Judgment is Upon Us
A Call to Repentance and Redemption
2 Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. 3 An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand. 4 Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him.”
In the entire world and throughout all of history there have only been two, and only two, nations that have been founded on God’s word and have been dedicated to God – Israel and the United States of America. Israel and America are the only two nations God brought into existence to be a light to the nations. In fact, the founding fathers identified with Israel to such an extent that they saw America as a new Israel, an Israel of the new world. As such they made a covenant with God.
As nations consecrated to God both nations were blessed as long as they honored God and obeyed His statutes. If they did not, warning and discipline would be the means God would use to bring them back. If they did not repent, they would ultimately incur judgment. Israel turned away from God and ignored His commandments and statutes, and after warnings, did not repent. As a result, Israel ceased to be a nation and incurred God’s judgment. The United States of America has forsaken God as well. Is the USA under God’s judgment? If so, will the nation repent and be preserved, or will it suffer the same fate as Israel?
A General Word About Prophesy
God, who is omniscient and sovereign over all, would of course know the occurrence of every event, the utterance of every word, and outcome of every situation long before it happens. Prophesy, with respect to the foretelling of God’s word, has often been a means our Lord uses to authenticate His message and His messenger. Many times the message consisted of warning. As a result, we need to appreciate that prophesy, in the proper context, has a role in the events of the world, the life of the church, and in our own lives. We also need to understand prophesy, when correctly interpreted and properly applied, is a message to the world, the church and us as individual believers.
16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
1 Thes 5:16-24
A Specific Prophesy of Judgment
There are many passages in the Bible that describe the Lord’s chastening of Israel, but there is one in particular that contains a warning and a prophetic message of particular interest for the purpose of this paper in Isaiah 9:8-14:
8 The Lord sends a message against Jacob, And it falls on Israel. 9 And all the people know it, That is, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, Asserting in pride and in arrogance of heart:
10 “The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with smooth stones; The sycamores have been cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.”
11 Therefore the LORD raises against them adversaries from Rezin And spurs their enemies on,
12 The Arameans on the east and the Philistines on the west; And they devour Israel with gaping jaws. In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away And His hand is still stretched out. 13 Yet the people do not turn back to Him who struck them, Nor do they seek the LORD of hosts. 14 So the LORD cuts off head and tail from Israel, Both palm branch and bulrush in a single day.
The Warned (Isaiah 9:8-9a)
Verse 8 identifies this passage as a message to Israel. It is a message of warning to a people who have already received a warning in the form of a catastrophic event, an attack (v. 10). This is a warning to a nation that had been consecrated to God, but has forsaken Him.
The Warnings (Isaiah 9:10)
God was calling Israel, who had forsaken God, to come back to Him. He was calling them; warning them; to forsake their idolatry and wickedness and return to Him in pure devotion. The Lord, in patience and in mercy, follows a pattern in disciplining His people. It takes the form of a warning; a wake-up call, which if not heeded, is followed by another warning or series of warnings. If there is no repentance, each successive warning becomes more severe, until God in His justice, will finally execute the complete judgment. In the case of this prophesy, further warnings were required, because Israel did not repent and return to God.
Verse 10 describes the result of an attack by Assyria against Israel in 732 BC. It was a limited strike which God used as a warning to Israel. Because Israel did not repent, and God sent a more severe warning (v. 11), which would cause greater destruction (v. 12).
9:8-12 Again the prophet turns back to the thunders of judgment, dividing his message into four stanzas, each ending with the refrain, “For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still” (vv. 12, 17, 21, Isa_10:4).
Unmoved by previous punishment, Israel threatens in pride and arrogance to rebuild more gloriously than ever. But the Lord promises that they will be attacked by the Syrians from the east and the Philistines from the west.
The Vow (Isaiah 9:9b-10)
Considering verse 10 alone, there does not seem to be anything wrong with wanting to rebuild after an attack. However, we can’t ignore verse 9, the second half in particular, which shows Israel’s vow is one of pride and arrogance of heart. It becomes Israel’s national policy–“all the people know it” (v. 9a) –to rebuild and replace, better, and stronger than before.
This shows Israel’s defiant unrepentance. They would not humble themselves in the wake of God’s warning and turn back to Him. Instead, they planned to resist further warnings and judgments from God, by being better prepared and fortified. The phrase “smooth stones” in verse 10 actually means hewn stone; a large stone cut out of a mountain in one piece. These would be much stronger than the clay bricks that had fallen in the destroyed buildings. The sycamore would be replaced with a much stronger tree–the cedar (Erez tree).
Israel failed to recognize or accept that the attack was a warning from God to turn back to Him. Instead of humbling themselves and repenting, they responded in defiance of another attack (warning).
The Response and Result (Isaiah 9:11-14)
The response by Israel to the first warning in this passage is revealed in v. 9; it is defiant unrepentance. We find Israel’s response to the subsequent warning in v. 13: “Yet the people do not turn back to Him who struck them, nor do they seek the Lord of hosts.” The final result would be that because the people do not turn back to God, He would destroy the nation of Israel (v. 14).
9:13-17 He further warns of the wholesale destruction of the population, from the honored elder to the prophet who teaches lies. Because ungodliness prevails, the Lord’s anger is not turned away and His hand is stretched out still—in judgment, not in mercy.
Comparisons of Israel and America
It is a fundamental principle that God will not bless people or nations that do not honor Him. To the person or nation committed to Him that later forsakes Him, He withholds blessing as a warning or judgment. It’s a bit like this: “You want to forsake Me, then you’ll do it on your own, without My power and protection.” God will even bring enemies to attack us. This is discipline in love, for our good.
To say that America is a nation under judgment, as Israel was, is not a stretch, but the question is can this be seen in a specific prophesy? There is a remarkable parallel between the attack on Israel in the 8th century, mentioned in Isaiah 9:10, and the attack of the United States of America on September 11, 2001. The table which follows shows these parallels, event by event:
|King Solomon, Israel’s second king, consecrated the temple and Israel to God in the temple on the Temple Mount. See 2 Chron 5-6; 1 Kings 8.||Immediately following his inauguration, on April 30, 1789 George Washington, the first president of USA, along with both houses of Congress and the public consecrated the nation to God in prayer at St. Paul’s Chapel in the first U.S. capital, New York.|
|See 1 Kings 9:1-9:3 The LORD said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 4 “As for you, if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, 5 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, just as I promised to your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ 6 “But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 8 And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by will be astonished and hiss and say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land and to this house?’ 9 “And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore the LORD has brought all this adversity on them.’”|| The Nation’s first chief executive, George Washington, took his oath of office on April 30, 1789 on the balcony of the Senate Chamber at Federal Hall on Wall Street, NY. Washington’s first address to the American people included a prophetic warning:
“… we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”
The Ground of Consecration
|The ground of consecration was the temple on the Temple Mount.||The ground of consecration was at Federal Hall, on Wall Street in New York on April 30, 1789 on the occasion of the inauguration of our first president. After the inauguration the new president, congress, and the public walked down the street to St. Paul’s Chapel to pray and commit the nation to God.|
The Forsaking of God
|Israel turned away from God and His ways, and turned to idols.||God has been replaced in America. Idols have filled the void we created when we pushed Him out–idols of sensuality, greed, money, success, comfort, materialism, pleasure, sexual immorality, self- indulgence self-worship, self-obsession. We have aborted millions of babies. The sacred has almost completely been replaced by the profane. Pride and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle. America has forgotten its calling and purpose to be a means of redemption and a light to the world. What has for centuries has been seen as immoral, profane and unjust are now accepted as the norm. More and more our culture is being corrupted by sin and ungodliness. We should respond as Daniel in Daniel 9:1-19 and Nehemiah did in Neh 1:1-11.|
|God removed His hedge of protection and Israel was venerable, allowing the attack in 732 B.C., when Israel’s enemy invaded their land and wreaked havoc.||God removed His hedge of protection and America was venerable, allowing the attack on Sept 11, 2001, the first major attack by an outside enemy in the continental U.S.|
|Israel was attacked by the Assyrians, a brutal and vicious people. They were the inventors of terrorism. They would attack civilians including women and children. One of their tactics was to impale people on tall sharpened posts and parade them around as they brutally died–all to terrorize their enemy.||A terrorist group known as “Al Qaeda” attacked the U.S. on 9/11 using a modern version of the Assyrian tactics to terrorize their enemy. These people are Middle-Eastern, of Arab heritage, and so speak Arabic, a language of the same structure spoken by the ancient Assyrians. Assyria is modern-day Iraq.|
|In 732 B.C., Israel suffered a sudden, limited strike that had devastating results. Buildings were destroyed and people were massacred. It was God’s wake-up call to Israel, but there was no repentance; no searching of their ways; no humbling of the nation before God.||On Sept 11, 2001, America suffered a sudden, limited strike that had devastating results. Buildings were destroyed and people were massacred. It was God’s wake-up call to America, but there was no repentance; no searching of our ways; no humbling of the nation before God.|
|The destroyed buildings were now a pile of bricks on the ground, fallen from the ruined structures. This was the most visible sign of the attack.||The ruin heap of the fallen buildings consisted of brick and steal. This image at Ground Zero would be engrained in the minds of Americans.|
|Israel would rebuild without repenting, despite God’s warning. The new structure would be a symbol of their not returning to God.||“We will rebuild, stronger than before” was a show of defiance without repentance. This was an act of pride and arrogance. The Septuagint says, “Come let us build a tower.” Construction on the “Freedom Tower”, now called the “One World Trade Center,” began on 4/27/06 and is scheduled to be ready for occupation in 2013. Standing at 1776 feet tall, it has been built stronger than the twin towers.|
The Gazit Stone
|Israel cut stones out of the nearby mountains and used the quarried stones to rebuild stronger than before, and more resistant to another attack. They laid the stones in the exact location of the original buildings. This was an act of defiance by the nation.||Chiseled out of the Adirondack Mountains of New York state, a rectangular, 20-ton, granite stone was taken to Ground Zero, the ground of destruction, to be the cornerstone of the new building being built in the same location of the destroyed buildings. A ceremony was held for the setting of the stone on 7/4/04, and vows of defiance (“spirit of defiance”) were made. The New York Governor, George Pataki insisted: “Today, we the heirs of that revolutionary spirit of defiance; lay this cornerstone.” It was hailed as the “Freedom Stone,” but it is actually a cornerstone of judgment.|
|In the Assyrian attack of 732 BC, the Assyrians tore out sycamore trees. A sycamore is a biblical sign of national judgment. This was a warning to Israel, but, in ignoring it, it became a prophesy of judgment.||On 9/11, the falling debris of the North Tower, the last to fall, struck a tree–a sycamore tree. This was later made a symbol for all the nation. It’s roots were bronzed and are displayed on Wall Street as a “monument,” but it is a sign of a nation under God’s judgment.|
The Erez Tree
|The vow of defiance continues with the planting of another tree–a cedar (Erez) tree. It is stronger and more robust than the uprooted sycamore tree. This was another symbol of defiance against God.|| In November 2003 a tree that had been donated was lifted by crane to the very spot at Ground Zero where the sycamore had resided. A ceremony was held, calling it the “Tree of Hope,” declaring further defiance. Claiming hope without God is futile and defiant against God. This tree became a symbol of the nation’s arrogant hope. A member of the clergy prayed, “We are gathered here on holy ground … the ground is sanctified by our presence as we dedicate this tree of hope in witness to the divine with each of us. …Our prayer is that this Ground Zero Tree of Hope will be a sign of the indomitable nature of human hope.” God was not even addressed in his prayer; no repentance; no searching of our ways; no humbling before God.
The Utterance (Vow of Defiance)
|Israel’s vow was spoken by its leaders from the capital of the nation and became national policy, and all the people knew it. They would rebuild, stronger than before; they would replant with a more robust tree. The vow which was prophetic was now fulfilled and in the public record.||What was prophesied as Israel’s vow and became their course of action now had become America’s vow and official, national policy as well. On 9/12/01, In the official response by the U.S. to the 9/11 attack, in a joint session of Congress, Senate majority leader Tom Daschle sited a text from the Bible as a comfort “at time like this” and quoted the text of Isaiah 9:10. He truly intended it to be a comfort to America, but instead he unwittingly linked the U.S. to the same prophesy as Israel—a prophesy of judgment. He unknowingly made a prophetic utterance, stating America’s course and mentioning every object in the prophesy. This identified America with Israel’s unrepentant defiance. On Sept 11, 2004, every object mentioned in the prophecy of Isaiah 9:10 had manifested. The public utterance of the prophecy had to take place publicly, which happened on Sept 11, 2004 when VP candidate John Edwards, giving a speech in the capital city, identified Isaiah 9:10 and quoted it word for word in Wash., DC. After reading the verse, he identified what America had done. Without realizing it, he was joining the two nations together and, without realizing it, pronouncing judgment on America. The ancient and the modern were bound together.|
The Ground of Judgment
|The Temple was destroyed in 586 BC. The ground of consecration becomes the ground of judgment.||When our nation was consecrated to God, the land around St. Paul’s Chapel was all part of the property of the church. That land today includes what is now called Ground Zero. This, the ground of America’s consecration, is now America’s ground of judgment. The ground of consecration becomes the ground of judgment. In 1842, Federal Hall National Memorial replaced the original building in the same spot where George Washington was inaugurated. On 9/11, a hairline crack in its foundation was dramatically expanded due to the collapse of the WTC towers. This site is one of the most important in the history of the United States, and, particularly, the foundation of the United States Government and its democratic institutions. This is highly symbolic of the foundation of the United States being shaken and damaged. In what has been called the miracle of 9/11, St. Paul’s Chapel was undamaged and what they believe saved it was the uprooted sycamore tree. I believe God saved it as a sign of hope to us in the midst of warnings to return to Him.|
Is There Hope for America?
The Almighty has His own purposes. God is merciful, even in His warnings. At Ground Zero, the ground of devastation becomes the ground of restoration, at least temporarily. In the midst of the 9/11 warnings there were at least three signs of hope:
- St. Paul’s Chapel: God displayed His mercy, miraculously sparing St Paul’s Chapel from destruction. Here, this nation was dedicated to God by first president George Washington and other leaders after his inauguration.
- Federal Hall National Memorial: At Ground Zero, where Washington was inaugurated, Federal Hall National Memorial was not destroyed when the towers fell. Its foundation was severely cracked, a sign of a serious warning, but mercifully, it was not destroyed.
- The Miracle Cross of 9/11: Joined steel beams fragments in the dust and ruins of the towers appeared planted by God, forming a perfect cross—a sign that our only hope is in Christ and what He accomplished on the cross in purchasing our redemption. This cross was later set in a concrete base where it remains as a sign of hope at Ground Zero, unless an atheist group is successful at having it removed. It is another reminder of the love and mercy of God.
God’s strong desire is for salvation, and greater are His compassions than His judgments. God is calling this nation back to Himself.
Today, when we see the very foundations of our faith, our republic and our liberty being destroyed, our hope is still in the Lord. Remember, the Lord is reigning on His throne in heaven–He is in control! He is righteous and will judge righteously. Wickedness will receive its due. Those who love Him, whom He has chosen and saved, will see His face:
3 If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do? 4 The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’S throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. 5 The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates. 6 Upon the wicked He will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.
What must we do to respond to the warnings and the call to return to the Lord? It starts with His people; His church; believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. We must return to Christ:
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
1 Peter 4:17
Why? Because the Lord’s people have greater responsibility, therefore His church must lead the nation in returning to God. We must repent first, and be purely devoted to Him.
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.
2 Chronicles 7:14
The only hope for America is for God to pour His grace and mercy on our nation. He will only do that when His people humble themselves and pray, and turn away from their wicked ways. Then we must lead others to Him. The warnings of God related to 9/11 should change and motivate our evangelism. Do you think Noah warned the people about God’s impending judgment? Our message should always include impending judgment even apart from the 9/11 warnings, because the lost are just one heartbeat from spending eternity in perpetual judgment. The call to repentance and righteousness, both inside the church and outside the church, in America must be loud, clear and strong in all our pulpits across the nation, as well as in personal evangelism. Our message to all people should warn them that God’s judgment is upon us!
Perhaps our Lord, in His mercy, will lead us into a Third Great Awakening!
What if you are not a believer in Jesus Christ? Is there hope?
If you are separate from Christ, you have no hope (Ephesians 2:12), unless you put your faith in Christ. The world will be punished for sin, because the wages of sin is death. There is only one way for you to escape the punishment of the world, and that is by believing that Christ bore the punishment for you—He received the punishment you deserved by bearing your sins in His body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). If you believe this, you are separated from the world, so when the destruction of the world comes, you are saved and will not incur God’s wrath. The cross of Christ separates all of His people from the doom that is awaiting this evil, wicked world.
Look at what Christ did on the Cross:
· 1 Corinthians 15:3—“… Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures ”
· Luke 22:19-20—“’This cup is …My blood, which will be shed for you.’”
· 1 Peter 2:24—“and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.“
· Colossians 1:20a—”… and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”
Won’t you trust in Christ and be saved?
· Romans 10:9—”that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
· Romans 10:13—”for ‘whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
· Acts 16:30-31—”and after he brought them out, he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”
 Believer’s Bible Commentary, by William MacDonald.
 Believer’s Bible Commentary, by William MacDonald.