Are We Going to Hell in a Hand-basket? 4 of 5

In the early 1970’s my wife and I participated in a “musical experience” with hundreds of fellow Christians throughout Los Angeles. The title of the musical was If My People, written, produced, directed by Jimmy and Carol Owens, featuring their daughter Jamie, Pat Boone, one of my all-time favorite groups, The Second Chapter of Acts, and another favorite singer, Barry McGuire. It was based on the scripture from 2 Chronicles 7.

In 1 Chronicles 22 we read about King David wanting to build a Temple for the Lord and begins the planning. He thought about turning the project over to his son, Solomon, but he believes he is too young to take on such a responsibility. However, God comes to David and basically tells him he has too much blood on his hands to build the Temple and God turns it over to Solomon.

In 2 Chronicles 7 the Temple is built and Solomon and all the Israelites are celebrating. Then beginning in verse 11 we read these words:

“When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, the Lord appeared to him at night and said:

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

“As for you, if you walk before me faithfully as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to rule over Israel.’

“But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’ ” (verses 11-22, underlining mine.)

The context of this is clearly set in Israel and between God and the Israelites. The context does not make it a universal promise. Many Christians want to make this promise universal and it was the way the Owens musical treated it. Christians want to make every promise a general promise for everyone. It’s a belief based on treating the Biblical story as God directly speaking to all as it is His word so we appropriate his promises as general promises for everyone. It’s a theological position holding that everything written in the Bible is not “only” for the audience it is spoken to, in this case the Israelites, but for Americans in the Twentieth Century.

So was it foolish of us to use this scripture as we called upon Christians to turn back to God and repent so our nation could be healed from the chaos of progressivism? Even though we appropriated this scripture from a bad presupposition (the one listed above) in this case the principle of God wanting to help us be whole is seen in this story. We can grab hold of that broader principle inside his words and plead with God to heal our land based on our (Christians) repentance and change in our behavior. So while the specific promise is to the Israelites in the time of David and Solomon we can negotiate with God like Abraham did over Sodom to hear our pleas and heal our land. But don’t forget that with the promise came a warning and while Abraham argued for Sodomites to be saved in the end the city and all its inhabitants were destroyed. And in the end Jerusalem and Israel were twice taken into captivity and under the Romans was destroyed. At this point you may want to juxtapose these two scriptures: Hebrews 6: 4-6 (impossible to repent) with 2 Chronicles 7 (if you are called by my name and repent I will heal your land). Which will it be?

As a realist I know that tipping points are real, points of no return. If I board an airplane in New York City and fly 3,459 miles to London, at mile 1,729.5 I’ve reached an equal distance from NYC behind me and London ahead. But that also represents the point of no return to NYC. If the airplane develops a crisis before that point it would be closer to turn around and go back to NYC. But if we are past that point it’s closer to continue on to London. There’s no point turning around, it won’t help you. Suppose you lose one tank of fuel before that point of no return, you can turn around and make it safely back to NYC. But if you lose that fuel and you’re past that point of no return and not enough to make it to London, your only option is to bend over and kiss your ass good-bye. Pessimism? No. It’s reality where the mathematical volume of fuel is less than needed to make London. You can hope for a miracle, and there are just enough miracles that happen that keeps it a possibility, but . . .

Let’s return to the reality I see happening as I question whether we are going to hell in a handbasket, or is there hope. The question is raised for me because I’m old enough to have witnessed personally a major shift in our culture, politics, and religious beliefs, and because I’ve studied enough early American history I know what it was then and what it is now and see a major difference. I also understand the universal historic shift the Industrial Revolution brought in the middle 1700’s, and the counter-revolution Marx added to it in the middle 1800’s. The first was a natural progression in progress. The second an intellectual exercise, an overlay, if you will, to the meaning of life based solely on academic speculation.

In Miracle Across the Water I tried to show the progression of history through events that before and during them appeared just to be unconnected events. Yet looking back at them we see pieces of a puzzle that when placed together on a board form a whole picture explaining major events in history, like the forming of the United States of America. Take those puzzle pieces away, or change them, you could never have formed that picture.