God’s Great Cry to Every Generation: TURN! Because Everybody Plays the Fool

By Tim Rowe

One of the most amazing messages in the entire Bible that is constantly coming from the heart of God is for both the believer and the unbeliever to TURN. God is always crying out to turn away from the world, turn away from idols, turn away from sin, turn away from self, turn away from any path that God has not ordained and set for your life and turn to Him. TURN! TURN BACK TO ME! I, GOD ALMIGHTY, AM WAITING WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN FOR YOU TO TURN AND RUN TO ME!

The truth of turning is the essence of the good news that Christianity proclaims as there is only One Way, One Truth, One Life and you must turn to it and turn away from the worthless religions, philosophies, and ideas of the world.

Acts 14:15 (NIV): Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to TURN from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.

The Apostle Paul preached for people to turn from their worthless idols to the living God. The truth of “turning” is an intricate part of the gospel as it is the beginning action necessary in believing the gospel and keeping the heart turned to God is necessary for the continual service of God in the gospel. We too should proclaim, “Friends why do you keep turning to everything but God. Isn’t it time you turn?”

Acts 25:13-18 (NIV); About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and TURN THEM from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

This is the gospel that we have been commissioned by God and His Son Jesus Christ and sent into the world to proclaim and as we preach this Gospel and it is believed a great turning takes place. People’s eyes are opened and they turn from darkness to light. They turn from the power of Satan unto God. Before all turning, there is an opening of the eyes to see; the eyes are no longer blinded by the devil, the god of this world, but the power of the gospel opens people’s eyes and hearts to turn. What an awesome turning it is! When we turn to God, we are turning from darkness to light. When we turn to God we are turning from the power of Satan to God. Satan does not want you turn. His schemes are designed to get people to turn their back on God and keep turned toward his objects of delight. The Devil uses deception so you don’t think you have to turn.

Leonard Ravenhill in Why Revival Tarries: An unprecedented tidal wave of commandment-breaking, God defying, soul destroying iniquity sweeps the ocean of human affairs. Never before have men in the masses sold their souls to the devil as such bargain prices. “There is none…that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee” (Isaiah 64:7). What hell-borned mesmerism hold them? How does the spell bind? Why don’t they wake and stir themselves.

They need to wake up and quit playing the fool and TURN.

Skip Moen in Spiritual Restoration: Ezekiel 33:11: “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked TURN from his way and live. TURN BACK, TURN BACK from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’” Ecclesiastes makes it very clear that there is no real hope in work, in progeny, in legacy or society. The Second Law of Thermodynamics applies: it all goes down hill. How can I have hope? I have reason to hope because GOD LIVES! He is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living. When He comes to rescue He brings life with Him. Because He is alive, I can trust that He will make me alive. I don’t worship some past relic or ancient memory; I worship the here-and-now living God. God is right here and now alive…God voices our true condition-rotting away-and He proclaims our only solution, He lives! Do you realize because God lives everything else is possible? Do you not see that all that we are and all that we are meant to be is based on the living God? Put your hope there, and none else. Listen to Him, and nothing else… God wants restoration. God wants us to live! So God exhorts his sin-sick children to turn back. That is one of the most important themes in the whole Bible.

Romans set forth this desperate condition of men and women for a Savior which is rooted in the truth that they have turned away from God. In our generation, people are turning away from God at an alarming rate as society plunges into the darkness of godlessness and lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.

Romans 3:10-18 (NIV): 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have TURNED AWAY, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know.”18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

When we turn away from God and do not seek Him are lives become worthless and full of ruin, misery, bitterness, cursing, poison, deceit and destruction. We must turn God with a heart full of wondrous awe, love, respect, devotion and admiration.

The essence of the gospel is this message of turning. Repentance is a turning of the mind and thoughts away from the world and our former condition to God. The Gospel cries out day and night for people to “TURN!”

Acts 3:19 (NIV): 19 Repent, then, and TURN TO GOD, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Times of refreshing in the beautiful healing presence of the Lord only come when we turn to God. God wipes out our sins because we have turned to God and the wonderful accomplishments of His Son who lived, died and was resurrected for us that we might be born again and live the life of our new creation.

One of the first words that began the ministry of Jesus Christ as he began to teach was the word “repent” which in its basic meaning means “to turn.”

Matthew 3:20 (God’s Word Translation): TURN to God and change the way you think and act, because the kingdom of heaven is near.

On the great day of Pentecost Peter’s message from the heart of God was to TURN.

Acts 2:37-40 (KJV): Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. 40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

To the universal cry of mankind “What shall we do?” God answers to TURN! Repent! Turn! Turn the entire thought, desires, purposes, dreams, and aspirations of your mind to God and confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will absolutely be saved. Then as a born again believer continue to keep yourself turned to God and turned away from the wickedness of our generation.

God is always only a turn away.

Psalm 18:21 (NIV):

I have kept the ways of the Lord;
I have not done evil by TURNING from my God.

I Samuel 12:21-and do not turn aside to go after worthless (tohu) things which do not profit and do not deliver, for they are worthless (tohu).

Skip Moen in Spiritual Restoration: Tohu generally describes five related conditions. These are wasteland, desolation, lifelessness, futility and worthlessness. The common thread behind tohu seems to be a sphere that is alien to all life. It is ominous, chaotic, dark, destructive opposition to created order. Consequently it is filled with peril, menace and foreboding. It is the negation of God and His creation. If there ever was a word that described a place where life is sucked out of you, then tohu is the word…There is something about tohu that should send a shiver up your spine. In the Bible, tohu is contagious. Spend enough time around tohu and you will become infected…touch it often and you will feel its effect, sucking vitality out of you. Chase after its seductive ploys and you will find, perhaps too late, that you are among the walking dead. That’s Samuel’s point. Once you turn away from God, you turn away from life-no matter how attractive the prospects seem to be, the end is always tohu-waste, futility, desolation and death…The opposite of tohu is God, for God is order, fulfillment, satisfaction, well-being and life itself. So do a little tohu checkup. Are you turning aside to things that do not profit and do not deliver? Are your days directed at accumulating those things that have no future over the horizon of your life?…Tohu awaits all those who serve short-sighted ends. If your dreams and desires can be achieved this side of the grave, you might be infected already.

We become addicted to who or what we turn to in the course of life. Tohu awaits those who turn from God.

There is a crisis of turning in the spiritual leadership in the Body of Christ that is disturbing and alarming. The spiritual leaders of our churches are hemorrhaging profusely and falling away because they have allowed their hearts to be turned. According to John Maxwell, only one out of ten people entering the ministry will still be in at the age of 65. That’s a 90 percent dropout rate. Dr James Dobson estimates that there are 1500 ministers a month leaving the ministry. That is 18,000 a year. The rate of burnout and dropout is staggering. David Ravenhill in Surviving the Anointing says: “The Devil’s strategy is old and reliable. ‘Strike the shepherd and scatter the flock.”…God’s army of soldiers are “dying” at a faster rate than ever before.”

There is a devastating effect to the body of Christ and the witness of Christianity by these men and women of God falling by the wayside. Think about the children of Israel for a moment. When God called them to be a nation, he led over one million people out of Egypt and do you know how many made it to the Promised Land? Two!!! Just two men, Joshua and Caleb! The Israelites were surrounded by so many awesome wonders and supernatural works of God as the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire and cloud to guide them night and day, the manna raining down from heaven and water flowing out of a rock. Yet only two people made it into the promise land. What was the problem? They turned. We need to take heed to this example as the hearts of Christian leaders have turned aside from God and turned unto idols. God is crying out, “Turn, Turn, Turn back to me and my loving arms.”

Even in Hosea God declares that the wretched condition of the spiritual man and the prophet among the children of God. Hosea 9:7: The prophet is a fool and the spiritual man is mad.” The spiritual leadership of Israel in the priests and prophets had turned away from God and were in desperate need to TURN back to Him.

The Bible is very clear on how quickly the heart can turn. It is full of examples of brilliant men and women and even angels with great callings and enormous potential for God that turned away from God in a short period of time and fell greatly into oblivion. Lucifer, Adam, Eve, Saul, Solomon, Judas, King Azariah and Demas are just to name a few.

Deuteronomy 9:11,12 (NIV): At the end of the forty days and forty nights, the LORD gave me the two stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant. 12 Then the LORD told me, “Go down from here at once, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have become corrupt. They have TURNED AWAY QUICKLY from what I commanded them and have made an idol for themselves.”

The children of Israel in less than 40 days turned away from God to worshipping idols.

Jeremiah 5:20-25: (NLT): “Make this announcement to Israel, and say this to Judah:
21 Listen, you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. 22 Have you no respect for me? Why don’t you tremble in my presence? I, the LORD, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries I set.
23 But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have TURNED AWAY and abandoned me. 24 They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the LORD our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’25 Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.

We rob ourselves of manifold blessings and enjoyment of life when we turn away and abandon God and fail to live in awe of Him. We must always have our spiritual radar on and be able to detect what direction we are turning.
We have all played the fool in life when it comes to God. To play the fool is to turn to anything, or anyone as first place in your life instead of God. The fool turns to anything but God. Saul came to this realization in his life too late and it cost him his kingdom and his life.

I Samuel 26:21-I have played the fool…I have erred exceedingly.

Saul played the fool and erred exceedingly with his life. Are we playing the fool with our life too? Look at the divine calling Saul had on his life as the first king of Israel and the wonderful potential he had if he would have stayed turned to God.

I Samuel 10:1,6,9-11,24 (NIV): Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance? 6And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. 9And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. 10And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets? 24And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.

Chronicles records the end result of Saul playing the fool with his life:

II Chronicles 10:13 (NIV): So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it;
Saul turned to the witch of Endor for guidance from a devil spirit and turned to himself and his strength and his wisdom and turned to everything else in his kingship but God and it opened him up for spiritual attack that eventually took him out and all the wonderful potential he had to be a godly king.

We cannot allow ourselves to play the fool by being deceived to turn to other gods. Idolatry is very deceptive. Most of us have idols and never know we are serving other gods. Are we playing the fool in life?

Deuteronomy 11:16 (NLT): “But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you TURN away from the LORD and serve and worship other gods.

From my new book on the heart hopefully to be released next year: “Most of Israel’s problems in their history with idolatry and turning away from God stem from their original failure to force these ungodly nations out of the Promised Land with all their false gods. It is a battle to keep the heart in the promised land of God’s will and aligned with God’s heart. It is a battle to keep the heart from becoming conformed to the pattern of this world. It is a battle to keep the relentless enemies of fear, worry, anxiety, disobedience, bitterness, unforgiveness and hatred from possessing territory in our heart. The enemy is always near the borders of our heart, subtly trying to gain entrance so he can establish a stronghold in the heart and exercise his devilish control and influence. We must be the constant border patrol of our heart and watch all the boundaries of our life so the enemy does not become an illegal occupant of our heart. We cannot passively allow the enemy to hang out and set up his tent in any part of the territory of our heart, for he is a master at turning our heart away from God. In order to enter the Promised Land and keep its borders secure, we must guard our heart with all diligence, protecting it from the schemes, strategies and plans of Satan’s kingdom devoting it wholeheartedly and passionately to God and His Word. Under the direction and guidance of God Almighty, our heart can set boundaries that will reflect His love, His grace, His mercy, His compassion and His peace and in this land we will fulfill God’s calling for our lives. We will not be betrayed by the boundaries coming forth from our heart and the map of our life will reflect the grace and glory of God.”

We cannot allow our turn away from Him to anything else. We must always be turned to His face, gazing in His eyes, looking at His presence and might and glory.

II Kings 17:15-By turning the eye to vanity, death to the ways of God enters the heart.

If we are not careful where we are turning, death to the ways of God will enter our heart and destroy our relationship with God. The Devil steals, kills and destroys as set forth in John 10:10a and his main objective is to steal your time with God, kill your desire for God and destroy your relationship with God. He does this by getting us to turn.

But God is always whispering to our ears and hearts to turn and walk in His way.

Isaiah 30:18, 19, 21 (NIV): Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 21 Whether you TURN to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

God is always speaking and in order for us to accomplish His purpose for our life in our generation, we must hear his voice and turn around to see like the Apostle John did on the island of Patmos.

Revelation 1:9-18 (NIV): I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” 12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man,[d] dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Moses also had his burning bush experience where God was speaking to Him and He had to turn and see.

Exodus 3:1-5 (ESV): 1Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3And Moses said, “I WILL TURN ASIDE TO SEE this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses had to turn aside to see to accomplish His calling as the man of God who would lead the children of Israel out of the land of bondage in Egypt.

Joshua also was instructed by God Himself how to fulfill his calling to lead the children of Israel into the promise land. An essential part of God’s instruction was not to turn away from Him and His Word.

Joshua 1:5-9 (NIV): No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; DO NOT TURN from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Prophets that were speaking for God continued to herald forth the message to TURN!

Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NLT): 5 This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and TURN THEIR HEARTS AWAY from the LORD. 6 They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. 7 “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.

Hosea 12:6: (KJV): Therefore TURN thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment and wait on thy God continually.

God has also set forth in His Word the remedy for our nation. It is not in the Republican, Democratic or Tea Party. It is not in a politician or a social or political philosophy. It is when God’s people humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face and TURN. Turning away from wicked things is an essential part of the formula for the healing of our land.

II Chronicles 7:14 (NIV): if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and TURN from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

We turn and run too much in our generation and in our churches.

David Ravenhill in Surviving the Anointing: Today we live in a society where the slightest little difficulty causes us to turn and run. We become so easily upset and discouraged, allowing self-pity to rob us of the opportunity of proving God in the situation. God is looking for men and women who believe His promises on overcoming the difficulties that face us. Jesus Christ had to overcome-overcome all the rejection, overcome all the pain, overcome all the sorrow, and sufferings along with the diabolical schemes of the devil himself. And yet nothing deterred him. He set his face like flint to go to Jerusalem and finish the course that God has set before Him. God is looking for overcomers that will follow the example of His Son.

Why would you ever want to turn to anything else but God? God needs us to stand in our calling as more than conquerors and keep
our faces turned like flint toward Him.

The fool thinks he is too wise to turn. The fool thinks he does not have to turn because he has everything. The arrogant fool is worshiped in our culture, but his ways end up in death and destruction.

Proverbs 26:12: Did you see a person who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Skip Moen in Spiritual Restoration: There are plenty of people who think themselves wise. They believe they have life in their grasp. They are the “go for it guys.” Solomon tells quite sternly that these people have less hope of true relationships than the fool and the fool was pretty far gone. Because he knows the first step toward disaster is self reliance and self-sufficiency. If my dream is be my own man (or woman), if I resonate with Frank’s tune, “I did it my way,” then I as surely worse off than a fool…The man who thinks he is own god is doomed…Amazingly our culture idolizes the arrogant…We all want to be famous, free and fortunate. We love the tabloids, the celebrities and the rich and famous. Why? Because we put the self-made man upon the pedestal. We worship at the feet of those whom we believe grabbed life by the horns. Who is the bigger fool: the one who believes he controls his own destiny or the one who worships the arrogant man?

To turn we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.

Then Yeshua said to His disciples, “If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Deny – What does Yeshua’s statement mean to you? Do you think of denial in terms of turning away from pointless affluence, seductive pleasures or immoral behavior? Do you think that Yeshua intended us to refuse our own selfish desires in order to submit to God’s higher purposes? Perhaps we gain a deeper understanding of the nature of denial when we apply this instruction to the specific arena of money. Jacques Ellul helps us see this connection when he says, “When God attacks this power [money] that has us in its grip because it has aroused our love, when he tears away a treasure to which we have become attached, he is attacking us. God’s deliverance in not a stroke of a magic wand which leaves us intact, the way we were. It is a rescue of part of ourselves. Consequently we may have the impression , the feeling, of being amputated, diminished. God who is delivering us from the shackles of this power, is also destroying its roots which have taken hold of us.” In other words, the act of denial is an invitation to let God amputate. It isn’t simply refusing to do something we really want to do. It is asking God to cut it out of our hearts.The Greek verb aparneomai means “to renounce, to disown.” Yeshua reminds us that renouncing other lovers is a requirement of following Him. This is no different than the requirement of the first commandment. YHWH has exclusive right to the love of His children and He will tolerate no rival, even if that rival has roots deep within our own personalities.

Why do we sell our soul to another lover other than God? Why do we let God have rivals in our hearts? Why do we turn back to those things that we were delivered from? This only leads to us putting the chains on again and going back to slavery. There is no true satisfaction in anything but God. I Peter aptly describes it as a dog returning to his vomit.

Galatians 4:7-9 (NIV): 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are TURNING BACK to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

If we turn back to those weak and miserable things instead of God we will be enslaved all over again.

Let’s look again at Solomon and the magnificent purpose that God had ordained for his life. He had far more wisdom, earthly riches and wealth than we will probably ever have.

II Chronicles 1:11-12: And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: 12Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.

Even with such wonderful wisdom and even after he had built the temple for God, God still had to give Solomon a warning not to turn.

II Chronicles 7:17-22 (NIV): And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments; 18Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel. 19But if ye TURN away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them;20Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.21And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house? 22And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.

Solomon did not heed the warning and turned.

I Kings 11:1-9 (NIV):
1But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: 2Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will TURN away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. 3And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives TURNED away his heart. 4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives TURNED away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 8And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. 9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was TURNED from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice.

This is one of the most heart-rending sections of Scripture and its warning on the turning of the heart that screams out to every believer and child of God. Solomon’s heart was turned and bent away from God by these strange women and they got him to not only worship some of the most detestable gods of pagan culture, but he also built altars to them and sacrificed to them. Even the great Solomon in all his wisdom turned and how great was that turning. Do not think that we could not turn either. I Corinthians warns us that if we think we stand, we should take heed lest we fall. We must always be on watch that our hearts do not turn.

Skip Moen in Spiritual Restoration: Solomon also made a house for Pharaoh’s daughter whom he had taken. This verb take is used in the Bible to describe capturing, buying and acquiring, vengeance, and seizing an animal. It describes the heart be swept away…it is much more aggressive and hostile than we would like to see between a husband and wife…Solomon discovers that he cannot resist the temptation to have her. Perhaps his addiction to women is beginning to grow. Certainly he has forgotten God’s command for household purity. He takes her with all her foreign idolatry…in Ezekiel the word describes the flashing of lightening. Solomon is mesmerized. He must have her regardless of cost. In the midst of God’s bounty, he takes something for himself. It is a terrible mistake. Solomon never recovered from his addiction. It grew and grew until its insatiable lust destroyed him. But it started with taking something God did not give. It started by turning away from God and allowing his wives and women to turn his heart to other Gods.”

As wise as Solomon was, he never learned the lesson of turning. It is interesting the word “fool” is used 73 times in the Bible, but well over half (41) of these usages of “fool” are in the book of Proverbs and 12 of the usages are in Ecclesiastes that were both penned by Solomon. Solomon ended up playing the fool in his life like Saul did because he did not turn back to God. Solomon even declared in Ecclesiastes 2:15, “As it happened to the fool, so it happened to me.” He never learned the prime lesson of a fool. A fool turns to everything, but God.

II Timothy 4:3-7 (NIV): For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will TURN their ears away from the truth and TURN aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Will turn away (654) (apostrepho from apo = away from, a marker of dissociation, implying a rupture from a former association and indicates separation, departure, cessation, reversal + strepho = turn quite around, twist, reverse, turn oneself about) means literally to turn back or away.

Will turn aside (1624) (ektrepo from ek = out + trope = a turning) means literally to turn out (of the course) and so to turn aside (so as to avoid being involved). To turn away from, to swerve, to shun, to avoid meeting or associating with one. To turn a person off the road.

It can literally mean to twist out. In secular Greek medical literature described a dislocated joint, one that is sprained or wrenched! This meaning gives one a picture of the minds and hearts of those who reject God’s Truth as ending up spiritually “dislocated”, knocked out of joint, a far worse state than a physical dislocation!
When we turn away from God and His truth our lives become dislocated and out of joint.

Luke 9:62 (NIV): Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

If we want to serve God we can’t look back or turn to the things of this world or our former ways. If we do, we are not fit to serve God.

God is jealous God. He wants all of you.

Joel 2:12, 13 (NLT): That is why the LORD says, “TURN TO ME NOW, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God,for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.He is eager to relent and not punish.

The time is urgent. Time is fleeting and passes by swiftly. God is crying out: “Turn to me now while there is time. Give me your hearts. Don’t let them be swept away. Return to the Lord your God.”

The great prayer of the prophet Elijah is my prayer for the church:

I Kings 18:36-37 (NASB): 36 At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have TURNED their heart back again.”

O Lord I pray that you turn the hearts of your saints, your church, your believers, your leaders back to you and away from all the deceitful lures of this world. I pray that our hearts turn and remain turned to you above all else. Let us not play the fool like Saul or Solomon by turning to idols and things that can never satisfy. I pray also for the world that you open their eyes that they may see the error of their ways and turn to you God, repent and receive and confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and deliverer. My we seek you with all our hearts and turn away from anything that interferes with our relation with you. May we turn in great anticipation to you with all our heart, with all our strength, with all our soul, with all our mind, with all our love and never forgetting the great truth of TURNING in the Bible. Let us never do evil by turning from our God.

God’s Personal Message to America

By Robert L. Cobb

Righteousness exalteth a
nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

Proverbs 14:34

Introduction:

Most of us place a high value on “personal”
messages.  Form letters and mass mailings are the norm in our day, so it is very
refreshing to receive a “personal” note from a person or organization.  Some
have made a concerted effort to make their mailings seem to be “one-of-a-kind.”
Today it is difficult to tell what is personal correspondence and what is “mass
mailing.”  Sometimes it may seem the same with scripture.  While many preachers
apply passages written for Israel to America, our text IS to
America!  In fact, it is a blanket statement to ANY nation!  What
would God say to America, if He spoke audibly to us this Fourth of July
holiday?  I believe He would remind us of this verse.
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any
people. 
These truths still hold true for any
nation today.  History is littered with the echoes of failed nations.  Nineveh,
the Egyptian Dynasty, Greece, the Roman Empire…. Today, the United States is a
proof text for this verse!  Let us see how this is so as we divide the thoughts
into four sections.

I.    The
Righteousness of a Nation

“Righteousness…”

The first word of our verse is “righteousness.”
It is a word seldom uttered outside of conservative churches today.  You don’t
hear our politicians speak about righteousness.  You don’t hear the news media
say anything about it.  There are at least three implications of the word,
righteousness.

1.   It Implies
Sovereignty.
If there is such a
thing as righteousness, then Someone sovereign must determine what it is.
Humankind has a varied idea of righteousness.  We could never in a million years
agree on what is righteous and what is unrighteous.  God, however, is an
authority on righteousness.

Psalm 71:19 Thy righteousness also, O
God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto
thee!
  Psalm 98:2  The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he
openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

2.   It Implies a
Standard.
  Society today does not want a
standard; they will not even acknowledge that one exists.  This is the main
reason that the Word of God has been attacked and ridiculed by unbelievers.
Psalm 119:40  Behold
,
I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
Psalm 119:142
Thy righteousness is an everlasting
righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
  At the
funding of our nation, the Bible was held in high esteem.  There are both direct
and indirect quotations in the correspondence of the founding
fathers.

3.   It Implies a
Straightness.
   It is one thing to admit that
there is a standard, it is quite another to make that standard your own.  The
word in our text intimates a personal righteousness, a personal morality.  The
Judeo-Christian ethic has guiding our nation from its founding up until the
generation in which we live.  Our forefathers chose the righteousness of the
Bible as it’s guiding light.  Notice the words of God to Israel after the
Exodus:

Deut. 4:5-9
5  Behold, I have taught
you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should
do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.

6  Keep
therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the
sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this
great nation is a wise and understanding people.

7  For what
nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is
in all things that we call upon him for?

8  And what nation is
there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law,
which I set before you this day?

9  Only take heed to
thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine
eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life:
but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’
sons;

II.  The
Reward of a Nation 
“…exalteth a
nation…”

Who can doubt that America has been exalted among
the nations?  Some Americans, like Nebuchadnezzer in the book of Daniel, take
the credit for such exaltation.  The mentality is that we somehow deserve the
greatness and power of our past.  That is a sad mistake to make.  America has
been exalted because of it’s citizens goodness and personal holiness!  America
has been exalted because of the churches that have carried out the great
commission both at home and abroad!  It is because of past obedience and
humility that we now enjoy a preeminent place on the world scene. Let us examine
the word “exalteth” a little more closely to determine just what God means in
this most glorious promise:  “Righteousness exalteth a nation…!”

1.   The Exalted Nation is
Set-Apart.
One of the meanings of the word “exalt” is “to be lifted up, to be made high.”
(Wilson’s Word Studies, pg. 151)   The Bible teaches us that God Himself is
exalted, the scripture is exalted, and Israel is exalted above the nations.  But
in this verse we find a promise that the righteous nation also will be lifted up
and made high. Ps 46:10  Be
still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be
exalted in the earth.
  Ps 37:34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to
inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
Surely there is no nation in the history of the
world which has been lifted up and exalted more than America!  The United States
has dominated history throughout the 20th century.

2.   The Exalted Nation is
Safe.
   Another sub-meaning of the word “exalt” is “to raise high as
an inaccessible fortress, out of the reach of danger.”  Psalm
32:7
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt
preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of
deliverance.
   Ps 119:114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
Many nations have been destroyed by their enemies
or by God Himself through natural disasters.  Plagues, pestilence, war, and
unbelief have destroyed many countries.  But America celebrates her 225th
birthday this July 4th.  What a testament to God’s protection and
preservation!

3.   The Exalted Nation is
Strong.
  Another shade of meaning of the word “exalt” is “to triumph
over enemies.”  A mere glance at the history of America will
reveal the hand of God’s protection watching over us in war and in peace.  Think
of the odds of the colonies defeating the most powerful nation in the 18th
century world, the British Empire.  Yet, it happened.  We take for granted our
victory in the Revolutionary War.  We assume that our power then resembled our
power today.  Not true!  It was a miracle from God that America gained her
freedom from England.  Why did the Civil War not tear this nation apart?  Could
it have been the protection of God?  In World War II, America took on much of
the world essentially single handedly and assured freedom throughout the globe.
There was a time when our citizens proudly said, “America has never lost a
war!”  We must give God the glory for past victories for He has protected us.
Ps 144:1 
Blessed be
the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to
fight:

III.   The
Revolt of a Nation   
“…but sin…”

We now come to the depressing aspects of God’s
promise to “any nation.”  As surely as righteous- ness exalts a nation, sin
destroys it.  God says so in the very same verse!  Today, many people want a
“buffet-style” religion.  They want a God who is merciful, loving and kind.  The
God of Christianity fulfills that desire.  But the God of mercy and love is also
the God of judgment and damnation.  People turn away from such a God.  But here
is a problem.  This verse is a couplet, having two parts.  The parts are
opposite and contrasting.  But one cannot be accepted without the other.  They
stand together as a testimony of God’s unapproachable holiness.  The truth is
that God WILL judge sin!  He will not wink at it, forget it, or misplace His
records.  To understand this truth, let us examine the meaning of the word
“sin.”

1.   Sin is an
Undisciplined Aim.
  To sin is “to miss the mark, as an archer misses
his target.” (Wilson’s Word Studies, pg. 395) Psalm
2:1
  Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth;
for the faithful fail from among the children of men.
Mankind is
bound to fail, seeing we are only flesh.  But our sinful nature is not an
excuse.  Missing God’s mark is the result of an undisciplined aim, a careless
shot at God’s perfection.  America does not demand greatness of itself anymore.
We do not honor what is good and right.  Contrariwise, we honor and reward the
evil and the froward.  Look at our culture.  The “bad guy” is now the norm;
the “good guy” is the potential hypocrite who bears watching.  A fitting
illustration can be found in the sporting world.  Former Atlanta Braves pitcher
John Rocker made international headlines when he spoke out against homosexuals
and other perverted lifestyles in a magazine.  He was assailed as intolerant and
a bigot.  His teammate, Chipper Jones, was engaged to be married, but
impregnated a Hooter’s waitress and reportedly tried to talk her into an
abortion.  She refused, had the baby, and Jones’ fiancé called off the
marriage.  Yet Chipper Jones was sought out by the media to comment on Rocker’s
verbal transgressions.  The “bad guy” has been turned into the “good guy.”  Such
is society’s undisciplined aim at righteousness!

2.   Sin is an Unwise
Assurance.
 Another meaning of “sin” is “to stumble, to err from the
path.”  Again, it seems that we have a built in excuse.  Which of us has not
stumbled from the path through no fault of our own?  It is human nature to fail,
to stumble.  Our stumbling and erring from the path comes from a false
assurance, a careless attitude.  America has taken for granted the blessings of
God, assuming that He will continue to bless and protect us in spite of our
sin.    Psalm 59:12 For the
sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their
pride:

3.   Sin is Ungrateful
Actions.  
The final meaning of “sin”  is “an
outright transgression, rebellion.”

Daniel 9:11
Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy
law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse
is poured upon us…because we have sinned against him. 
1John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is
the transgression of the law.

IV.   The
Reproach of a Nation  
“…is a
reproach…”

The first mention of the word “reproach” in our
English Bible can be found in Genesis 30:23: “And she
conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:”
Eve had borne a son whom she expected to be the
promised Messiah.  Her “reproach” was the curse that God placed on her because
of Adam’s sin.  Sin brings a reproach, whether it is in the life of the
individual or in the timeline of a nation.  Again we examine the different
meanings of our text.

1.   Disgraced.
One definition of reproach is “to be brought low, to
go from the heights to the depths.”

(Wilson’s Word Studies, pg. 350)  In
Nehemiah 1:3, Nehemiah reported, 
“The remnant
that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and
reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are
burned with fire.” 
Israel’s sin had caused them
to go into captivity and now their capital city stood in ruins.  The remnant was
brought low by their sin.  We too, have been brought from the heights to the
depths by the sins of our people.  God is bound to judge sin.  He will not turn
a blind eye to America’s folly.  As he judged Israel and the heathen nations, He
will also judge us.

2.
Dishonored.
Another definition of “reproach” is
“to be ridiculed, to rail on, to revile.”  In 1 Samuel 17:26   young David
said,
 “…What shall be done to the man that
killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is
this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living
God?  
Israel was powerless in the face of
Goliath and the Philistines.  Certainly they were ridiculed and reviled by their
inability.  Goliath mocked the army of Israel and the whole nation.  America
knows something about such disgrace.  We are the richest and most developed
nation in the world, but we are reviled by much of the world.  The Muslim
nations and Communist China have little respect for our system of government or
our culture.  We were reviled and ridiculed by the former Soviet Union until God
brought them low.  Don’t think that the same thing cannot happen to
us.

3.   Defeated.
The final definition of “reproach” means “to pluck or strip away all that is
good.”  Our culture is in the process of doing just that.  Our defeat has not
come at the hands of a foreign invader.  It has come at our own hands.  The
“silent majority” that Richard Nixon spoke of years ago has been splintered into
competing special interests.  Politicians pit one group against another to keep
us divided.  Ai was a little speck on the map of the Israelite army.  After the
great victory at Jehrico, Ai would be a simple campaign, a “mopping up”
exercise.  But the sin of one man brought defeat.  I believe that the sin that
is defeating America is found in the church rather than the culture.  Yes, our
culture is rotten; our society is eaten up with evil.  But the Christian Achans
are hoarding up the world’s gold and garments and allowing the gospel witness to
fall silent.

Conclusion:
America has been great because of God.  If we
fall, it will be because of our failure to honor God as our Sovereign Authority
and Lord.  Must we watch our beloved land become mired in the slough of
compromise and fearfulness?  It is the Christian that must stand up for what is
right!  We must not fear the wrath of man or the condemnation of sinners.  They
hated Jesus, so if we are the light which exposes their evil, they will hate us
as well.  What would God’s personal message to America be if He spoke to us
audibly in this day?  I believe he would say,
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any
people. 
Let us pray for our land and resolve to
do our best to make America great again.  If we achieve anything, it is God
which must accomplish it!