Date Preached: August 30, 1998
Main Scripture Text: Isaiah 59:1–5, 12–15
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
- They Had Bloody Hands
- They Had Lying Lips
- They Had Wicked Hearts
- A Diet of Deception
- A Web of Wickedness
- The Web of Pornography
- The Web of Drugs and Alcohol
- The Web of Sexual Immorality
III. A Trashing of Truth
Be finding in your Bibles the book of Isaiah chapter 59; and when you’ve found it, would you look up here, and may I tell you as you’re finding it that our beloved United States of America is in a crisis. And the title of the message today: “A Nation in Crisis.” One by one, the lights of decency and the lights of hope are being blown out in America. And it seems that Americans are content to have scoundrels in leadership so long as they give us prosperity. But one day, calamity will come. One day, we will face perhaps international terrorism, perhaps unparalleled economic reversal, perhaps natural disasters over which we have no control whatsoever. And then we will fill our churches, and we will turn our eyes upward. And we will dial 911, but there will be no answer: the line will be dead. First Samuel chapter 8, verse 18, says, “And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.” (1 Samuel 8:18) You’ll cry out; you’ll say, “O God, have mercy.” You’ll pray, and your prayers won’t be answered. Why is that?
Well, look in Isaiah chapter 59, verse 1: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:”—God is not palsied, and God is not deaf—“but”—verse 2—“your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.” (Isaiah 59:1–4) Now, what is Isaiah saying to a sinful nation of that day? God is well able to hear your prayers. It’s not that He cannot hear your prayers; it is that He will not hear your prayers because your sin has created a barrier between you and a holy God. And Isaiah tells us what the sin of that day was and how it tracks and parallels the sin of our day.
- They Had Bloody Hands
First of all, look in verse 2. They had bloody hands. America is swimming in an ocean of blood. A modern holocaust has stained and flooded America. The blood of some thirty million preborn babies cries out from the ground against us since 1972, that horrendous Roe v. Wade ruling when nine men dressed in black robes said that a little preborn babies can be treated as a piece of protoplasm. And we in America are now killing babies at the rate of four thousand a day. Notice what Isaiah said: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you.” (Isaiah 59:2) Verse 3: “Your hands are defiled with blood.” (Isaiah 59:3)
When you ask a politician about abortion, he’ll dodge the issue. He’ll tell you, “That’s a moral decision. It is a religious decision. That’s not a proper subject for politics, and that needs to be studied in the church between the priest, the rabbi, and the pastor. It is a personal decision, not a political decision.” But if the priest, the rabbi, or the pastor speaks about it, they’ll rise up and say, “Why doesn’t he stay out of politics?” And meanwhile, the babies die. And we are swimming in an ocean of blood, and the violence of our day has surpassed the days of Noah, the days of Lot. King Herod is in the background today. One man has wisely said, “Today we’re living in the day where twelve-year-olds are having babies, fifteen-year-olds are killing each other, seventeen-year-olds are dying of AIDS, and eighteen-year-olds are graduating from high school with a diploma they can’t read.” That’s where we are in America today: bloody hands.
- They Had Lying Lips
But then he goes on to say not only bloody hands, but lying lips. Again, look, if you will, in verse 3: “Your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.” (Isaiah 59:3) I’ve been watching the news programs lately, and we’ve been talking about lies in high places and low places. And the going merchandise among those news programs is, “Well, everybody lies. What’s so rare about lies? Everybody lies.” U. S. News & World Report in a report said this: “Governmental officials dissemble; scientists falsify research; workers alter career credentials to get jobs.” And then the magazine asks, “What’s going on here? The answer, a growing number of social critics fear, is an alarming decline in basic honesty.”
- They Had Wicked Hearts
Bloody hands. Lying lips. Number three: wicked hearts. Look, if you will, in verse 4: “None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.” (Isaiah 59:4) It’s terrible to raise teenagers today, because we have a day of moral ambivalence; we have a day of ethical fogginess. What are we being told today? We’re being told that adultery is really no big deal: everybody does that. Friend, I want to tell you, if a man will not keep a sacred vow before Almighty God to his wife, I wouldn’t trust him to keep any promise anywhere anytime. We’re being told today that private morality can be disconnected from public service. That’s not what God’s Word says. Ecclesiastes chapter 10, verse 1 says this: “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” (Ecclesiastes 10:1) Dead flies in the ointment, friend; something stinks in America.
Theodore Roosevelt, a man of yesteryear, won his first major election back in 1898. He was elected governor of New York. About that time, Theodore Roosevelt wrote something that’s so pertinent to our day and our age. I want you to listen to it. It sounds like it was written for today, but listen to it. He says, “No community is healthy where it is ever necessary to distinguish one politician among his fellows because ‘he is honest.’ Honesty is not so much a credit as an absolute prerequisite to efficient service to the public. Unless a man is honest we have no right to keep him in public life, it matters not how brilliant his capacity, it hardly matters how great his powers of doing good service on certain lines may be.” Now what Teddy Roosevelt said was, “If he’s not honest, then he’s just simply disqualified.”
Again, Teddy Roosevelt said this: “If a man lies under oath or procures the lie of another under oath, if he perjures himself or suborns perjury, he is guilty under the statute law. Under the higher law, under the great law of morality and righteousness, he is precisely as guilty if, instead of lying in a court, he lies in a newspaper or on the stump; and in all probability the evil effects of his conduct are infinitely more wide-spread and more pernicious. The difference between perjury and mendacity is not in the least one of morals or ethics. It is simply one of legal forms.” Now what he is saying is the same thing that Jesus said when He said, “[When you speak] let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay.” (James 5:12) It doesn’t matter whether you’re under oath or whether you’re not under oath.
We’re being told today that somehow public approval validates wrong behavior. This same Isaiah, whose book we’re reading, said in Isaiah chapter 5, verse 20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20) We’re being told that if a man is approved by society, that that is good. It is not good, no matter how many times we take a poll. We’re being told that a lie about adultery is permissible and that a lie while under oath is not acceptable. And Jesus said, “Let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay.” (James 5:12)
Now, what has brought about this condition? Why is it that Isaiah’s people came to a place where they would look up to God and say, “God have mercy on us,” and God said, “No, I’m not going to hear your prayer”? What brought about bloody hands, lying lips, and wicked hearts? Three things—I want you to see them right here in this text.
- A Diet of Deception
Number one: The people had been feeding on a diet of deception. Look in verse 5: “They hatch [viper’s] eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.” (Isaiah 59:5) Now if you’ll look at verse 5, and link verse 5 to verse 4, you’re going to find out that those viper’s eggs, those snake eggs that he’s talking about that are hatched in hell’s incubators, they are devilish lies and philosophies that are being hatched—were hatched in Isaiah’s day and also being hatched in our day—lying, poisonous philosophies that are being swallowed down by adults and by youth alike. Our world, our nation, is on a snake egg diet—a diet of deception. The incubators that hatch those eggs are materialism, humanism, New Ageism, liberalism. They’ve hatched these out. The old granddaddy serpent who has spawned and fertilized these eggs is Satan himself because he is a liar, and the father of all lies. (John 8:44) There are certain philosophical underpinnings that are so incipient in American life today that are poisoning our educational, our philosophical, our religious, and political outlook.
And our young people are going to public schools, and each morning they’re served a snake egg omelet. They swallow these things down. You see, dramatic changes have taken place in America, and in twenty years—twenty years that most of us have lived through—there has been a complete reversal. From 1962 to 1982, let me tell you what has happened in twenty years. In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled that voluntary prayer in public schools is unconstitutional. Now they tell us that our children must be in the public schools, but they say, “You cannot have voluntary prayer. We’ll put you there, but you cannot pray.” That’s 1962. Then, in 1963, the same court dismantled classroom Bible reading: no room for the Bible in our halls of education. Then, in 1980, the posting of the Ten Commandments was declared unconstitutional. Now when kids are bringing guns to school, we cannot post on the walls of our schoolrooms, “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17) In 1982, the court prohibited the teaching of biblical creation. In twenty years, God has been expelled from our public schools and been told not to return. Now abortion, infanticide, euthanasia all become possible in a world where you believe that man is the creation of some blind, evolutionary force; that he is not created in the image of God, but he has evolved from some primordial ooze.
So, what do we have today? What is it like? Well, today, children, if they go to school, must receive parental permission before a school-based clinic can prescribe an aspirin. But yet in America a little teenage girl can be given an abortion—abortion guidance counsel, and the abortion itself—without the parents even knowing that this is taking place. That is in America. School-based clinics dispense birth control devices and parental counseling without notification or approval. What is happening in America is that our kids are being served snake eggs everyday. Prayer is out; policemen are in. Bibles are out; values clarification is in. The Ten Commandments, yes, they’re out; but rape and armed robbery, gang warfare, murder, and cheating are in. Creation instruction is out; evolution and blind chance is in. Corporal punishment is out; disrespect and rebellion are in. Traditional values are out; unwed motherhood is in. Abstinence is out; condoms and abortion are in. Learning is out; social engineering is in. History is out; revisionism is in. Is it any wonder that the suicide rate of our teenagers is soaring, runaway statistics are soaring, promiscuity problems, violent crime? Our kids are not being raised in a society, in a school, that says that they have rights that are given to them, unalienable rights given by Almighty God, but they are told that the universe itself exists—not that it was created—and the wisdom that built this great nation is being laughed at.
But here’s the sad thing. Look, if you will, in verse 5: “They hatch [viper’s] eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth,”—now, watch that—“and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.” (Isaiah 59:5) When you come against these things and try to stamp them out, all you do is create more snakes. To stamp out these snake eggs is not the answer.
- A Web of Wickedness
Now not only is there a diet of deception, but that is compounded by a second thing in America that makes our nation a nation in crisis: not only a diet of deception, but a web of wickedness. Look again in verse 5, if you will. He says here in verse 5, “They … weave the spider’s web.” I got down my encyclopedia and read something about spiders. I don’t know whether you have a love affair with spiders or not. I don’t. But spiders weave a web—almost invisible, very sticky. And the purpose of that web is to catch an unsuspecting insect who will fly into that web and become entangled in that web where the spider can come out and wrap him out in more strands of that web. Then the spider injects poison into the body of that insect, and the spider sucks that insect dry.
Now Satan has woven some webs, and he is poisoning and sucking dry the generation of young people today. Satan has a network—are you listening to me?—a web of evil that is absolutely terrifying, and our young people can hardly see the web. They don’t understand it.
- The Web of Pornography
There’s pornography, for example: the web of pornography. “Pastor Rogers, does pornography lead to degeneracy?” Pornography is degeneracy. That’s what it is. Our kids today can get on the Internet and watch unspeakable, unmentionable things, even in school, as they can access these things. At home they can pick up the phone, dial-a-porn, and listen to lesbian sexual activities, sodomy, rape, incest, bestiality, or sex with other children. There are more adult bookstores in America today than there are McDonald’s restaurants. Pornography is a multibillion-dollar industry. That is a web, and so many kids and adults alike are being caught in it.
- The Web of Drugs and Alcohol
Satan has his web of drugs and alcohol—a deadly trap. America is filled today with walking dead, whose lives have been sucked dry by the spiders of alcohol and drug abuse. I read recently where students spend 5.5 billion dollars on alcohol: more than they spend on nonalcoholic drinks like Pepsi or Coke or 7 Up and books put together—on alcoholic beverages! Now these Madison Avenue people come into the living room through their beer ads, and through their sports ads, and they’ll have these boys, as I’ve said before, out there on the bass boat somewhere hoisting a six-pack, and one of them smiles and says to the other one, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Boy, they’re right: it always gets worse. “It doesn’t get any better than this.” And we have a generation of walking dead, who have been sucked dry, embalmed, by alcohol.
- The Web of Sexual Immorality
There’s a sticky web of immorality. Young people are being told today there are no fixed standards of right or wrong, and the media, or entertainment, has created the myth that premarital sex, extramarital sex, and homosexuality are on the same level as chastity, monogamy, and heterosexuality. And in our so-called sex education classes in many of our schools they have a threefold goal—and that is to teach children how to fornicate without guilt, without catching a disease, and without conceiving a baby. That’s called “sex education” today.
How would you like your child to go to school and hear what some are being taught? Here’s what they’re being taught. Here’s the textbook. Quote: “Premarital sexual intercourse is both acceptable for men and women if they are involved in a stable, loving relationship. It has been suggested by some marriage counseling authorities that all couples should live together before they’re married.” How would you like that for education? Or listen to this: “Often, promiscuity is labeled as bad by persons who do not accept this type of behavior. As with other patterns of sexual behavior, one should not pin ‘good’ or ‘bad’ on a practice.” Here’s another: “Morality is individual; it’s what you think it is. Your conception of what is right or wrong morally is an individual decision.”
May God have mercy upon us when these tell us we cannot pray, we cannot read God’s Word, we cannot post the Ten Commandments, but we can denigrate God’s Word and God’s law. And kids today talk about “going all the way.” My God, that’s the one thing they don’t do. They haven’t gone all the way. They go a little further when they catch a disease along the way; a little further when a baby is conceived and they have to tell their father or mother; a little further if they decide to murder that baby. But they really haven’t gone all the way until they stand before a holy God who says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”; (Exodus 20:14) a holy God who says, “Flee fornication.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
III. A Trashing of Truth
Friend, we are in a terrible situation. What has brought about this crisis in America? Number one: a diet of deception. Number two: a web of wickedness. Number three: the trashing of truth. Fast-forward to verse 12: “For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.” Now, watch this: “And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off:”—why has judgment been turned away backward? Why does justice wait in the wings? Here it is—“for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.” (Isaiah 59:12–15) That is, when you stand up and speak against it, you become the bad guy.
Listen. I have been preaching too many years for me not to know that I am the heavy today; I am the bad guy today; I’m making myself a prey when I say “This is wrong” when I speak against these things. When you call for justice, when you call for truth, you become the guy in the black hat. That’s the state to which we have come today. But notice what he says. He says there’s a traffic jam. Justice, equity, cannot come through the streets, because “truth is fallen.” And all of the traffic is backed up, because “truth is fallen in the street.” (Isaiah 59:14)
Well, what caused truth to fall? Notice truth is not dead. There is a traffic jam. Judgment, justice, and equity cannot enter. It’s not that truth is nonexistent. You can’t ever murder truth. It is not that truth is dead. Truth will not die. But truth has stumbled. Truth is lying prostrate on the ground. Why? Well, she has been knocked down in America by doctors of philosophy. She has been tripped up in America by dishonest politicians. And she has been chloroformed by liberal preachers. And she’s lying there in the street. May I say with all of the unction, function, and emotion of my soul; God help me to say it: The job in America today is to put truth back on her feet. That is the job in America: to put truth back on her feet. And I really believe there is not a lot wrong in America that could not be put right quickly, dramatically, if across America, in the pulpits of America, from sea to shining sea, this Sunday and every Sunday, a generation of preachers would open the book of truth and preach “Thus saith the Lord God Almighty” without fear or failure.
We’re in a situation today that’s in a crisis. Why did God write a Bible? He calls that Bible “the Word of truth.” Why did God send the Holy Spirit? He calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth.” How does God describe Himself? He describes Himself as “the Truth.” Who is Jesus? Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) What is the church? The church is called “the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15) The Apostle John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 1:4) We can get facts from the Internet. There’s a difference between facts and truth. Knowledge may double; truth will never double. There is eternal truth. Truth is what food is to your body, light is to your eyes, and melody is to your ears.
Now, do you know what most of us want to do? Most of us want to be stamping out snake eggs. Most of us want to be sweeping down spider’s webs. But, friend, you stamp out a snake egg: just more snakes. You sweep down a spider’s web—you’ve done it before: it’s back the next morning, is it not? We need something that will slay the snake and destroy the spider—and that is truth. Only truth can keep this daddy serpent from spawning those eggs. Only truth can keep that spider from weaving those sticky webs. We need to lift up truth in America today, to put truth on her feet. And I want to call upon you and every believer to rededicate himself to the truth. Parents, teach your children to live the truth, to love the truth, to tell the truth, to know the truth, and to believe the truth. Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17)
Let me give you a proverb here, and I’m almost finished—Proverbs 23, verse 23: “Buy the truth, and sell it not.” (Proverbs 23:23) There is a prize to possess: it is truth. There is a price to pay: you must buy the truth. You must study it, pore over it, live it, know it. And you must preserve the truth. Don’t let anybody take the truth from you. That truth is in God’s Word. The early Christians did not argue over the Bible. They loved it. They believed it. They expounded it. They poured it forth as white-hot lava.
Now, one by one, person by person, family by family, city by city, church by church, we’ve go to take America back. My heart is broken over snake eggs, spider webs, and traffic jams. What about you? I’m not talking about the person sitting next to you. What about you? Are you right with God? Do you think it’s somebody else’s problem? What about your home? What about your business relationships? Have you been feeding on snake eggs? Some right now are wrapped up in spider’s webs. There’s only one thing that will set you free. Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
I want to tell you, the truth is today that God loves you. The truth is today that Jesus Christ died for you. He carried your sins to the cross, and with His blood, He paid your sin debt. The truth is that He walked out of that grave, and He has ascended to high hills of glory. The truth is that one day—soon and very soon, I hope—He’s coming again. And the truth is, if you will believe on Him and trust Him, He will save you. I promise you on the authority of the Word of God not only will have save you, but—praise His holy name—He will satisfy you. What you’re longing for, you’ll never find, until you find it in the Lord Jesus. And not only will He save you, and satisfy you; He will sanctify you. He’ll begin to make you more and more and more and more and more like Him. Now when you come to Jesus, you’re not going to sprout wings and get a halo right away; you’ll have to grow. But this saving Jesus is the satisfying, sanctifying Jesus. And I’ll tell you something else: He will secure you. He will keep you. It’s not a matter of your holding on to Him; He’ll hold you—if you truly give Him your heart and your life.•