Summary: Israel had problems living as a nation under God. Understanding her problems help us analyze America's problems.
“A Nation Under God: The Problem”
The late Reformed pastor and theologian Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” As we pointed out in an earlier message, whether we know it or not, or even like it or not, Jesus rules. But the fact that He rules does not automatically make us, or any nation, a nation under God. Why not? What’s the problem?
To answer the question we look at the history of Israel, God’s truly chosen nation. If ever there was a nation under God, she was it. However, through the prophets – especially Jeremiah – we discover she often did not live like a nation under God. From her problems we can learn about our own.
In the second chapter of Jeremiah we learn that the first problem is A LACK OF RECOGNITION OF SIN. In this chapter alone Jeremiah lists four evidences of this lack. He begins by speaking for God (2-3): “‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,’” declares the LORD…” This is love language of a forsaken lover. God remembered how it used to be and how His people loved Him. No other nation had ever received such gracious, loving attention. No other nation had witnessed what they had witnessed. He had freed them from slavery, delivered them from bondage, led them through the Red Sea and the wilderness – all the while feeding and clothing them - into a promised, glorious land filled with milk and honey. They owed Him everything. Yet they walked away from Him. (5-7) “This is what the LORD says: “What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD, who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and rifts, a land of drought and darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’ I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.”’
God is pointing to the sin of INGRATITUDE. Later today read Psalm 78. It’s a long Psalm but so insightful. For 55 verses the Psalmist recites all that God had done for His people. He did this, He did this, He did this, He did this…then verse 56 abruptly states that they put God to the test and rejected Him and that therefore God rejected them. So it was in Jeremiah’s time. Forgetting or ignoring all the blessings God had bestowed on and given to them, Israel thought she could do more and get more from other sources so she followed worthless idols and, God said, became worthless herself. In his book ‘Jesus, Lord of Your Personality’, pastor Bob Russell points out that having much doesn't tend to produce a grateful spirit. "Have you had a taste of the best this world has to offer? You went to Hawaii once on vacation, so now it's harder for you to enjoy the state park. You've eaten a steak at Ruth Chris, so it's harder to be thankful for a meal at Ponderosa. You've driven a Jaguar, so now you can't be as content with your used Chevrolet. You've cheered for a national champion, so now it's difficult to be grateful when your team has a good season but doesn't take home the title...Generally speaking, the more we have, the less grateful we are. It should be the opposite; the more we have, the more thankful we should be. But it usually doesn't work that way, does it? A wise man prayed, 'Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God' (Proverbs 30:8-9). It is a rare person who, when his cup frequently runs over, can give thanks to God instead of complaining about the limited size of his mug!"