When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without.
And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before My face.
All down through Israel’s history, God has stood ready to show them grace and mercy, pardon, forgiveness, and restoration. And even if we are not a part of Israel, we still stand in the same place they do in regard to falling away from God, allowing ourselves to be idolatrous, turning our backs on the very idea of holiness and purity in our lives and behavior. We cannot stand in judgment on anyone else, for surely we are just as guilty.
I suspect that the persecuted believers in Asia and the Near East have a more true idea of what it is to serve God in body, soul and spirit than we do, those of us who are safe–we think–from physical persecution and suffering. Since I am an American, I cannot speak for other countries, only my own. I can tell you that what used to be considered inappropriate has become not only acceptable, but normal. I know I’m beating an old drum, but we cannot ignore the influence of movies and TV on our culture. The violence, nudity, bedroom scenes, constant use of alcohol, and laughter at ribald and filthy jokes proliferates amongst believers. What we used to refer to as “social drinking” is now accepted as “normal” especially among younger believers. Someone once said to me, “Linda, your generation is so STODGY! You won’t go to hell just because you had a drink!”
I replied, “Yes, that’s true. However, when your children observe that your behavior is no different than the unsaved people around you, THEY may choose to ignore Christianity, God’s Word, and living always with Him in mind. Are you willing to risk that? I am not!”
There was a student many years ago who was forced by his parents to come to our Christian school. He made no effort to conceal his disgust with being there, and he made very few friends. I sat with him on several occasions, encouraging him to read the scriptures I’d given him, and talking about salvation and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To his credit, he listened attentively, but refused to make any decisions for Christ.
One day, I found him sitting in my classroom before the day started. He was visibly shaken, even had tears in his eyes. I asked him how I could help him, and he said, “I’m ready.” I was so surprised, I wasn’t sure what he meant. “I’m ready to be a Christian,” he confirmed. I asked what had happened to change his mind. He told me, “I’ve been here long enough to observe how these “Christian” kids behave outside of the classroom. They’re no different than my friends and I. They drink, they make out right in front of everyone, they curse, they watch the same garbage movies. But there are a few who live the way you do, and I have to respect them. They must really believe what they say, and that has changed my mind. Along with the Bible, and that you obviously really care about me. So I’m ready. What do I have to do?”
It was my pleasure to lead him to Jesus that morning. He prayed on his own, sincerely and with emotion. And there was a change. He was softer, smiled more. His walls began to crumble a bit. I don’t know what happened to him later in life, as we moved far away from that place, but I know his prayer was sincere, and I pray he continued to seek the Lord.
So why am I sharing that? Because the influence of so many professing believers was that it really didn’t matter. Their behavior was the direct opposite of their words. So it was with Israel, and so it is way too often with believers today, whose walk talks louder than their talk talks.
God stood ready to restore Israel way back in Hosea’s day, but they did not want restoration. That had to suffer first. I fear the same will be true for America. There are already those who blame conservative Christians for all the unrest going on in our country. If we don’t experience a true, Holy Spirit revival, I fear America, the America I grew up in, will be lost. There will be suffering. There will be persecution. Why? Because we have hardened our hearts, and turned our backs on God, on holiness, on purity and righteousness.
And we feel no guilt for doing so.