ISAIAH 1:16-20: “Wash yourselves! Become clean! Get your evil deeds out of my sight. Stop doing evil. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Arrest oppressors. Defend orphans. Plead the case of widows.” “Come on now, let’s discuss this!” says the LORD. “Though your sins are bright red, they will become as white as snow. Though they are dark red, they will become as white as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you will be destroyed by swords.” The LORD has spoken.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Is there hope for America? Last night as I watched and listened to speech after speech of the 2016 Republican National Convention, and this morning as I read the opening chapter of the book of Isaiah, I was reminded of what makes a nation great again. It is not in her rhetoric, nor in her ability to put on a good show. It is not in promises made, nor resumes displayed. It is not in signs that are raised, or in flags that are waived. Greatness is only found in the character of her people.
The nation of Judah was content to rest in the fact that they were the center for Temple worship. They felt that because the Temple resided in Jerusalem, God would never judge them. They took false security in their festivals, worship ceremonies, and sacrifices. All the while, their hearts slipped further and further away from the Lord. How was this evident? They had ceased doing what was good. They had begun learning what was evil. They had ignored justice and allowed oppressors to continue without punishment. They had neglected the orphans and the widows, the less fortunate, the people who had no voice or status to defend themselves.
The Lord never brings judgment quickly. His mercy continually calls to His people – “Come on now, let’s discuss this!” There is a promise of forgiveness, there is a hope for redemption, there is a pathway to prosperity. It is not in a new tax code, or in a stronger military, or in better trade deals. All of these may be useful and needed – but they will never save a nation. It is the heart of a nation that is at stake. And the heart of a nation is found in the heart of its people. As long as we continue to wink at sin, ignore the voices of the oppressed, and place our trust in horses and chariots, we will continue to go down the slippery road we find ourselves on.
Ronald Reagan, in his proclamation for the National Day of Prayer in 1988, spoke and wrote these words.
“…We have, then, a lesson from the Founders of our land, those giants of soul and intellect whose courageous pledge of life and fortune and sacred honor, and whose “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” have ever guided and inspired Americans and all who would fan freedom’s mighty flames and live in “freedom’s holy light.” That lesson is clear — that in the winning of freedom and in the living of life, the first step is prayer.
Let us join together, Americans all, throughout our land. Let us join together, in factories and farms, in homes and offices, in places of governance and places of worship, and in outposts everywhere that service men and women defend us. Let us, young and old, join together, as did the First Continental Congress, in the first step — humble, heartfelt prayer. Let us do so for the love of God and His great goodness, in search of His guidance and the grace of repentance, in seeking His blessings, His peace, and the resting of His kind and holy hands on ourselves, our Nation, our friends in the defense of freedom, and all mankind, now and always…“
Oh, that we might hear these words again with an open heart!
Oh that we might join together “…in factories, farms, in homes and offices, in places of governance and places of worship, and in outposts everywhere that service men and women defend us…” – and humble ourselves and pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways!
Lord, have mercy on America.
Turn the hearts of her people back to You in humility and prayer.
Become our Hope once again!
In Jesus Name!