What is the future of the United States?
(Translated by Jerry Cai & Wendy Meng)
The United States has suffered an unprecedented catastrophe in 2020. The new coronavirus epidemic has caused more than 1.9 million infections and more than 110 thousand deaths, and there are no signs of it coming under control as of yet. However, before the first wave subsides, a new wave rises. On May 25th , George Floyd, an African-American man from Minnesota, was killed by the violent act of a police officer. This instantly ignited a storm of protests that swept more than 140 cities across the United States. The demonstrations quickly turned into violent riots and looting.
The epidemic and riots have hit the United States very hard. How have we come to this? How has the United States, which has led the whole world for so long, descended into such a state of disgrace?
Today, we will try to analyze the cause and effect of the current chaos in the United States, by looking closely into the recorded account of Jesus’ clearing of the temple courts, in the second chapter of the Gospel of John.
A. Fall and Sin
“13 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.” (John 2:13-16)
King Solomon built a glorious temple for God. When Solomon offered a dedication prayer for the temple, he stated that God did not live in the temple built by man, but asked him to look after the temple, which was the place that God chose for his name’s sake. This temple would be the place where the people of Israel, and those from other nations who wanted to seek God, could pray to him.
“41 Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake; 42 (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house; 43 Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.” (1King 8:41-43)
The Lord said, “...for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” (Isai 56:7) This temple should have been a temple for all people to pray in, but what the Lord Jesus saw was like a den of thieves.
“12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”(Matt 21:12-13)
When Jesus came to the temple, he did not see a house of prayer for all nations, but instead, it was more like a corrupt livestock market. People were buying and selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons, exchanging money, and some were collecting temple tax. If someone brought a sacrificial animal to the temple, the priests would check to see whether the animal he brought was without defect. In consequence, it was likely that the person would have to purchase a replacement sacrificial animal, because the priests would deem the original to be unqualified. Therefore, Jesus could not hear the voice of prayer. On the contrary, the sounds livestock, as well as the noises of various trades and transactions, were endless. In addition, all of the trade dealings were made with greed. No wonder the Lord Jesus said that the temple of prayer for all people had become a den of thieves.
The structure of the temple included the Court of the Gentiles, the Court of Women, the Court of Men, the Holy Place where the priests served, and the Holy of Holies. Such a structure was reminiscent of a certain degree of separation, especially the Holy of Holies, where only the High Priest of the Israelites could enter on the Day of Atonement once a year, and only after the blood of the proper sacrificial animal was used to atone for himself. But what separates man from God is not the wall of the temple, or even the veil of the Holy of Holies, but the sin of man, as the Lord saw at the moment, the falseness of religion, and the greed of the human heart.
“8 This people draw nigh unto me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (Matt 15:8)
When Jesus, who was the meek, humble and compassionate Lord, came and saw the blatant and flagrant disregard for the intended use of his temple, he became angry. “15 And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables.” (John 2:15)
This is a rare instance in the Gospels where Jesus' anger was recorded.
If Jesus walked into the churches across the United States today, just as He traveled through all of Israel 2000 years ago, would He be angry again? The Pilgrims came to this new continent to worship freely, and built this country on godly faith and hard work. Why then, is it today, so far away from its original intention?
Three defining events symbolize the downward slide and gradual decline of faith in United States: in 1963, prayer and bible reading were banned in public schools; in 1973, abortion was legalized; in 2015, same-sex marriage was legalized.
Since the ban of prayer and bible reading in public schools, criminal activities such as robbery, theft, rape, drug trafficking, and shootings, have increased dramatically across the United States. The divorce rate has also risen rapidly, which brings disastrous consequences to the entire society.
In recent decades, the United States has begun to eliminate the influence of Christianity from every aspect of people’s lives (i.e., political, business, scientific, educational, cultural, and entertainment fields), so much so that many people are afraid even say "Merry Christmas" because of political correctness. Darwin's theory of evolution has permeated colleges and universities, and society has advocated liberalism, hedonism, individualism, and relativism, etc. The legalization of marijuana, gender identity politics, and the normalization of LGBTQ lifestyles, have led the younger generation, and even the entire society, to move away from God.
In 2009, former President hastily and proudly proclaimed, “The United States is no longer a Christian country."
“12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord;....”(Psalm 33:12)
How can a society that expels God from all fields, from all directions, expect to be blessed and protected?
The death of George Floyd is tragic and disheartening. Police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. The other three police officers involved, Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. However, the mere arrests and charging of the four police officers involved, cannot appease the anger of the protesters.
George Floyd was violently killed, justice should be served, and reform should be activated. The right of people to protest peacefully should be protected. Yet violent riots should be avoided as much as possible. Smashing, burning, and looting can only aggravate the situation, which will lead to a vicious circle. The most important thing, is to uncover the underlying reasons behind all this.
Let’s Review the three defining events mentioned earlier, to see their disastrous impacts on American society.
First, since the banning of prayer and scripture reading in US public schools, criminal cases have risen extensively in this country. A tragic effect is that crime and gang culture in African-American communities has become extremely serious. This is an indisputable fact. In an online video, an African-American man was talking on the street, and said that his chances of being killed by his own peers were 2,000 times higher than of those by the police.
Therefore, American society, churches, Christians, especially of the younger generation, need to recognize that if racial discrimination does exist in American society, the solution must start from the ground up. Government leaders, education systems, and the news media, need to truly fear God and honor Jesus Christ. The United States needs God-fearing politicians. Therefore, the American people should cherish the votes they hold in their hands, and exercise their electoral rights responsibly to elect God-fearing leaders, and not those who maliciously opposes God. The social welfare of ballot politics, is to win election by promising temporary material benefits, but not to consider the long-term well-being of the African American community, and is the irresponsible hypocrisy of many politicians.
The church should strengthen the evangelism ministry towards the African-American community and lead more African-American groups to Jesus Christ the Savior. Is it possible that, a society that respects the Lord, loves one another as oneself, works honestly and diligently, is full of energy and hope, self-respect and self-improvement, solidarity, and mutual assistance and tolerance, will have continued crime, frequent disasters, and extreme poverty and turbulence for an extended period of time?
Second, since the legalization of abortion, in the United States during the past 50 years, there have been nearly 50 million babies, the most innocent and helpless from of human life, with the least capability to resist, that have been brutally murdered in their mother’s wombs in the cruelest and bloodiest of ways. It can be just for “women's rights” or the convenience of "My body My way". The next generation of young Christians in the church today is very concerned about social injustice, and chooses to stand with the disadvantaged groups. There is nothing wrong with this and should be affirmed. However, if you care about George Floyd’s life (which should be the case), but have intentionally or unintentionally ignored the fact that nearly one million babies are legally slaughtered each year, quite a percentage being of the African American community (and the murderous doctors are praised for their “work”), and have turned a blind eye to such large-scale bloodshed crimes, it is unreasonable.
“10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
How can we expect that a society that sheds innocent human blood on a large scale, and allows the evil forces of Satan to kill and destroy, will get the blessing and protection of Jehovah God?
Third, the legalization of same-sex marriage. The direct consequence of the legalization of same-sex marriage is to destroy the marriage system established by God, which leads to the disintegration of the most basic unit of society. Don’t forget that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible were destroyed because of homosexuality.
It is clearly forbidden in the Old Testament. “22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)
It is also very clear in the New Testament. “27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” (Rom 1:27)
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”（1Cor 6:9-10）
The church is the conscience, lighthouse, and preserver of society. If the church tolerates or even condones such sins, if Christians, especially of the younger generation, also tolerate (in the name of love) homosexual sins that God is so against, and compromise the truth of the Bible with societal sins, then they deny the absolute truth of the Bible, and are destined to be in harmony with the sinful World. But the Bible says, “17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
Unfortunately, the downward slide of American society has a lot to do with the decline, weakening, and compromise of the church.
Today, Jesus Christ is looking for those who worship God wholeheartedly, hold the truth of the Bible, and do not compromise with the forces that are against God.
B. Judgement and Grace
“18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.”(John 2:18-22)
The Gospel of John is full of dialogue between spirit and flesh, and here is the first appearance:
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
“Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?”
However, the temple that Jesus was referring to was His own body, how He would be crucified, but rise again the third day.
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." It is a prophecy as well as a judgement.
In 66 AD, Israel began to rebel. In 69 AD, the Roman Emperor sent Prince Titus to conquer the Jewish rebellion. The city of Jerusalem was besieged for 143 days. The Roman army erected barriers, destroyed Jerusalem to the ground, and set fire to the holy city and the temple.
Hundreds of thousands of Israeli people were killed. The city and the temple were destroyed by the fire, and the prophecy was fulfilled, “...44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation”(Luke 19:44)
The Lord Jesus harshly condemned the hypocrisy and many sins of the Pharisees:
"27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matt 23:27)
“15 And when He had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables.” (John 2:15)
How does Jesus deal with people’s sins?
He walked to the cross Himself, shed his own blood for sinners, washed away the sins of the world with his own blood, and paid the price of sin and death with His own death, to satisfy the justice demands of God The Father. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up," He was quoting the prophecy that referred to His being crucified, buried in the tomb, and raised from the dead on the third day.
"18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, 19 And shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify Him: and the third day He shall rise again.”(Matt 20:18-19)
Even when Jesus was crucified on the cross, He still prayed to God continuously, “34...Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do...”(Luke 23:34)
“But he spake of the temple of his body.”(John 2:21)
“19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”(Hebrews 10:19-22)
How would Jesus change this world?
The Lord Jesus never encouraged violence against the government. In fact, one of the reasons that he was betrayed by the Jews, and turned over to the Romans to be crucified, was because the Lord Jesus refused to be the political king of the Jews. His purpose in coming down the world was “21...for He shall save his people from their sins.” (Matt 1:21)
Therefore, the resurrected Savior issued the Great Commission to His disciples and told them, “15...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
Christians often use an acronym: WWJD---What Would Jesus Do?
What would Jesus do if He walked on this soil today? He would discourage smashing, burning, and looting.
George Floyd was killed due to a violent act by a police officer. The police officers involved were arrested and charged, and will go through the legal proceedings. It is understandable that people demonstrate and protest to express the anger and cry in their hearts. However, those who are smashing, looting, and killing, can only create disastrous chaos and destruction that purely benefits the enemies.
What Would Jesus Do?
After Jesus was resurrected, He did not go to the High Priest, King Herod, and Pilate, and seek revenge on them. He did not even appear before them to prove that He was resurrected. Instead, the Lord Jesus appeared before His disciples who were in fear, and said to them, "Peace be unto you". On the seaside of Tiberias, three times He specifically asked Peter, who had denied Him three times, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?" Then Jesus entrusted Peter with the responsibility of taking care of the flock, in order to strengthen his confidence, rebuild, encourage, renew, and build him up.
The Lord Jesus practiced His own teaching with His own actions: “44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt 5:44-45)
“19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”(Rom 12:19-21)
“12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”(Prov 10:12)
Many police officers were seen on videos praying on their knees, asking for reconciliation and forgiveness, and the demonstrators also immediately prayed on their knees, which was very touching. “14 For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us." (Eph 2:14)
“21 But He spake of the temple of His body.”(John 2:21)
Today, where is God’s temple?
Paul said, “16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”(1Cor 3:16)
"17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” (John 2:17)
Christians nowadays, especially those of the younger generation, will your zeal for the house, which is the church, consume you?
What is the future of the United States?
Jesus Christ is the only answer. As Abraham Lincoln ever said, "My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."
180 years ago, David Livingstone almost single-handedly went to inland Africa, with walking and ox carts as his main means of transportation, withstood desert, hunger, thirst, plague, malaria, mosquitoes, ferocious beast, swamps, lakes, rivers, turbulence, disease, loneliness, and other difficulties, and experienced the dangers of African cannibal tribes and slave traders. Over 30 years and 30,000 miles, he brought the gospel of Jesus Christ into the African continent. He paid a dear price for this. He endured separation from his family and children for a very long time. His wife, Mary, who was a Sunday school teacher, died of a plague in Africa. His eldest son died in the American Civil War, and his second son died in India at the age of 26. When he died, the African natives took the heart of their beloved Livingstone out, and buried it in the center of Africa.
Today, the number of Christians in Africa exceeds 500 million. "24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24)
Each generation has its own mission and responsibilities. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the next generation, what is your mission and responsibility? Whatever it is, it is definitely not to lose one’s reason and give up independent thinking, follow others blindly to post on social media or send messages or texts, support riots everywhere, donate to Socialist other similar organizations, and it is definitely not to call for more people to riot or engage in similar drastic measures to change society.
If the younger generation of Christians can take the heart of Jesus Christ as their own heart, why not call for a missionary army and follow the example of David Livingstone, to do some actual ministry work for the evangelization in various communities across the States?
May the United States return to the godly faith of the founding fathers and return to the blessed path of fearing the true God of Jehovah. May the Lord Jesus raise up this generation of gospel warriors who love the Lord wholeheartedly, uphold the truth, and are willing to stand up for it.