Cocky, Confident, and Complacent.
“You are proud of your fertile valleys, but they will soon be ruined. You trusted in your wealth, you rebellious daughter, and thought no one could ever harm you.” – Jeremiah 49:4 NLT
In chapter 49, Jeremiah continues his oracles against the nations. Here he presents God’s warnings against the Ammonites, Edomites, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam. Each is assured of their coming destruction – brought on them by God and delivered by the hand of the Babylonians. No one will escape God’s judgment and wrath. Even the people of Kedar and Hazor, who were nomads, would be “terrorized at every turn.” Each of these nations stood before God as guilty and worthy of punishment for their sins. But what Jeremiah had to say to the Ammonites resonates in a particularly powerful way. Like the Moabites, these people were descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot, who had incestuous relationships with both his daughters after escaping the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Ammon was the son born to him by his youngest daughter. They lived east of the Promised Land and had actually stolen land that had once belonged to the tribe of Gad. They worshiped the god, Molech, to whom they practiced child sacrifice. But God doesn’t condemn them for their pagan practices. Instead, He points out their pride and misplaced trust. He accuses them of being proud of their fertile valleys and for trusting in their wealth. Surrounded by steep valleys that formed a natural protective barrier, they believed that they were invincible and untouchable. They had ample natural resources and an abundance of pride.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? It makes me think of the lyrics to the song, “America the Beautiful.”
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
There is a degree to which America has become like the Ammonites and all the other nations mentioned in these oracles. We have been blessed with an abundance of resources. We have enjoyed over two centuries of prosperity and relative peace. Since our formation as a nation, we have never been invaded by a foreign power. No wars have been fought on our soil against invading nations. We have experienced staggering growth, numerically and financially. We are powerful, influential, and a force to be reckoned with in the world. But we have also become cocky, confident and complacent spiritually. Yes, we have experienced somewhat of a wake-up call since 9/11, and there has been a relative diminishing of our pride due to the economy. But we remain a super-confident, self-sufficient nation that sometimes believes it is invincible and invulnerable. We somehow believe that we have the hand on God on us as a nation. We brag about having been founded on Judeo-Christian principles by God-fearing men who recognized His sovereignty over nations. And while that is true, we are far from a God-fearing nation today. We have strayed from our original roots and have become a godless nation that prides itself in its power and prosperity, and puts its trust in its military might and abundant resources. Terrorism and financial difficulty have shaken our resolve, but we remain confident and self-assured.
Yet God is the one who judges the nations. It is His standard to which we must measure up, not our own. He is not impressed with our power, prominence, or prosperity. God looks at the heart of the individual and the nation. He is looking for repentance, dependence, and humility. Judah was His chosen people, but He judged them for their unfaithfulness. How much more so will He judge a nation like ours?
Father, we live in a great land, but it is in need of a great awakening spiritually. Wake up Your church. May we become salt and light in the midst of the darkness. Help us to raise the standard of righteousness and share the good news of the gospel with all those we meet. Our nation needs You. And we are the ones who must tell them about You. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men