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STATE OF THE UNION 2023

Is America at a ‘Jonah’ moment, or a ‘Nahum’ moment?

The US is in grave spiritual danger – but there is still hope

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – The president of the United States is asking all the wrong questions and drawing all the wrong conclusions.

The state of the union is not strong.

Americans face enormous spiritual, economic and geopolitical challenges. 

If the country doesn’t change course dramatically – and soon – it faces implosion.

Now, let me be clear: America is a wonderful, blessed and truly miraculous country.

Though I live here in Israel – here in Jerusalem – now, I’m a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen. 

I was born and raised in the United States. 

I love America. 

I’m so grateful for the religious, economic and political freedom I have experienced over my 55 – almost 56 – years. 

But today I grieve for where America is heading.

And contrary to what the president told Congress and the American people, the state of our union is not strong.

AMERICA IS FACING IMPLOSION

America is in serious trouble.

Back in 2012, I wrote a book called, IMPLOSION: Can America Recover From Its Economic and Spiritual Challenges In Time?

In exacting detail, I described how far Americans had drifted from our Judeo-Christian roots, how aggressively Americans were rejecting our Biblical heritage, and how much danger we were in of causing God to stop blessing us and to instead turn His back on us. 

In the book, I asked readers to focus on one specific number: 53 million.

Since 1973, “Americans have aborted more than 53 million children since 1973,” I wrote then.

Then I added this: “How long do you think the Creator and Sustainer of life will bless the United States rather than judge and punish us when we take the lives of well over one million innocent children every year?”

Now, remember, Implosion was published in 2012.

That was 11 years ago.

As of 2023, Americans have murdered more than 63 million babies.

Do you really believe we can go much longer before facing the judgment of God? 

It’s amazing that we haven’t faced it already.

It’s not just abortion, of course. 

It’s pornography. Sexual abuse. Rape. Divorce. Theft. Murder. Racial hatred. Discrimination. Cruelty. Political divisions of the most extreme kind. 

The list of America’s sins is long – and it’s getting longer.

This is why I have to say that the state of our union is not strong.

IS THERE ANY HOPE?

To be sure, there is still so much good in America – and so many wonderful, godly, loving, kind and creative people accomplishing so much to bless their fellow Americans and the world. 

But can’t you hear the ice cracking under your feet?

Don’t you sense, as I do, that time is running out?

That if we don’t change – and change fast – that God will lift His hand of favor off America?

There is hope – but the clock is ticking.

THE CRITICAL QUESTION EVERY AMERICAN MUST ASK

Let me frame what’s really at stake here in a different way.

Is America facing a “Jonah” moment, or a “Nahum” moment?

In the Old Testament Book of Jonah, the Hebrew prophet was sent by the Lord to the wicked city of Nineveh – the capital of the Assyrian empire – in order to preach a message of imminent judgment. 

Set aside for a moment the fact that Jonah didn’t want to obey the Lord and preach this message and, thus, fled on a ship headed in the other direction. 

The point I want to focus on right now is that when Jonah finally did obey the Lord and did start preaching in Nineveh, he didn’t call the people to repentance. 

Rather, in Jonah 3:4, we see that the Hebrew prophet declared, “Forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

WHAT ARE THE LESSONS WE NEED TO LEARN FROM THE HEBREW PROPHET JONAH?

That said, even though Jonah never called the people to repent of their sins, never pleaded with them to turn in humility to the One True God of Israel, never urged them to beg the Lord to have mercy on their souls and on their city and grant them forgiveness – even though Jonah never did any of that – that is, in fact, exactly what the Ninevites did.

In the Book of Jonah 3:5-9, we read this.

“Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?’”

Sure enough, the Lord heard the earnest prayers of the people of Nineveh — and the king of the wicked Assyrian empire.

And as the people repented, God relented. 

The text tells us that “when God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.” 

The promised judgment did not come. 

The people and their city were spared from God’s wrath. 

What an extraordinary moment. 

The pagans heard the Word of the Lord, and it burned in their hearts. 

They believed God’s Word, pleaded for mercy and the Lord gave them mercy, even though He had never indicated through Jonah that He would do so.

WHAT ARE THE LESSONS WE NEED TO LEARN FROM THE HEBREW PROPHET NAHUM?

But this was not the only time the Word of the Lord came to the people of Nineveh.

About 100 years or so later, the next generation of Ninevites had once again abandoned the Lord and fell back into tremendous evil, violence, bloodshed, lies, sorcery and other wickedness. 

In the Old Testament Book of Nahum, we read that the Lord spoke to the people of Nineveh, this time through a different Hebrew prophet named Nahum. 

Yet this time the people of Nineveh did not repent. 

They did not listen to God’s word. 

They did not plead for mercy. 

They did not turn from their wicked ways and start praying, fasting and begging God for mercy. 

Thus, mercy did not come. 

Instead, the judgment of God came upon the people.

In 612 B.C. the city of Nineveh was utterly destroyed.

Today, those of us who are Americans must confront this question: Is America at a “Jonah” moment, or a “Nahum” moment? 

As I mentioned a moment ago, I’m a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen.

Yet, even though I live half a world away in Jerusalem, this is still a question that weighs heavily on my heart.

Is America at a “Jonah” moment, or a “Nahum” moment?

That is, will we as Americans be like the people of Nineveh when Jonah came to preach?

Will we hear the Word of the Lord and admit that we have strayed so far from the teachings of the Bible and allowed our land to become polluted with 63 million abortions, with pornography and violence and wickedness of all kinds?

Will we admit how far we are from God’s plan and purpose for our lives? 

Will we confess that our hearts are far from Jesus Christ and plead with the Lord for His mercy and grace and forgiveness? 

Will we fast and pray and earnestly seek God’s face, and implore Christ to give us another Great Awakening? 

Or will we be like the people of Nineveh during the time that Nahum came to preach?

That is, will we ignore the Word of the Lord?

Will we continue in our sins and watch our nation continue to decline, implode and/or face the full wrath of God in judgment?

AMERICANS HAVE EXPERIENCED THREE SWEEPING SPIRITUAL AWAKENINGS IN OUR HISTORY

I honestly don’t know the answer to the question.

But I do know there is hope.

Three times in American history God has sovereignly and mercifully granted us sweeping spiritual revivals that fundamentally rescued individual lives and families, and rescued the country, and changed the direction of our society.

The first was the Great Awakening in the mid-1700s.

Then came the Second Great Awakening in the mid-1800s. 

Then, in the 1970s, we saw the Holy Spirit sweep across the United States yet again in what became known as the “JESUS REVOLUTION.”

Each time, millions of Americans heard the Word of God and were moved by the Spirit to repent of their sins.

Each time, millions of Americans became devout followers of Jesus Christ. 

They began to read the Bible voraciously. 

They began to truly and faithfully obey the Word of the Lord. 

They began to tell their friends and neighbors about the hope of the Gospel and love and forgiveness and eternal life that can only be found in Jesus Christ. 

And they began to love and care for those around them and meet their practical needs, whether it was setting up great schools and universities, or opening up great hospitals, or launching ministries to care for the poor and the homeless and for those facing injustice.

My own parents came to faith in Jesus Christ in 1973 and Christ not only saved their souls, He saved their lives and their marriage.

I came to faith in Jesus Christ two years later – in 1975 – and Christ completely transformed me and gave me a hope and peace and purpose I never had before.

So, I’ve seen what Christ can do to save individuals and change the course of a nation.

THE CLOCK IS TICKING

Now, to be clear, nowhere in scripture has America been promised another spiritual revival, much less one that would be so sweeping, so game changing that it would qualify as another Great Awakening. 

But who knows? 

Perhaps the Lord will show us tremendous mercy and forgiveness if we all humble ourselves and pray, and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways? 

However, if we don’t repent and turn back to the Lord Jesus Christ, we may very well consign ourselves to suffer the fate of the Ninevites during the time of Nahum.

So, set aside the “State of the Union” message you just heard.

Set aside politics and partisanship.

Ask yourself – and your family and friends – this question.

Are Americans living at a “Jonah” moment, or a “Nahum” moment?

Are we going to listen to humble ourselves and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways and let Him forgive our sins and heal our souls and heal our families and heal our land?

Or are we going to turn a deaf ear to the Word of the Lord and hit the accelerator on the road to implosion?

The clock is ticking – it’s time to decide.

Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.

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