Revelation 2:5 “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”
When I was a kid my parents would often turn on a t.v. show in the morning that featured a man by the name of Paul Harvey. Harvey anchored a show called, The Rest of the Story which consisted of stories presented as little-known or forgotten facts on a variety of subjects with some key element of the story (usually the name of some well-known person) held back until the end. The broadcasts always concluded with a variation on the tag line, “And now you know…the rest of the story.”
Paul Harvey was such a great storyteller, offering bits of interesting information and then tying together all the facts with a person you had no idea could have been associated with the scene.
We are part of a greater story, a story line filled with interesting people, improbable scenarios, and fascinating storylines. There is drama, adventure, tales of heroism, and villains, all the while the story is waiting to conclude. One day we will see the culmination of all these stories and realize they had a common feature, the Lord was ever present in each of them.
It’s so easy to get lost in the story of life and forget the ending has a glorious culmination of revelation that will surprise those watching.
We must not lose sight of where we began, we’ve got to press on to the finish and complete the work God began in us. We have no reason not to trust the Lord, He has never given us a reason to doubt. For those who have been filled with the power of God, endurance occurs because His strength is supplied.
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Command to the Churches
The call to the collective members of a church is much like God’s call to Israel. There are people within the church who are godly, who minister in sincerity and truth, there are people who are there only observationally, watching the show and maybe partaking on a limited basis, then there are those who are troublesome.
The troublemakers are those busy bodies who are more concerned with tradition than they are people. They save their spots in the pews each week, believing their busy-ness requires adulation. Follow them and your part of the “in” crowd, you might get invited to Sunday potlucks or even elevated into a position of prominence within the church. Reject them and you find yourself on the outside looking in, their “club” is reserved only for those who comply. There is no love found in their midst, they lost that long ago, invite the homeless to church with you and they will be the first to fire a glaring rebuke. These are fearful people, they fear change, they fear losing their positions of prominence, they fear a disruption of how things have always been done–they fear all these things but they do not fear God.
John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Where a church goes astray is when the pastor of that church is more concerned about offending the old families than he is about bringing in the new. The old families usually provide the biggest contributions, money, resources, and activities. Because of fear, the concern for maintaining a lifeless church is of greater importance than allowing it to become a light in the community.
Unless the church remembers it’s first love, God will remove His lampstand from among them.
Israel forsook God in how they practiced their faith. There were still good people in the land, there were still faithful servants who did not bow their knees to any foreign god’s, and yet it was the leadership of that nation that changed the course of direction and lead them astray.
Isaiah 45:21-22 “Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”
How does a nation that has lost its way regain the favor of God that it once had?
One word: Repentance.
Command to the Nations
The nation of America has lost its way. It’s not just the leadership that has grown fat with power, whose ideals have been corrupted by the idolatrous desire for social acceptance—it is the people who have also been corrupted.
Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!”
Like the babylonian king Belshazzar who commanded the temple artifacts be brought to him, stolen from Jerusalem by his father, he chose to defile God by drinking from them in the midst of his orgy. As he drank we read in Daniel 5:5-6 “In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.”
Every poor choice of self-exaltation sounds great until judgement falls on them.
vs. 25 And this is the inscription that was written:
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
vs. 26-28 This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”
God is not mocked.
And yet, America mocks God’s justice by the way they hoard their resources, by the way they murder the unborn, by the way they have forsaken their first love and reject the judeo-christian values that it was established upon.
Every nation that has rejected God has paid a dear price.
Corruption fills the legislatures of godless nations, those in authority take bribes and abuse their position, laws reject godly principles and invite foreign god’s to take prominence….and the people suffer.
The Fall of a Nation
In the midst of the corruption, the mandate to God’s people has never changed.
Matthew 28:18-19 “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
Our nations might be under judgement, but God’s people must remain steadfast in purpose. The Lord keeps His anointed until their appointed day, they should not fear man’s reprisals, they should fear God, who judges the living and the dead.
Psalm 9:17 “The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.”
Diligence is the moniker by which God’s people serve. Diligent for good works, diligent to share the gospel, and ultimately diligent to love one another. I must remind myself of this ultimatum every day, it’s far too easy to get caught up condemning the darkness rather than shining a light into it.
What will the rest of the story be for our nation?
We can look ahead and find out.
One day the Lord Himself will rule over the land. He will judge rightly during His millennial reign and bring peace upon the nations.
Zephaniah 3:8 “Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed.”
Every good story has a hero, our hero is Jesus. He has brought His people out of the nations and given them life. We have much to look forward to and it is not found in the current environment. America, like every other godless nation will succumb to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the final story will end with Jesus being exalted and every nation bowing before Him.
Micah 4:3 “He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore;”
When the final story ends, the beginning of an eternal story commences. The story was written from the beginning, it’s only been told among those who believe. The world will see true righteousness and then be cast into the Lake of Fire for rejecting it.
God’s people have an eternity of stories to make, what that will look like is yet to be told.