The sin of Judah [is] written with a pen of iron, [and] with the point of a diamond: [it is] graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills. ~Jeremiah 17:1-2
Where is the sanctuary? Where is the place of rest for our souls in the United States of America? Where do we turn when we have no one else to turn to? My heart breaks this night as I consider the terror and tragedy that transpired on the Virginia Tech campus on the morning of April 16, 2007. As in many like circumstances the common question has been presented, with no answer from the world: WHY? There is a resounding silence from the academics, from the skeptics, and from the self-serving politicians and self-serving spiritual guides. Why is an appropriate question, but do we truly want to know the answer? I believe without doubt that God awaits us in the unspeakable glory of His throneroom to instruct us and teach us and speak to our hearts concerning why such a slaughter of life was allowed to take place on a college campus in America yesterday.
I would so desire to offer a word of encouragement in this hour to a nation that reels from the terror of this day. But I fear that no encouragement can be offered that does not come with a terrifying warning to a trembling nation. You see, Jeremiah received a word from Yahweh concerning the nation of Israel in his day that dealt with the spiritual health of the land. Israel was under the curse of God for the reasons delineated in the verses above, and this curse would result in the most aweful of desolations the nation had endured to that day, judgement of a supreme kind from the Supreme God of all creation.
The verse that strikes me as I read these two verses is the one calling attention to the children who themselves had remembered their altars and their groves. The word for groves is actually the word "asherah," a Babylonian-Canaanite deity referred to elsewhere in Jeremiah as the queen of heaven. It is believed that she was a deity of fortune and happiness. At times in worship to this false god the children themselves took part in the offerings presented. "The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead [their] dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger" (Jeremiah 7:18).
The fathers and the mothers had forsaken Yahweh, the God of Israel, and given themselves over to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD. However, it did not stop at the parents but continued as a practice carried out by their progeny. "ENOUGH!" exclaims God through the prophet. "Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: [do they] not [provoke] themselves to the confusion of their own faces? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched" (Jeremiah 7:19-20).
The day of judgement had come upon a disobedient and gainsaying people who refused to walk in the ways of God, provoking Him day and night to His face with their obstinacy. The ways of the fathers had been passed onto the children and the children themselves would reap the fruit of what their parents had been sowing and taught them to sow, a seed of vileness and evil and perversion that would spring forth in ultimate destruction upon the nation of God's chosen.
In the state of Virginia the deciding battle of the Revolutionary War was fought at Yorktown. It was there, on Viriginian soil, that God granted victory to the fledgling rabble of British descent, who had set out to seek a land wherein they might worship and work under authentic freedoms granted them by their Creator. Thus, the United States of America was thereafter born. Virginia has been called the "Mother of States" because portions of the land of the original colony was divided into parts of at least five different states. The state is also called the "Mother of Presidents" because she is the birthplace of eight of the presidents of the United States, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Virginia Tech contains the largest full-time student population in Virginia, a population comprised of students from across the United States and from elsewhere in the world. Its motto is Ut Prosim, or in English, THAT I MAY SERVE. The facilities of a small Methodist school were purchased and became the foundation of what is now known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Such is the location of the worst mass murder in the history of the United States of America. I assure you, these facts are no mere coincidence.
On Monday, April 16, 2007, thirty-three people, including the murderer himself, were killed on this Virginian college campus. The children are suffering for the sins of their fathers, and not only for the sins of their fathers, but for partaking of the very same sins themselves, estranging themselves from the Living God, seeking in large part to worship before the altar of fortune and happiness. The unalienable rights perceived to be given unto all mankind by God were "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But what this nation has forgotten was that outside of the God Who grants us these certain unalienable rights can never be found true life, nor true liberty, nor a true pursuit of happiness.
President George W. Bush said concerning the massacre at Virginia Tech, "Schools should be places of safety, sanctuary and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom in every American community." We have neglected and outright rejected a most holy testimony of the saints of God throughout all generations: "A glorious high throne from the beginning [is] the place of our sanctuary. O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, [and] they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters" (Jeremiah 17:12-13). I cry out with Jeremiah, "Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou [art] my praise" (Jeremiah 17:14). What will it take for this healing to take place? It must begin with the church of the Living God. "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2Chronicles 7:14). Not until we return to the glorious high Throne of God Almighty in repentance and prayer will we ever know true sanctuary in our schools, in our homes, or most notably in our churches.
We have deceived our children into thinking that our ways are the true ways of life, as we struggle morning, noon, and night with feelings of inadequacy, illegitimacy, and helplessness. We murder children while they are yet in their mothers' wombs in the name of a woman's right to choose, denying God the right to the glory He deserves in the child He was knitting together according to His eternal decrees. But when a man marches onto a campus with a gun in his hand and performs the same act in perfect accord with the moral standards he has been taught to uphold, we fail to see the hypocrisy. We teach children they are merely animals derived from primates of generations past, but when they act like animals we scorn them for maintaining consistency to the principles they have been taught in America's classrooms.
We murder men by hatred within our hearts. We export sexual immorality across the globe to pad our pockets so that we might live out the American dream safely in our own borders granted us by the Holy One Who inhabits eternity. We have become a sanctuary of sin for anyone who wants to live any sort of unrestrained lifestyle he or she so chooses, without regard for the consequences. We have embraced idolatry across the nation, calling all faiths equal and good and right, all the while despising the Name of Jesus Christ, Who is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life. In fact, we turn our noses up in disgust and pride before any man who would dare to suggest that there is only one true Way to God. We have that right in America, indeed we do; but the rights we claim for ourselves to give ourselves over to uncleanness of indescribable kinds will also be our ruin if we do not repent as a nation.
For too long we have mocked God, despising and mistreating His messengers, who cry out day and night to turn us from death. For too long have we called holiness sin, and sin holiness, forming our own notions of righteousness, establishing our own moral codes in direct defiance of God. For too long we have scoffed at the warnings of wrath to come, quipping, "Let him make speed, [and] hasten his work, that we may see [it]: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know [it]!" (Isaiah 5:19). But the Holy Spirit declares unto you, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). "Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope...Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:18-20).
The altars of sacrifice before which we worship will be sufficient testimony to condemn us on the day of judgment, not to acquit us before a holy and righteous and jealous God. For our sins have been graven with a diamond point upon our very hearts and upon the altars of our idolatry, exposing that which we thought was concealed for no one to ever behold. Howbeit, God most assuredly sees all of our deeds and all of our thoughts. "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13). Therefore, we ought the more quickly to run to the mercy seat of our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, and receive the grace He so freely offers at the exalted throne of His Glory. Will we be the living sacrifice He seeks, or will we prove ourselves the children of wrath?
"The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin" (Deuteronomy 24:16). Indeed, the Word of God stands forever, and He testifies that the man shall die for his own sin. But what will we do when the children carry on in worse measure the sins of their fathers, magnifying themselves in the iniquities taught them by their parents? Be assured of this: there is no remedy for sin where there is no repentance. For Yahweh has declared in all verity, "I am the LORD, 'the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear [the guilty]; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation]'" (Exodus 34:6-7). How could we possibly have any other response to these eternal words than that of Moses who "made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped," forsaking all we have and all we are to belong specially and uniquely unto the Living God of all creation as His inheritance(Exodus 34:8)?
For the church of Jesus Christ, all rights have been relinquished unto God for His good pleasure, that He might take us where He wills, bless us as He wills, break us as He wills, and do altogether as He so pleases with our very lives. We are to be a peculiar people, a special and unique treasure unto God for His own purposes and glory. The church in America has altogether abandoned this concept of being a freewill offering unto God. She has forsaken any semblence of being the purchased possession of the Almighty, which He bought with His own blood. And our children this day are reaping the fruit of the seeds of iniquity and idolatry that we have sown in years past. We have sought God for nothing more than to obtain life abundant (which we translate as self-indulgence), liberty from any constraints on our lives (including freedom from any responsibility to honor God with our bodies or our spirits), and to pursue happiness (which we interpret to mean getting what we want when we want it from a god made in our own image who exists to bless us according to our own selfish ambitions and motives).
America, be warned! This deadly rampage of one man murdering your children as they sat in class learning the wisdom of the world's system is a supreme mercy meted out by the God of heaven and earth, Who is also the God of history, and the God of the nations. You have been the signpost for perversion across the world, pointing the way to sin of an incomprehensible kind. Murder, fornication, adultery, self-indulgence, idolatry--these shall be your end if you do not repent. Hear the voice of God calling out to you to turn from your wicked ways and return to the Creator and Former of this nation, Who established the United States of America as a country through which He might show His glory. How will we be seen as a nation in the years to come? Will we be like Pharaoh, of whom God spoke, saying, "Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth" (Romans 9:17)? Will God do with this nation as He did with Egypt in executing His judgment upon the entire country in order to redeem a people unto Himself? "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth" (Romans 9:18).
Church of Jesus Christ in America, be warned! "For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?" (1Peter 4:17). God will not pass over the sin of an obstinate and disobedient people who name His Name but reject Him day by day in their very deeds and thoughts and the most intimate intentions of their hearts. For "the LORD said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man" (Genesis 6:3). The sons of God have joined themselves to work all kinds of wickedness with the daughters of men once again in this generation, and God will not overlook our transgressions if we refuse to repent when He calls to us in mercy. "And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:26-27). Our children have seen us bow down to the altars of idolatry and themselves have partaken of our iniquities, following an unholy host of fathers and mothers down a devilish path of destruction.
Oh, that God would send His word once again to this nation and her church, that He would "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers," that we as the church would walk in the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus before a nation ready to perish, drowning in a sea of her own corruption (Malachi 4:6, Romans 8:2). If we do not return to the God Who raised this nation up for His glory, the blessing we have embraced for so long will be stripped in a moment, and He will "come and smite the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:6). "Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] Man whom he hath ordained..." (Acts 17:31). America, hear. Church of Christ in America, give heed.
That I may serve. This I say to you, Churh of Jesus Christ; this I say to you, United States of America and her inhabitants: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Joshua 24:15). "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, [and] that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he [is] thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers..." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
Oh, LORD my God, have mercy on us! We have torn down Your altar and erected altars unto idols of our own imaginations. We have forgotten to pray, we seek not Your face, we wander down the broad way of death. How long, Oh Lord Jesus Christ, until You will look upon us with mercy? How long, Oh Lord, until You revive Your church once again? We confess our sins, we have given ourselves over to work iniquity, we have transgressed Your laws of love. We have committed fornication with the world, uncovering our nakedness before an unbelieving generation, bringing shame on Your Name. Oh God, pardon our sins, forgive our iniquity. Lord my God, see; Lord, hear; Lord Christ, forgive. For we turn unto You, Who alone can deliver us from this wicked and perverse generation, that we may find sanctuary at Your high and holy throne once again. FOR YOUR NAME'S SAKE, FATHER IN HEAVEN, FOR THE GLORY OF YOUR SON JESUS CHRIST, REMEMBER US, YOUR CHURCH, IN THIS MOST DESPERATE HOUR. "O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it [is] a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance" (Exodus 34:9).
Bryan W. Hulen