Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Dispersion of the Jews: The Rise and Fall of Israel

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

Seventy years into the history of Israel, the prophet Elijah suddenly appeared on the scene. He confronted the evil king Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, and he called the whole nation to repentance, saying (1 Kings 18:21):

How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, follow him.

Even though both the leaders and the people of Israel refused to respond in repentance, God in His patience continued to warn. Next, He called an unusual man to speak His warning — a fig-picker from the rural village of Tekoa in Judah. It would be like God calling a cowboy from Calgary, Canada today to deliver a prophetic message to the President of the United States!

The Two Kingdoms of Israel

His name was Amos, and although he was an uneducated man, he was a fearless and obedient servant of God. He proceeded to read the riot act to the people of Israel (Amos 2:6-8):

6) The LORD says, "The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and I will not forget it. I will not leave them unpunished any more. For they have perverted justice by accepting bribes and sold into slavery the poor who can't repay their debts; they trade them for a pair of shoes.
7) "They trample the poor in the dust and kick aside the meek. And a man and his father defile the same temple girl, corrupting My holy name.
8) "At their religious feasts they lounge in clothing stolen from their debtors, and in My own Temple they offer sacrifices of wine they purchased with stolen money." (LBP)

Amos even had the audacity to attack the sinful, greedy women of Israel, calling them "fat cows of Bashan" (Amos 4:1 LBP).

The prophet was particularly appalled by the religious hypocrisy that was rampant in the land. He pointed out that despite all their religiosity, they lived like pagans and denied social justice to the poor (Amos 5:21-24).

He reminded them of the many remedial judgments God had sent — including drought, famine, mildew, locusts, pestilence and defeat in wars (Amos 4:6-11). He concluded by declaring that if the nation persisted in its rebellion, God "will destroy it from the face of the earth" (Amos 9:8).

Israel's Final Prophet

But they did not listen. So, God raised up another prophet, from among their own people — a man by the name of Hosea. For the next 20 years, right up to the time of the kingdom's destruction, Hosea called the people to repentance. And like Amos, he confronted them with a litany of their sins, beginning with these words (Hosea 4:1-3):

1) Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel, for the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land, Because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land.
2) There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3) Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, and also the fish of the sea disappear.

Hosea focused on the sin of idolatry, referring to it vividly as "the spirit of harlotry" (Hosea 4:12 and 9:1). And like Amos, he also railed against the people's religious hypocrisy, proclaiming: "I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings" (6:6).

Hosea pleaded with his fellow countrymen to "return to the LORD your God" (14:1), and he warned specifically that if they failed to do so, God would destroy their kingdom through the Assyrians (11:5-6). He also pointed out that should this happen, they would have no one to blame except themselves (13:9).

Meanwhile, in Judah, the prophet Isaiah, who was called by God to be a prophet to his own kingdom, also issued a warning to Israel. He cried out, "Woe to the proud crown [the capital city of Samaria] of the drunkards of Ephraim [the kingdom of Israel]" (Isaiah 28:1). He then declared that God was raising up "a mighty agent" to destroy the kingdom (28:2). This was, of course, a reference to the Assyrians whom Isaiah had referred to earlier as "the rod of God's anger" (10:5).

I think it is fascinating to note that near the end of the reign of Israel's very first king, Jeroboam, a prophet named Abijah prophesied the ultimate destruction of the kingdom of Israel: "For the LORD will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; and He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they have made their Asherim, provoking the LORD to anger" (1 Kings 14:15 — Asherim were totem poles that were erected to honor the female God named Asherah).

The Destruction of Israel

All these appeals and warnings fell on deaf ears. The result was the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BC. The kingdom had lasted 208 years. There had been 19 kings, and not a single one had been considered righteous in the eyes of God.

Assyrian Empire

The reasons for their destruction are summed up in 2 Kings 17: "They set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree" (10), "they burned incense on all the high places" (11), "they served idols" (12), "they made for themselves molten images... and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal" (16), and "they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments" (17).

The Assyrian conquest of the kingdom of Israel marked the beginning of the dispersion of the Jewish people in accordance with the prophecy of Deuteronomy 28:63-64. The ten Jewish tribes of that kingdom ultimately ended up being scattered all across the Eurasian continent, from Assyria to China and even into the Indian subcontinent.3

In the second part of this series on the dispersion of the Jews, we'll look at the fall and exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Dispersion of the Jews: Moses Warns

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

In approximately 1440 BC, Moses led the Jewish people out of Egypt, beginning a journey to the land God had promised them in Canaan.1 The journey should have taken 11 days (Deuteronomy 1:2). But, instead, it took them 40 years!

The extended length of the journey was due to the people's lack of faith that ultimately motivated some of them to rebel against Moses (Numbers 14:1-4 and Psalm 78:17-42). This behavior prompted God to decide that the generation that departed from Egypt would have to die in the wilderness before their descendants would be allowed to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14:26-38).

Accordingly, it was about 1400 BC when the children of Israel were finally poised to cross the Jordan River and enter the land they had been promised. On that auspicious occasion, Moses paused their journey to summarize God's Law for them (Deuteronomy 5-27). He also used the occasion to provide them with a detailed warning (Deuteronomy 28-29).

The Land Use Covenant

God had already given the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob the title deed to the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-8; 26:1-5; and 28:13-14). Now, through Moses, He was going to make another covenant with them that would be related to their use of the land. Basically, what Moses told them was that even though they had an everlasting title to the land, their use and enjoyment of it would depend upon their obedience to God's Laws which had been revealed to them during their wilderness wanderings.

Moses proclaimed that if the people were obedient to God, He would shower them with blessings (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). Their children, their crops and their animals would be blessed (28:4). Their enemies would be defeated and they would "abound in prosperity" and be established as "a holy people whom the rest of the world would fear (28:7-11).

Moses proceeded to sternly warn them that if they were disobedient to God, He would place curses on them. Their children would rebel, their crops would fail and their animals would not reproduce (Deuteronomy 28:16-19). They would also suffer from diseases, drought, and foreign domination (28:21,24,33).

Moses further warned that if they did not respond in repentance to these remedial judgments, the Lord would intensify them: "...then the LORD will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses... all the diseases of Egypt of which you were afraid..." (28:39-60).

Moses then declared that if these extreme measures did not produce repentance, God would subject them to the worst possible punishment — exile from their homeland: "Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known" (Deuteronomy 28:64).

Moses had already briefly mentioned this ultimate punishment of God in the survey of the Law which He had presented in the book of Leviticus. After listing many possible remedial judgments (Leviticus 26:14-31), just as in Deuteronomy, Moses warned that God's ultimate judgment would be their "scattering among the nations" (26:33).

The Unfaithfulness of the Jewish People

At the conclusion of Moses's warning recorded in Deuteronomy, the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land. And they proceeded to violate God's commands. They failed to annihilate the wicked Canaanite people, and they began to intermarry with them. This led the Jewish people into the worst sin of all — the practice of idolatry.

In response, God began to afflict them with remedial judgments. He also sent prophets like Elijah to call them to repentance.

The problems of rebellion and idolatry were particularly bad in the northern kingdom of Israel. The unified kingdom of David and his son, Solomon, had broken apart after Solomon's death. The son of one of Solomon's servants, a "valiant warrior" named Jeroboam, rose up against Solomon's son, Rehoboam, and wrested ten of the tribes in the north from his control (I Kings 12: 1-28). He also set up an alternative center of worship to Jerusalem, establishing it in the hill country and calling it Shechem (I Kings 12:25. The capital was later moved to Samaria).2 This rebellion split Solomon's kingdom, producing the northern kingdom of Israel with ten tribes and the southern kingdom of Judah with two tribes (Judah and Benjamin).

The Divided Kingdom

Having been born in rebellion, the northern kingdom of Israel continued in its rebellion throughout its history. It lasted 208 years, from 930 BC to 722 BC, and never once during that period of time did the kingdom ever have a righteous king — not one out of a total of 19!

Just as He had warned through Moses, God responded to Israel's persistent rebellion by sending remedial judgments and raising up prophetic voices to call the people to repentance.

In the second part of this series on the dispersion of the Jews, we'll look at the fall and exile of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Reagan on America's Spiritual Crisis (Part 6 of 6)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

While we as a nation continue to wallow in sinful rebellion against God, He continues in His love and mercy and patience to warn us of impending destruction, continuing to call us to repentance.

Since the death of Dave Wilkerson in 2011, God has raised up new prophetic voices whom He has mightily anointed. Let me identify four for you in particular.

One is Jonathan Cahn. He's a Messianic-Jewish rabbi from New Jersey. He was invited to speak at the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast, which Obama skipped, and in that speech he said:

"The city on a hill has grown dark. Its lamp has grown dim. Its glory is fading. For God is not mocked. No nation can war against the very source of its blessings and expect those blessings to remain. And as it was with ancient Israel, the city on the hill now stands under the shadow of judgment."

A second is Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas. He has written a powerful indictment of our nation titled Twilight's Last Gleaming. And he states:

"Over the last 50 years, our Supreme Court has made four explosive decisions that have so weakened the moral and spiritual structure and foundation of our country that our inevitable collapse is certain. Right now we're simply living between that time of the explosions that have weakened our basic foundation, and the coming implosion of our society."

A third prophetic voice is Erwin Lutzer, the pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. He has written a powerful book comparing trends in America today to those in Germany that led to the rise of Hitler. And in a recent sermon, he made these comments:

"Despite its foundational Christian heritage, America is rapidly degenerating into a godless society. The Church in America, although highly visible and active, appears powerless to redirect the rushing secular currents. Mired in moral and spiritual crisis, America's only hope is a national revival, like God has graciously bestowed in the past."

The fourth prophetic voice I would mention is David Jeremiah. He is the Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California. He has written a condemning review of our nation's rebellion against God entitled, I Never Thought I'd See the Day. Here is one of his observations:

"When I look at the changes that have occurred in the land I love and in the church I love even more just in my lifetime, I have to pinch myself to see if it's a dream gone bad, the changes are coming so fast and furiously. The truth is, we can echo the words of Pogo in the old Walt Kelly comic strip: 'We have met the enemy and he is us!' We have allowed the world to conform us to its image instead of allowing the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to transform us into the image of Christ."

Of course, there are other prophetic voices calling our nation to repentance and warning of imminent disaster, but these four seem to have received a special anointing from the Lord. And, to underline and emphasize these prophetic voices, God continues to pour out remedial judgments like natural calamities, economic stagnation and political confusion.

Hope Remains

This brings me to a crucial question: Is there any hope?

The answer depends on what you are talking about. If you are asking about our nation, my answer right now at this point and time is, "No, there's no hope." The reason is simple. Our only hope is Jesus, and we have no hope because we have rejected Him. Here's how I put it in my Prophetic Manifesto:

"We have turned our back on the very God who made us great and showered us with blessings. We have forgotten that God's Word teaches that, 'to those to whom much is given, much is expected.' We have stubbornly set our course. We have determined to live as we please and not as God has dictated. We have chartered a course of self-destruction, and God is going to allow us to have our way."

But, there is good news in the midst of the growing spiritual darkness and the consequent decay of our society. There is individual hope for those of us who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He has promised to walk with us through the fire and high water, comforting us in sufferings and providing our needs. He has promised repeatedly in His Word that He will never forsake us.

Consider Deuteronomy 31:8, "The Lord, Yahweh, is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, do not be dismayed."

We also have the incredible hope of the Rapture of the Church, when true believers will be taken out of this world in the blink of an eye to be with Jesus forever.

There is also hope for those who do not know Jesus. As the darkness deepens, the light of Jesus will shine more brightly, like a diamond ring on a black cloth, and more and more people will be drawn to Him and their hearts will be penetrated by the Gospel.

The message of the Holy Spirit for believers in these end times is twofold: Commit your lives to holiness, and share the Gospel with as many people as you can, as quickly as you can.

The message of the Spirit is, "Jesus is coming soon." He is returning to pour out the wrath of God on those who've rejected His grace, mercy and love. Reach out now and receive Him in faith as your Lord and Savior before it is too late.

Let us remember, that we must keep our eyes focused on Jesus, for He is the author and perfecter of our faith; who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

In summary, we are to stand for righteousness. We are to pray for courage. We are to commit our lives to holiness. We are to share the Gospel. We are to put our trust in Jesus and in Him alone.

Do not forget to cry out daily: "Maranatha, Maranatha, Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!"

Monday, March 2, 2015

Reagan on America's Spiritual Crisis (Part 5 of 6)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

I recently heard a presentation by Jim Garlow, a former Nazarene pastor in Fort Worth who now pastors a very large congregation in San Diego. He's considered to be one of Christendom's foremost experts on Christian history. Some of his presentations on Christian history are just fantastic. In this particular presentation which I heard Pastor Garlow, he presented a sweeping overview of the relationship between Bible-believing Christians and American society. Look at this:

  • From 1607-1833, 236 years, Bible believing Christians were the Establishment of this nation.
  • From 1833-1918, they were the Predominant Force, which is a period of 85 years.
  • From 1918-1968, the Sub-dominant Force, 50 years. Notice how each of these periods is getting shorter and shorter.
  • From 1968-1988 a Sub-culture, 20 years.
  • From 1988-1998 a Counter Culture, 10 years.
  • From 1998-2008 an Antithetical Culture, which he defines as being in full opposition to the predominant values of the culture.
  • From 2008-Present a Persecuted Culture. These are Bible believing Christians.

One of the main reasons for this trend is because the number of true Bible-believing Christians in our society has plummeted. Although 85% of Americans claim to be Christians, only about 40% of those claim to be born-again Evangelical Christians, and only 9% of Americans are true Bible-believing Christians, as revealed by poll after poll taken by the Barna Research Association. Only 9% are Bible-believing Christians.

Persecution of Christians in America

The persecution of true Bible-believing Christians has increased exponentially in the last ten years. Let me give you some quick examples taken from the book Godless America by Todd Starnes. He's a social commentator. He gives 89 examples in this book of Christian persecution. I want to share just eight with you.

  1. A North Carolina pastor was fired from his duties as an honorary chaplain for the state House of Representatives after he refused to stop praying in the name of Jesus.

  2. A senior citizens center in Port Wentworth, Georgia, told its elderly residents that they could no longer pray over their meals.

  3. A federal judge ordered the Medina Valley Independent School District in Texas to prohibit any public prayers at its graduation ceremony.

  4. A Massachusetts eight-year-old boy was sent home from school and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation after he drew a picture of Jesus on a cross.

  5. A professor at the University of Kentucky who applied for a job directing the university's observatory was turned down by the hiring committee when it was discovered that he was a Christian.

  6. Bibles and other religious materials were banned from Walter Reed Army Medical Center before a public outcry forced the administrators to reverse their decision.

  7. In San Jose California, a statue was erected in a city park with taxpayer money that celebrated the Aztec god to whom child sacrifices were made. And at the same time, in San Diego, a court ruled that a Cross that had stood in a city park for many years had to be removed. An Aztec god "Yes"; a symbol of Christianity "No."

  8. A New York public school teacher was ordered to remove inspirational Bible verses from her classroom. The teacher was also told to remove a quote from former President Ronald Reagan. And what was the quote? "If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be one nation gone under."

We are literally witnessing the dismantling of the Christian foundation of our society. The gravity of the situation was recently summed up by Albert Mohler with these words:

"We are witnesses to one of the most comprehensive and fast-paced moral revolutions ever experienced by humanity. The velocity and breadth of this revolution are breathtaking, and the consequences are yet incalculable. This society is dismantling the very structures that have allowed for the enjoyment and preservation of human liberty and respect for life. We are engaged in a head-long effort to replace the convictions that gave birth to democracy and ordered liberty with a new set of convictions that will lead to the emergence of a very different culture, society and civilization. We cannot pretend this is not happening. We cannot delude ourselves into believing it will not matter. The word for the process that is driving this shift of worldview in the West is secularization which the Russian prophet, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, explained with four simple words: 'Men have forgotten God.'"

Responses to Christian Persecution

How are we to respond to this downward spiral of American society and to the increasing Christian persecution?

One way is to ignore it. Believe it or not, there are Christian spokesmen who say that we as Christians are to focus only on one thing, and that is evangelism. They argue that the collapse of society is not our concern. You would be amazed at who some of those people are. I believe this is a very unbiblical attitude. We are called by Jesus to be salt and light of the world, and the only way we can fulfill that task is to take a stand for righteousness.

Other professing Christians have decided to embrace the decline of society by getting in bed with it. They're endorsing immorality in the name of tolerance and in the name of Christian love. After all, who are we to judge? Shouldn't we make Christianity as user-friendly as possible and free of all condemnation?

A well-known pastor recently said that he believes that Christian businesses should be forced under penalty of law to offer their services for homosexual weddings. He explained his view by saying that serving people we don't see eye to eye with is the essence of Christianity. This incredible statement is terribly wrong in at least two ways. First, it ignores the fact that the Constitution of the United States in the First Amendment restricts the government from passing any law that prohibits the free exercise of religion. A photographer should have the right to refuse to photograph a homosexual wedding if that is opposed to his viewpoint. And, even more important, the second problem with this statement is that it is totally unbiblical because it is not the essence of Christianity to help other people commit sins. Furthermore, the pastor's reasoning could be used by the courts to force Christian pastors to perform same-sex marriages. I wonder if he would do that.

A third response to the collapse of society, and the biblical one, is to take a stand for righteousness against the tide of filth. A sterling example of a person who is doing that is Franklin Graham. I really admire this man. Here's what he has to say about same-sex marriage, and he pulls no punches:

"True followers of Jesus Christ, whose salvation is based entirely upon Gods Word, cannot endorse same-sex marriage regardless of what our President, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Media or the latest Gallup Poll says about the matter. This moral issue has been settled by God Himself and is not subject to man-made revisions or modifications. In the end, I would rather be on the wrong side of public opinion than on the wrong side of Almighty God who established the standard of living for the world He created. Marriage is a biblically moral issue, not a political or theological one. This debate is ultimately about something much more important than the question of same-sex marriage. It is about the authority of Scripture. The Church is on dangerous ground when it departs from the teaching of Christ and attempts to redefine His commands and compromise His truth."

Praise God for Franklin Graham! He concluded that with these words: "There are many things in Scripture that Christians disagree on, but the Bible is crystal clear about the sanctity of life and marriage. It is also clear that homosexuality is spelled out as a sin, there are no if's, and's, or but's!"

Every time I speak of standing for righteousness, I think of this man. He's one of my heroes in the faith. Don Wildmon is the head of the American Family Association. He has spoken out boldly for years against the moral decline of our nation. Sadly, he has often said that his greatest detractors are pastors who write to him and taunt him. He puts their letters in his magazine all the time. The usual taunt goes like this, "Don, you are spinning your wheels and wasting your time. Think of it. You have been opposing the immorality in our nation for years, and it just keeps getting worse. You are not winning." His response is this: "God did not call me to win. He called me to stand. We will not win until Jesus returns, but in the meantime, we must stand!"

The bottom line is that if we Christians do not stand for righteousness, no one will. We are specifically called to do so. In Matthew 5 in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called his followers to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

When we engage the pagan society around us, none of our efforts will be effective unless they are grounded in prayer. We need to pray earnestly for our nation as we have never prayed before. We need to pray the kind of prayer that Daniel prayed when he prayed for his nation. He prayed, "Father, forgive me." Think of it, he prayed for God to forgive him of the sins of his nation, yet he is referred to in the Scriptures as one of the three most righteous men who had ever lived.

The point, of course, is that all of us are part of the problem. All of us have compromised with the world to one degree or another. Think of it, 85% of the people in this nation claim to be Christians. And yet, our nation is wallowing in sin and rebellion against God.

If professing Christians would stop buying lottery tickets, the lotteries would have to fold. If professing Christians would stop getting abortions, the abortion mills would close. If professing Christians would stop buying pornography, the pornographers would be hard pressed to sell their filth. If professing Christians would stop going to R-rated movies, Hollywood would have to start making wholesome films. If professing Christians would stop watching the TV trash shows, the networks would be forced to provide more decent entertainment. And the list goes on and on.

All of us need to keep in mind the words of Proverbs 29:2, "When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan."

In the sixth and last part of my teaching on America's spiritual crisis, we'll look at how God warns, but also provides hope.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reagan on America's Spiritual Crisis (Part 4 of 6)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

I was born before TV. When television began to spread nationwide in the 1950's, there were strict codes of conduct for the producers of television programs. Over the years since that time, those codes have eroded to the point that almost anything is allowed on television these days.

The contrast is stunning. When I was growing up, we watched wholesome programs like The Life of Riley, I Love Lucy, Gunsmoke, Dragnet and Father Knows Best. All of these programs taught basic Judeo-Christian moral values.

Today, the channels are flooded with morally depraved reality shows like The Bachelorette, with demented dramatic series like Revenge, with brutally lurid shows like Criminal Minds, with sex-laden situation comedies like Two and a Half Men, and with amoral programs like Californication. Can you imagine such a term? Now we're getting programs that are constantly pushing the homosexual agenda.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate the stark contrast between the early years of TV and today is to compare two programs about families. The Nelson Family — Ozzie and Harriet — blessed American TV from 1952 to 1966. The Osbourne Family — Ozzy and Sharon — polluted the airways from 2002 to 2005. One featured the Nelson family who were loving and supportive of each other. The Osbournes focused on a totally dysfunctional family led by a man-child who lived in a drug haze while the rest of the members of the family were at each other's throats, constantly fighting and cursing each other. The Nelson family showcased moral values. The Osbournes never heard of morality.

Vulgarity is also commonplace in our society today. This growing evil has even been recognized by the secular media. A cover of Time magazine from back in 1990 was titled, "Dirty Words: America's Foul-mouthed Pop Culture." That's a pagan magazine. Way back in 1990 it was talking about how we were already completely polluted by filthy words.

I just want to give you an example of this. On June 24, 2014, an official celebration of the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup was held. The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, got up at the Staple Center before 18,000 people and made this statement: "There are two long standing rules for politicians, they say never ever be pictured with a drink in your hand, and never ever swear. Well, folks, this is a big f---ing day!" Then he held up a bottle of Bud Light. He said that before 18,000 people at that stadium and before 100,000's on television including children! This was not some whisper overheard by reporters. It was a carefully planned thing on his part, and the audience roared, the players stood up, and he was given a standing ovation for such an obscenity on television. That is where we are today in this country.

Back in the 1980's, Steve Allen was the host of The Tonight Show. He made this comment: "We have become a society where vulgarians are entertaining barbarians."

Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, recently commented on this problem with these insightful words:

"The collapse of the barrier between popular culture and decadence has released a toxic mudslide of vulgarity into the nation's family rooms and just about everywhere else. There is almost no remote corner of this culture that is not marked by the toleration of vulgarity, or the outright celebration of depravity. We have now reached the point that obscene language or innuendo is playing in department stores in public venues. The living room has become the locker room. A culture afraid to repress sexuality in any way is a culture headed for destruction."

The radical change in our society can perhaps best be illustrated by what has happened to our schools. I started the first grade in 1945 and I completed high school in 1956. So, I attended grade school from 1945-1956.

During that time, I was never once ever exposed to any drug. Today, kids are confronted with them at the elementary school level.

When I was a kid, we began each day in school with Bible readings and prayer. Every day we did this. We put on Easter programs. We put on Christmas plays. Our English reader consisted of Bible stories with a moral taught at the end.

When I graduated from high school in Waco, Texas in 1956, there were about 100 pickup trucks in the parking lot on any given day, and almost every one of them had gun racks that held a deer rifle, a shotgun, and a 22 rifle. Many of them had a gun or a pistol in the glove compartment. No one was concerned about anyone misusing any of those guns. We had been raised to respect and practice Judeo-Christian morals. But, today, we have guns in the hands of moral pygmies who are willing to shoot each other over a pair of tennis shoes.

The most dramatic way I can think of to illustrate how rapid the deterioration of society has become in America is to consider the results of a survey concerning public school discipline problems. The survey was conducted by the Fullerton California Police Department in conjunction with the California Department of Education. It was conducted in the mid-1940's and then 40 years later the same survey was conducted in the mid-1980's. Consider the differing results, and just sit there and weep. Here are the results:

  • In the mid-'40s, the number one problem in the public schools was talking. In the mid-'80s, 40 years later, drug abuse.
  • Chewing gum versus alcohol abuse.
  • Making noise versus teen pregnancy.
  • Running in the halls versus suicide.
  • Getting out of turn in line versus rape.
  • Wearing improper clothing versus robbery.
  • Not putting paper in waste paper baskets versus assault.

That was published in Time magazine in February 1988. That is how our schools have deteriorated.

Jettisoning Our Christian Heritage

Here's another way to illustrate how quickly our society has become secularized and paganized. This will just knock you out of your seats. Consider these remarks that were made to Time magazine in February 1954 by Earl Warren after he was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by Eisenhower. This is what he told Time magazine:

"I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the Spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses. Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia or the Charter of New England or the Charter of Massachusetts Bay or the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut — the same objective is present — a Christian land governed by Christian principles. I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it. I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country."

I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that if our current Chief Justice, John Roberts, were to make such a statement today, there would an immediate effort on the part of Congress to impeach him on the grounds that he had violated the so called "Separation of Church and State."

There is no doubt that we have jettisoned our Christian heritage in favor of a society dominated by secularism and paganism. We are reaping the consequences as we witness the moral collapse of our society. I tell you, it's hard to watch your nation dissolved before your eyes on your watch.

In the fifth part of my teaching on America's spiritual crisis, we'll look at how Christians have been persecuted so far in the United States.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Reagan on America's Spiritual Crisis (Part 3 of 6)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

Regarding the fate of our nation, I do not believe that the United States is specifically mentioned in Bible prophecy, but I do believe we have a prophetic type that can be found in the Bible. If you'll remember, after the death of Solomon, the kingdom of David was split into two nations — Israel and Judah.

That northern nation of Israel was apostate from the very beginning. It was founded in rebellion against God, and it continued in that condition for 208 years, until it was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC. During those years, it had 19 kings, and not a single one was considered righteous in the eyes of the Lord.

The southern nation of Judah lasted 136 years longer for a total of 344 years before it was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC. It had only eight kings who were considered righteous in the eyes of the Lord, but at least it had eight.

I believe the nation of Judah is our prophetic type. No other nation has ever been blessed by God as much as we have, except Judah. Think about it. Look at the parallels. This was a nation that had great leaders. It was a nation that had freedom. It was a nation that had prosperity. It was a nation that had great spiritual blessing. The Shekinah Glory of God resided in Jerusalem in the Temple. What a blessing!

I wish I could end there, but I cannot, because there are other parallels, both negative. The nation became engulfed in pride. As it looked around and saw all of its blessings, it began to claim that the blessing were of their own. It became rebellious against God.

In Isaiah 5, the prophet tells how God asked him to compile a list of the sins of Judah. God knew the sins. He knew all the sins of Judah, but he wanted Isaiah to know them. So, he said, "Isaiah, you go out and you come back and you report to me a list of the sins of Judah." Isaiah reported back what he had found: injustice, greed, blasphemy, moral perversion, intellectual pride, intemperance and political corruption. Sounds like America today.

Seventy-five years later, God raised up another prophet in Judah by the name of Jeremiah, and God asked him to do the same thing. He was to compile an inventory of Judah's sins. Jeremiah came up with the same list as Isaiah, but he added one. He said, "In addition to all the things Isaiah found, I have found religious corruption. The prophets prophesy for money. The priests work for money, and not for the Lord God Almighty." So, even they had religious corruption.

He concluded his report with three summary statements, and, boy, look at these statements! He said:

  • "Their faces are harder than rock."
  • "They have a stubborn and rebellious heart."
  • "They do not know how to blush."

Every time I read that I think of my dear wife. She is so sensitive to that sort of thing. She knows how to blush. She is just horrified by the ads on TV and the things that they advertise. She says, "There is no sanctity anymore? Does not anyone have any sensitivity anymore?" She covers up her eyes and hits the mute button when some of these advertisements air. We are talking about advertising all kinds of things that shouldn't even be mentioned in public, and that's where we are today.

Let me give you two examples that we are right there.

I'll note a recent edition of an Archie Comic book which is a publication aimed at children. It features and celebrates a same sex marriage on the front cover. This is aimed at children!

Or, consider what the U.S. Air Force did in June of 2013. They ordered the removal of a painting by one of the greatest Christian artists in the world, Ron DiCianni. They ordered that his painting be removed from the dining hall of Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. The painting was titled, "Blessed are the Peacemakers." It depicts a modern-day policeman in front of a medieval knight. At the bottom of the framed version there is the word "Integrity" with a reference to Matthew 5:9 which says, "Blessed are the peacemakers." The Air Force ordered this painting be removed from the dining hall because one person complained to the Pentagon and said the painting made him quote, "feel terribly uncomfortable, disheartened and disappointed." This man needed a psychiatrist!

Two months later in August of 2013, the Air Force used your tax money and mine to invite a drag queen and her group called "Jewels and the Brunchettes" to perform at a Los Angeles Air Force Base on Diversity Day. When challenged, an Air Force spokesman defended the action by stating that drag is a symbol of gay pride and unity. That is just unbelievable! It is beyond my comprehension to believe this sort of thing is going on.

The Moral Slide of America

Let's consider the parallels once again between Judah and the United States. Ancient Judah was blessed by great leaders, freedom, prosperity and spiritual blessings. Like Judah, we have drifted into pride and we have drifted into rebellion. And, as with ancient Judah, God has responded with warnings and judgments. Now we are courting His destruction.

This leads me to two of the saddest passages in the Bible. I can almost hear God weeping when I read these. They are found in 2 Chronicles 36:15-16, "And Yahweh, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers," this is speaking of Judah. "Because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place," the Temple, "but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Yahweh arose against His people, until there was no remedy."

This brings us to a very important question. Why should the United States be treated any differently?

The answer, of course, is that God is not treating us any differently. He has raised up prophetic voices to call us to repentance. He has sent national and remedial judgments. Our response has been one of patriotism, when the needed response is repentance.

After 9/11, my wife noticed an explosion of bumper stickers saying, "God Bless America!" One day she turned to me as we were driving down the road and she said, "Those bumper stickers are wrong, because God has already blessed America." So, she went home and she designed her own bumper sticker which said: "America Bless God!" Not, "God Bless America."

The 9/11 attacks were a wake-up call for our nation. But, instead of awakening and instead of getting on our knees in repentance, we reacted like a sleepy man who hits the snooze button on his alarm clock, rolls over, and goes back to sleep. So our society has continued to slouch toward Sodom and Gomorrah.

Let me take a moment to emphasize to you how serious the decay of our society has become. Only a person my age can appreciate how radically and how quickly our society has disintegrated. I was born in 1938 when autos still had running boards and gasoline was 20 cents a gallon.

When I was born, abortionists were sent to prison. Pregnancy out of wedlock was thought of as scandalous. Homosexuality was considered unnatural and immoral. Pornography was despised as a perversion. Drugs were something you bought at the drug store. Marriage was sacred. Living together was taboo. Divorce was a disgrace. Homemaking was honored, and day care was provided by mothers in their homes. Child abuse was unheard of. Ladies did not curse or smoke.

The word "damn" was considered flagrant in a movie. In fact, the very first movie to have that word was Gone with the Wind. In 1939, a release was held up for Gone with the Wind so that over three months Hollywood could debate over what they were going to do. They finally changed the Hollywood code and allowed the movie. It ended with that word. One time in the whole movie that word was said. In 2013, a film called The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio had the "f-word" in it 544 times in 180 minutes!

In the fourth part of my teaching on America's spiritual crisis, we'll look at how America has jettisoned its Christian heritage.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reagan on America's Spiritual Crisis (Part 2 of 6)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

Let's now quickly apply the particular principles taught in the last part of my teaching about how God relates to the nations to the United States.

As I pointed out, I believe God raised up this nation with the purpose of using our great natural resources and technical ingenuity to spread the Gospel all over the world. As we fulfilled this purpose, He poured out blessings upon us, blessings like unparalleled freedom, prosperity, immense power and worldwide influence. He blessed us as no other nation has ever been blessed since the time of ancient Judah. He even gave us the blessing of serving as the key nation in the rebirthing and nurturing of the nation of Israel. What a blessing that was!

But, we became enamored with our wealth and our power, and we began turning our back on God. The Almighty Dollar became our god. Greed became our motivator. Gambling became a national pastime. Sex became our obsession. We became the largest consumer in the world of illegal drugs. We kicked God out of our schools. We legalized abortion. We are in the process of legalizing same-sex marriage. And, we became the moral polluter of planet earth through our violent, immoral and blasphemous movies and television programs.

As we wallowed in the sexual revolution of the 1960's, God raised up voices like Pastor David Wilkerson to call this nation to repentance. When we refused to repent, the remedial judgments began to fall.

Let me just pause here and say that all things that happen bad to a nation are not necessarily remedial judgments. Many calamities are just simply the products of natural forces. A true remedial judgment can be determined by its magnitude or by its timing or both.

Considering those factors, I believe that some of the remedial judgments we have experienced in recent years are these:

  • The Vietnam War occurred on the heels of the sexual revolution of the 1960's.

  • The 9/11 attacks, where God allowed the terrorists to be successful in attacking the two symbols of American pride. Have you ever thought about that? They were successful in attacking the two symbols of American pride. And what were those symbols? The Twin Towers in New York which represented our wealth, and the Pentagon in Washington, DC which represented our power.

  • Then there's Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Undoubtedly in my mind, its God's response to our immorality and our forcing Israel to abandon the Gaza Strip. We forced Israel to get out of Gaza, and you can see what the result of that was. It became a terrorist nest. The storm formed suddenly in the Gulf of Mexico on the very last day of the Gaza withdrawal. It was not a hurricane that came across the Atlantic Ocean. It formed in the Gulf of Mexico. The very last day of the Gaza withdraw it hit New Orleans just as it was getting ready to host its annual homosexual festival.

  • The September 2008 Market Crash again was a response to our attempts to strong-arm Israel into surrendering its heartland. That crash occurred on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the market fell. I tell you, I nearly fainted when I saw this in the paper. The market fell 777 points — 7-7-7. It was like God signed it with His signature. The symbol of man is 6-6-6. The symbol of God is 7-7-7, perfection to the utmost. That's exactly how many points it fell.

  • Another of these judgments is the type of leaders that we deserve. It is no accident that our current President is the most pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-Capitalist, anti-Israel leader in the entire history of our nation. His mistreatment of Israel should be of particular concern to us because the Bible says God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel. Also, we are told in Joel 3:2 that God will severely judge all nations who are involved in dividing the land of Israel in the end times. That is exactly what we are trying to do.

In the third part of my teaching on America's spiritual crisis, we'll look at Judah as a prophetic type.