There is no way you will be able to fully appreciate this post without spending some time in our passage. I have taken all my cues from Jeremiah.
What would you say if the Lord came to you and said, “What do you see?” We know Jeremiah said, “I see a boiling pot.” If the Lord were to ask me, “Rob, what do you see?” I would say, “Lord, I see a melting pot – that is cooling rapidly.” The term melting pot was popularized by the play of that same name by Israel Zangwill, first staged in 1908. Here is the conversation where the phrase was used:
DAVID: There she lies, the great Melting Pot–listen! Can’t you hear the roaring and the bubbling? There gapes her mouth, the harbour where a thousand mammoth freighters come from the ends of the world to pour in their human cargo. Ah, what a stirring and a seething! Celt and Latin, Slav and Teuton, Greek and Syrian, black and yellow …
VERA: Jew and Gentile.
DAVID: Yes, East and West, and North and South, the palm and the pine, the pole and the equator, the crescent and the cross–how the great Alchemist melts and fuses them with his purging flame! Here shall they all unite to build the Republic of Man and the Kingdom of God. Ah, Vera, what is the glory of Rome and Jerusalem compared with the glory of America, where all races and nations come to labour and look forward!
Ah, that David and Vera had been right. The glory of the America they saw has faded however. They envisioned the grateful huddled immigrant masses, yearning to breathe free, being assimilated into a common way of American life. They saw the great Alchemist melting and fusing the myriad groups into one solid homogenous culture. Continuing in describing to God what I see:
“Lord, might I also add: it seems someone has turned down the fire beneath our pot. We are not melting together. We have become stratified into interest groups bent on having our own way. We have become a society obsessed with our personal rights and we insist that our government enforce them. It seems that lawlessness is increasing and love is growing colder.”
No doubt Jeremiah was called to be a prophet. He and a handful of other men were integral to the revelation of God in a particular season. Perhaps there are prophets today. I hope so. They are desperately needed. However, rather than wait for one to appear, I am more inclined to encourage the prophetic voice that is within each of us. My dispensational gifts-are-gone friends will protest, “Prophet? Brother, are you not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought, Romans 12:3?” (They almost always quote chapter and verse.) And I will respond, “I don’t think so… I am only thinking so as to have sound judgment. Has He not raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus? Romans 12:3 and Ephesians 2:6.” (I am not opposed to quoting scripture either.)
Those who are in Christ have a prophetic voice within them. Jesus, our Prophet, Priest, and King, resides within us, if we have been born again. It is a great mystery, but we also reside in him. The prophetic voice simply comes from people who know that God formed them in the womb and appointed them to overcome their reluctance to say what they see. They are not looking at the American dream from a cruising altitude of 30 thousand feet, considering this –ism versus that -ism. They are looking at the kingdom of God from 30 million miles and they know that “God is watching over His word to perform it.”
Prophetic vision from no more than even 35 thousand feet, augmented by just a little history, knows that nations do not have a permanent lease on their glory. Even minor prophets know that God will pronounce His judgments on wickedness, upon those who have forsaken Him, upon those who are offering sacrifices to other gods, worshipping the works of their own hands. Sound at all familiar? Not concerned?
Be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect. (Luke 12:40)
False prophets surface in times of trouble. Hitler was Germany’s. His angry rhetoric awakened the indignation of a nation with a wounded self-image. Galvanized under his leadership, his nation raised itself up and destroyed most of Europe, putting the whole world at risk. Beware of egoist leaders who promise, whatever it takes, to restore the glory of their nation (as they see it).
Perhaps God does not like the way the American Dream is playing out. What does God do with a nation of people who have become “lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful and arrogant?” Because we are Americans, will God excuse us if we are ungrateful, unholy, and unloving? Will God not have to apologize to other nations if he overlooks people who are “irreconcilable and without self-control, people who have become haters of good, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” And how much worse is it when we are “holding to a form of godliness although we have denied its power?” (Borrowing from the prophetic voice of Paul in II Timothy 3.)
The last person you want at a party is a prophet, isn’t it? They say things no one wants to hear. The stock market may be rocking along, most terrorism is on foreign soil and the Yankees may be back this year. The prophet interrupts the festive spirit, saying: “From God’s perspective, things are not as they seem.”
As to our melting pot, there is a great showdown between the cross and the crescent playing out before us. It is hard to conceive that our great Alchemist will melt the two together. How are the people of the cross to turn the other cheek and love an enemy who would like their head on a platter? For my kid’s sake, I regret that a quick fix has not been offered. Shall we just tread water then, waiting for Jesus to come back, since there is no hope? (FYI: That was not the prophetic voice.)
Perhaps we should begin by praying for our leaders. Perhaps we should be careful to avoid indignant and haughty voices who lead polls by expressing their ignorance in anger. Perhaps we should not ultimately trust in our robust economy or our military might. Perhaps we can see the prophetic value printed on our currency: “In God we trust.” To avoid becoming the American nightmare, may we reclaim for God what is rightly his within this American Dream.
Father, I pray for the United States of America that you would have mercy on her. We are a proud and independent people who have lost their way. Interrupt us where our pursuit of happiness has run afoul with your idea of liberty and freedom. Raise up the prophetic voices, Lord, and grant they become the roaring and the bubbling we hear next. Amen.
Rob, you may be getting your second Wind. You have faithfully given witness to the fact that your, and our, life is hidden with Christ in God; that He is our life and that for us to live is Christ. Now you have spoken to us about things that have been hidden in God from earlier times for our times. I know you to be careful, but don’t hesitate to share with us convictions that are arising within you concerning the times in which we live. You can trust us to weigh things for ourselves and to form our own beliefs and convictions. Bless you.