Now her sister Oholibah saw this, yet she was more corrupt in her lust than she, and her harlotries were more than the harlotries of her sister. (Ezekiel 23:11)
Are there any stories in history that you like to read over and over again though they have a tragic ending? As long as you are in the middle of the story the characters are still alive and acting and you hope the ending will change somehow. You read about Dietrich Bonhoeffer for instance and all the way up until his execution you keep hoping that he will escape or be turned free. Of course it doesn’t happen. There is something in us that longs for things to have turned out differently.
That is the way I feel whenever I read the stories in the Old Testament as related to us by the prophets. The Israelites knew how God had brought them out of bondage – out of slavery from the land of Egypt. They knew that God gave them a land flowing with milk and honey to be their home. Over a four hundred year period under the Judges they constantly forgot God only to get in trouble. When they called out to God in repentance, He forgave them and sent them a deliverer over and over again. Finally they got themselves a government with a king.
Through another four to five hundred years they were on-again off-again in their obedience to God. By the time our story in Ezekiel takes place they are mostly off-again. God has been so patient with them for hundreds of years but finally they have gone too far. God catalogues all of their sins in Ezekiel, chapter 22, including wronging the poor and the needy and oppressing people without justice. They don’t care about God anymore and so the Lord takes action to make them know that He is God.
We know as we read the story what will happen. We’ve read it many times. I always wish that the Jews would have fallen on their faces and repented. God would have delayed their judgment. But the tragedy takes place. They wouldn’t listen to the prophets. They went on doing what gave them the most pleasure. The Bible tells us they did it deliberately.
God sends Ezekiel to tell them the story of two sisters, Oholah and Oholibah. They represent Samaria and Jerusalem – or the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. They are called “harlots”. This is a metaphor for their unfaithfulness to God. Oholah is the first to “lust after other lovers”. God gives her over to the Assyrians. For another 150 years Oholibah plays the harlot as well. She didn’t learn anything from her sister. As we read the story we beg her in our minds to learn from her sister’s mistakes. We plead with her to turn back to God. But instead, she becomes even more corrupt. She did not learn from history.
Will we learn from history? What will it take for America to wake up and realize that her idolatries are real and many? What jarring event must occur before the people in our country recognize their sins before God and repent?
Two weeks ago everyone lowered their flags to honor those who died on September 11, 2001. I remember that week very well. The churches across our land were filled on Sunday the 16th. Pastors reported that by Sunday, September 23rd, the pews were emptying out. We ran to God only briefly when there was a tragedy. Now we’re back to living our selfish lives again. If anything things have gotten worse. We just don’t seem to be able to learn.
I am not completely discouraged even though most Americans seem to be forgetting God. We can pray. It is possible for change to occur. It occurred in Britain.
In two previous blog postings (September, 2013) I recounted the story of Margaret Thatcher. When Mrs. Thatcher became Prime Minister of Britain that country was at its lowest low in centuries of history. Socialism had brought an otherwise prosperous and free country to poverty and virtual slavery. Margaret Thatcher believed that it could be turned around. She believed that the Christian principles of hard work and responsibility made Britain, and the United States for that matter, countries where God-honoring people are able to provide for themselves, their families, and the poor in the land.
Things turned around in Britain when the people said they had had enough and threw the socialist party out of office. They had streets filled with garbage and dead bodies by the time they took action. They had high unemployment, high taxes, and an intrusive government. Things were headed in a worse direction but Britain did not become Oholibah.
What must America experience before she will wake up? I am afraid it will have to be another disaster like 9/11. Americans are all asleep in front of their television sets. They believe whatever the press tells them. They think their president is so wonderful that they have virtually let him crown himself king. Obama not only thinks he can do whatever he wants in his country, he arrogantly tells the rest of the world how to live. (See my last blog post.)
This is not just a political war; this is a religious war. Obama’s interference in world affairs tends towards support of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. Just look at what is happening in Syria. Obama’s speeches have obscured the fact that innocent people are being tortured and killed. Thousands of Christians are fleeing for their lives.
Obama supported the radical Muslim government in Egypt. However the moderate Muslims and the Christians in Egypt rose up and threw the tyrannical government out. When people decide to get together and stand for liberty they can accomplish their goal. This should encourage us. We can do the same. We must repent to God for our laziness. We must work harder to end abortion and unbridled homosexuality. We must do more personally for widows and orphans. The churches need to begin again to rescue the needy and not just let the government do it. The government loves to play god. But there’s a price to pay – loss of freedom.
Please, my friends, let’s don’t wait for a tragic ending to our story. I pray that my grandchildren will not read our story and wish that there had been a better ending. With God’s help we can change it.