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When Will We Listen?

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

The blessings of God upon these United States can continue to pour forth, but we must hear what He is saying.

The blessings of God upon these United States can continue to pour forth, but we must hear what He is saying.

Some people just won’t listen. No matter how hard we try, deterring others from self-destructive behavior can be an exercise in futility. You warn them that there is a wild dog running loose outside, and they will go out there and get themselves bitten. You tell them to call you before they go and purchase a car, and they show up with a lemon that is overpriced and underperforms. That’s just the way life is.

Sometimes, however, we aren’t the people giving the advice but the people receiving it. We know that God speaks to us through Scripture, visions, dreams, other people, and life’s experiences. Yet, we sometimes either fail to recognize He is speaking or choose to ignore Him. Either way, we find ourselves in an ever-expanding cycle of crises.

When we look at what has happened in America over the past twenty years, one thing is clear: America isn’t listening to God. We’ve experienced terror attacks, social uprisings, an insurrection at our nation’s capital, unprecedented violence, COVID-19, and now monkeypox. It would be irresponsible of me to assert that God has caused any of these incidents, but it would be equally irresponsible to not acknowledge that the sovereign God has permitted them to happen.

Punishment Is Principle

God operates on the principle of blessings and curses. When we follow His prescribed course for living, the consequences are blessings. But when we disregard His prescriptions, the consequences are curses. God doesn’t have to do anything; He just has to allow the natural consequences of our actions to run their course (e.g., gravity). And I believe that is where we are today, experiencing the consequences of our actions.

America has become increasingly immoral. Notice I didn’t say, America has become immoral, because any nation that enslaves people made in the image of God is already immoral. But we did have a general regard for the Judeo-Christian principles in Scripture. Today, things are quite different; for anything and everything goes. We have become atheistic, agnostic, secularistic, paganistic, and hedonistic. The church of Jesus Christ is now the enemy of the state and the culture while the society continues to spiral out of control. And instead of asking, how much more ungodly we can become? We should be asking, when will we listen?

After Solomon dedicated the magnificent temple he built for the worship of Israel’s God, the Lord visited him and told him that whenever Israel experienced the consequences of not following His prescriptions, there were steps they could take to reverse the curses and restore the blessings. The Lord said, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).

America Must Make the First Move

There are three things that will happen when America listens to God. First, God will listen to America. Second, God will forgive America’s sins. And finally, God will heal our nation from the curses we have brought upon us.

My focus, today, is not on what God will do, but on what we must do, first. The Lord instructed Israel then and us today to do four things.

1. Humble Ourselves. To humble ourselves is to submit to the Lord’s rule over our lives by living in obedience to the Scriptures. America was founded on the principle of individual liberty. And while that is certainly an important civil right that we want to protect, it is religiously foolish. It was in fact individual liberty that resulted in sin and death entering humanity (Rom. 5:12)—the consequence of Adam and Eve wanting to be like God instead of staying under subjection to God.

It should be abundantly clear by now that there is no political or social solution to the state of affairs in our country and world. All the “progress” we have made from the Enlightenment through the Industrial Revolution to the Information Age has made life more convenient and productive, but it has also left us morally bankrupt. We have become our own “gods,” who refuse to acknowledge the existence of God, let alone our dependence upon Him.

Thus, God must be enthroned upon the life of the American people by truly being “one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” We must become a nation under God, not without God. And that requires that we humble ourselves by calling out to Him for mercy.

2. Pray to the Lord. To pray involves summoning God for His mercy as we acknowledge our contrition for rebelling against Him.[1] Humility leads to prayer only after we recognize that God is right, and we are wrong. When we confess our rebellion against God, we properly position ourselves to appeal to Him for mercy.

Mercy is bestowed by the greater to the lesser. Our appeal to the Lord is not to fix our economy, stop the violence, or protect us from the pandemic; it is to forgive us for our anarchy and help us to live in alignment with His precepts. Mercy is about morality. The consequences of our immorality are just the symptoms of a root cause, disobedience.

So, the remedy for curing our curses is to position ourselves under God and petition Him to bend down in kindness and help us suppress the rebellion that rages in our hearts. In His mercy, God purges us of our rebellious heart and replaces it with an obedient heart that desires to pursue Him and His will (Ezek. 36:26).

3. Seek the Lord. To seek is to set one’s affection upon receiving God’s presence by living according to His principles. God has never wanted to be pursued for what He can do, but for who He is. To do otherwise, is to turn God into a celestial Santa Clause or butler, who moves at our beck and call, providing us what we demand of Him. But we learn from the period of the Judges that when God is not king, humanity repeatedly experiences blessings and curses because it fails to seek the Lord’s presence instead of His protection.

Seeking is a matter of the heart. It is loving God with all our being because He is our Creator and the only true God. We are to set our affection upon Him so that no one and nothing ever rivals or replaces Him on the table of our hearts. As one person said, “If God is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”

Humility and prayer prepare us to embrace a life that is lived according to God’s prescriptions, because we are enamored with His awesomeness and enlightened to the blessing it is to live under His beneficial laws (Deut. 4:6). God’s prescriptions teach us how to remain under His glorious presence by turning from the self-destructive lifestyle He warned us against.

4. Turn from Our Sinful Practices. To turn conveys the idea of returning to God from wayward behavior. Now that we have repositioned our relationship to God, requested the pity of God, and resumed our pursuit of God, the final thing we must do is reject what displeases Him.

We understand “sin” to be missing the mark (of God’s moral and ethical holiness). As such, God has set a target for us to live by so that we experience the blessings that are the natural consequence of our obedience. When we choose to miss the mark, we experience the opposite of blessings. Thus, God’s laws are for our good (Rom. 12:2). Because we now recognize this, we forsake how we think life should be lived and embrace His prescribed way of living.

Our obedience becomes the true test of our humbling, praying, and seeking, because it demonstrates outside what we believe and feel inside. In our seeking God, we inevitably turn from sin, because we can’t pursue God and sin at the same time. Notice that wickedness is a way or path. Thus, when we truly seek God, we are no longer seeking the path of wickedness, but are returning to the instructions for living that will lead us to Him—the mark (Phil. 3:14).

America’s Tipping Point

America is at a tipping point. We can continue down the path of rebellion against God, or we can turn to Him, recognizing He has richly blessed us as a nation. Israel failed to listen and found itself being taken into captivity by Assyria and Babylon. It watched as its land was plundered and destroyed by its enemies because it chose to close its ears to God.

God has a cup of wrath, and when that cup is full, the consequence is the removal of His divine grace and mercy. America doesn’t have to be left alone to face the will of its enemies, but it if doesn’t recognize God’s lordship soon, we will discover all that He was protecting us from.

Rev. Isaac Hayes is the founder of Healing of the Soul Ministries and author of Men After God’s Heart:10 Principles of Brotherly Love. He is also an Assistant Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Illinois, and a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Follow Rev. Hayes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @RevIsaacHayes.

[1] Victor P. Hamilton, “1776 פָּלַל,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 726.

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