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The Church In Babylon

When God Judges A Nation

Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer | November 10, 2013

Selected highlights from this sermon

Jeremiah had been warning Judah for decades. Since the people did not hear and their leaders did not repent, judgment came. They had bought into the pleasing lies of false prophets, simultaneously persecuting the prophet of God who bore the truth.

The lessons for America are many. While we pray for revival in our land, a nation can reach a point of no return. We do not know if we have reached it, and so we must continue to pray for our nation and speak the truth, remembering that God will always stand with His people.

One day somebody wrote me a letter and said that the elders in their church, before the Sunday morning service, pray and say, “Lord, help us to have fun today in the service.” I would be disappointed if our elders prayed that way because that might be appropriate before a picnic, but this sermon is not going to be fun. As a matter of fact, I’m not preaching a sermon to you today as much as I am preaching my heart. Today I am going to end up by talking about the great United States of America, a country that I greatly love.

Most of you, of course, were born into the United States. You became citizens at birth. I chose to become a citizen because I was born and raised in Canada and lived many years here as a Canadian citizen. I eventually decided to join you all and I am very proud of it. I am glad to be an American. (applause) Amen.

But today we are going to look at the book of Jeremiah as we conclude the Jeremiah portion of this series. This series is going to continue on beyond that, but we conclude the Jeremiah series by giving you some history, telling you what happened, and then we are going to have nine lessons for the United States of America. It’s my heart to yours today. I’m going to preach with a somber tone because what I’m going to share is somber, but you need to hear it. And at the end, of course, I’m going to give you hope. We’re not going to leave you here today hopeless, but we have some territory to encompass before we get there.

To remind you of what Jeremiah is all about, let me give you a little bit of history. You remember after the time of Solomon the kingdoms are split. You have the northern kingdom, which was known as Israel. That’s confusing to us because today we call the whole land Israel. The northern kingdom was Israel. The southern kingdom was known as Judah with its capital in Jerusalem. The capital of the northern kingdom was Samaria. In 722 B.C. the Assyrians come and they judge the northern kingdom and they take about 20,000 people to Assyria, and that’s called the Ten Tribes. Some people say the Lost Ten Tribes. Some people say that the Ten Tribes have been found. But that meant that the southern kingdom continued for over 130 years before Babylon came and took it away. You see, Assyria began to decline in power. Babylon began to increase in strength, and for 40 years or so Jeremiah was warning the southern kingdom saying, “If you don’t repent, the same thing is going to happen to you that has happened to the northern kingdom. Babylon this time though is going to come and carry you away and you are headed for severe judgment. Repent!”

And that’s what introduces us now to the book. He gives some warnings, and these are warnings that I’m going to give to you. I could turn to almost any passage in Jeremiah to give you these warnings. But as an example I’m going to point out one and that was when he said, “All of you are deaf. You’re not listening to the voice of God.”

I don’t expect you to keep up with me in all the passages, but when we get to chapter 52, we’ll look at that together, and then sharpen your pencil, because we are going to get to the nine lessons. But this is what God says in chapter 7. “And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name (He means the Temple), and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh (namely destroy it). And I will do it because you are deaf.”

You see, and I preached about this in a previous message, there were false prophets that were telling the people exactly what they wanted to hear. “Everything is going to be good. God is okay. You’re okay. I’m okay. We’re all okay.” Jeremiah came along and said, “You’re not okay. God’s okay and you’d better repent.” And the people didn’t want to listen. They took Jeremiah and they threw him into a pit. They had a plot to kill him, and what harm did he do? He was saying things the people did not want to hear. “We don’t want to hear judgment.” And so that’s how they treated him. It was maybe a little like killing the weatherman because you don’t like the forecast. We don’t want to hear it.

Now I have to talk about the United States early on – even before we get to the lessons. I’m speaking specifically about the issue of same-sex marriage, as you know approved here in the great state of Illinois along with other states. And if you aren’t concerned about this I don’t think that you understand what the issues are. Now I need to say that many of you who are listening here probably struggle with same-sex attraction. You know that you are welcome here. You know that everybody is welcome here. And so I speak to you today from my heart.

The original bill, which I read very carefully, gave no protection to any church except if you were a pastor or a teacher. For example, if a secretary were to say that she is going to marry her same-sex partner, and you were to, as a result of that, ask her to leave the church, there would be an instant lawsuit because you have no right to do that. There was no protection for Christian bookstores or Christian institutions. The only thing is that the pastor and a few of the teachers would have been exempt from a lawsuit if they were asked to leave because of their connection to homosexuality and homosexual marriage. The implications are huge. Now the more recent bill I understand tried to take care of some of those issues, but that’s where this is going.

But here’s what I want to say. The city council of San Antonio was debating this ordinance. “No person shall be appointed to a position if the city council finds that such a person has prior to such proposed appointment engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias by word of deed against any person, group, organization, color, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.” Now what that means is this: if you in any way speak in favor of traditional marriage and are opposed to same-sex marriage you would not be able to serve in the city government.

Now think of the implications. Somebody pointed out that this would mean that the city would be barred from doing business with anyone who fails to espouse the politically correct view of same-sex marriage. One pastor says, “This probably means that if you attend a church that opposes gay marriage you could be disqualified from getting a city job.” Wow!

But here’s the point I want to make. Do you know what hurts me most? It is not all the lawsuits that this is going to bring about, and not even the destruction of the family to which it shall so greatly contribute, but the fact that from the White House all the way down our country is celebrating something that God has condemned. That’s what hurts me the most. And my point is simply this. People don’t want to hear it. They say, “If you speak something different than what we want to hear, you will be disqualified. Be quiet already.”

Just like Ancient Judah, America does not want to hear the truth, and as a result of that we’ve stopped our ears. Wasn’t it George Orwell who said that in a day of universal deception, speaking the truth is a revolutionary act? Well I think I just committed a revolutionary act because the truth has to be spoken. (applause) So that is one indictment of Judah. “You’re not listening to God. You’re not learning. You’re not hearing.”

The second indictment that I refer to is God says, “You’ve gone too far. Judgment is inevitable.” I mean, do you understand why this message is burning in my soul? You know what God said in the next verse, and I’m actually in chapter 7 here? He says, “As for you, Jeremiah, do not pray for this people. Lift up a cry for them or a prayer for them and do not intercede with Me for I will not hear you.” God says, “Judgment is coming. It’s inevitable.” Do you know what he says in Jeremiah 15:1? He says, “Though Moses and Samuel should plead before Me, I will not change My mind. Judgment is coming.”

And what was the response of the people? In chapter 18, verse 12, the people said, “It is vain. We will follow our own plans, and we will everyone act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.” They say, “No matter what you are saying, we are going to keep plunging in the direction we want to go.” And I have to say it again. Wow!

Now let me talk about the third judgment. I’m not going to take time to walk you through this. I wish I had an hour today but I don’t. Let me say that what Jeremiah does as the judgment begins to come after 40 years of ministry is he talks to the king. He talks to the leader of the nation whose name is Zedekiah. And Zedekiah actually calls for him. And he has three interviews with Jeremiah. It’s so interesting because in the first interview, Zedekiah says, “Jeremiah, pray for us.” I mean that’s almost humorous. “Would you say a prayer for us because we are in trouble? We have no intention of changing our ways, no intention of turning to God, but you’ve got clout. Pray for us,” he says.

In the second interview Jeremiah says, “Why am I thrown into the pit?” You know he was thrown into a dungeon, and he then warns the king that judgment is coming. In the third interview Jeremiah actually says this to Zedekiah. He says, “Zedekiah, even at this late date if you were to really obey God and surrender to the Babylonians (That’s what Jeremiah was recommending because there’s no use fighting.) your life would be spared, and actually the city would not even be burned. It would be taken over undoubtedly but it would not be burned.” What an invitation, even at a late hour. Of course Zedekiah said, “I don’t like that. I’m going to make a deal with Egypt. I’m going to try to escape.” Do you know how Zedekiah ended? He ended by having his eyes gouged out, but first of all, before they did that they killed his sons in his presence so that he could see it. That was the last thing he saw. His eyes were gouged out and he was taken to Babylon.

You know, we all know the Bible is accurate but sometimes it almost take your breath away when you think of how accurate it is. Do you know what Ezekiel prophesied? He said that Zedekiah is going to go to Babylon but not see it. And you read it and you say, “Well, what’s that all about? He’s going to go to Babylon and not see it?” Well, the reason is because the prophecy was fulfilled. His eyes were gouged out. So he went to Babylon but he didn’t see Babylon.

Now what I’d like you to do is to turn to the end of the book, and that is in Jeremiah 52. Can we just look at how this whole scenario ends? I want you to understand the suffering, and then we will get to the great wonderful United States of America.

Let’s go right to the end of the book. Let’s go to verse 28 of Jeremiah 52. You know the Babylonians came, and I’ll describe that in a moment, but this is the number of the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive in the seventh year – 3,023 Judeans. Later on he comes back and there are 832, and then 745, but all the persons that he mentions here are 4,600. You can see that there in the text at the end of verse 30. Actually even that isn’t the total.
If you go to 2 Kings where’s there’s an even more detailed description of what happened, the first deportation was 10,000, so as scholars have worked through this apparent discrepancy they’ve concluded that there were a number of different deportations. There was deportation number one, number two, number three and all the way through until you get to this number. These were minor in comparison to some of the others. Probably the total was 14,000 or 15,000 people taken from Jerusalem and Assyria all the way to Babylon.

I just want you to use your imagination for a moment and understand the suffering that the people endured. For example, in chapter 52 (We’re there now and we’re going to turn back to see what they endured.), it says in verse 6, “On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.”

In the next sermon in this series that I’m going to preach is actually the book of Lamentations. I want you to read that book ahead of time. So there’s going to be another very somber message. Jeremiah is visualizing himself as he is walking through the rubble of Jerusalem, and he’s just weeping. He is overcome. His eyes cannot stop crying, but he describes what happens. He says, “The tongue of the nursing infant sticks to the roof of its mouth for thirst. The children beg for food but no one gives to them. Those who once tasted on delicacies perish in the streets. Those who were brought up in purple embrace ash heaps. Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger.”
He goes on to tell some things here that I hate to even read in public that went on. Wow! Would you just for a moment enter into their pain – the little children and the starvation?

And then secondly, in chapter 52 (You can read it on your own later.) it says that the Temple was destroyed. It was totally destroyed. It was burned. They carried off all the gold and the silver, and so forth, all the way to Babylon. It’s all there. Now the Jews are going to have to live without a temple, and they are going to have to live in Babylon. And when I began this series of messages I actually intended to begin in Babylon, and then I realized that we should really look at Jeremiah first so that we understand why they were there. So in the future we’ll talk about that, but the point is that they suffered greatly.

And then think of the suffering along the way. There were 15,000 people in all. My parents were refugees and they knew what it is like. They are going about. From Jerusalem to Babylon it’s about 500 miles as the crow flies, but about a thousand miles because of the winding roads. People die along the way. They just bury them and keep going all the way to Babylon. Can you just imagine the suffering? And Jeremiah for 40 years has said it’s coming, and they said, “We don’t want to hear it.”

Do you know what the Bible says? “You are believing deceptive words,” God says. “You are believing the false prophets. Uh-uh, you are not believing Jeremiah.” And every prediction that Jeremiah made came to pass. Wow!

And now for the great United States of America, but before I read about the nine lessons for America you say, “Well, why nine lessons? Why not just three?” I can’t help it. I look at the text of Scripture and these things just pop out to me one after another so I have to give them to you.
And since I’m preaching I have that opportunity, and I hope you are listening.

Listen to this. You maybe heard about this. During a U.S. Army training event, an Army instructor cited Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas. So here’s the list. Number one – Evangelical Christianity. Under that the Muslim Brotherhood, and then it goes on from there. There is an assault being made on Christianity here in America that none of us could have ever predicted because when a man does this he’s getting his instructions from higher up I can assure you.

Now with that here are nine lessons. Some of them are going to be encouraging, some of them not encouraging, but here we go.

Number one, lesson number one: Will you remember that our present situation is not new? It’s not new. You look, for example, throughout history and you discover that all kinds of people have suffered. I mean with our present situation here in America we still have it so good. We have freedom. I’ve just said some things that are politically incorrect, and that’s okay for me to say it as long as it’s within the walls of the church. If I say it outside of the church, that could be something else. We could be called names, etc., but we still have a lot of freedom. Our situation is not unique. Look at the Christians who are suffering in Egypt. Always remember that here in America we still have wonderful privileges.

I once gave a lecture on the history of freedom of religion in Europe. Did you know that Europe didn’t have freedom of religion until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648? Did you know that the Rebaptizers believed that one should be baptized upon profession of faith – baptized as infants but then rebaptized? And did you know that more Rebaptizers were massacred after the time of the Reformation in the 1500-1600s than Christians died in the persecutions of Early Rome? The history of the Church is littered with martyrs who believed that there was something more in life than being politically correct. So, number one, will you remember that our present challenges are not unique?

Number two: Standing for truth and righteousness can be very lonely. There were hundreds of prophets but there was only one Jeremiah, and my, how they railed against him. Folks, standing for truth and righteousness in America is going to get more difficult as time goes by.

Rebecca and I are in touch with a woman and her husband who have an organization proclaiming justice, and she was telling me the other day when I was talking to her on the phone, that there’s a southern state in these United States where she is involved in a textbook controversy. And this publishing house (and she gave me the name of the textbook and the publishing house and the whole bit) published a textbook that gives 35 pages to Islam. It says that Islam gave us liberty, Islam helped the dignity of women and Islam gave us culture. Thirteen pages are devoted to Christianity, and the chapter is entitled The Crusaders. Now she has been objecting to this and some changes have even been made but this is what I found interesting. The pastors in her community said, “Oh yeah, we have to do something. We have to be involved. We want you to lead this crusade - so to speak – lead this charge. And she did bravely. No pastor showed up to support her, but there she was. And then a Muslim on the committee said, “I’m going to make sure that all of these textbooks are pro-Islamic, and if anyone opposes me, I’m going to call them three things. I’m going to call them racist, homophobic and intolerant.” Is there anything in America that is worse than being called racist, homophobic and intolerant?

I simply tell you today that we are paralyzed as a nation because of political correctness and standing for truth is going to become more difficult as the days go on. But blessed are those who, like Jeremiah, speak God’s Word. God says, “Jeremiah, I’ve made you a bronze wall. I have made you a strong pillar, and I’m going to be with you, and even if everyone is against you, you speak My word.” May God grant us many, many Jeremiahs! (applause)

Lesson number three: The faithfulness of a few is no guarantee that a nation is going to turn to God. Under Jeremiah, and previously under Josiah (a few generations back) there were reforms. They found the Book of the Law. They began to read the Book of the Law, and people began to go to church, so to speak. They began to go to Temple, and they repented of their sins and all, but the reforms were too late and too little. By the next generation everybody had forgotten them, and everybody was into their idolatry, into their immorality, and into their own way of life. So there is no guarantee.

The reason I mention that is I was speaking at a conference this summer of several thousand home-schoolers in Denver, and they assigned me the topic of How Can We Turn This Country Around? My opening line was, “I have no guarantee that we can.” When it comes to the culture wars clearly we seem to be losing those one at a time. There are dominoes coming all the way from the White House across the nation regarding certain things, and therefore we have no guarantee. What we have to do is to ask a different question, and that is “What does faithfulness look like in a nation that is under judgment?” That’s the question that I wrestle with all the time. And how can I prepare myself, my family, my grandchildren and the wider Christian community here at the Moody Church? How can we be strong and courageous at a time when even our freedoms are being closed in upon us? So I hate to be the bearer of such bad news. I wish I could say that I see revival breaking out everywhere. We are praying for that. I pray for that. I was on my face before God this week praying for this nation because I love it and I am grieved at the direction that we are going, but we have no guarantees.

Number four: A nation can reach a point of no return. That’s what God said about Judah. He said, “Jeremiah, even though Moses and Samuel prayed, don’t bother praying because I’m going to judge this nation. It’s gone too far. There’s no way now that your prayers are going to hold back the rains of judgment.” Wow!

When Rebecca and I were in Niagara Falls about 40 years ago (My word, I don’t even feel 40. How could I say that we were in Niagara Falls 40 years ago?) I remember that we were standing there with a guide. And he said, “Do you see those rocks over there?” and he pointed something out on the other side of the falls. He said, “That’s known as the point of no return.” He said, "If you ever get this far, the speed of the water and the power of the water will take you over the falls, so boats should never get close to the point of no return.”

Are we there as a nation? I hope not. I’m not a prophet. It would take a prophet for us to understand exactly how and when God is going to judge America in the future, but it does not take a prophet to know that judgment not only is coming, but judgment has arrived.

Sometimes people say, “Pastor Lutzer, do you think that God will ever judge America?” I usually try to smile. You always want to try to smile when you give an answer like this. I say, “My dear friend, God is judging America.” You see, every sin has some immediate judgment, and then in the future, as God wills, there is accumulated judgment for a whole nation, but we are already reaping the seeds through the destruction of the family. God says in Deuteronomy 28, “If you don’t follow Me I am going to destroy you,” and then He goes on to say that the families will be destroyed. And 20 million children will go to bed tonight with only a single parent in the home. That’s part of the destruction. And then the increase in the break-up of the family where the governor of Colorado can sign a document now that children can have more than two parents! Of course! Why not? The family has been destroyed now. It’s just a collection of individuals that come together for sexual reasons and other reasons, and so it’s all gone. The point is this. That is part of God’s judgment, but only a part. There may be a time when there are even future judgments – more severe – that are national in their scope. But I don’t know that and I don’t know whether we’ve reached the point of no return. Many of my friends think we haven’t. They believe that there’s a great massive revival.

Now I have to tell you very honestly that I cannot foresee a day when same-sex marriage as it sweeps this country would be reversed unless there would be a massive great revival in the United States of America, for which I pray. But I don’t believe we have guarantees. So, a nation can reach the point of no return. I trust that that’s not true of the nation I love so much – the great United States of America.

Number five, and this blows me away! Number five: God values the human heart, not buildings and institutions. Do you know that when I was thinking about this I realized wouldn’t it have been great if Solomon’s Temple had not been destroyed? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I see Mary Whelchel here who leads tours to Israel. Wouldn’t it be great if we could lead a tour to Israel and say, “Come with us and see Solomon’s Temple?” You can imagine what that would do to the tourist industry in Israel. Beautiful Temple! It’s up for a couple of hundred years I think. God destroys it. And then something else, even worse to take in, happens. That Temple is destroyed. Centuries later of course you know you have the small temple under Zerubabel. Herod comes along and builds this massive temple – massive! You’ve seen pictures of it.

And Jesus is sitting there on the Mount of Olives looking at it and says to the disciples, “Do you realize that every stone here is going to be thrown down? Why? It’s because you didn’t know the day of your visitation.” Oh my! The Temple isn’t even finished during the time of Christ. It’s begun around 19 B.C. It’s finished in about 64 A.D. We’re talking about what - 70 or more – 80 years? And then six years later – 70 A.D. – the Romans believe that there’s gold in the stones and they dismantle it stone by stone, and there it’s destroyed. And I say, “God, think of all of the work that went into building this beautiful temple, and it would still be standing today, built with great Herodian stones of tons, some of which still exist.” And God says, “It means nothing to Me. You didn’t know the day of your visitation.” This beautiful structure is destroyed.

Do you see my heart today? Rebecca and I were in Washington, DC, this fall at the National Religious Broadcasters meeting. You drive down Pennsylvania Avenue. You see these beautiful buildings in Washington. Many of them have snatches and verses of Scripture engraved on them, and we know that we are consciously as a nation turning away from that heritage, turning away from the Judeo-Christian Ethic, which gave us unity, and in its place replacing it with a kind of relativism and the acceptance of immorality. And God may keep those buildings, and they may be inhabited eventually by other people, by other nations or by other religions, but to see that you say, “God, this nation!” I know that there are arguments about how Christian the founding fathers were, and I can’t get into that. But there was a historical Judeo-Christian ethic base certainly. It can’t be denied. To know all that, and God says, “I don’t care about your buildings. I could destroy them in a moment of time. If I don’t have your heart the buildings don’t matter.”

Number six: When a nation is judged, the righteous suffer with the wicked. You see, when this nation was judged, you know there were righteous people among all these people going to Babylon. That’s why we’re going to be looking at the book of Daniel eventually, and so forth, because Daniel is one of the ones who was carried off into Babylon, and there he is, living for God in a pagan culture. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego! Those guys were living for God in a pagan culture. They don’t bow before the idols of their culture, and that’s why what we need to do is to learn that. And so they themselves experienced temporal judgment – not eternal judgment. I mean that’s the thing. The City of God and the city of man are concurrent only in this life. Eventually they will be separated after the final judgment – the righteous in one place and the unbelievers in the other.

But the point to be made is that we also suffer. If a nation goes downhill economically because of an overspending government we all suffer as a result of that. So that’s just an observation to be made. It’s true historically. It’s true today.

Number seven: God uses evil nations to judge His own people. Now, you have to think about the book of Habakkuk. Do you remember Habakkuk? He’s writing during this period of time. Habakkuk is saying, “Oh, there is so much wickedness in the earth.” God says, “Habakkuk, you haven’t seen anything yet. I am raising up the Babylonians to come against your nation.” Habakkuk says, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Now this, of course, is the paraphrased version. He’s saying, “You can’t be real, God. They are worse than we are.” God says, “I know they are worse than you are, and I’ll judge them for their evil, but I’m using them against you to destroy your city because you don’t turn to Me.”

Wow! Europe is understanding this. I know that there are many Muslims (and I hope that many are listening right now) that don’t want Sharia Law. We don’t paint Islam with a big brush. The ones that live near you I am sure want to live peaceful lives and they make good neighbors. But for some of the countries in Europe the game is over. I’ve talked to historians because of the birth rate and all.

Do you know what God said in Deuteronomy 28? He says, “As a judgment (just catch this for a moment) your children will worship other gods.” Wow! What does that say about generations? Now what you are going to find is that Sharia Law begins to gain steam in some of the European countries that are totally paralyzed – completely paralyzed – by political correctness. We’ll see what happens there.

“Oh, we’re not as bad as the people who fly planes into buildings and kill innocent ones.” God says, “Yeah, but those are the kinds of people I use when a nation turns from God.”

Number eight: And isn’t it time for hope after all of this? I think so. How many of you say, “Pastor, it’s time for some hope here”? All right, I don’t know if that’s a quorum but I’m going with hope right now. (laughter) Number eight: God gives us promises to live in a pagan culture. We haven’t looked in detail in the book of Jeremiah by any means, but remember it is Jeremiah 33:3 that says, “Call unto Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you know not.”

You know, there’s a man in the book of Jeremiah, and I wish I could tell you his story. He pulled Jeremiah out of the pit, and even had pads under the ropes so that the prophet wouldn’t be hurt. And you know, this man who was an African (he’s from Ethiopia) was scared with the coming judgment. He said, “Boy, am I ever scared!” Do you know what God said to him? God says, “I am going to deliver you. (This is in chapter 39.) Because you trust Me there’s not anything that’s going to happen to you. You’re going to survive this.” It was not because he was good, and not because he was courageous. God said, “It’s because you trust Me.”

And God gives promises to His people. You know, “When you pass through the fire I’ll be with you.” “When you go through the floods you’ll not be overcome.” God always stands with His people in a time of trial.

Tony Evans, a great African American preacher, a friend of mine (I was actually with him last week if you can believe it.), tells this story that I love. He and Lois, his wife, were on a cruise, and over the intercom came the thing that “We’re headed into a storm so buckle up. It’s going to be rough.” Lois didn’t like it so she calls the captain and talks to his assistant and says, “If we’re going into a storm why don’t we just stay here? Let the storm blow over and put down anchor here and then we can go into the storm.”

The assistant said, “I’ll talk to the captain and get back to you.” He calls back and says two things. Number one (and I’m sure number one was said very diplomatically), “He wanted me to remind you that he’s in charge and you are not.” (laughter) That would be a good thing to be reminded of. And then number two he said this. And I want to give you a sentence that I never want you to forget. On your deathbed you should be able to quote this. Are you ready for it? All of you in the balcony or wherever you are listening, are you ready for the sentence? He said, “Tell her that this ship was built with this storm in mind.” (applause)

And when you trust Jesus, who died on the cross for your sins and took God’s judgment and was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven, I’ll tell you, that ship was built with our storm in mind. Do you agree with that? (applause) God’s going to walk with us through this.

Lesson number nine: We must not be passive because we have work to do. You see, you were born into this generation because God says, “I want you right now, and I want you to be able to spend your life telling about the excellencies of God and the redemption of God. The nation might not believe, but your neighbors might. And what you need to do is to be able to witness to the glory and the forgiveness of God because during times like this God is calling out a people for His name’s sake. And He’s calling out those people, and He’s using you and me to do it.

This past summer a teenager committed suicide and left a note and said, “I’ve messed up too many times.” I was actually at a Bible camp talking with one of the professors there and I said, “Tomorrow I’m preaching a message on why he didn’t have to commit suicide.” I’ve never preached that message at Moody Church. See, I don’t get to preach here as often as I could. That’s actually somewhat of a joke since I preach here all the time. (laughter)

But I pointed out that if he understood the Gospel, nobody ever has to commit suicide. Mess up! We’ve all messed up. Jesus died for people who have messed up. Aren’t you glad for that – that He died for people who have messed up? (applause)

Do you realize something of the judgment of God in this message? God says, “I’m going to become the enemy of Israel. I’m going to destroy you.” God says, “I’m going to do it and I’m going to use nations to do it, but I’m doing it.” That ought to scare you. Typhoons ought to scare you. Tsunamis ought to scare you about the terrifying nature of God. That’s why this world needs the message of God’s grace and the message of Jesus.

Do you remember the days when prairie fires used to devastate homes and homesteads? What the farmers used to do when the wind was blowing favorably was to start a fire around their homestead. They’d burn it - maybe a quarter of a mile or whatever, and then they knew that if the fire came, it would not come to them because their homestead was standing on the ground that had already been burned.

The Bible says that it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But when you come to Jesus you are standing where the fire of God has already struck, where the fire of God has been burned, and Jesus took the hell that you and I deserve. (applause) And so what we do is we proclaim this Gospel to everyone. Those of you who are depressed, those of you from other religions, you come and believe on Jesus, the Savior of the world. We invite you to do that, and that’s why we’re in this country now. But we are pointing people to another country, to a greater country, to another city whose builder and maker is God. (applause)

Right now, wherever you are, you can trust Christ as your Savior. However you are listening to this, by Internet, radio, whatever, you come to Christ and He will forgive you and accept you, and you will be exempt from the wrath of God to come. That’s the message for America today. May tens of thousands believe, and if you will, let us pray.

Father, in a time of universal falsehood, someone has said the truth is there but it is often so obscure that unless we love the truth we won’t hear it. Help us to be truth lovers. We pray that for our great nation. We pray that for ourselves. And we pray even now that as this invitation has gone out that many people will believe on Christ. May they be terrified to fall into Your hands unprepared, but to know that Jesus paid the debt. And if they believe they will be exempt. Draw many to Yourself today, we ask. And even as we sing about the greatness of our God, may we sing with worship, adoration and love. We ask this in His blessed name, Amen.

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