Israel was a monarchy; America is a democracy. Israel was chosen by God, yet fell into catastrophic disunity with God. America chose to follow the fundamental principles of God laid out in the Declaration of Independence - all people are created equal and have forever certain rights of liberty – yet in danger of falling into catastrophic disunity as well. So comparisons must be done carefully that take into account the differences as well as the similarities.
Other differences include that all Israel was supposedly ruled by Jewish Law, while in America, Jews and believers in Jesus Christ are only part of the fabric of the country. And sadly, believers in Jesus are badly divided over social and institutional issues.
Nevertheless, God’s Word in the Bible has not changed one iota. It remains the light in our disunity darkness and the hope of our return from the abyss.
God appointed prophets to warn Israel of its failure to obey God’s commands. No true biblical prophets have appeared in America or anywhere else for more than 2,400 years – least of all me. Yet, God does call every Christian believer to obey the commands of Jesus, which augment and complete the commands of God, and this is our common ground in comparing ancient Israel with modern America.
I believe God has speaks to you and me, just as he did to Jeremiah, but more quietly through the Holy Spirit:
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you…I consecrated you…I appointed you…” (1:5, ESV).
God appointed Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations. He appointed you to a task which may or may not have been revealed to you as yet.
And I can say honestly that I believe he appointed me to scour his Word to address the high priestly prayer of Jesus for perfect unity.
Like Jeremiah, I have responded, “…I do not know how…” (1:6).
God responds: “Do not be afraid…for I am with you to deliver you…” (1:8).
Today, I am very afraid, as disunity appears to be ripping our nation apart (and the church does not even seem concerned about its disunity. Yet I am not afraid because I believe God will use this time to present metaphors of perfect unity that will speak to all of us.
I struggled greatly with how to present Isaiah, but that was easy compared to Jeremiah. It has taken me all week just to build the courage to take on the implications for perfect unity amidst the darkness of Israel’s impending judgment for literally walking away from God.
Is this America’s fate? Is this the church’s fate?
Into this mental chaos, God spoke to me through a letter published this past week by Taya Kyle, wife of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle. She managed to capture disunity in a brilliantly simple way.
If you know her story, you know how badly she needs to see perfect unity in America as a salve to her suffering.
She writes, in part:
"You were doing your part to bring people together and heal the world. That’s really how healing works. We heal by loving each other and leading by example; showing people what is possible when we love each other just as we are and not only recognize our differences but celebrate them and look at how we can use them together to make us jointly better than our separate parts. You were doing your part celebrating each other based on skills, talent and a joint vision without regard to color and religion.
"You were doing your part and we were doing ours. We showed up cheering and groaning together to as one. We talked in the concession lines and commiserated and celebrated our team together. Did it ever occur to you that you and we were already a mix of backgrounds, races and religions? We were already living the dream you want, right in front of you.
"Your desire to focus on division and anger has shattered what many people loved most about the sport. Football was really a metaphor for our ideal world -- different backgrounds, talents, political beliefs and histories as one big team with one big goal -- to do well, to win, TOGETHER. [Italics added]
"You are asking us to abandon what we loved about togetherness and make choices of division. Will we stand with you? Will we stand with our flag? What does it mean? What does it mean if we buy a ticket or NFL gear? What does it mean if we don’t? It is the polar opposite of the easy togetherness we once loved in football.
"It was simple – we loved you and you loved us – with all of our races, religions, different backgrounds and politics. Simplicity in a crazy world was pretty awesome.”
Whether you love or hate football is not the question. It is whether you love perfect unity in Jesus Christ as passionately as she loves football.
Despite the many things that divide us, we have been called since before we were formed and appointed to become the answers to the priestly prayer of Jesus for perfect unity as light shining in the darkness.