Yet the nation was, at least outwardly, very religious. God rebuked them and likened them to Sodom and Gomorrah. Why, because like Sodom, they were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned for the things that should have been their priority (Ezk 16:49-57). All their other failings stemmed from these.
God had no use for Judah’s religious devotion. He called it “meaningless,” and said that His soul hated their special days of worship (Sounds like another situation: Rev 3:14-22). Further, God stated that He did not listen to their prayers (Is 1:15-16, Ps 66:16-20, Mt 5:23-24, 1 Pet 3:7, 1 Jn 5:13).
God called on Judah to repent (Is 1:15b-20). A series of verbs flow out: “take, stop, learn, seek, defend, plead,” these are calls to do and not merely to think (See Rev 2:4-6).
God calls Judah to reason with Him and repent and be restored (vs 18).
God never postures – what he says, He does (Is 1:21-31). The parallel here is not being drawn between Judah/Israel and America. That is “apples and oranges.” God has a covenant relationship with Israel – not with America. The parallel is between God’s chosen people and the church. With each He has a covenant relationship. God has and will judge His people. We in America are saturated with biblical teaching, much of it good and much of it hideous! How do we respond? I see two ways in scripture: In Ezk 33:30-33 God tells Ezekiel that to the people who followed his preaching he was no more than a singer of love songs who had a good voice. He was just entertainment, not any lasting force for good. Yet, God also made it plain that that would change (Once God had “lowered the boom” on His people). Mal 3:16-18 shows quite a contrast: The people heard God’s message and repented and enjoyed the blessing of God. That is what is needed today in our nation and especially in the church.
What will it take for our nation? Consider that since 2003 we have been continually at war and have lost over 6000 of our children in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have suffered catastrophic damage and loss of life from storms, floods, fires and drought. Maybe these would have occurred anyway and maybe not. But we know who rules the universe. Yet instead of repentance what does our nation focus on? The sex lives of the rich, famous and idiotic, sports, politics, network TV, social media and on and on. We are a people asleep in our complacency. We slaughter the preborn and rush after anything but God. I am speaking here in general terms regarding our nation and culture. What about us, the church?
We know that judgment begins in the house (family) of God (1 Pet 4:17). When considering the visible church there are only two possible categories that people can fall into: regenerate and un-regenerate. Either a person is saved or they are not. Church attendance does not a Christian make! Tragically the distinction between a believer and a non believer is not always readily apparent to an observer. In 2 Pet 1:3-11 we are told that God has given us everything we need to posses eternal life and grow in our faith through the work of Christ. He has called us to Himself “through His own glory and goodness.” And we are to seek Him! Doing so results in the fruit of the Spirit being evident in our lives and in an effective, productive and spiritually perceptive life. The opposite is true if we stagnate. Spiritual “slugs” manifest a different type of fruit (Gal 5:19-21). We are to be "salt and light." The Holy Spirit indwelling and working through God’s people is the most powerful force on the planet. Seek Him, beloved. Don’t warm a pew and wait for others to feed you. Be proactive in your walk with God (Hen 5:11-6:12). Be available for God to use! What we do for Him is holy, well- pleasing and our well-reasoned act of service to God (Rom 12:1-2). And hang on; it is going to get exciting.
I am far from pessimistic regarding our nation. God has sent revival several times before and He can do it again! A relative handful stood the world on its proverbial “ear” in the first century. Read Eph 1 and stand in awe – the same power that created the world is at work in and through us! Pray for our nation, pray for the church, pray for revival and seek Him.