Judgment on America

by Bob Bradley

Note: Bob Bradley wrote this missive a few years ago, before his passing. Though many circumstances have changed since then, the issues he touches on are if anything more relevant. And some of his observations could be viewed as prophetic. Read and judge.

This letter has been percolating for several months. It has to do with a topic of immense importance to all of us, namely, the nature and extent of prophesied judgment on our nation. Before I get into the body of the letter, I want to quote two Scriptures that should govern our understanding of this difficult topic. The first is James 2:13b Mercy triumphs over judgmentAnd the second is Ecclesiastes 11:4He that observes the wind shall not sow, and he that regards the clouds shall not reap.Please read the whole letter, even if you need to do it in a couple of sittings.

Two events prompted me to think about writing this letter. Most of you know the deep respect I have for David Wilkerson, now in his middle seventies, who pastors the Times Square Church in New York City. For decades I have admired Pastor Wilkerson for his self-disclosing honesty and transparency, for his heart to avoid fads, for his commitment to preach the old-time gospel, and for his compassionate identification with the struggles of fellow believers.

David grew up in a Pentecostal home, was filled with the Spirit at an early age, and has experienced the power of God in dramatic ways in the course of his nearly sixty years in ministry. Although he does not present himself as a prophet, he has written several books of a prophetic nature. He describes himself as a watchman on the wall. Ten years ago David wrote two books: Americaís Last Call: on the Brink of a Financial Holocaust and Godís Plan to Protect His People in the Coming Depression . Although I have not carefully read the books, I have skimmed them and am familiar with the content.

A Perfect Storm

Recently, in his regular newsletter/sermon, David stated his conviction that the time had come for the fulfillment of the things he had foreseen a decade ago. He noted that a perfect financial storm was brewing, that Godís hour of judgment was about to come upon our country.

The other factor that provoked this letter was simply the unfolding of the financial events that have filled the evening news for months. We all know about the housing crisis, and many of us could feel the tremors in the ground before the large cracks began to appear. On the assumption that the market would keep going up, many people signed mortgages they really couldnít afford, on the expectation that increased equity would enable them to refinance when things got really tight. When prices began to fall, everyone was left holding the gunnysack.

What most people are unaware of is that these highly risky mortgages were re-packaged and sold as sophisticated investments known as SIVs (structured investment vehicles). These SIVs were purchased by all kinds of financial institutions, including brokerage houses like Bear Stearns (recently rescued from bankruptcy by the Fed). In many cases, nobody had any idea of how much risk was attached to these SIVs, and so the rotten threads of mortgages that should never have been made have permeated virtually every sector of our financial industry. This is something of an oversimplification, but it illuminates why the housing crisis affects more than just banks and mortgage companies. And thatís to say nothing about the plug being pulled on the construction industry and all its myriad suppliers.

The bottom line is that greed and dishonesty have put our financial system in great peril. There are, of course, other significant factors that feed into our countryís financial woes, such as the balance of payments deficit that has greatly weakened the dollar. But overshadowing all these crises and adding immense complications to our economy is the 800-pound gorilla of spiraling oil prices.

The energy crisis is real and it isnít going to go away. The oil shortages of the Ď70s were political in nature. There was lots of oil, but OPEC was controlling prices. Today there is not enough oil to meet the worldís needs. Most major oil fields in the world are beginning to experience sharply reduced production, because there are great problems with extracting oil after a field has yielded 50-60% of its total oil. For instance, the U.S. gets 23% of its oil from Mexico, but Mexican oilfields are drying up, and some of them could cease production in several years. This not only creates a major problem for the U.S., but it could mean a severe economic crisis for Mexico.

But the overwhelming force behind the energy crisis is sharply increased world demand in the face of diminishing supply. China and India, with their exploding economies, are importing ever-larger amounts of oil. The projected demand for oil will inevitably create higher prices. Experts I read are predicting $200 for a barrel of oil in the near future. And there is no assurance that oil will not go substantially higher. Can you imagine how gas prices of six to eight dollars a gallon could impact our economy?

There is another factor that is very sobering. As you know, much of American corn is now being purchased to produce biofuel. Thus there is a relative scarcity of corn, and corn prices, following the laws of supply and demand, are going up. If gas prices doubled, and agricultural commodities increased significantly in price, Americans could easily see a doubling of the percentage of their income that is spent on food. Imagine what that would do to retirees on social security and to the economically disadvantaged in general.

Alternative energy sources are clearly the answer to the developing crisis, but we have frittered away our day of grace. Our political leaders of both parties have lacked the courage to face the problem and take action. We are a day late and ten dollars short on alternative energy. Cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells would take 15 years to develop and would be prohibitively expensive. Electric cars are more likely, but it would take five or ten more years to convert the nation to electric cars, and we donít have five years to wait. Windpower is being touted by many experts as the ultimate solution to the worldís energy problems, but again it would take a crash program of ten yearís duration, and trillions of dollars.

Where Is God?

I hope I havenít frightened you, but these are the realities our nation must face in the coming months and years. Of course, the big question for us as believers is Where is God in all of this? The Word of God teaches that God is always in control, and that He is in charge of economic and social crisis.

I have already discussed Dave Wilkersonís prophetic impressions, and shared with you some of the economic fault lines that underlie his concerns. But there are larger issues that provoked him to write Americaís Last Call . The moral and spiritual decline in our nation over the past five decades has been unprecedented. There comes a point in moral decline when Godís honor is at stake. If He does not judge a corrupt nation that refuses to repent, He is implicitly endorsing her rebellion.

Is Judgment Inevitable?

Two questions emerge at this point. First, is the judgment inevitable? Is there nothing that can be done to induce God to cancel the threatening judgment? And second, can the judgment be modified or modulated, so that it is far less severe than it might otherwise be? In the process of evaluating these two questions, I want to share with you some prophetic statements made by two other recognized leaders in the global Body of Christ.

First, letís address the issue of the inevitability of judgment. Does God sometimes threaten judgment and then relent? The answer is a clear, Yes, He does. The primary example is Jonah and his mission to Nineveh, when in response to the repentance of the Ninevites, God summarily canceled his threatened judgments. Another case in point would be the revival under King Josiah. When the book of the law was found in the rubble of the temple, Josiah read it and trembled at the judgments the law pronounced on the unrepentant. He humbled himself with all his heart, and the prophetess Huldah sent word that God had seen his broken heart, and that the judgment would be postponed until the next generation. Josiah went on to lead Judah in what was perhaps the most significant revival in her history.

Will God modify a threatened judgment? Again, the answer is yes. When King Rehoboam, Solomonís son, forsook the law and cultivated idolatry, Shishak king of Egypt came against Jerusalem with overwhelming force, after taking all the fortified cities of Judah. The prophet Shemaiah declared that God was leaving them in the hand of Shishak. So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves, and they said, The Lord is righteous.( II Chron. 12:12) The Chronicler goes on to note that When he humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned from him, so as not to destroy him completely, and things also went well in Judah (II Chron.12:12).

And these considerations lead to another question. Are there times when God will not cancel or significantly modify His threatened judgment? And again, the answer seems to be ďYes, there are such times.Ē The destruction of Sodom and Gomorra is a case in point. Admittedly, Abrahamís intercession made a way for the city to be spared if ten righteous could be found. But after the attack on Lotís house, and the blinding of the men at the door, not one man in the whole city repented, even though the blindness was so clearly a supernatural phenomenon. Lotís sons-in-law just laughed! And so judgment came in full force.

Another instance of unmodified judgment was the destruction prophesied over the House of Judah by Jeremiah. For nearly four decades Jeremiah exposed the hypocrisy of the religious leaders and prophesied that Jerusalem would be completely destroyed. God would use the mighty nation of Babylon to bring His judgments on Judah, and Jeremiah counseled submission to the King of Babylon. The political and religious leadership of Judah refused Jeremiahís words, and ultimately brought disaster upon themselves.

God made it clear to Jeremiah that judgment would inevitably come: I have purposed and will not relent, nor will I turn back from it (Jeremiah 4:28). Although he was commanded to continue to prophesy, Jeremiah was instructed by God not to intercede for the people — Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me, for I will not hear you (Jeremiah 7:16). This did not mean that Jeremiah was not to pray for individuals, but that judgment was coming on the nation as a whole, and that Jeremiah was to accept Godís verdict. Jeremiah continued to counsel the people as individuals to submit to the King of Babylon that their lives might be spared. He also declared that after seventy years a remnant would return to Judah and would be blessed by God. However, God made it clear that intercession was not going to change the big picture. Then the Lord said to me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind could not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth (Jeremiah 15: 1).

There comes a time in the life of every man and nation when a final decision is made for or against the Lord. We often donít understand when that time has come, but God does understand. In essence, God was saying to Jeremiah, Most individuals in this nation have made a final, irrevocable decision to reject me. Therefore I must bring judgment, and you are not to pray for the nation as a whole. I will continue to have mercy on those individuals who seek Me. What an awesome thing for God to say to Jeremiah! In the face of Godís declaration that He was going to wipe them out, Moses interceded for the lives of the Israelites after the golden calf incident, and he persuaded God to spare them. But in this case of Judahís protracted idolatry, God says I wouldnít even hear Moses in this matter.

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