God’s Open Letter to America

We Have Met the Enemy - It Is Us

Racism, police brutality, protests, lawlessness, corruption, injustice, refugee crises, government gridlock, mounting national anger and imminent cultural decline—no matter what political system you side with, most of us are worried about our nation. And with good cause: many of us believe we are watching America cannibalize itself. No matter who you are or what you believe, please take a moment, with both open mind and tender heart, to read Exodus 23. As you do, let God’s Word—his immutable, universal law—convict you of your guilt as a lawbreaker. And may that lead you to repentance. If enough of us do that, we can save America.

The Journey// Focus: Exodus 23:1-9

Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness. Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit. If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it. Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent. Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.

This generation of Americans perpetually witnesses lawless acts (and not just by criminals, but by law-makers and law officers), mean-spirited politics, racial disharmony, hatred, name-calling, government gridlock, knee-jerk lawsuits, violent protests, destroyed friendships, instantaneous outrage, national anxiety and general nastiness. So much is this now an American way of life that many of us are seriously worried about the stability, longevity and influence of our nation as the last best hope of the world.

We are in trouble, and only we can fix it, with God’s help. We must create a movement internally that will call a stop to our national cannibalism and return us to the common ground that has made us the envy of the world, imperfect as we have been, for hundreds of years.

The blame for our mess is not to be laid at any one person’s feet—not at President Trump, or Obama, or Bush or Clinton. The blame is not one political party or another—it is not the Republicans or the Democrats. It is not the media’s fault. Secularists or academicians are not to blame. Nor is it right wing nut jobs, shrill Christians or blue hairs from the Tea Party. The problem isn’t leftists, socialists, open borderists or anarchists. The fault is ours. We have met the enemy—and he is us.

Let me be clear: you and I are to blame. If you don’t believe me, read Exodus 23. God gets up in our grill in this chapter and shows us issue after issue where we have not just gone off the rails; we have annihilated his holy law and have deeply offended his righteous character. In unmistakable language, he turns into an equal opportunity offender and goes after us on issue after issue:

  • Dishonesty, dissembling, fake news, and flat out lying: “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.” (Exodus 23:1)
  • Pandering for popular appeal, blind loyalty to a political leader, media bias and pushing a false narrative for political power: “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.” (Exodus 23:2-3)
  • Nastiness, the politics of personal destruction, name calling, and argumentum ad hominem: “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.” (Exodus 23:4-5)
  • Social justice, inequality, racism, profiling, judicial activism and a legal system that is biased in favor of the wealthy: “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent.” (Exodus 23:6-8)
  • Immigration reform, open borders, religious discrimination and the mounting refugee crisis: “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9)

Did God leave anything out? I don’t think so. There is no cultural issue currently dividing us that God’s Word hasn’t already addressed. And when you look at what he has declared with an open mind and a tender heart, you realize that we are all guilty before a holy God who sees through our sophisticated philosophies and convoluted arguments with utter moral clarity. And he stands ready to judge us, or help us, depending on the heart response that we offer him.

Choose your issue: social justice, the refugee crises, identity politics, the death of truth in favor or moral relativism, protests in the streets, lawlessness, national anger, cultural decline, neighbor hating neighbor over the election—no matter what political system you side with, no matter what life philosophy you choose to live by, most of us are worried about our nation. And with good cause: many of us believe we are watching the self-immolation of America.

No matter who you are or what you believe, with an open mind and tender heart, take to heart what God has said as you read Exodus 23. As you do, give God the right to convict you of your guilt as a lawbreaker—his immutable, universal moral law. And make no mistake: you are a lawbreaker. So am I. If not the letter of the law, we have murdered the spirit of the law in our hearts and minds. And may your acknowledgement of guilt lead you to repentance.

What can we do to save America? It might sound simplistic, but I believe it starts with personal confession and repentance. Then comes obedience to God’s law, not man’s opinion or political preferences or cultural philosophies. And when we follow God’s way, he makes some wonderful promises of what life will be like as he leads us into a time of peace and prosperity—which you can read about in Exodus 23:20-33. Among other blessings, our repentance and obedience will be met with his provision of peace:

See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. (Exodus 23:20)

If enough of us do that—repent and obey—we can save America. We really can!

Going Deeper: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

Roundabout Ways

The Distance Between Your Reality and God’s Promise

Exodus 13 says, “God did not lead the Israelites along shortest route to the Promised Land…he led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness.” You see, the shortest distance between your reality and God’s promise is usually not from Point A to Point B. God doesn’t always lead you to a quick and easy victory; your journey will be fraught with unexpected twists and disconcerting turns in the road. But the Lord knows what he is doing; he sees the end from the beginning from the vantage point of his eternal perspective, and he knows that the roundabout way is the needful thing to ready you for the Promised Land ahead.

The Journey // Focus: Exodus 13:17-18

When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.

The shortest distance between your reality and God’s promise is usually not from Point A to Point B. God doesn’t always lead us to a quick and easy victory; it is fraught with unexpected twists and disconcerting turns in the road. But God knows what he is doing; he sees the end from the beginning from the vantage point of his eternal perspective, and he knows that the roundabout way is the thing we need to ready us for the Promised Land ahead.

Why did God not lead Israel along the shortest route to their Promised Land? There is the obvious answer clearly stated within the text: they would have been discouraged by the immediate and continuous battle they would face. The Philistines possessed the land along this direct route, and they were not predisposed to allow Israel to march through their land. Israel needed practice to become a fighting force capable of defeating the Philistines and other warrior nations currently inhabiting their land.

If Israel faced the kind of battles too early that they would face later, they would have melted in fear. Case in point, in Exodus 14:10, “As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them.” Their faith was unprepared for what was ahead, so God led them on a roundabout way to remove their fears and give them opportunity to grow both in their military skills and in their militant trust in the Lord.

A less obvious answer is that God wanted to be true to his Word. God had made a faith promise to Moses as a sign of his calling. (Exodus 3:12) To prove his character—his truthfulness, his sovereignty, his mighty power—he had told Moses at the burning bush that he and the people would return to this very spot to worship their God. It probably seemed like a weak proof at the time, for it was a future proof that required great trust in the present, but now God indeed was sending them the long way to Canaan that included a side trip to Mount Horeb—the very place to which God said he would bring them back. This roundabout way led to a revelation of the covenant and a renewal of their faith.

The long route to Canaan also included a crossing of the Red Sea at what probably seemed like the worst spot possible. But the tribes of Israel desperately needed to place their trust in God for the assignment ahead of dispossessing the warrior nations within Canaan. In the natural, this would be an impossible task for them. Without God’s help, it couldn’t be done. They would need a God who would fight for them.

And that’s exactly what they got at this “dead end” destination on the banks of the Red Sea. In Exodus 14:13-14, Moses declares to the Israelites, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Israel needed this miraculous deliverance now to be able to face challenges with calmness and trust later. “When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the Lord and in his servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:31) It was a roundabout way that produced a resolute trust.

Finally, the long route to the Promised Land served as forewarning to the Canaanite nations that Divine judgment was coming. As the Israelites seemingly meandered through the dessert, the Canaanites were getting a little emotional shock and awe in advance. They heard what God did to the greatest army in the world, the Egyptians. How could they expect to fare any better? After the Red Sea miracle, Moses wrote this song to the Lord, and included this truth in one of the verses:

The peoples hear and tremble; anguish grips those who live in Philistia. The leaders of Edom are terrified; the nobles of Moab tremble. All who live in Canaan melt away; terror and dread fall upon them. (Exodus 15:14-15)

While we “wander” God’s roundabout way, his faithfulness to us on the journey is proof to our enemies that with God on our side, they don’t stand a chance.

God doesn’t always take us on the shortest, easiest path, but he takes us on the path that is best for us. That’s the roundabout way of God. As he leads us, it becomes quite obvious that we needed the roundabout journey. We needed our fears exposed, our selfishness brought to the surface, our pride revealed and our rebellious heart cleansed.

Thank God for roundabout ways!

Going Deeper: Are you on a roundabout way in your faith journey? God is leading you! Step aside for a moment and discern what eternal lessons God may be teaching you. It’ll make your path a lot smoother.