This is the first in a series of reflections by Pastor Gerald Ripley
It was too late. God’s forbearance was over. His judgment was in motion. Not even Noah, Daniel, and Job could have saved the nation (See Ezekiel, Chapter 14).
God’s judgment did come with the army from Babylonia. The temple was destroyed. The walls of Jerusalem were broken down. The people of God were dispersed among the nations for seventy years.
It could have been avoided. After Solomon’s temple had been dedicated (See 2 Chronicles, Chapter 7), God appeared to King Solomon one night and said “I have heard your prayer.” God told Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that if God for some future provocation sent drought or locusts or pestilence, the punishment could be terminated by actions of God’s people. “(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 heal their land.”
God’s people didn’t keep His statutes and commandments. They didn’t listen or change when God sent prophets to warn them. They didn’t humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways. God’s judgment came.
HOW ABOUT THE UNITED STATES?
Our nation is no longer obeying God’s commandments as it once did. Prayer and reading the Bible have been taken out of public schools. The Ten Commandments can no longer be posted in many public places. God’s institution of marriage has been redefined. Innocent blood has been shed in nearly 60 million abortions. Will God’s forbearance run out on the United States as it did on Judah? It certainly can. It is incredibly presumptuous to think otherwise since God didn’t spare the special nation He had chosen.
God’s people in our nation are the key. The conditions to meet are the same ones addressed to King Solomon.
During the past forty plus years, all across our nation, there has been substantial fasting, abundant praying, numerous services of reconciliation and repentance. Many of us have participated in and led city-wide opportunities in our city. Similar efforts are on-going.
I believe the key action that remains is to TURN FROM OUR WICKED WAYS.
I have been pondering the question, “What are the wicked ways of God’s people?” Sins against the Ten Commandments are obvious but the Pharisees ostensibly obeyed them, yet Jesus pointed to their sins of the heart. There are blatant sins and there are subtle, even deeper wicked ways.
In this series, I will call attention to fifty-two wicked ways of God’s people. We will look through the prism of the Ten Commandments. If you’re a Christian, I invite you to join me (and hopefully a multitude) in turning from them. Then God will heal our land.
Gerald Ripley is Pastor of Abundant Life Church located in northeast San Antonio.