Are We the Modern Day Version of Ancient Israel?: The United States & Luke 11:29-30

Posted: March 1, 2015 in Gospel of Luke

Luke 11:24-32 — Back in the day, there was a song by Brian Adams called “Straight from the Heart”. In that song, he sings about asking his girl that is about to break up with him to just tell him the truth. He wanted it straightforward with no bull. He said to give to him straight from the heart. He wanted her not to mince any words or dress it up in flowery language. Tell it like it is.

I think that is kind of the point of Jesus’ word in this passage. He is telling it like it is to the people of Israel. People, He said, who have far less training and knowledge and advantage that comes from being God’s chosen people will fare better on judgment day than Israel. They were God’s people but yet they would not believe in Jesus as the Messiah. Oh how like ancient Israel are we today in the United States.

We live in a nation that was founded on Christian principles. It was a nation birthed by the fact that we wanted to be able to worship God without the government telling us how to do that. Throughout much of our nation’s history, we have been unabashedly Christian. We were known around the world as a Christian nation. The Bible was taught freely here. We have no excuse. We know of God. We know of Jesus. Yet, we reject Him generally in today’s United States. We are a nation that has lost in Christ-centeredness in the name of modern enlightenment. We have rejected Jesus for the materialism of our age. Jesus is inconvenient. He calls us to worship something other than ourselves. He calls us to love something other than ourselves.

Yet at the same time, there are people in China and North Korea that grew up not knowing and not hearing of Jesus until a missionary told them about Jesus and the Bible. That was enough for them. Jesus Christ died for their sins and rose from the dead to give them eternal hope. That fact leads them to spread the gospel from house to house under the threat of imprisonment or death.

Jesus was saying something similar to the people of Israel. He tells them that they have had every opportunity, every advantage by being God’s people to know and understand the Messiah, but yet they rejected Him because they wanted some verifiable proof that He was who He said He was. They clamored for signs and then they would believe. Prove it to me. They did not want to have to go to any effort like faith. Jesus told them that the people of Ninevah and the Queen of Sheba who had no background as God’s chosen people had greater faith than them. Ninevah, the capital of the great Assyrian empire, heard the preaching of God’s call to repentance and repented. Sheba can to seek knowledge and understanding through meetings with the wise Solomon. They were moved action through faith with far less evidence than Jesus was giving His listeners and on much less evidence than we have today.

And look at us today, we have eyewitness reports of the risen Jesus. We have reports of the continuing power of the Holy Spirit throughout the last 2,000 years since He was poured out upon believers at Pentecost. We have easy access to the Bible in hundreds of languages. We have the history of Christ’s church and the acts of His people. With all this knowledge we should easily accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah. But yet we have dumbed down our nation’s knowledge of Jesus through the name of tolerance and enlightenment. We have removed God from our schools in the name of equality. The level of biblical illiteracy in our nation is growing with each new generation as more and more people reject Christ and worship themselves, other gods, and the American dream. We, the nation that people clamor to live in because of religious liberty, are becoming a godless nation. People throughout the last 300-400 years have fled to the United States so that they could have religious freedom but yet we have become a nation without God. The Christians in China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran and any other place will rise up in judgment of us one day. Their faith on far less advantage and in the face of death is huge compared to ours.

We do not believe in Jesus because it is not logical and it doesn’t square with our reasoned enlightenment. We are like Israel. We have erected monuments and idols. We spend a billion dollars on a football stadium in Dallas yet the church is shrinking. We spend billions of dollars to follow and be like the movie and TV stars. We worship those who have money and power. We have our asherah poles of wealth and materialism. We worship political correctness rather than seek the truth. We would rather be tolerant of any and everything and have shifting moral values rather than stand upon the truth of the book upon which our country was founded.

Yet, a young man in China who has no advantage at all of believing in Jesus Christ and does not have seminaries to learn about Him in greater depth has greater faith than we do. He believes every word of Jesus. He reads His Bible til the binding falls off his Bible. He risks his life to be a Christian. It is worth that much to Him to know Jesus and face persecution because of Him. He would weep at our nation. We have every advantage. He does not. He would clamor to live in a nation where he could freely worship Jesus. He puts his life on the life to worship Jesus but we stay home from a one-hour worship service because it’s raining outside.

Jesus say awake Israel. Remove the scales from your eyes. There are people that are willing to believe in me that have far less understanding but far greater faith than you. We disqualify Jesus today because we want signs too. We want evidence that does not require faith. We want it to be a big pointing finger in the sky. What we need is the faith of the Ninevites, the faith of Queen Sheba. We need the faith of the young man in an Islamic nation that chooses to believe in Jesus Christ. We must have faith that Jesus is the Messiah. We must have faith that goes against the culture in which we live. We must have faith that leads us to be willing to die rather than compromise on Jesus. I think of a house church preacher in China must shake his head in amazement at us, just as Jesus was shaking his head in this passage. We have every advantage that would lead us to easily believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Yet we refuse. Is the fate of America going to be the fate of ancient Israel. God provided them a great nation and in their descent into idolatry, He allowed them to be overrun by godless nations. Do we have the same fate? Does it call us as Christ followers to action rather than passivity. Let us get off the couch and share the gospel house to house like the young house preacher in China. Let us that the risk to be different. Let us take the risk to teach others face to face about the Jesus we know. Let it be said of us that we never tired of witnessing. Let it be said of us that we weeped over our Jerusalem. Let it be said that we were so worried about people dying without knowing and acknowledging Jesus as their Savior that we were called to be the Jonahs of our age. May it be said of us that the house preacher in China risking his life daily would be proud of us and the reawakening of our nation’s Christian roots that we caused. Help us. Help me, Lord, to be counted among that group Lord. Help me to be counted among that group.

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