1) A person who goes ahead and makes known the approach of another; a herald; and
2) Anything that foreshadows a future event; omen; sign
Think of it as a warning.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, "It is God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."
William Penn wrote, "If thou wouldst rule well, thou must rule for God, and to do that, thou must be ruled by him....Those who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants."
John Adams wrote, "Our Constitution was made only for a a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to be the government of any other."
The Founders knew: As long as America continued to acknowledge it's Judeo-Christian roots, it would be blessed. If and when America turned away, the blessing and protection would be removed.
As the Scriptures say it simply:
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance." (Psalm 33:12)
Yet, as a nation we have moved away from Him. Especially over the course of my lifetime (since the 1960's) we have rejected Him. We have insulted Him. We have openly rebelled against Him.
How, then, can we hope to keep standing?
Over the course of history, many great powers have arisen to influence the world. In each case, there seems to be a pattern. Some call it the "Fatal Sequence"...
"The historical cycle seems to be: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to dependency; and from dependency back to bondage once more." (Henning Prentiss Jr.)
Where are we 'at' as a society in that sequence? It seems clear to me that we are struggling with selfishness, apathy and dependency all at once--and that leads, of course, to bondage.
...so it should not be surprising that the blessings of prosperity, power, influence and safety are all waning.
Recently, a man named Rabbi Cohn gave a speech and wrote a book entitled "The Harbinger". The warning.
In it, he observes how many amazing similarities there were in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on our country and these verses found in Isaiah 9, verses 8-21, especially verses 8-10
"The Lord has sent a message against Jacob;
it will fall on Israel.
9 All the people will know it—
Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—
who say with pride
and arrogance of heart,
10 “The bricks have fallen down,
but we will rebuild with dressed stone;
the fig trees have been felled,
but we will replace them with cedars.”
Rabbi Cohn goes on to describe the amazing (even miraculous) similarities between the specifics of these scriptures and the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks in New York. I'll leave those to you to read...
However, the POINT of this passage is this: Despite the Lord's chastisement of the people, they missed it! In their arrogance, they decided to simply 'rebuild, bigger and better', then they did to stop and repent!
The Lord sent them a warning: A Harbinger. His will was that they would repent of their pride and sin, and turn back to Him so that He would bless, prosper, and protect them again.
Instead, they proudly declared, in essence, 'Nothing can stop us! We'll rebuild, bigger and better!'
That's exactly what America's reaction has been since those attacks.
No real repentance; no real soul searching (except for the 1st week or two afterward). No turning back to God.
Interestingly (and disturbingly), God continued to send punishment and discipline on the people of Isaiah's day--in order to lead them to repentance!
"Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised." (vv. 12, 17, 21)
Remember, "It is the Lord's kindness that leads us to repentance." (Romans 2:4)
So, what is America's future?
Are we going to continue to stubbornly resist God's call to repentance?
Are we going to arrogantly 'do things our way', without dependence upon Him?
Are we going to have to endure increasing chaos, violence, and sin--as normal?
Are we going to experience decreasing blessing, protection and provision?
It's up to US, after all!
I believe it's also largely up to the Church--His people in America.
I'll explain that in part 3...