Sunday, September 16, 2012

Can America Learn from Israel's Mistakes?

Despite its economic woes over the past few years, America still ranks among the top ten wealthiest countries in the world.
Honestly? It's what Americans expect--to be the most powerful, the wealthiest, the most innovative. Even when the outlook looks dim, t
here always seems to be an underlying belief that things are destined to get better over time..."because this is America, the greatest nation in the world."

It wasn't too many thousands of years ago that another nation felt the same as many Americans--blessed, better than everyone else, undefeatable .

In the days of King Solomon, Israel was at the top of its game in terms of its economy, size, and military might. Scripture records that "
all the kings of the earth were seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart" (2 Chron. 9:23). With each visit, the foreigners added to Israel's wealth so that by the end of his opulent reign, "The king made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamore trees that are in the lowland" (2 Chron. 9:27).

God had blessed Israel beyond its wildest dreams, transforming the descendants of Egyptian slaves who had wandered aimlessly in the desert for forty years into the most powerful nation on earth.  

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God described all He had done to bless Israel as a nation: "I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you" (Ez. 16:10-14).

Yet, the nation of Israel disregarded God's laws, "played the harlot" by worshiping other gods.  To add insult to injury, Israel used all those blessings God had given it to create idols: "You also took your beautiful jewels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them.  Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered My oil and My incense before them.  Also My bread which I gave you, fine flour, oil and honey with which I fed you, you would offer before them" (Ez. 16:17-19).

God repeats the word "My" throughout the passage to emphasize the fact that all the nation's wealth had come from Him.  Yet, all the gold, silver, cloth, oil and decadent foods--Israel used it to court not only the favor of false gods but to also court the favor of pagan countries like the Egyptians, Philistines, and Assyrians (v. 26-28).

A powerful, wealthy nation did not give God thanks for the blessings, but rather used those gifts for its own evil, wicked purposes as it turned its face almost entirely away from God--sound familiar?

History records that the Israelites did not repent and turn back to God.  Instead, they continued to think because they were God's chosen people, He would never turn His back on them.  Even when His blessings began to dry up like a raisin in the sun, they still believed they were immune from His judgment--because they were citizens of Israel, God's chosen nation, which made them the greatest--right?

Wrong.  God warned Israel time and time again that He would judge them for their worship of false idols, for their ingratitude, for their breaking of His holy law.  He warned He would "give you [Israel] into the hands of your lovers [the nations], and they will tear down your shrines...strip you of your clothing, take away your jewels, and will leave you naked and bare...they will stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords...They will burn your houses with fire" (Ez. 16:39,41).

Not too many years later, God did just that, giving Israel into the hands of its enemies, which stripped the nation of its wealth, massacred its citizens, and burned the city of Jerusalem with fire

As the old saying goes, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."  

America must not believe itself insulated from God's wrath just because it has received God's blessings all these years.  Instead, it must seek to learn from Israel's mistakes.  If not, it, too, will be doomed to walk this same road, repeating the mistakes of the too many proud nations that have come before us.

1 comment:

  1. This is where I sense your writing voice getting that much stronger.
    ..."America must not believe itself insulated from God’s wrath just because it has received God’s blessings all these years."