Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Things fall apart

The US and the UK are foremost among nations that are slowly but surely exhibiting signs of ruin. Does a country that's declining know it? Usually people in the midst of a long-term event can't tell until later what the major point of turning was. I think by now it's evident that late September-early October 2008 was the moment when the center did not hold and things fell apart. But the prior years that led up to the collapse were not plainly in view.

The LORD raises up nations and He causes them to fall. When the LORD judges a city or a nation due to sin, we think of it happening suddenly. On October 7, 540BC the Babylonians awoke to an invading army who had taken over. Cyrus's army diverted the Euphrates river and walked into the city while its inhabitants slept. It was a done deal in a matter of hours. Of course Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in one fell swoop. "Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before The Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace." (Genesis 19:27-28) By "next morning", poof, gone. In Revelation 18:17 people will stand by and watch as "In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!"

 But sometimes a nation's ruin comes slowly. The LORD through Micah said "Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights? Her rich men are violent; her people are liars and their tongues speak deceitfully. Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins. You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword. You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil on yourselves, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine. You have observed the statutes of Omri and all the practices of Ahab's house, and you have followed their traditions. Therefore I will give you over to ruin and your people to derision; you will bear the scorn of the nations." (Micah 6:11-14)

He said He 'has begun' to destroy her, connoting a long process as the life of the nation slowly peters away. Then the LORD gives a list of markers to watch for:

"You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword. You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil on yourselves, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine." All these are activities with intervals. Storing up takes time to gather the stored items. Planting means cultivating a crop over a season. Making wine takes a span while it is fermenting.

And why was the LORD doing this? The crimes are the same ones that are in evidence today. Fraudulent scales (a cheating economy), pride, lusts, wealthy idolatry, liars, deceivers, and violence. God is the same Holy God yesterday and today and tomorrow and if these nations were not acquitted for their sins in the past can any nation today expect an acquittal? No. So what is it like to experience ruination of a nation in slow motion? 

Here is a startling news article: Fahrenheit 451 for Cash-Strapped UK Seniors  "Some cash-strapped British pensioners are buying books from charity shops and burn them to keep warm as freezing temperatures gripped the UK." Worse, they are "running out of gas as cold weather hits." "The United Kingdom has only eight days worth of gas in reserve, according to figures obtained by the Conservative party." Broke and cold, burning books and huddling at warming shelters, as they endure the worst winter in decades, they are unable to cope. Their nation is at a standstill, with motorways gridlocked, airports closed and trains and buses cancelled. Daily life has been suspended as Britons struggle for the basics: safety, food, and warmth. It's safe to say that the ruin has begun.

The US will not escape either. Already we plant but do not harvest: "Florida farmers worked to salvage millions of dollars worth of crops as the unusual Southern cold snap gripped much of the Gulf states on Wednesday." This week millions of people, freight, and goods were prevented from moving across the country as the nation succumbed to a fit of fear from terrorism. There was chaos and delays. Anger and failed systems. A once-vital nation grinding to a standstill:

"Portions of the Lindbergh terminal at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were evacuated for about 90 minutes Tuesday afternoon after a bomb-sniffing dog reacted as though there were something suspicious on a bag found in the baggage claim area." The power is out at Reagan National Airport outside Washington, D.C., bringing flights and security screening to a standstill." Worse, if these headlines from Drudge aren't enough to make a person quiver...
--Winter Could Be Worst in 25 Years for USA...
--Britain's big snow shuts cities... Army drafted to rescue 1,000 snow stranded motorists...
--Vermont sets 'all-time record for one snowstorm'...
--Iowa temps 'a solid 30 degrees below normal'...
--Seoul buried in heaviest snowfall in 70 years... --3 die in fire at Detroit home; power was cut...
--Midwest Sees Near-Record Lows, Snow By The Foot...
--Miami shivers from coldest weather in decade; Florida Gov Signs Emergency Order
--Cold snap spurs power rationing in China...

A slow ruin comes, well, slowly. Banks are slowly collapsing. Construction is slowly collapsing. Wages are slowly collapsing. Headlines show that people are huddling, rationing, salvaging, burning. We are in collapse, bearing the scorn of the nation. (Micah 6:16) as the US is called a farce in a major world newspaper.

The ruin is on, slow but sure. This is not a depressing message, however. If you are saved you know that your redemption draws nigh. It does not have to be a depressing message for the lost person, either, because they can turn to Him and ask for redemption, now. The LORD does not tolerate sin and He always judges it. If you ask for forgiveness of your individual sins, they will be wiped from your account. Thereafter, even as your nation collapses and falls to ruin, you will know the joy of Him. Though you may mourn your country as things fall apart, you know that "Our citizenship is in heaven." (Philippians 3:20)

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