Our hearts are breaking for the people of Afghanistan, Haiti, Louisiana, soldiers who defended freedoms in Afghanistan, and those who lost their lives there. Everyone is asking, “Was American’s longest war for nothing?” So I’ve been searching for good news, and here is a little that I found. “Muhibullah Sharif, a Kabul-based economist said the US and its allies’ contributions towards building institutions cannot be overlooked… ‘Before the US invasion, there were many fake and regional currencies in circulation, Afghanistan was not represented in any regional or international trade organizations and there was no private sector, but now all that has changed for good’, he said…Iqbal Barzgar, a Kabul-based political analyst said that the US presence has left both positive and negative impacts on Afghanistan. He also argued that Washington and its allies helped to build the country’s ruined infrastructure and injected unprecedented amounts of money into the local economy. ‘For the past 20 years, a young and educated new generation has entered the country’s social arena, a centralized government has been formed, and new opportunities have been created that were never imagined before the US invasion’ he said.” (1) Throughout history, there have been similar wars, tragedies, and grave disappointments. That’s why having a Biblical Worldview is essential—knowing that God is sovereignly using these events to draw people to himself because he is the good, holy, but wrathful Lord of Lords and King of Kings. God never does anything “for nothing,” for no purpose. While he often allows us to do that which is wholly opposed to him, he nonetheless delights in our repentance when we turn back to him, our only eternal, true hope. Anything else disappoints God, to the point of breaking his heart. Present crises tear up our hearts but imagine how much disappointment God must endure, if we may use anthropomorphic language.
Hoping in political solutions, material remedies, or national interventions isn’t wrong if we realize their limitations. Only hope in the risen Christ for eternal peace, and spiritual prosperity will fulfill our soul’s desires. Israel had to learn this lesson, and even after God sent many prophets to direct his people, they remained stubbornly gripped by temporal fixes. The Lord used Israel’s enemy nations to bring them to their senses after breaking his heart with their idolatry. God poured out his grace and mercy on the nation for many years, yet both the northern and southern kingdoms degenerated beyond his tolerance. Kind of like the condition of Afghanistan in slow motion, on a spiritual level. God’s prophet Ezekiel informed God’s people that because they had broken God’s heart with their repugnant evil, he would do what was necessary for them to reverence him as the Lord. “Those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols. And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. And they shall know that I am the Lord. I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.” (Ezekiel 6:9-10) The Lord had given Israel so many chances to repent. They had God himself, his law, kings, and land, yet the nation refused to honor him, breaking his heart. “‘Paul gives a warning that every unrepentant person ought to heed: ‘But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed’ (Romans 2:5). God’s hatred of unholiness is the very reason hell exists. All sin is against God’s name, God’s person, and God’s holiness. David would never have sinned so wickedly against his God had he kept this truth close to his heart. But instead of focusing upon the person of his God, David focused upon himself, his desires, his pleasures. In doing so he forgot the God who made him, the very God of holiness whom he had actually intended to serve faithfully with all his heart. It was not until the person of God came back into focus in David’s life that renewal came. It was the realization of this truth that drew him to repentance. If you will daily remind yourself of the person of our God, you will find it a perpetual motivator to repentance.” (2) Today, we need to do what God was calling Israel to do, acknowledge and repent of our evil attitudes, viewpoints, desires, opinions, thoughts, words, and deeds, taking God’s Word seriously for our sanctification.
Our Degeneration and Repentance
John Gill writes on Ezekiel 6:9, “I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me: by committing spiritual adultery, which is idolatry…and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations…when men remember God, against whom they have sinned, and consider how grieving sin is to him; and when they are broken for it themselves, they then loathe their sins, and themselves for it; and where all this is there is true repentance.” (3) If God would do whatever was necessary for Israel to reverence him as the Lord, imagine what he might do for us who are reborn in Christ when we broke his heart with our repugnant sins. “Every sin that a believer commits is against the body and blood of Christ. Whether it be a sin of commission or a sin of omission, it is against the Savior who died in your place. Whether you think of sin as minor or whether you know it to be major, it is against the Lord who has already suffered much for you. Every day you lingerie an unrepentant state you add to the grief of the Savior whose body was broken and whose blood was shed for you. How can you add to His sufferings? Every celebration of the Lord’s Supper is intended to vividly remind you of this suffering. Every remembrance of His crucifixion, every reminder of the tender atoning work of Jesus Christ on your behalf, serves as a powerful call to repentance. Will you heed this call?” (4) We should ask Christ to reveal our unholy attitudes, viewpoints, desires, opinions, thoughts, words, and deeds, also asking him to help me repent. Shouldn’t our hearts break over sin as God’s does?
God’s Sovereign Work is Never For Nothing
“And they shall know that I am the Lord. I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.” (Ezekiel 6:9-10) We hesitate to pray for God to do “whatever is necessary” for our loved ones to come to Christ, but God doesn’t hesitate to do precisely that. When God had offered Judah’s King Ahaz the opportunity to be assured of his power and purpose, Ahaz refused to “test God.” Instead, he depended on Assyria and other nations for Israel’s security. So, God had Isaiah proclaim, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.” (Isaiah 7:10-17) God’s solution to his broken heart is to mercifully give us his only Son’s life and heart for all eternity. God pours out his steadfast loving-kindness on us through Christ. Repentance is the balm for the brokenhearted and delights our Lord. Let’s not act like people who are spiritually dead. Instead, let’s acknowledge and repent, taking God’s Word seriously for our sanctification. When people discuss the tragedies of Afghanistan, Haiti, Louisiana, California, or other chronic crises, let’s be a voice and body for God, having sought his cleansing forgiveness for our fears, anxieties, unjust judgments, and desire for people’s approval. We have these opportunities to be spiritual ambassadors and encouragers. “I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God. But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 26:44-45)
Related Scripture: Leviticus 26:40-45; Jeremiah 23:9; Ezekiel 16:61-63; 20:33-34; 36:31-32; Matthew 26:41; Luke 21:36; Romans 3:19-20; James 5:8; 1 Peter 1:13-15; 4:7-8.
- Roberts, Richard Owen, Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel, p. 160, Crossway, 2002
- Gill, John, John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Ezekiel 6:9, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ezekiel-6.html
- Roberts, Ibid, p. 167.
September 2, 2021