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A NATION WOUNDED, BUT NOT HEALED
Intro: Today marks the 10th anniversary of the worst act of war ever committed on United States soil. Ten years ago today, 19 radical Muslim terrorists from the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda hijacked four jets. Two were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. One was flown into the Pentagon. The fourth plane crashed outside of Shanksville, PA.
In each case, every person on board was killed. On that fateful day, at 8:46 a.m., five hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center's North Tower, and at 9:03 a.m. another five hijackers crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower. Five hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. A fourth flight, under the control of four hijackers, crashed United Airlines Flight 93 near Shanksville, PA at 10:03 a.m. after the passengers fought the hijackers.
Flight 93's ultimate target is believed to have been either the Capitol or the White House. Flight 93's cockpit voice recorder revealed crew and passengers attempted to seize control of the plane from the hijackers after learning through phone calls that similarly hijacked planes had been crashed into buildings that morning. Once it became evident to the hijackers that the passengers might regain control of the plane, one hijacker ordered another to roll the plane and intentionally crash it. Soon afterward, Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, PA.
As America and the world watched in stunned disbelief, three buildings in the World Trade Center Complex collapsed due to structural failure. The South Tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m. after burning for 56 minutes. The North Tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m. after burning for 102 minutes. When the North Tower collapsed, debris fell on the nearby World Trade Center building 7 damaging it and starting fires. These fires burned for hours and compromised the building's structural integrity and building 7 WTC collapsed at 5:21 p.m.
On that tragic morning, a total of 2,996 people died, including the 19 hijackers and 2,977 victims. The victims included 246 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,606 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. All the deaths in the attacks were civilians, except for 55 military personnel killed at the Pentagon.
Over 90% of the workers and visitors who died in the towers had been at or above the points of impact. In the North Tower 1,355 people at or above the point of impact were trapped and died of smoke inhalation, fell or jumped from the tower to escape the smoke and flames, or were killed in the building's eventual collapse. A further 107 people below the point of impact did not survive.
In the South Tower, one stairwell remained intact allowing 18 people to escape from above the point of impact. 630 people died in the South Tower, which was fewer than half of the number killed in the North Tower. Casualties in the South Tower were significantly reduced by the decision of some occupants to start evacuating when the North Tower was struck.
At least 200 people fell or jumped to their deaths from the burning towers, landing on the streets and rooftops of adjacent buildings hundreds of feet below. Some occupants of each tower above the point of impact made their way upward toward the roof in hope of helicopter rescue, but the roof access doors were locked. No plan existed for helicopter rescues, and the thick smoke and intense heat would have prevented helicopters from approaching.
A total of 411 emergency workers who responded to the scene died as they tried to rescue people and fight fires. The New York City Fire Department lost 341 firefighters and 2 paramedics. The New York City Police Department lost 23 officers. The Port Authority Police Department lost 37 officers. Eight emergency medical technicians and paramedics from private emergency medical services units were killed.
Since 2001, many emergency workers, and other in the vicinity of the ruined towers, have developed severe respiratory conditions, cancers and other diseases. Many other have died.
September 11, 2001 is the pivotal day for my generation. Some in this room remember the attack against our naval forces anchored in Pearl Harbor, HI on Dec. 7, 1941. President Franklin Roosevelt declared that day to be “a day that will live in infamy.” Even more remember where you were and what you were doing when the news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas, TX. Those tragic days are days that are indelibly etched into the fabric of our nation and our minds. Sept. 11, 2001 joins those previous days as the day my generation was rocked from its slumber of complacency and forced to face the truth that America is not invincible, that we are not above being attacked by our enemies, that we are, like every other nation, vulnerable to those who hate us and our way of life.
On Sept. 11, 2001 America became a nation wounded, but ten years later, this nation has yet to heal. The wounds that were opened on that terrible day have remained open and have festered because we, as a nation, have refused to avail ourselves of the only remedy that will bring help, hope and healing. I do not want to be overly negative today, but I do want to honor truth. I would like to draw our attention to what I believe is the greatest need in America today.
Many believe that our greatest need is jobs, others are sure the economy is the priority need of our nation, and still others would tell us that our greatest need is political, that we somehow must heal the political divide that hinders our nation from moving to a solution for its problems. I want you to know that our greatest problem as a nation is something far more easily solved than the economy, jobs, or political partisanship. Our greatest need in America is spiritual, and simple repentance and a return to biblical principles would do more to heal the wounds of this nation than anything else that can be named. Not only would a true spiritual revival cure the problems in America, it would be a swift solution that would result in immediate changes in every realm of American life.
Today, I want to take us back to the final days of the nation of Judah. A prophet named Jeremiah had been sent to them to preach to them the Word of the Lord. Judah, like America, refused to hear or heed the Word of God, and they were judged for their sins. America is headed toward the same end, if she does not repent of her sins and turn back to God. I want to preach on A Nation Wounded But Not Healed. I want to show you some of the lessons we can learn from ancient Judah. Let me share the lessons this text makes crystal clear. Think with me about A Nation Wounded, But Not Healed.
In these verses, the Lord states His case against the nation of Judah. They had been given the Law of the Lord, but they had refused to walk in it. Spiritually, they lacked the common sense of the animal kingdom, vv. 6-7. Even the animals know how to do what they were created to do, yet the people of God seemed unable to walk for God or live out His will in the world around them. They had turned their back on God and on His truth and they have embraced the false gods of the Canaanites.
The people of Judah were guilty of terrible sins against the Lord. They had become involved in the worse kind of idolatry. The people of Judah were guilty of sacrificing their children to the false gods of the Canaanites, Ill. Jer. 7:30-34. The word “Tophet” means, “place of fire.” It refers to the fires that burned inside the bronze idols build to honor Moloch. The pagan priests would stoke the fires, heating the idols until they were red hot. The worshipers would then cast their children into the arms of those superheated idols. The word “Tophet” comes from the root word “Toph”, which in Hebrew is the word for “drum.” While the children died, screaming in the arms of a pagan idol, the priests of Moloch would beat their drums to drown out their cries of pain and torment.
This is the place to where the people of Judah had come. They had totally forsaken the God of the fathers. They had totally forsaken the Law of the Lord. They had abandoned His ways for their own ways. God calls their behavior “backsliding,” which means, “to turn away; to go off into apostasy.” It speaks of “a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion.” Apostasy means to “totally abandon God.”
That is what Judah did. Of course, not every person in Judah was guilty of this kind of apostasy. In Elijah’s day in the northern kingdom of Israel, God gave the forlorn prophet some encouraging new. God said, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him,” 1 Kings 19:18. Even in the dark in which Jeremiah ministered, there were some who still clung to the ways of God, but as a general rule, the nation was filled with apostates. They had turned away from the things of God and judgment was coming!
This is a clear picture of modern America. We all know that men and women who came to these shores seeking a place where they would worship God without fear of governmental intervention founded our nation. They came here to establish a country where people would be free to worship according to the dictates of their hearts. We all know that people who believed in God and in His Son Jesus Christ founded our nation. People who believed in the Bible founded our nation. The Word of God permeates the foundational documents of our nation. Our nation was born having been saturated in prayer and biblical truth. The writings of our founding fathers are by and large Christian at their very heart. They quote the Bible freely, and they invoke the name of God on a regular basis. Patrick Henry sums up the sentiment of our founding fathers in this famous quote. He said, “It cannot be emphasized too much or repeated too strongly that America was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not upon religions, but upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
That was America then, but we live in a different nation today. We shudder when we think of nearly 3,000 Americans slaughtered in the name of Allah on Sept. 11, 2001, but we forget that on that same day over 4,000 unborn Americans were slaughtered in the name of convenience. We forget that over 4,000 died on Sept. 10, 2001, and Sept. 11, 2001, and on every day since that day and for many years prior to that day. Think about it! Since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973, over 52 million babies have been sacrificed to the pagan gods of our nation. To put that into perspective, Adolph Hitler was responsible for over 12 million deaths in the concentration camps of Word War II Germany. Joseph Stalin was responsible for the deaths of over 20 million Soviet citizens during his brutal reign.
You see, on Sept. 11, 2001 what we saw that day was two vastly different cultures in collision. On the one side you have the radical Muslims. They think America is the Great Satan. They think our way of life is decadent and godless. Their philosophy can be sated like this, “Become like us or die!” Nineteen of those radical Muslims gave their lives in a desperate attack designed to bring America to her knees. Every one of those men died believing they were going to become martyrs for Allah. They each believed they would go to paradise where they would be given 72 virgins, along with riches beyond their wildest imaginations. They did what they did because they hated America and all America stands for. By the way, they still do!
On the other side you have the United States of America. A nation founded on freedom. A nation that sees itself as the “good guys” in every situation it faces in the world. Our philosophy as a nation can be summed up as follows, “Live and let live.” America stood aghast at the actions of the radical Muslims, and with good reason. They were not martyrs; they were self, lost, repugnant, vile cowards, who carried out their wicked attack on this nation. But, hear me well.
Both sides believe they are in the right, but what if I told you that both are wrong? America does not have some kind of mandate from God to do the things we do. God never promised to bless America. There is no reason why He should. America is as pagan and as godless as those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001! Consider where we are as a nation.
· Culturally, we are fighting a losing battle. The divorce rates have quadrupled in the past 30 years. Teen suicide has doubled and violent crime has risen 500%. One out of every three children is born to a single mother. In some cities the illegitimacy rates are as high as 80%!
· Morally we are totally bankrupt. Our government spends nearly 200 million dollars per year teaching kids how to use condoms. They use that same money to attack abstinence based sex education. 56 million Americans are suffering from a venereal disease of one form or the other. Homosexuality, lesbianism and gay marriage have all become mainstream in our society.
We do not sacrifice our children to pagan
idols, but we do hand them over to be educated by a godless state. Far too
often, their secular education is not counterbalanced by any spiritual
instruction from mom and dad at home. We do not sacrifice our children to pagan
idols, but we do allow them to put others things in their lives ahead of God.
We do not sacrifice our children to pagan idols, but we do allow them to adopt
the dress, the language and the ways of the world. In America today, even in
our churches, our teens are more familiar with the lyrics of Justin Beiber,
Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga than they are with the words of the Lord Jesus
· Spiritually we are in a deplorable condition. The Bible and prayer have been removed from our schools. The Ten Commandments continue to be attacked and relegated to the dustbin of history. The Supreme Court has decided the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in our courthouses. Some people actually fear the Ten Commandments, believing they might pose a danger to some child who might read them. I don’t know about you, but I would rather take my chances with someone who had been exposed to the Bible, prayer and the Ten Commandments; than someone who had been taught that there is no such thing as right and wrong. Churches, the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ are the butt of jokes, ridicule and outright attack.
Whether we like it or not, we might as well face the truth that America is a post-Christian, pagan nation, and that the judgment of God upon this nation has already begun, Rom. 1:18-32.
I. The Nation And Their Apostasy
Having defined their sin and spoken to their spiritual condition, God speaks to the people of Judah to confront them on a very personal level. He admonishes them concerning three important areas of their spiritual lives.
A. V. 8-9 They Are Admonished Concerning Their Pride - The people of Judah were guilty of believing that just because they had the Law of the Lord, they were under special protection from judgment. But, God says they are fools and not wise because they have forsaken the Word of God.
I am convinced that our nation lives under the same delusion. I hear our politicians as they stand and make their speeches. They often close their remarks with “God bless you and God bless America.” “God bless America!” It has a nice ring to it. Most of us grew up believing that because we were America we could count on the blessings of the Lord. But, I say to you that you can search the Bible from front to back and you will find no promise from the Lord to bless this nation.
God does say this, however, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance,” Psa. 33:12. By interpretation that promise was given to Israel, by application is applies to all nations who will bow before he Lord and humble themselves under His will. Does that describe our nation? Is America a nation that honors God? Absolutely not! We are a nation of fools if we believe that just because our national motto is “God bless America,” God is somehow obliged to honor this nation.
He will not honor us because we have forsaken His Word. He will not honor us because we have abandoned His house. He will not honor us because we have ignored His commandments. He will not honor us because we have refused His Son. America is no different than ancient Judah. They were guilty of foolish pride, and so are we!
B. V. 11 They Are Admonished Concerning Their Pretense - Plainly stated, that verse says, “They have treated the wound of my people as if it were not serious at all. They say, ‘peace, peace;’ when there is no peace.” In other words, Judah was guilty of looking at the tragedies they were suffering as a nation as being just a minor bump in their spiritual road. They were guilty of putting a Band-Aid on a severed limb. God was judging them, but they were clinging to the false hope that God was somehow obligated to bless them just because they were His people.
America is guilty of the same foolish thinking. Our leaders, both secular and religious, are busy slapping Band-Aids on the gaping wounds that are killing our society. They tell us that they have everything under control, while the patient is bleeding out right before their eyes. This nation is a nation wearing the blinders of self-deception. Americans blindly follow their leaders off the cliffs of immorality, ungodliness, and paganism like a herd of lemmings. Our nation is a nation in the midst of social, economic and spiritual collapse, yet most Americans cannot see the writing on the wall. Our nation is in its death throes, and its citizens live as if the good times will last forever. Well, my friends, the good times are over and we must face the truth that our nation is not just ill, it is dying. America does not need a Band-Aid applied to its wounds; it needs a new birth. America does not need an economic savior; America needs God Almighty. America needs to return to the Lord as a nation. America needs a time of national repentance. America does not need some temporary fix; America needs a new birth!
C. V. 12 They Are Admonished Concerning Their Presumption - God speaks to Judah and condemns them because they are not ashamed of their sins. They live as they please and flaunt it in the face of God with no concern for His Word or His will. Because they have this attitude toward the things of God, He promises to judge them as a nation.
This verse is like a snapshot of our nation. Look at the sin that ravages our country. Look and consider the fact that drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sex, crime, and increasing ungodliness are the rule of the day. Consider the fact that premarital sex among people calling themselves Christians is as commonplace as it is among those who are lost. Consider the fact that homosexuality has become an accepted lifestyle in America. Go to the mall and look at how people dress in public, and tell me that America is ashamed of her sins. There is no shame in our culture! People believe they have the right to live as they please and do anything they want to do. They believe that they should not have to answer to anyone for the choices they make. They believe that no one has the right to judge their actions. No one is ashamed when they fall, when they are found out, or when they are exposed. They shrug it off and act like everyone should just leave them alone to do as they please.
While it is not my place to tell you what you can and cannot do, it is the Lord’s place and here is what He says about it: “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,” Isa. 5:20. And “(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things,” Phil. 3:18-19.
Do you blush when you see something on television that crosses the line into ungodliness? Does the coarse language that is so common in our society enrage and embarrass you? Does it cause you shame to be in close proximity to people and things that dishonor the Lord? Our nation has lost its shame, and that is just another sign that judgment is at the door! Our consciences have been seared by too much exposure to evil and we have lost the ability to be embarrassed. Ill. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth,” 1 Tim. 4:1-3.
D. V. 13 They Are Admonished Concerning Their Punishment - God tells the people of Judah that their sins have resulted in His judgment. They are about to be punished for their sins against Him, and when judgment comes, it will complete and total. All the blessings they have enjoyed will be stripped away.
There can be little doubt that God has blessed America in the years that we have existed as a nation. Time and again God has proven those blessings on this nation by giving us victory in war, economic prosperity and peace. We have been blessed! But, by the same token, who can deny that the tide has turned in recent decades. America as a nation has abandoned God, and God has in turn abandoned America.
One of the things that bothers me about the Bible and its end times prophecies is the fact that America does not appear anywhere in the narrative. Our nation is a major player today. We have the world’s largest economy, the world’s most powerful military, and the world’s greatest supply of natural resources. Despite all that, our nation is a mere shadow of the nation it was just a generation ago. Our nation is on the decline and will soon cease to be a factor in the affairs of the world. How will this happen? Economic collapse? Military defeat? Who knows? The fact is, America is reeling under the judgment of God and we are too blinded by our pursuit of pleasure and wealth to see it or do anything about it. For America, Judgment Day is not coming; it is here!
I. The Nation And Their Apostasy
II. The Nation And Their Admonition
Jeremiah laments the fall of his people. He is shattered by the judgment that he knows is coming to the nation. He closes this chapter with a pitiful series of questions. He cries, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” Jeremiah realizes that the nation has refused the only hope they had. The nation has refused to apply the “balm” that would have healed them. They refused to receive the advice of the Great Physician, Who would have restored them. They chose their path over His path and they will face the consequences of their decision.
I fear the same thing is true for America. Ten years ago, a memorial service was held for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. On the platform that was a wide variety of people. Included in the group were certain religious figures that offered prayers for the families of the victims and for the nation. Now, I will admit that most of those who prayed did not pray to the God of the Bible, nor did they call on the name of Jesus Christ, but at least the fact that America is a nation of many faiths was honored.
This weekend another memorial service will be held in New York City. There will be no prayers offered since no religious leaders were invited. The service is to be entirely secular. In fact, the seating is so limited at the event that there is no room for firefighters and emergency workers to come pay tribute to their fallen comrades. We have come a long way in ten years.
250 years ago revival swept the colonies in The First Great Awakening. Out of the fires that revival, the infant nation of America was born. This nation came into existence with its heart still warmed by the flames of God’s power, His presence and His Word. Today, the flame of revival is a distant memory, if it is remembered at all. The flame has become nothing but ashes. Our nation has abandoned the only hope of salvation it has. It has abandoned Jesus Christ as its Savior. It has abandoned the Word of God as its rudder. It has abandoned the holiness of God as its standard. It has abandoned the love of God as its mission. America is a nation adrift on a tempestuous sea of sin, immortality and godlessness. America is a ship without a rudder. America is a nation headed for judgment!
I don’t want to close this message on a somber note. I want you to know that I still believe there is hope for America. I still believe that God can stop our slide into paganism, atheism and agnosticism. I still believe that God can send revival to our nation. The only way that will happen is for America to heed an ancient warning. When Israel sinned against God, judgment was the result. God’s word to them in the day of their sin is the same word America must heed today, if she expects to survive. Ill. “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 Chron. 7:14.
America must turn back to the Bible. America must bow before the Lord God Almighty. America must repent of its sins and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as its only hope of salvation. For America, the challenge is repent or perish, Luke 13:3.
Conc: There are people who have listened to this message who probably think I am crazy. If that were true, and our nation could still be called a Christian nation, I would be happy. The fact is, I might be a nut, but I think I am threaded on the right bolt today. Our nation is a nation in trouble. The ship called America is been washed up on the sharp rocks of sin and moral bankruptcy. The waves of God’s judgment slam against the hull of our nation, and the imminent signs of destruction are clear to see.
What are we to do? I think there are concrete steps that every person here can today. These steps can help America, but America will only be changed when her citizens are changed. What we need is revival, repentance and renewal, and it needs to start here.
· If you are lost, you need to come to Jesus Christ for salvation today!
· If you are saved, you need to do several things.
Ø You need to search your own heart to be sure your sins have been dealt with according to God’s Word.
Ø You need to humble yourself to pray for your family, and your nation.
Ø You need to do everything in your power to see that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is carried to a lost world.
If the Lord has spoken to your heart on any level, please come before Him today. If for no other reason come pray for America. We are a nation in trouble, and it is only the prayers of God’s people who are keeping the vessel afloat.