School massacre and a call to repent
Joel Rosenberg reports on the tragic killings at a Connecticut school and summons preachers to call the United States to repentance in the face of demons of violence.
by Joel Rosenberg
"Newtown is a quiet town," one resident told CBS News. "I'd never expect this to happen here. It's so scary. Your kids are not safe anywhere."
"I've been here for 11 years," a teacher at the Sandy Hook Elementary School told the New York Times. "I can't imagine who would do this to our poor little babies."
All this is so painful to see, so heart-wrenching. I look at my own children - including my little 8 year old - and then look at all the grieving parents on TV and mourn for them, trying to understand what they are suffering right now. I'm praying for the Lord to comfort and heal all those traumatized by what happened in Newtown. But as I do I can't help but think about the trendlines and the dark trajectory our nation is on. It's not just "the economy, stupid." We are, in many respects, in a moral and spiritual freefall in our country, and we are paying a terrible price.
Demons of violence and lawlessness
The demons of violence and lawlessness are the loose all across America - in Newtown, Connecticut.. in Aurora, Colorado.. in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.. just as they were in Littleton, Colorado and at Virginia Tech in years gone by. But why? How is it possible that violent crime in the United States has surged by more than 460 percent since 1960?
The answer is as painful as it is simple: the further we turn away from God in our nation - the further we drive Him out of our society, our of our schools and courts, and out of our media and out of our homes, or the more we give mere lip service to religion, the more men are "holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power" (2 Timothy 3:5) - the worse things are getting. Consider just the cultural war against Jesus and Christmas that has been waged just in the last few days:
Fox News headline: "Holiday message: Atheists dub Jesus a 'myth' on Times Square billboard" CNN column, "Have yourself a merry atheist Christmas" AP article about the "War on Christmas" Fox News story about a rapper singing about a "Gangbanger Jesus" KTVA-TV (Alaska) story: "Atheists Wage War on Christmas in Anchorage: Anti-religion signs on People Mover buses" Comedy Central's Jon Stewart wages war on Christmas and mocks those who thinks he's wrong [caution: obscene language]
Reaping what is sown
The Lord God Almighty is a gentleman. He won't force us to accept His great love and many blessings. If a nation tells Him to leave, He will leave. But what are we reaping as a result of a society that increasingly ignores God and hates or dismisses Jesus Christ? We are witnessing a horrifying explosion of murder. We are witnessing a gruesome crime wave unprecedented in American history. And there appears to be no end in sight. In recent years, we've seen brutal mass murders in high schools, on college campuses, and in small towns all across America (a recent FBI report says the murder rate soared 18.3% in small towns in America last year alone).
The Hebrew prophet Nahum once wrote about the city of Ninevah, the capital of the Assyrian empire, "Woe to the bloody city.. many slain, a mass of corpses, and countless dead bodies - they stumble over the dead bodies.. your shepherds are sleeping." (Nahum 3:1, 3, 18) The people of Ninevah had once repented and turned to the living God of the Bible during the days when the prophet Jonah warned them of coming judgment, and God had saved and blessed them.
That generation of Ninevites had listened and turned from their sins towards the Lord. But 150 years or so later, a different generation of Ninevites refused to listen to the Word of God. They refused to repent. Their godlessness turned to terrible, wrenching, horrific violence. Their shepherds were sleeping. They weren't telling people to turn back to the Lord before it was too late. The shepherds didn't understand, or didn't care. They didn't feed the sheep the Word of God. They didn't lead the sheep to follow the Lord. They didn't protect the sheep from evil. So the judgment of God came and they were all tragically unprepared. The city of Ninevah was destroyed by God in 612 B. C.
What is the future of America? Is America in a "Jonah" moment, or a "Nahum" moment? Will we 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?
Point of no return?
There is a point of no return - a point at which God removes His hand of grace and mercy and turns to the judgment of America. If we don't repent for our sins, we are going to face that judgment. perhaps sooner than we think. As I note in Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time?, "Alarm bells are going off all around us. Lights on the dashboard are flashing, Warning! Warning! Yet America is sleeping through the alarms, blind to the warning lights. And tragically, for the most part, the Church - God's chosen instrument to bless individuals, families, communities, and nations - is asleep as well. I shudder to imagine where we are heading if we don't wake up soon, plead for the Lord's forgiveness, and ask Him to use us to love our neighbors and revitalize our country."
America is in desperate need of a Third Great Awakening. 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) Please join me in praying and fasting for America.
Also, pastors, would you turn your Sunday services into a call to prayer, fasting and repentance along the lines of 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Joel chapter 2?
Calling to the nation
More than ever, America needs pastors to boldly and passionately preach that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only message that will save this country. America needs pastors who will call this nation to humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways and seek His face, before it's too late. America cannot be saved unless the Church wakes up from our long and bitter slumber.
"Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near..'Yet even now,' declares the Lord, 'Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.' Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.
Who knows whether He will not turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him, even a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?
Blow a trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room and the bride out of her bridal chamber.
Let the priests, the Lord's ministers, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, 'Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not make Your inheritance a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they among the peoples say, 'Where is their God?'" (Joel 2:1, 12-17)
Where are you today? Have you received Christ as your Savior and Lord? Are you absolutely certain that if you were to die today that you would spend eternity in heaven with the Lord? Are you leaning on Christ's everlasting arms for complete forgiveness for your sins, for hope, for peace, for comfort, for wisdom and direction in this life, and in the life to come? If not, let this be the day of salvation for you.