“Egypt is a pretty heifer, but a horsefly is coming from the north—it is coming!” (Jer. 46:20)
In Jeremiah 46 the Lord predicts the overthrow of Egypt by the Babylonians. Egypt had long been the world power, a conquering nation, and affluent, smug in their idolatry, deluded into thinking they were invincible. The great pyramids of Egypt towered above the horizon, declaring to all, “We are a great nation!” Their temples to false gods were beautiful, impressive, and flaunted some of the greatest architecture in the world. The Egyptians were an advanced civilization. The Nile River flowed through Egypt, overflowing its banks in the spring, providing rich soil for crops, a constant source of water and fish, and a causeway for transportation that stretched through the country. Egypt was like a young pretty heifer, tender, beautiful, fat, and at peace—but a horsefly was coming from the north!
If you don’t have personal experience with horseflies, let me educate you. There are some 4,500 different varieties of horseflies in the world that feed on the blood of vertebrates. They have two fangs that can quickly penetrate even the toughest skin. Most have scary looking psychedelic eyes. They are fast and aggressive. I have stood in the middle of a river fly-fishing and had one come at me repeatedly, even after batting it away with my hat several times. When they land, if you don’t kill them right away, they will draw blood within a second or two and it hurts! They are tougher than other flies, firmer, and harder to kill. If you have ever seen a horse lazily grazing in a pasture and suddenly whinny, buck, and run off for no apparent reason, now you know why. Horseflies are bad news!
In Jer. 46:20 the Lord pictures Egypt as a pretty heifer and the Babylonians as a horsefly coming to conquer. Twice the Lord says the horsefly is coming to emphasize the certainty of Egypt’s downfall by the Babylonians. As I pondered this verse and its context I saw some lessons to be learned for the United States and any other nation that refuses to submit to the Lord. Granted, Jeremiah is speaking of Egypt and Babylon. And it is true that a prophet of the Lord hasn’t arisen to add to the Bible a book predicting the downfall of the United States, but consider the United States and its current condition in relation to what we know about God.
The United States Is A Young, Pretty Heifer, Fat With Affluence
It is common knowledge that the United States is one of the richest countries in the world, like Egypt used to be. We consume the lion’s share of the world’s resources. If you visit other countries you will understand how rich and affluent we are in the United States. Though we have our areas of poverty, our poverty is nothing compared to the magnitude of poverty in other places of the world. As far as nations go, we are a relatively a young nation. We have great cities, advanced education, art, and cultural diversity, like Egypt used to be. We are fat with affluence like Egypt was before being conquered by the Babylonians; we are a pretty, young heifer.
The United States Is A Major World Power
There is no doubt that our military is large, advanced, and second to none. Our ships, aircraft, submarines, artillery, and the number of our troops combined with the vast resources of our country, make us a world power. Our constitution, the freedoms we enjoy, our voluntary military system, with its above average training and resources make us a force to be reckoned with, like the Egyptians before being conquered by the Babylonians.
The United States Is In The Minds Of Many Invincible
Because of the size of our country, our military, resources, population, size, and location, many believe the United States is invincible. Yes, some terrorist may get through. Yes, we might be attacked by another nation, yet if attacked, I think most believe that the majority of Americans would rise to the occasion and we would defend our country to the death. Unlike most countries, the number of citizens with weapons is mind-boggling. If another country were to invade our nation about half the citizens in America own firearms. There are some 300 million privately owned guns, enough to arm about 90% of the population. Our armed citizens are potentially a very large militia, but they are also potentially an anarchist mob. When fear sets in, it can lead to what we have seen in the LA riots or in Ferguson. The stability of any nation is fragile. As reassuring as the strength of the United States may be to some, no nation is invincible when God decides to bring it down. Nuclear war, famine, disease, or the more subtle effects of moral decay or civil unrest are just some of the ways God might choose to judge America. One thing is certain; God will judge the United States eventually. It is just a matter of time. There will come a day when the United States will not exist. Jesus Christ will rule and reign from Jerusalem and His name will be the only one (Zech. 14:1-9).
The United States Is An Idolatrous Nation
Other nations often think of the United States as a “Christian nation,” but we are not, far from it. Yes, many Christians helped found our country. Yes, our nation’s fathers were for the most part governed by a Judeo-Christian ethic. Yes, our capital has Bible verses carved into the vast majority of its monuments. Yes, our currency says, “In God We Trust,” but in reality few trust in God. The godless have labored to remove the God of the Bible out of our country. All other gods are welcome. All other religions, non-religions, and philosophies are tolerated, except biblical Christianity. Bible believing Christianity is seeing increasing opposition, persecution, and discrimination. We have removed the God of the Bible from our public schools, from public institutions, from mainstream news, entertainment, and educational resources. The non-religious police are advocating that Christians keep their religion in their homes and churches, and not bring it out into public.
It is very convenient for the godless that we just not say anything, that we not evangelize, that we not let our “religion” enter into the public sphere so they can promote their anti-Christian religion without opposition. The godless want the public platforms. They don’t want to be reminded that their sins are in fact sins or that God judges sinners or that hell is a real place. They want to be able to sin with a seared conscience and be left alone while they walk, and in some cases run towards the precipice of hell. But if we love people, if we love our nation, we cannot sit idly by and say or do nothing.
Many evils are now called good and many good things are now being called evil in the United States. The Bible is under increasing attack. Marriage is being replaced with immorality. Our country is more concerned about lions, whales, dogs, cats, and spotted owls than people. Though we have more affluence than almost any other country, we have the greatest amount of discontent. We have satiated ourselves with materialism, self-indulgence, entertainment, technology, food, and immorality. We are the society of the last days that Paul describes in II Tim. 3:1-9. We are suffering the judgments of God described in Rom. 1:18-32. At first we were given over to immorality, then to homosexuality, and now we are at the last stage “being filled with all unrighteousness”:
“And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;” (Rom. 1:28–31)
All sin is, at its core, idolatry. All sin is a refusal to worship the one true God and give Him the glory that He deserves. The prophet Samuel said to the rebellious king Saul:
“For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Sa 15:23)
The Apostle Paul affirms this same thing. When writing to the Colossians he says:
“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” (Col. 3:5)
Rebellion against God is idolatry. Refusing to obey the Word of God is idolatry. The United States is an idolatrous nation, just like Egypt was before the horsefly came.
God Is Holy And Just; He Will By No Means Allow The Guilty To Go Unpunished
When Moses asked the Lord to show him His glory, the Lord placed Moses in the cleft of the rock and allowed His goodness to pass before Moses and then the Lord proclaimed:
“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”” (Ex 34:6–7)
Though God is patient, merciful, kind, and longsuffering, He is not ever suffering. His justice demands that every sin be dealt with to its fullest degree. Of course this is why the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth to die as the Lamb of God on the cross. He did it to pay the penalty of sin as a substitute for sinners. God cannot merely forgive sin and ignore His justice. He is able to forgive sins because He satisfies His own justice with the blood and payment of His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone has to pay, either the sinner or the Lord, but someone has to pay for every offense committed against God. The sins of the United States are rising up like a flood and if there isn’t national revival, we will pay for our sins.
It is only a matter of time until we are judged, unless revival breaks over our land. Think about what history has taught us about proud, evil nations. Consider the great empires of the world. Where is the great Egyptian empire? Where are the world powers of Assyria and its great capital Nineveh? Read about it in Nahum 1:1-8. Where is the great empire of Babylon, the beautiful city with its hanging gardens? Where are the great empires of Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, etc.? Isaiah reminds us who is in charge, how nations are raised up, and how they are taken down:
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance And the hills in a pair of scales? Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding?
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust. Even Lebanon is not enough to burn, nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” . . .
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, Scarcely have they been sown, Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, But He merely blows on them, and they wither, And the storm carries them away like stubble.” (Is 40: 12–17, 21–24)
If godless nations desire to escape judgment there is only one hope—the gospel of Jesus Christ. If every pastor were to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ every week, as the Word of God instructs them, instead of tickling their people’s ears, if they included the gospel of Jesus Christ, who was crucified and resurrected from the dead, in their prayers, sermons, Bible studies, and counseling, and if those in their congregations proclaimed the gospel to their families, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers, the gospel would do its work! Paul says in Rom. 1:16 and I Cor. 1:18 that the gospel is “the power of God for all who believe.” The simple gospel message, though foolishness to the world is attested by the omnipotence of God Himself! When the gospel is proclaimed, the power of God is unleashed to save, transform, and sanctify sinners.
Our nation cannot be spared judgment unless it repents of its sin, and it won’t repent of its sin unless the gospel brings enough individuals in our nation to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Read the book of Jonah and notice how a very godless and pagan nation was spared judgment for generations because one reluctant preacher preached judgment to them. It could happen again, and must happen again, if the United States is to be spared judgment. The United States is a pretty young heifer, and a horsefly is coming unless we repent. The horsefly may come from the outside, or like Rome, we might slowly decay from immorality within. Yet without repentance from sin, and faith in Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the coming of a horsefly is inevitable!