Summary: A sober July 4th sermon addressing the wickedness overtaking our nation, the possibility of God's judgment on America and what we may be able to do to avert it.
Flames That Threaten America
July 4th sermon
July 5, 2015
(Adapted from a sermon by the same title by Tim Patrick on SermonCentral.com)
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available upon request by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: Turn in your Bibles, please, to Isaiah 9
How many of you have ever been near a fire that was raging uncontrollably? It’s a scary sight, I’ll tell you.
Illus. – Back in 2004 our family took a trip to Provence, France. We had heard been warned of massive wildfires in the area we were going through, but decided to go anyway to get to our destination—Marseilles. For a good portion of that day’s trip we drove through a broad valley, and on the eastern side we could see the hills afire, probably more than a mile or two from where we were, but close enough to be scary. You could see the flames rising up and massive amounts of smoke rising from them. Fire is a frightening thing because it is so dangerous.
In the Bible, we find wickedness compared to a fire.
Look with me at our text in Isaiah 9:18-19 – “For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke. 19 Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.”
The reason I use this text is because we Americans celebrated Independence Day yesterday. I love my country, but I wonder how much longer it has before its glories are a thing of the past. When we look at how God dealt with Israel, the comparisons to America are uncanny. I believe that the same fires which destroyed Israel may well be flickering in the background in America.
Today, let’s examine three conditions that were present when God judged the nation of Israel and see what warnings they teach us today.
I. THE FIRST CONDITION WAS A PEOPLE FILLED WITH PRIDE. – Go back earlier in Isaiah 9 and look at verses 9 and 10 – “And all the people shall know even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart, 10 The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars”
God was sending judgment on the Israelites. They made two mistakes.
• First, they ignored the cause of the calamities.
• Second, they arrogantly boasted that they would rebuild. – It is as if they thought they did not need God.
The Bible says a lot of bad things about pride:
• Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov. 16:18)
• 1 Peter 5:5 – “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
• And Proverbs 29:23 says, “A man's pride shall bring him low, but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.”
I could give you countless examples, but suffice it to say, God hates pride.
As I look at America, I see an extremely proud people. I’m not talking about patriotic pride of being American, which is good and healthy. I’m talking about the arrogance we have to think that we can defy God; ignore His Word; mock His moral code; kill our unborn; promote that which is evil and perverted and debauched; ignore our politicians’ corruption as long as they’re “on our side,” that we can outlaw prayer in schools. In our pride and arrogance we have abandoned biblical principles; we have fallen headlong into an ethos of hedonism; we have embraced, celebrated and now even enshrined in law what God calls an abomination. And then we wonder why the foundations of our country are crumbling around us; why crime is soaring; why ISIS and Russia and China are all on the ascendency and America and its allies are declining in power and influence.
Listen to what Abraham Lincoln said of us almost 150 years ago:
“We’ve grown in numbers and wealth and power as no other nation has grown…We’ve vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our own hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient…,too proud to pray to the God that made us.” (As quoted in America, Return to God, edited by Thomas Wang, p. 80.)
Or listen to what the Psalmist says in Psalm 2:1-5 “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.”