Many years ago I became fascinated with the life and message of the prophet Jeremiah. He was called as a young person to speak to the sins and failures of his nation. He was faithful to that message for forty years–and not once in the book called by his name is it recorded that the people listened to his concerns.
Jeremiah lived during a tumultuous time. Prior to his generation, the people of Israel had ridden a roller-coaster of greatness and decline, renewal and debauchery for nearly a millennium. In his lifetime, that was all to change.
Jeremiah lived to see the end of freedom in his nation. His time was not a run-of-the-mill season of economic decline and military weakness.
He lived during the generation of terminal judgement.
Israel lost its freedom in Jeremiah’s lifetime. When he was born they were free. When he died (in Egypt) they were no longer a nation.
I’ve often wondered whether we were born into a similar time period. America has seen seasons of great revival–at least four times in our history–and also times of spiritual, moral, and economic decline. Are we simply in one of those cycles today, or is this one different? Could it be the beginning of the end of freedom for the the United States of America?
Through studying the book of Jeremiah many years ago, I came to the conclusion that there were four primary sins of a nation that is about to lose its liberty. That’s the message Jeremiah declared faithfully for four decades. We don’t need to guess at his concerns. They are recorded in detail in the book of Jeremiah found in the Old Testament. In its fifty-two chapters there are hundreds of verses that mention the problems that were precipitating the loss of liberty in Israel. I studied them years ago and categorized Jeremiah’s message into four major areas.
I call them the sins of a falling nation. They are:
1. Idolatry – putting other things in the place of God (67 verses – some examples are Jeremiah 2:20, 21, 26-28, and 7:8-10).
2. Perverted Religion – faith had become dead, dry, institutionalized and even corrupt (49 verses – eg. Jeremiah 14:13-15, and 23:11, 12, 28, 29).
3. Dull consciences – the people were greatly confused about right and wrong because they’d stopped “listening” to the voice of God in their hearts (24 verses – examples are Jeremiah 3:13, 25 and 5:20-24).
4. Human injustice – Murder, theft, lewdness and exploitation were wide-spread (13 verses – look at Jeremiah 22:3 and 7:5-7).
Because these problems had reached a crescendo in the nation of Israel, God decided that the only just thing to do was to snuff out the lamp of liberty.
Thus Israel died as a nation for over two thousand years.
Benjamin Franklin, during the American Constitutional Convention of 1787, was asked the following question by a woman observer: “What have you given us” the curious onlooker asked. “We have given you a republic, madam” was his reply. “If you can keep it.”
“If you can keep it.”
Franklin and the early founders of our nation knew that freedom was a precious gift rarely seen in human societies. Thomas Jefferson added this warning: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”
Liberty is not an easy condition to maintain. It takes the opposite characteristics of the sins of a falling nation seen in Jeremiah’s day. True freedom in a society demands:
1. Trust in God (not idols).
2. Robust Faith (not shallow counterfeits).
3. Moral clarity and lifestyles (emanating from strong families).
4. Justice for all (especially life, liberty, and respect for property).
I don’t know if we live in a day like Jeremiah’s. I hope not. But something inside of me warns that we must learn to cherish and maintain the precious freedom God has given us before it’s taken away.
Many people have been spiritually concerned about American freedom for years. This week a major think tank published some economic indicators that reveal a major change in our liberties.
The following study by the Heritage Foundation is a warning about the freedoms of America that just might be in jeopardy. For the first time in our history, under the Obama administration, America has dropped out of the “free” category of nations. This report only surveys the economic dimension of things. But freedom in economics comes from what you believe and live–the four categories of faith in God, true religion, morality clarity, and human justice.
When a nation gives up its freedom and descends into idolatry, religious perversion, moral confusion, and human cruelty its economy eventually implodes.
Take the following statistics seriously and study the “2010 Index of Economic Freedom.”
Then read the book of Jeremiah, take up his vision, and live the truth in 21st century America–or your own nation–before its too late.
Freedom can be lost. What will America do?
The Heritage Foundation – 2010 Index of Economic Freedom
The United States’ direction today is a dangerous one, even when compared to the country’s state of affairs just one year ago. Of the world’s 20 largest economies, the U.S. has suffered the largest drop in economic freedom.
For the first time ever, the U.S. has dropped out of the “free” category and fallen to “mostly free” in the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. Of the world’s 20 largest economies, the U.S. has suffered the largest drop in economic freedom. It’s clear why our economy is failing to generate jobs.
The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual joint project of The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, was released last week. The Index analyzes just how economically “free” a country is, and this year America saw a steep and significant decline, enough to make it drop altogether from the “free” category, the first time this has happened in the 16 years that the Index has been published.
“Economic Freedom” in this study is defined as the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.
Ten components of economic freedom were measured, and grades assigned in each using a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 represents the maximum freedom. The ten component scores were then averaged to give an overall economic freedom score for each country.