Once upon a time, the truth and wisdom of the Bible provided the values necessary for self-government in America.
Our inspired Founding Fathers, taking their cues from the fathers of the Judeo-Christian faith, crafted a new form of limited government that removed the shackles from the people and placed them on elected and appointed federal officials in the form of tight restrictions on their authority.
Times were good. Liberty reigned. Prosperity ruled. The nation was blessed.
But, as happened throughout the history of ancient Israel, some in America came to reject the idea that a sovereign Creator could proscribe individual behavior and define for them what was right and wrong. The rebels preferred that man do what was right in his own eyes.
So they undermined belief in God and the very notion of ultimate truth, justice and morality. The idea that man could – and should – define his own destiny and value system had great appeal. Slowly but surely, more and more Americans, like their Hebrew forebears, began to rebel against God's commandments – His rules for a righteous, long and prosperous life.
We're all familiar with the first part of Proverbs 29:18: "Where there is no vision, the people perish …"
But there is no period at the end of that well-know and widely quoted scripture. Few remember the rest of the verse: "But he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
You've all heard and perhaps memorized this partial verse: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me …"
But what is "knowledge"? Hosea 4:6 defines it, if only we take the time to read the rest of the verse: "seeing thou has forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget they children."
What is knowledge? It's the law of God. If you forget it, God will forget you.
The prophet Jeremiah saw this happen in his time, as he recounts in Lamentations 2:9: "Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD."
Today, even many professing Christians dismiss the law, claiming it was somehow "nailed to the cross," with their Savior Jesus, when it was actually their sins, their indictments, that were forgiven through the blood shed on the cross.
God's law is eternal. It is not a burden, as some modern Christians suggest. It is a blessing.
"So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever," we're told in Psalm 119:42-45. "And take not the truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments. So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever."
Forever and ever.
That is God's intent for His law.
No, it's true that Christians can't earn their salvation through their works. But it's equally true that the true repentance necessary for that redemption is to be evidenced by works of obedience.
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:26).
It's not surprising then, after Americans grew comfortable with the idea of forgetting God's law, that they grew comfortable with the idea of forgetting the very meaning of the founding documents of their country – especially the limitations they placed on government. The founders had warned that they would always be inadequate for the preservation of liberty of any people not grounded in the morality of the Bible.
And that's where we are today in this age of lawlessness – a time when even the clear, concise words of the Declaration of Independence that created the nation and the clear, concise words of the Constitution that defined how it would work are allegorized to mean whatever we want them to mean.
There is little question we are living in a time when there is more contempt for the law than ever before – be it God's statutes or America's creed.
While we despise and discount the most basic and fundamental commandments of God and the foundational law of America, we embrace thousands of manmade regulations and codes that do violence to both – as well as doing violence to our individual liberties.
That's true lawlessness.
What is it that breeds this contempt for the law – especially God's commandments?
After all, even the hardened atheists and agnostics who put their faith in modernity, science and the traditions of men readily acknowledge there are eternal laws about which they can do nothing but accept.
Everyone, for instance, believes there are laws of the universe.
There are laws of physics.
There's the law of gravity.
We may not fully understand them, but there's no denying them.
The question is, if they are laws, who wrote them?
This is one no scientist, no non-believer, no skeptic can answer.
I was thinking about these things recently when the earthquake struck so close to Washington a few weeks ago. While everyone was expecting one of those "acts of God," as we call them – a hurricane – to strike the East Coast, a rather unexpected one hit.
It was unexpected by everyone, by the way, except my dog, Baxter. Dogs and other animals are apparently more sensitive to things happening in the natural and spiritual realms. Before the quake hit, on a perfectly sunny day in the Washington area, he was acting like he does when a big thunderstorm is coming. He was scared. He wanted to be comforted by his humans. When he crawled into the bedroom to be near my wife, Elizabeth, she assumed he was dreading an impending storm.
But he didn't hear any thunder off in the distance. There wasn't any thunder. He sensed an impending earthquake – hours before it hit. He knew "an act of God" was about to occur.
When that earthquake finally hit a few hours later, I was chatting on Instant Messenger with Sean Hannity, who was in the midst of his daily talk show. As a Californian for 25 years, when I felt the rumble, I knew immediately what it was because I lived through hundreds of them. I texted Hannity that a sizable quake had just hit the nation's capital. He immediately wrote back – "HERE TOO."
Incredulous, I asked Sean if he was in New York, because he travels so much. He said yes. He was at home and the whole house shook.
Then, within seconds, we both messaged each other – "IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD!"
This is the thought that went through the minds of many in an instant. Our world was shaken. And when the world shakes, we know there is really only one power in the universe who can do that. It's the Creator of the universe.
But why does God do that?
I believe He shakes us up in small ways and big ways as a sign to us of the consequences of disobedience and indifference to Him and His law.
And given the extent of lawlessness in our world today, you can expect more and more signs of this kind.
The foundations are indeed trembling – and crumbling