[Note: Our guest contributor, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, is the Pastor Emeritus of Moody Church in Chicago. Originally from Canada, he is an award-winning author and beloved speaker. He and his wife, Rebecca, have three children and eight grandchildren.]
C.S. Lewis wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
But what happens when there is an eclipse of the sun? The moon comes between the earth and the sun; the light of the sun is hidden, the moon is seen, but the sun is not. This does not mean that the sun no longer shines; it simply means that its light is blocked; sometimes the earth (or parts of it) is almost totally dark; at other times there are glimmers of light, enough to navigate but not enough to read a book or even to tread confidently. Even semi-darkness makes us unsure of our steps or unsure of our direction.
Groping in the Darkness
Today the moon of radical secularism has obscured the light of God; God is still God, but our nation no longer sees Him as such. Equally devastating, we are invited to accept false gods who can neither give us light nor give us answers to life’s most basic questions. As a result, we are floundering as individuals, as families, and as a nation. And, when God is not welcome in our culture, we find people live randomly, not knowing their ultimate purpose, but waking up each day with faint hope, eking out whatever pleasure they can find as they pass through their lives in a meaningless quest for significance.
God Himself explains the reason for this eclipse, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or His ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-3, RSV). And when God hides His face, the people willingly wander in darkness, fearing the light: “People loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).
We must grieve for this generation. They seek hope and meaning in all the wrong places; “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble” (Proverbs 4:19, RSV). In the darkness, you can’t tell the difference between an ordinary brick and a piece of gold; you can’t tell whether you are holding a diamond or a bit of iron ore.
When God hides His face from us, we are left without a rudder, without a map, and without a purpose. And the consequences are devastating. With the God of the Bible abandoned, we have no choice but to look to ourselves for guidance and meaning. So, we are tempted to choose gods that are much more to our liking. We choose gods we can control; gods that will not judge us but affirm us; gods who do not demand repentance. Such a god does not create us; we create him/her/them.
God becomes a figment of our imagination, fashioned according to whatever we want Him to be.
Nearer My God to Me?
Yes, God is becoming just like us, affirming, inclusive, and culturally progressive.
The Economist is one of the most influential periodicals in the world, and each year they come out with a special volume titled: “The Year Ahead.” Looking into 2022, they highlighted an article titled: “Nearer My God to Me—Why God is Becoming More Liberal,” by Catherine Nixey, a British correspondent.
Specifically, referring to God as portrayed in the Old Testament, she writes “Smiting used to be so simple. God smote and the people trembled, and they sometimes died. He smote the rebellious Israelites, and tens of thousands died. And the Philistines, they got hemorrhoids. The Sodomites suffered a particularly striking smiting. In Genesis, the men of Sodom are exceedingly wicked sinners before the Lord. So God rained brimstone and fire upon Sodom.”
Her point is clear: In our day there is no such thing as a God who would smite anyone. And she says what is sadly true: that few in Britain “celebrate a smitey Almighty.” Which, of course, means that few people in Britain actually believe in the God of the Bible — especially a God who judges sinners.
Nixey goes on to say that Methodists in Britain voted “after prayerful consideration” to allow same-sex marriages. She points out that this step is in contrast to the book of Leviticus, so this is proof that God is becoming “more liberal” more accepting, and more inclusive.
So, this writer warns that as God is remade according to modern sensibilities, God’s Word, which clearly states, “‘You shall not lie with a man as with a woman. It is an abomination,’ may [soon] be used to justify same-sex blessings in the Church of England. And traditionalists,” she warns, “should brace themselves for even more change.”
Yes, more change is to be expected.
What Hath We Wrought?
God is indeed eclipsed, and in His place, we have substituted numerous other deities. People today are into spirituality; they pick and choose what they believe about God in a virtual buffet of religious options. And as each individual passes through the buffet, they might choose something very different than their friends, and almost certainly their spiritual menu will be quite different than that of their parents. A god suitable for who they are and who they want to become.
Spirituality is religion without God; it is self-acceptance without confronting sin; it is self-redemption without the need for Christ. It is words without meaning and experience without substance. And it is the pretense of religion without having to believe anything significant. In short, it is atheism without the stigma and self-exaltation hidden behind platitudes.
Lesson For America
Where does this leave us as a nation?
1. Without God as Creator, we can abandon the created order of reality and mold it into whatever we wish. Men can be women, women can be fathers, and children can be taught in the earliest years to question their gender. Genital mutilation is called gender affirmation. And with the devaluation of human life (having evolved through the animal world), the right to die soon becomes the duty to die.
2. Without God as the standard for truth, truth becomes “truthiness” which means, I have my truth and you have yours. Even when the Constitution is read, it is not to be viewed objectively; rather it is a “living document” interpreted according to my circumstances and racial history. Its meaning depends on what I want to see in it. I remain in charge of whatever I want the document to say.
3. Without God as lawgiver, pre-born infants can be wantonly killed, and those who try to counsel children about the dangers of transgender surgery can be prosecuted. Criminals can be defended, and victims left to fend for themselves. Pedophilia can be normalized. Evil can be called good and good can be called evil.
4. Without God as Redeemer, there is no one to forgive our sins. As Nietzsche said regarding God, “We have killed Him… Who will wipe this blood off us?”
This list, could of course, be expanded. But clearly, the eclipse of God creates a darkness that has no boundaries, that can prevent no evil, and that can justify perversities of every sort. In the place of ordered liberty, there is the ruthless quest for power; deceit becomes commonplace and evil grows exponentially.
I am often asked if I think that God will someday judge America. But America is already being judged; in fact, proof of this is our moral depravity. Three times we read in Romans 1 that God “gave them up” a reference to people who rejoice in unnatural and perverse sexual activity. But please note, He gave them up to this depravity; this means God’s judgment has led to our depravity. In other words, God “gave them up” to do what we see every day on the news.
What Are We to Do?
Where does this leave us as believers? We have the privilege of shedding light in the growing darkness. Significantly, in John’s vision of Jesus, our Lord is seen walking among the seven lampstands which represent the seven churches. If our light flickers, if we find that the winds of culture have blown out our lampstand, we have nothing to say to this generation.
Without a sure word from God, we will simply give the culture whatever it wants. We will accept the eclipse for what it is and hide in our small corner doing our best to manage the darkness. I am reminded of the words of Woody Allen, “Mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and [the other] to utter hopelessness… Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”
As a nation we are at the crossroads: Will we face the future with optimism because of our faith in fallen humanity or will we be optimistic because we believe in God and that history will unfold according to His plan?
Our churches, and we as individuals, must seriously evaluate our lives and ministries. This is not a time for the trumpet to give an uncertain sound; it is not a time for our lights to dim and grow weary in well-doing. It is a time to renew our faith in a sovereign God who has brought us to this moment to represent Him at a time when nations rage, but “He who sits in the heavens laughs” (Psalm 2:4).
We do not have to dominate the culture in order to be faithful to God. We must be both bold and loving; we must be courageous and sensitive; we must grieve without rancor. We must cling to the gospel, sharing the redemption of Christ with as many as will hear; we must point men and women to the Light of the World and be willing to suffer the consequences of our identification with the One who died that we might have life. This is a tall order but this is the task to which we have been called.
Let us remember that the sun is still shining behind the eclipse. “Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let Your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalm 80:19, ESV).
Faithful is He who calls you, Who also will do it.
1 CommentLeave a Comment
I could read this over and over. This message is the alarm, “get right with God.” The picture of this eclipse, Moon hides the sun light, but the Sun continues to shine. A decision to walk away from the Creator is foolish and scary. God can do everything and anything, He can hide the sun showing there is a God who holds everything in one hand, including sunshine.