I choose “whither” to ask a question, using a classical word that should send you scrambling for a dictionary. According to Webster, whither is used to introduce questions like: “…to which place, point, condition, result, etc…Whither is now largely replaced by where except in poetic or rhetorical usage.”
So “Whither, America” asks rhetorically, “Where are you heading, America?” using the classical (biblical) experiences of ancient Israel as comparative milestones.
I ask this specifically regarding the past 16 years since September 11, 2001, when we saw our government officials joined in unity on the Capitol steps singing “God Bless America.”
Who better to consult, America, than the voice of the God of Israel, the same God who inspired “all men are created equal” and “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”?
To do this, we need to compare Israel’s leaders to whom God was speaking in Jeremiah 4 and 5 with America’s leaders today. It is not a one-to-one correlation, but it is close enough to chill your spine. The kings, prophets, and priests of ancient Israel were not unlike, from God’s perspective, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial officials of America.
There are 16 verses classified as Israel’s disunity from God according to the Cycle. See how they read, adapted to modern America, and ask if God can be any less distressed with America than he probably was with Israel’s disunity from God:
- “[Terrorists] come from a distant land…like keepers of a field are they against her all around, because she has rebelled against me, declares the Lord. Your way and your deeds have brought this upon you. This is your doom, and it is bitter” (4:16b-18a, ESV).
- “For [many Americans]…know me not…they have no understanding. They are ‘wise’ – in doing evil” (4:22)!
- “…O desolate [Washington]…you dress in scarlet, adorn yourself with gold…enlarge your eyes with paint…In vain you beautify yourself [with constant appeasement negotiations and treaties]. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life” (4:30).
- “O lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down [with terror attacks and disasters], but they felt no anguish…they refused to take correction…they have refused to repent” (5:3).
- “Therefore a lion from the forest will strike them down…A leopard is watching their cities…because their transgressions are many, their apostasies are great” (5:6).
- “For the [leaders] have been utterly treacherous to me…They have spoken falsely of the Lord and have said, ‘…no disaster will come upon us … [their] words will become wind…Thus it shall be done to them” (5:11-13)!
- “…Do you not fear me? ... Do you not tremble before me?…This people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away” (5:23).
- “For wicked [leaders] are found among my people…their [houses and senates] are full of deceit…they have become great and rich…fat and sleek…They know no bounds in deeds of evil” (5:26-28).
But remember what I said last week: America is not completely like Israel in one important way:
“Run to and fro through the streets of [America]…search her squares to see if you can find a man…who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her” (5:1).
Such a man did not exist in Israel in the time of Jeremiah.
But such men and women exist in multitudes in America as true believers in Jesus Christ as Lord, King and Savior, and to be fair, other faiths as well; but:
“…to me you should return. If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver, and if you swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’ in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then the nations shall bless themselves in him…” (4:1-2).
It is up to us to convince our nation to repent before God so that the lions and leopards become pussycats before God.