Summary: This sermon considers some of the conditions that are threatening America’s future.
How many of you have ever been near a fire that was raging uncontrollably? This is a scary sight. I can recall at least two such occasions in my life. One occurred when I was a boy. A fire burned about 20 acres of pasture land on our family farm. We had to fight that fire. It was a scary scene. The other occasion was the time I found a neighbor and fellow church member’s home burning. The house burned to the ground before the fire department could get to the fire. I have also read stories of fire fighters who have fought forest fires out west and in America’s northwest. Sometimes those fire fighters lost their lives in such blazes. Fire is a frightening thing.
In the Bible, we find wickedness compared to a fire. We understand the analogy. Isaiah used such a comparison. Look at Is. 9:18-20. “For wickedness burns as the fire; It shall devour the briers and thorns, And kindle in the thickets of the forest; They shall mount up like rising smoke. Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts The land is burned up, And the people shall be as fuel for the fire; No man shall spare his brother.” The reason I use this text is because we celebrate independence day this week. However, I wonder how long this will continue. I see wickedness burning like a flame across America.
Join me in making the comparison. Isaiah had witnessed the corruption and degradation of the Israelite people. He had seen the jaws of sinful pride sink her teeth into this great people. As he witnessed her downfall he described what he
saw as burning like a fire. I believe that the same fires which destroyed Israel may well be flickering in the background in America. Let’s examine God’s word and think about the comparison for a few moments.
I want to share a simple outline tonight. I want to examine four conditions that were present when God judged the nation of Israel. These conditions were present when the fires of judgment were ignited. We will pull these principles directly from the text.
1. The first condition was a people filled with pride. Look at verses 9 & 10. The people “say in pride and arrogance of heart: The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with hewn stones; The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.” (NKJV) God was sending judgment on the Israelite people. 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 “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov. 16:18 NKJV) The Bible tells us “God is opposed to the proud.” (I Pet. 5:5 NKJV). “A man’s pride shall bring him low.” (Prov. 29:23 NKJV)
Illustration: I once read a story about a little frog that wanted to go south for the winter. It was too far to hop and he did not have wings to fly. Two birds felt sorry for the frog and together they came up with a plan. The birds would hold each end of a stick in their beaks, the frog would clamp down on the stick with his mouth and and the birds would
carry him to his destination. The sky was clear and everything seemed hopeful for the frog and his two new found friends. Two farmers were standing in a field and saw the birds carrying the frog. One said to the other, "That was a brilliant idea, I wonder who came up with the plan." The frog couldn’t keep his mouth shut and he said, “I-I-I-I-I-I”. All he had to do was to his mouth shut. However, his pride got the best of him.
(Contributed to Sermon Central by Robert Travis )
Illustration: In 1972 America had a young swimmer named Mark Spitz who predicted he would win five gold medals at the Olympics. He came home with none. His pride stood in his way.
As I look at America I see an extremely proud people. We are proud of being Americans but we are also arrogant toward other people in our world. In addition, we are blind when bad things happen to us. We wander along showing little concern for the tragedies that strike us.
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.” (p. 80, as quoted in America, Return to God; edited by Thomas Wang)