The year was 1985 and our family was visiting my parents on the southeastern coast of Georgia. This is where I had spent my “growing-up” years, and I loved it. As my husband and I drove over the causeway to Sea Island, we were overwhelmed with the beauty – the huge Live Oaks, the windswept trees, the sand dunes, the meticulous landscaping, and the array of extraordinary vacation homes. Each home was unique, but each was manicured to perfection – and very expensive.
I had taken this drive many times over the years and had loved it. It was refreshing and intriguing to see the variety of homes and landscapes, and awesome to think of the money required to maintain such a lifestyle. Splendor and more splendor…
But this time it seemed different.
I felt a heaviness coming upon me – a sadness. I couldn’t understand why this could be. What was going on? I realized that God was calling me to pray. But why right now?
As we returned home, I went off alone to talk to God and He began to give me some revelation. Some revelation which has continued unfolding throughout the years. Those homes represented the most powerful leadership in our country. Old-moneyed families, top executives, some top ministry leaders, and the greatest philanthropists were all represented by those homes. The leadership of our great country. Since they were the leaders, they also made a statement about the spiritual condition of our country.
I was still seeking some answers.
The next puzzle piece came when the Lord led me to Isaiah where the prophet was speaking of the future Babylonian captivity. Isaiah 46:1,2: Bel bows down, Nebo stoops over…They bow down together. They cannot save, but are themselves going into captivity. The Lord spoke very clearly, “My church has been taken into Babylonian captivity. No longer am I, the One true God, being worshiped, but the Babylonian gods are being worshiped. Bel (Baal) and Nebo are the idols of my church, and are often worshiped even more than me.”
I knew who Bel (Baal) was: the god of prosperity. But who was Nebo? I began to do some research. Nebo was the Babylonian god of handwriting, but by extension he became the god of education and the intellect. As soon as I saw that, the message became crystal clear. God was saying that the church trusted more in money and in humanistic education than they did in Him, the one true God.
Where do we turn first when we have a problem? To the educated, of course – to professionals. And we all know that if we just had enough money… Now, hang on. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t turn to professionals. I just mean that we should turn to God first. We should pray first.
The outcome of such misplaced emphasis is that if we are sick, and the doctor says there is no hope, we have a hard time believing God for healing. The miracles of God seem far away because, after all, these men and women know what they are talking about. We stop believing for the supernatural, and just live the way those live who don’t know the Lord.
This new revelation took some pondering, because I knew that our God didn’t want us to be ignorant and poor. He wants us to be educated and to be prosperous. In fact, He is the author of these blessings. Of course, we should seek the advice of doctors, lawyers, bankers, and other professionals. Yet when we don’t put God first, then the blessings of education and prosperity cause us to worship the creature and not the Creator. We become humanistic in our approach to life.
I started to see how entrenched these idols have become in our culture, and the results are obvious. We begin to worship ourselves, and when we are worshiping ourselves, there are no standards. We think that whatever we desire is just fine. No restrictions. Lust, greed, perversion: no problem. For many, the rule has become that whatever you can “get by with” is okay. Much hurt and confusion have come as these idols have caused us to trample God’s truth and to trample each other.
But God is calling back to Him those who will listen. He is calling us out of Babylon. He wants to cleanse us and show us His true nature. Then He wants to show Himself strong to the world.
So am I coming against education? Am I coming against prosperity? Of course not! These are gifts from our Father. But we are called to worship the Gift-giver, not the gift. When our hearts are pure and our perspective is clear, these gifts are true blessings. They enrich our lives and those of others.
It all comes back to the attitude of the heart. When our hearts are in the right place, then we do have standards: God’s standards. And these standards are the foundation for our knowledge and wisdom. They become a base upon which we build our beliefs.
It seems like it’s time for all of us to do a heart check, and to continue to do these checks as we go forward. There is much for us to do, and we want to have clear minds. We want to represent God’s truth to the world, not a skewed version of it. Only pure hearts can do that.
It’s time to bow our knee and let God truly be God.
P.S. When you read the Bible all the way through, your perspective gets to be so much greater! You see the common threads. You see Jesus. And you see yourself. If you want to read the Bible through with me, check out the first two quarters published on Amazon. You can start anytime.