One of the most disturbing verses in the Bible is found in Judges 17:6 (23:25) which says, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (KJV) In other words, the people were creating their own morality. They were doing what they thought was right. They had no king or leader to guide them. This verse could very well be describing our own society today. We are making up our own morality as we go along. We have rejected the morality of our forefathers which was based upon God’s Moral Law. We have rejected the Ten Commandments which sum up God’s Moral Law. We don’t want our children to see them and when attempts are made to display them in public, our governing authorities remove them and put them in a back room. We have rejected God’s laws and created our own laws in their place. That’s why movies today are filled with curse words and sexual immorality, things an earlier generation thought were wrong. We have rejected the morality of our forefathers and established our own. Today, we can have our super bowls on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, and do anything else we like because we have rejected a morality that once ruled the land and we are establishing our own.
We have then rejected the true morality found in God’s Moral Law. This moral law is summed up in the Ten Commandments and expounded throughout the Bible. It is also written upon the conscience of all men. Romans 2:14-15 says, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” The Ten Commandments and the Bible reveal clearly God’s Moral Law but even men who do not have the Moral Law written out for them still know what it is because it is written on their hearts and consciences. Our forefathers knew what God’s moral law was for they had the Ten Commandments and the Bible to go by. They knew clearly what was right and what was wrong in the sight of God, and our early laws reflected that moral law.
God’s moral law shows us what is right and wrong. It reveals to us our sins and corrects us and shows us the right way to live. Romans 3:19-20 says, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” When the law is taught and preached, people come under conviction of sin. They realize their own sinfulness and need for forgiveness and new life in Christ. Today, so few realize their own sinfulness because the church no longer teaches and preaches the law. There are very few sermons on the Ten Commandments in our land. Some churches never preach or even teach the Ten Commandments. How can we know what true morality is unless God’s law is taught and preached?
We have turned our backs on God’s moral law in this nation. God’s moral law was not good enough for us. So, we have turned our backs on it. We have taken the Ten Commandments off public display and put them in the back room so no one can see them. We have ripped the Ten Commandments off the walls of our public schools and hidden them from our children. Yet, earlier generations in this nation taught the Ten Commandments and the meaning derived from them to the children of our land.
William Federer in his book, America’s God and Country writes about William McGuffey – “Considered the ‘Schoolmaster of the Nation,’ McGuffey published the first edition of his McGuffey’s Reader in 1836. This book was the mainstay in public education in America till 1920. As of 1963, 125 million copies had been sold, making it one of the most widely used and influential textbooks of all times. Millions of American children learned to read and write from that reader. In its forward, McGuffey wrote: The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions…The Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus are not only basic but plenary.” (p. 439)
Today, such a textbook is considered inappropriate for our school children. Our courts have decided that Bible reading and prayer and the Ten Commandments have no place in our public schools. No teacher should teach such in his or her classroom. No teacher or school official should ever lead their school children in a prayer in the class room. All such as this has been outlawed. God’s moral law has been rejected by the nation as a nation and we as a people are paying the price.
In a sense, we have established a false morality. The prophet, Isaiah, pronounced a woe upon those of his day who would do such a thing when he said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20) Today, we have established our own morality. We have rejected God’s morality and set up our own. We are doing what is right in our own eyes, not in the eyes of God. We have adopted our own code of morals. We don’t want God to tell us how to live so we have set up our own moral standards. Keil and Delitzsch in their commentary on the above passage write, “This fourth woe relates to those who adopted a code of morals that completely overturned the first principles of ethics, and was utterly opposed to the law of God; for evil, darkness, and bitter, with their respective antitheses, represent moral principles that are essentially related.” (Commentary on Isaiah, p. 177)
For example, today we no longer observe the Christian Sabbath as a nation. Yes, people still go to church on Sunday but the nation as a nation has pretty much left the Christian Sabbath behind. Even churches don’t observe the Christian Sabbath anymore. That’s why we have Super Bowl Sunday celebrated and promoted in many evangelical churches today. This has not always been the case in our nation. For years, our nation observed the Christian Sabbath. Even in my own life time, I can remember when the stores were closed on Sunday and major sports events were held on Saturday not Sunday. Iain Murray in his book entitled Rest in God writes, “The moral law of God exists for mankind. Accordingly the Protestant nations professing Christianity buttressed the observation of the first day of the week with civil penalties. It was understood that reverence for God was necessary for the well being of a people and that it included respect for the day God has appointed. People have now largely forgotten how far this principle was once embedded in national life. In the nineteenth century Charles Hodge could write in the United States: Christianity forbids all unnecessary labor, or the transaction of worldly business, on the Lord’s Day…All public offices are closed, and all official business is suspended. From Maine to Georgia, from ocean to ocean, one day in the week, by the law of God and by the law of the land, the people rest.” (p. 32-33)
In his book, The United States – A Christian Nation, Supreme Court Justice David J. Brewer wrote in 1905, “Sunday. It’s separation from the other days as a day of rest is enforced by the legislation of nearly all if not all of the states of the Union…it still remains true that it is a day consecrated of old, a day separated by law and religion as well as by the custom of the church for ages, and ought not to be turned into a day of public frivolity and gaiety…” (p. 33) Yet, today our nation has totally repudiated these words. We have thrown off the customs of an earlier generation and established our own moral laws. The Fourth Commandment says to remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy and to rest from our labors. The observance of the Sabbath Day goes back to the creation when God rested on the seventh day. The Christian Sabbath is observed by Christians as a day of rest and worship and it was this Christian Sabbath that our nation as a whole once observed. Today, we have become so sophisticated that we no longer observe the Christian Sabbath as a nation. That observance as done by our forefathers has just about passed away. Nations of the past have been judged for how they treated the Sabbath. We read in Jeremiah 17:27, “But if you do not obey me to keep the Sabbath Day holy by not carrying any load as you come through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortresses.” Today, we do business as usual on Sunday in our 24/7 society. Why should not God bring judgment on this nation for dishonoring His Day?
The Third Commandment forbids our using God’s name in vain and using curse words. The New Testament expounds on this in Ephesians 4:29 where it says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Yet today, Hollywood has chosen almost totally to ignore the Third Commandment and the Bible’s prohibition against curse words. Most movies today have curse words without number and we allow our young people to absorb such language and we even ourselves participate in Hollywood’s sin by going to see such sophisticated filth either in the movie theatre or in our homes on the TV screen or listening to certain radio shows or listening to music lyrics that are spattered with curse words. We have replaced God’s moral law with a law of our own which allows the very things that God forbids. The motion picture code of years ago created by an earlier generation forbid the use of curse words in movies. Today, we have repudiated all of that.
We have transformed sin into righteousness. Today, we call sin righteousness. What earlier generations called sin, we now call righteousness. In other words, what was not acceptable to our forefathers is now acceptable to this generation. Today, the modesty of an earlier generation of women and girls has been repudiated by many. To dress immodestly has come into mainstream and few think that it might be wrong. Sexual immorality in all its forms has become popular. Things considered immoral by an earlier generation that recognized God’s Moral Law have become okay today. We read in Ephesians 4:19, “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” Today’s movies are filled with sexual immorality. No longer is sex before marriage considered a bad thing. Many couples live together outside of marriage and think nothing about it and the society seems to accept it all as normal. The promotion of same sex marriage has now come into vogue in the nation, something an earlier generation would absolutely not accept.
The killing of innocent human beings has become a matter of choice and our government fully embraces this philosophy and has handed down court decrees saying that the killing of the innocent is okay. Yet, the Bible says it is wrong. Jeremiah 19:4-5 condemns the slaying of the innocent – For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned sacrifices in it to gods that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal – something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.” Our generation does the same thing by filling this land with the blood of the innocent offered up to the gods of pleasure and convenience and money. We have abolished the distinction between good and evil.
John Calvin in commenting on Isaiah 5:20 writes, “’Woe to them that call evil good.’ Though some limit this statement to judges, yet if it be carefully examined, we shall easily learn from the whole context that it is general; for, having a little before reproved those who cannot listen to any warnings, he now proceeds with the same reproof. It is evident that men of this sort have always some excuse to plead, and some way of imposing on themselves; and, therefore, there is no end to their reproachful language, when their crimes are brought to light. But here he particularly reproves the insolence of those who endeavor to overthrow all distinction between good and evil.” (www.biblestudyguide.org)
Today, the fear of God has left the nation and as a result we now can call evil good and good evil. People are doing what is right in their own eyes. Edward J. Young writes, “Irreverence and deep wickedness are close partners. Those who mockingly ask why God does not carry out His purposes are also those who overthrow and obliterate all moral distinctions. Doctrine and ethics are also close partners. When one no longer believes the doctrine of a judgment, one turns aside from moral distinctions…Those who subvert all moral distinctions in effect introduce chaos…” (Commentary on Isaiah, p. 219) Today, our pulpits no longer preach on the judgment of God and our people have turned aside from moral distinctions.
The whole issue of sexually immoral lifestyles overlooks moral distinctions. Christians should have compassion on those who have sexually transmitted diseases and seek to provide healing for them. Yet, if we completely ignore the judgment of God on a society through such diseases, we obliterate moral distinctions. To show compassion and at the same time recognize God’s displeasure with sin is not wrong. We must take a stand for righteousness and at the same time show compassion. Jesus had compassion on the woman taken in adultery and yet at the same time He told her to go and sin no more.
Today, there is a need for a national repentance. We need to realize our own sins as a nation. As a people, we need to recognize that we have sinned against Almighty God. Until, we recognize and admit our sin as a nation, we stand in imminent danger of great judgment. God’s warning judgments are already falling whether we accept it or not. His greater judgments are yet to come unless we own up to our sins and repent as a nation.
We need a national spiritual revival. True repentance as a nation will not come without revival. We need a visitation of the Spirit’s power in our day. Edward J. Young wrote, “What fallen men need is the regenerating power of the Spirit of God who cause old things to pass away; and all things to become new.” (p. 220) In John 16:8, Jesus says, “When he (Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” The Holy Spirit when He comes in power brings conviction of sin and reveals the righteousness of a Holy God and a Judgment to come. Not until the people of our nation come under great conviction of sin will we as a nation turn back to God. We have to know that we have sinned as a people against God. When we come to that conviction, then people will begin turning back to the God of our forefathers.”
Great revivals have happened in the past in this nation. Most don’t know about them or have forgotten, but in the very places that great sins now abound, once upon a time righteousness reigned in times of revival. In their first annual volume published in 1801, The Connecticut Evangelical Magazine, the editorial stated, “The late wonderful out-pouring of the Holy Spirit and revival of experimental religion, in large districts of the American Church, will furnish much matter for publication to delight the hearts and satisfy the benevolence of the children of God. There has not been so great and extensive a work of divine grace in this land since the years 1742 and 1744…” (Revival and Revivalism, p. 121) This was written as the Second Great Awakening in America was getting under way and also looking back on an earlier day to the First Great Awakening. These two great revivals swept through the nation and people everywhere were changed. Whenever revival comes, people turn back to the moral law of God. People change. Communities change. Nations change.
Iain Murray in his book on revival writes, “…the belief prevailed that true revival always proved itself by a change in conduct in communities. James H. Hotchkin, for example, in his History of Western New York, observed that the period of the Second Great Awakening raised the moral standard of the region, ‘giving a character to this part of the state which laid a foundation for its large prosperity and improvement in all things useful.’” (p. 123) When Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, in the 1740’s at Enfield, Connecticut, suddenly like a mighty rushing wind, the Holy Spirit fell upon that place and a great revival came. May God come again in such power. Pray for revival. Pray for a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our day.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (1978) unless indicated otherwise
Brewer, David J. The United States – A Christian Nation, American Vision Press, Powder Springs, Georgia, 2010. (Originally published 1905.)
Calvin, John. Commentary on Isaiah, www.ccel.org .
Federer, William J. America’s God and Country, Fame Publishing, Inc., 1996
Keil, C. F. and Delitzsch, F. Commentary on the Old Testament – Volume VI – Isaiah, William B. Erdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1969
Murray, Iain. Rest in God & A Calamity in Contemporary Christianity, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 2010.
Murray, Iain. Revival and Revivalism, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1994.
Young, Edward J. The Book of Isaiah, Volume I, Chapters 1-18, William B. Edwards Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1965.