused at the notion that there are only two genders, one way to marry, and that there may, in fact, be absolute right and wrong. When God has removed His restraining power from a culture, those without Him are left with a vacuum, an inability to grasp what wisdom cries to them. They are not only unwilling but unable to understand.

9. The final sign that God has abandoned a nation may be the most sinister of all because it masquerades as love. This indicator applies to those who consider themselves “the church.” These people make up the majority of the religious world because they “know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death” (v. 32). They know it because they’ve had some foundation in truth.

But instead of standing in the gap, sounding the alarm, crying out in the public square, “Stop! Please! We’re going the wrong way! This will bring God’s judgment on us!” they applaud the wickedness. They stand at the Gay Pride marches holding signs that say “God made you this way.” They justify sexual immorality: “God understands we love each other.” They rip out sections of their Bibles so that it says only what they want it to say, and then they put it on TV as a “ministry.” They waffle on abortion saying, “It wouldn’t be right for me, but you have to make your own choice. There is no right or wrong.”

A sign that God has abandoned a nation is when those who call themselves “the church” have stopped influencing culture and culture is now influencing the church.

First Things First

“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift… go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”  Matthew 5:23-24

The worship band launches into the next song, one of your favorites. You normally get into it, but today you stand, arms folded. Your head is bowed as though you’re praying, but you’re not. You’re steamed. THEY are here, two rows over. How dare they show up at church after what they said! Your brain rehashes the scene while everyone around you lifts their hands and voices in worship. How can you think about God right now when those people are over there? They said you wronged them, but you don’t think so. Maybe a little, but it was no big deal. So you stand there, ruining worship and your day over that “no big deal.”

Jesus said there’s a better way. He told us that when we come before Him to worship and offer gifts, we must first clear our conscience. Notice the interesting way He phrased this command. He did not say if your brother DID something to you; He said if your brother has something AGAINST you. Some fights were not our doing, so we can’t fix them. But when we know we have hurt someone, it’s on us to make it right. We can’t force them to forgive us, but it’s our job to seek reconciliation by humbling ourselves. Only then can we enter wholeheartedly into worship. Only then will God accept our offerings.

Jesus' First Message

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  Matthew 4:17

Fred lifted the heavy ring of ancient keys and tried another, but the rusty gate held fast. Jorge pointed to a shiny new key marked Gate. “Why don’t you try that one?” Fred chuckled. “Nah, I think one of these’ll do it. This is the way I open everything. This gate is rusted shut and that key looks too new.” Thirty minutes passed while Fred struggled with the gate until finally Jorge jerked the set of keys from Fred's hand, grabbed the shiny silver one and jammed it into the lock. With a loud click, the gate opened. Fred’s eyes widened, then he shook his head. “Wow. I didn’t think it would be that simple."

We are like Fred when it comes to entering the kingdom of God. We can't imagine it is that simple, so we continue through our ring of keys, trying to open the door into God’s presence with Excuses, Justifications, Denials, or Bargains. God offers us the only key that will open the door. It’s called Repentance and it was the first sermon Jesus preached. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of direction. We must agree with God about how bad our sin is and purpose to work with Him to change it. We cannot enter the presence of a holy God while defending the very things He hates. 

Defended Sin is a rusty key that keeps us away from God's presence, blessing, and favor. Defended Sin won’t unlock anything but regrets; Repented Sin opens the door to forgiveness and restoration. Repentance prepares us for becoming all God created us to be.

A Christian is a person who constantly prepares for the next season by living in a state of ongoing repentance.

Prepare to Meet with God

Joshua said to the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you. Josh 3:5

Sanctify means “to set apart.” Before God would do wonderous things among the Israelites, they had to sanctify themselves. In Old Testament times, that meant fasting, ritual washings, and putting clean clothes on clean bodies. They were to present their very best if they expected God to do great things in their lives. Preparing for the Lord’s arrival required setting aside the familiar: routines, habits, private sins, dirty hands. The LORD was worthy of the best a human being could offer and would not settle for casual, disrespectful attempts to meet with Him. They prepared the way for the Lord by actively ridding themselves of anything offensive to God. That hasn’t changed. We still must approach God with humility and a desire to be rid of sin. 

But Bennie didn’t think so. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, kicked the remains of last night’s party out of the way, and staggered to the bathroom to throw up the rest of his hangover. He brushed an assortment of pills off his mother’s Bible and stumbled out the door, late for church again. Maybe God would speak to him today. Hadn’t worked so far, even after giving God 30 whole minutes every week. Why couldn’t he connect with God like other people seemed to? Linda felt the same way. She had tried for years to grow spiritually, but every time a new guy came along, she threw her morals to the wind and moved in with him. 

Do you think Bennie and Linda were sanctifying themselves? 
Were they preparing to meet with God?

Preparing Others

He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival.  Luke 9:52

Image result for photo of frantic house cleaning

“Shake out that rug, David, and then mop the floors!” shouted Mom from the laundry room. “Ella, pick up the living room and dust the furniture. Shane, check the cake in the oven. See if it’s done, then sweep the front porch and sidewalk.” Mom flew through the kitchen, a pile of laundry in her arms. “Make the house look like nobody lives here. Hurry up! They’re almost here!”

Have you ever had a scene like that at your house? Important guests are coming and your house suddenly looks like the city dump. We let things slide until we realize someone important is going to see it. Then we fly into action, trying to transform six months’ worth of sloppy into House Beautiful in under 30 minutes. When we value the one we are about to greet, we prepare for their arrival. 

It works the same way with Jesus. Before He entered a new village, He sent His disciples ahead to prepare the people before He got there. They did that by explaining who Jesus was and what He was about to say. They created anticipation, found places to stay, and gave everyone a glimpse of what Jesus was like by the way they represented Him. That’s our job too. He tells us to prepare the world to meet Him. By living as ambassadors of heaven, we create anticipation, find hearts where He can stay, and give everyone a glimpse of what Jesus is like by the way we represent Him. Those of us who know Him should live in such a way that we are always preparing people to meet Jesus.

Are you preparing the people you know to meet Jesus by the way you represent Him?

Prepare the Way

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”  Luke 3:4

The motorcade was still miles away, but the Secret Service had already scouted the small town, positioned snipers in strategic locations, and barricaded every intersecting street. Potholes had been filled, store windows polished, and shops closed for the afternoon. The President was coming. People lined the sidewalks waving flags and posters. No one wanted to be caught unprepared in case the President stopped for a photo op. Business as usual was canceled as everyone prepared the way.

That’s a physical picture of what John the Baptist preached before Jesus began His earthly ministry. “Prepare the way!” he cried. “The Messiah is coming! Get your hearts ready.” And they did. In droves, the people came confessing their sins and asking to be baptized. No one wanted to be caught unprepared by the Son of God. No one wanted to meet Him still cloaked in sin.

If we expect to have fellowship with God, we must do the same thing. We cannot barge into God’s presence dressed in unrepentant sin, expecting to continue business as usual. We prepare for God to work in our lives when we agree with Him about what needs to change. We ask Him to forgive us and clear our lives of sinful actions, attitudes, and habits we’ve accumulated. Business as usual is canceled and life takes on new purpose when we prepare the way of the Lord. 

New Book!

Just in time for Christmas, the second year of cedar point devotionals is now available as an e-book from Amazon.com. You can enjoy the first two years of devotionals published as Power Pack I and Power Pack II by downloading either or both to any of your digital devices. Search the titles or Lea Ann McCombs and start reading today!
Power Pack II
Power Pack II: Spiritual Energy for Your Work Week (Cedar Point Church Devotionals Book 2) by [McCombs, Lea Ann]