Anger, fear and denial seem to characterize the state of America and parts of today's world. What does God have to say?
[Darris McNeely] This week is the State of the Union address in the United States, the president’s annual message that he gives to Congress regarding the condition and the state of the American public. It’s a very interesting period, as we’re in the midst of an election year. I was reading a comment by someone out in the state of Iowa, where the first votes will be cast in a few weeks, and this individual says that we need some real change, “people are just tired of it” – talking about the state of America. “So many bad things going on – healthcare, what’s going on in the Middle East, people losing their jobs. I’m worried about my kids. It’s total anger. This is America, you know. We should be doing better. We need better.” And so, he’s making up his mind, deciding who to vote for, thinking that some of the announced candidates for the Presidency of the United States will have a solution and will turn his view of the country around.
There is a great deal of anger that’s going on in our nation right now, and that statement reflects a period that we are in in the United States and increasingly in other parts of the world with other tensions and problems in Europe and the Middle East and also in Asia. This week’s State of the Union address by the American president will state his particular point of view, but I wonder – as I’ve been going through a series in the book of Isaiah, chapter 1, just looking at that chapter – if we might be better served by looking at what is said in Isaiah chapter 1 regarding the state of our nation, state of our world, and perhaps even for us to consider the state of our own lives. We have some deep problems in the world and in America right now. A lot of people are looking to the presidential candidates for answers and solutions, and I’ve been saying in this series that they just don’t get it – that none of them have been able to put forth a solution that is based in Scripture, based in the Bible, and has God’s point of view on that.
I think we’re better served, and we are going to come closer ourselves to really understanding or, as I put it, getting it, if we look at what the prophet Isaiah says and turn that around to a mirror of where we are. In Isaiah chapter 1, God is talking about a people that have forgotten Him. And He goes on to say, “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.” He wasn’t interested in their religious worship and how they approached Him. “When you come to worship Me, who asked you to parade through My courts with all of your ceremony?” God says to His people at that time, “Stop bringing your meaningless gifts. The incense of your offerings,” He said, “it disgusts Me. As for your celebrations of the new moon and of the Sabbath and of your special days for fasting, they’re all sinful, and they’re all false. I want no more of your pious meetings.” He goes on to talk about their annual festivals that are a burden – “I cannot stand them. When you lift your hands in prayer, I will not look, though you offer many prayers. I will not listen, for your hands are covered with blood of innocent victims.” Quite a striking statement of God’s people at that time. I think this is the mirror that we need to hold up to ourselves and to look and to try to understand exactly what it is that would cause God to hear our prayers, to even grant to us a change and a reform that can bring about some meaningful change that could turn us around if indeed that is possible.
You know, reading about God’s hatred of their annual religious festivals, of their way by which they approach Him, reminds me of what we’ve just gone through, the Christmas season, the New Year’s, in a few months we’ll be into Easter – and all of these religious festivals which we have designed, that we think honor God, but as we’ve shown in so many different ways, really don’t, because they’re not found in Scripture. Of course, we’ve been there, we understand that, way it is today, people don’t really care. And yet, calls by religious leaders going on today, and even political leaders, for a revival, for a renewal – when you look at this Scripture, shows that those calls can be possibly and very likely met with a deaf ear by God.
“Making America great again” is a very good slogan, but what does that really mean? It’s going to take more than slogans and empty promises. It’s going to take a heartfelt acknowledgement of God, His purpose and His plan. Something different must happen. The book of Isaiah, even the first chapter, shows us exactly what that hope is – and it is a positive hope. We’ll get to that next time as we look at how God defines the state of the union.
That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.