feast: The Handwriting on the Wall (2012)
A Culture in Steep Decline
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 30-Sep-12; Sermon #FT12-01; 53 minutes
John Ritenbaugh, in this annual "Handwriting on the Wall" message, reflecting on the upcoming election, focuses upon the critical condition of a badly mishandled economy, having produced a future looking far worse than the immediate past. The current administration has been lying to this country for the past four years about the badly eroding economy. Both presidential candidates ought to the putting this country on a war- footing, as well as deploring the out of control immorality, especially the trouncing of the Ninth Commandment. Lying and flattering seem to be the modus operandi of many of the officials holding public office, from the President to the constable. Consumer Reports warn us that fraud and scams are bourgeoning growth industries in America, netting in 40-50 billions of dollars in profits annually. The Lying tongue truly has targeted the gullible, vulnerable victim, especially the elderly. Scams exploit greed, gullibility, and the ignorant. Actor Clint Eastwood has claimed that President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the America, with his birth, his elusive college records, his academic rank, and his connections to Communism all eluding scrutiny. His election illustrated the extreme gullibility of the American electorate. God has given this nation what it has deserved, stripping this country of its former greatness. Lying is the core of this nation's demise. Satan's lie to Adam and Eve started the whole thing; Satan scammed them with a deadly lie, promising them immortality, but giving them death. The con man (Satan) fully intended to kill Adam and Eve as well as all of mankind. Sin, often appealed to by a lie, is initially attractive. Americans have reached the point in the downward slide of immorality that people don't care about the country, but only themselves. The man of sin will be launched by Satan on a foundation of de
It is difficult to decide which critical event happening in the United States is the most critical of all. I am not going to claim the one I am going to mention here is the most critical of all, but it is a critical one.
We here in the United States are in the midst of what I believe is the most significant election campaign since just before the Civil War, when God gave this nation the leadership of a fairly humble and sensible man. By that I mean Abraham Lincoln. But I do not believe that there is a man of this quality on the horizon this time around.
In the vortex of this campaign is an issue though of worldwide importance, and that is, the economies of the nations. It is especially of critical importance to this nation because overall we have the most to lose, in terms of wealth. I believe that most Americans are just now beginning to have some kind of a foggy conception of how much we have already lost.
This slow awakening is occurring because so many of our circumstance are going to change soon. Thus, they are beginning to think about it more seriously. Brethren, right now the future looks far worse than the immediate past that we just experienced, and things are on a track to become far worse.
This leads really to what this message concerns, and that is about all the evasions of truth of really leveling with the American public, by those who are campaigning for these offices. The economic situation is so bad that the people who are running for office need to be telling the people that we need to be confronting this problem on a war footing.
I am old enough to know what a war footing would be like, because those of us about my age, when we were going through the Second World War, a great number of the staples of life were rationed— meat was rationed, sugar, flour, rubber, gasoline, and on and on. We had to spend not only money for these products but, also turn in little coupons to make sure that we were not getting more than we were supposed to.
What is occurring needs to faced with a great amount of sacrificing required to get us out of this pit that we have put ourselves into. We need to abandon at the same time our immoral way of life, and to seek God.
You know very well those running for office are especially not going to mention those two. In fact there was only one man that I know of who was running for office of President of the United States, that had the guts to bring up the immorality in the United States and that was Rick Santorum. He lasted until he was the third man out, you might say, but at least he brought it up. That we needed to change our moral position, but people were not buying it.
Regarding sexual immorality, sexual sins ranks very high among the publicly prominent sins, but there is another sin that most people do not give much thought to any more, in regard to immorality.
Here is the crux of my sermon: it is lying. Either failing to give the truth, of just avoiding the truth, these men running for office have every opportunity to let the people know that our immorality has gotten us into this trouble, we have lost contact with God, and the bottom is falling out. That is the real issue, and by not saying anything they are, in the spirit, lying, when they should be informing us.
Proverbs 21:6 Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.
These people running for office are trying to get a great treasure that is before them—power within the United States, and its destiny—but a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.
Proverbs 26:28 A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
I do not think that those men running for office in the United States would want to admit that by withholding information that is vitally needed for those who are going to vote for that office, that they do not hate them. They do not equate the sin to hatred.
It does not stop there, the lying. I have subscribed to Consumer Reports magazine for quite a number of years. The October issue arrived just before the Feast. On the front cover was a bold lettered headline, “America's Worst Scams.” The article inside was titled, “Scam Nation,” thus inferring that we live in a nation that is overrun with scams.
The opening paragraph stated this, “The economy may be struggling, but the fraud business is booming. Fraud and identity theft complaints, tracked by the Federal Trade Commission, top 1.2 million last year. That is up 19% since 2010, and 100% since the year 2000.”
Brethren, if you want an investment, this is a growth industry. Moreover, the FBI says, fraud involving investments, mortgages, and the internet is growing. Now government takedowns of multimillion dollar schemes are common. Fraud is as high as it has ever been, because the scam artists are using brand new techniques, and technology that did not exist 15 years ago.
Here is another quote. Martha Deevy, director of the Financial Fraud Research Center at Stanford University Center on Longevity, estimates the measurable direct cost of financial fraud to Americans to be between 40 and 50 billion dollars a year. That is not a figure to be sneezed at.
Every one of us knows that fraud is obviously stealing, but lying precedes and sets the stage for the fraud that follows. The one leads to the other, the one produces the other. Both of these sins are related.
The “Scam Nation” article listed and gave brief descriptions of 21 frequently operated scams today. The 40 to50 billion dollar loss figure lets us know that people all across the population spectrum become victims, though the elderly seem to be more frequently targeted.
Now in order for a scam to work, it requires a plausible story (which contains the lie), a person who sells the story quite well, but above all it requires a person hearing the story who is either gullible or has opened himself up to be scammed because his lust—another sin—to make an unusually large gain, leads him to take the bait.
We have three closely related immoral acts that is the part of one operation, and leading the way is a lie. Scams have at their foundation what is commonly called a con. The operator or the con man, tells a story and he displays a great deal of confidence that the story is true, and the operator knows, he really knows, it is going to pay off big and it is going to do it quickly.
His swindle is thus accomplished by transferring his put on, or acted-out confidence, in what he is selling, to the one being swindled, thus encouraging the mark to buy into the swindle. The con man poses, and here is another lie, a hypocrisy, as a trustworthy person seeking another trustworthy person to share in his fortune.
Scams and cons exploit human nature’s propensity for greed (another sin), vanity, dishonesty, compassion, and irresponsibility, sometimes desperation, and simplicity, being simple minded. Not being skeptical enough to ask the right questions. The common factor in virtually every scam, or con, is that the victim relies on the good faith displayed by the scammer or con artist.
Just about the same time the Consumer Report magazine arrived at our home, the Republican National Convention took place in Tampa, Florida, and of the last day, actor Clint Eastwood spoke on Mr. Romney's behalf and gave his much ballyhooed questioning the empty chair speech. Several days later Mr. Eastwood, was home in the general area of Pebble Beach, California, where he lives, and he was interviewed by a reporter with the local news paper. In the interview he told the reporter that President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the people of the United States.
From that a bigger picture begins to appear as to why the empty chair routine. It is that nobody in America saw the real Barack Obama, until it was too late and he was already sitting in the president’s chair. That was a very clever metaphor. To most people, it went right over their heads.
You see, it was then too late, the entire nation had been scammed by a master con man and his party by means of a hoax. Hoax is a deception, a lie, an absurd story, an exaggerated tale intended to bluff, defraud, and deceive. This man had never run a small business let alone a giant and powerful nation. Bill Clinton calls him the amateur; he has never had to meet a payroll because throughout his life somebody else was always providing him in his operations.
Even his birth is clouded and vague with mystery. He has just admitted in the last week or so for the first time that he was born out of wedlock to a single mother. She was not married like he sold it in the beginning.
He claims to be raised in poverty. No he was not. He was raised in an upper middle class circumstance all his life. His mother came from a high income family and his Indonesian stepfather was also well off, because of a relationship with a brother who is a millionaire and he worked with him.
His university experiences and grades are covered so that no one can peer at them and reveal things that might help evaluate him better. It was claimed that he was a professor at the University of Chicago. No he was not. He did teach there but he was never awarded the distinction of being a professor.
My concern for this "handwriting is on the wall" sermon is not really Barack Obama, it is really more that the American people were so gullible as to accept this man as a candidate in the first place and then allowed it to continue despite all the red flags that were already appearing in 2008, even in regard to his eligibility for the office.
This man was no more prepared to lead this nation than you and me. He was given credibility by a great many people who had much to gain from his election, another lie. They promoted him so that they could gain in their efforts.
It is not my intention to give a sermon on Barack Obama and the Democratic Party’s lies, but there are so many, it is incredible. I do want you to consider that God has given this nation what it deserves. His judgment is falling on us, and as a nation we are guilty, as guilty as sin for not only accepting these sins but also for doing nothing to rid the nation from those in office who are perpetrating these lies and their effects upon the rest of the citizenry.
There has been an even greater hoax, a greater con job perpetrated, not just on the United States but on the entire world, and for the entire time mankind has been on earth.
Revelation 12:9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Jesus is confronted by the people of Jerusalem, somewhere near the Temple, and they had quite a get together there as they argued back and forth or discussed back and forth, and Jesus said:
John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for his is a liar and the father of it.
Jesus makes it very clear that lying is right at the foundation of this deplorable state the entire world is in right now. Lying was the launching for this world.
This great liar is the ruler of this world. he is alive, he is active, he is still in position, and he is pushing his untruths right down the ears and the throats of the people of this world. And the United States is in danger of falling because of following after lies that this being has pawned off on this nation.
II Corinthians 11:3-4 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived [Lied. This is how everything got started. That ought to tell us something about its importance to all sins. It is very likely a lie at the foundation.] Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it!
Adam and Eve were conned into sinning by a murderous deceiver, and they bought it. He scammed them through a story that they would be rewarded with never dying, if they would buy into his story and eat the fruit of the tree God told them not to eat of.
I am sure the fruit, whatever it was, probably tasted good, but that is the way sin is, and generally with lying in particular. Lying rarely kills the perpetrator quickly. It promises so much and may even deliver the goods for a while, but it never lasts. It moves to enslave us within its addictive grasp.
Jesus tells us there in John 8:44 that the con man, Satan, fully intended to kill Adam and Eve. That was his intent, and the lie was the first step to murdering them. Not only kill Adam and Eve, but hopefully all of mankind from the very beginning, through this sin. He has a heart that is as cold and calculating that has ever been found, and he is cunningly attractive in his ways.
Human nature is an extraordinary liar, so we must be on our toes, as the saying goes, in order to resist, because sin often preceded by a lie is appealing, it is attractive, and even necessary—we might even feel—to our well being if one judges only according to human nature, and that is why it so often easily scams us into submitting.
I am concerned about this election because I fear that Americans have reached the point in our slide into national oblivion through immorality that a very large percentage of people no longer care about the well being of the nation. They care about themselves, but the well being of the nation, I think that it is over their heads.
Now that enslavement to sin and death has been bought as a way of life for the well being of the individual only. Please do not think that I believe that Romney and Ryan are the solution to America's problems. I believe that as a team they are better prepared and that their overall personal characters are better than Obama and Biden, but brethren, even another Josiah would not be enough. We need Jesus Christ!
I think my real concern in this sermon is that we are so familiar with the world that some of this not really caring, of which I spoke for the well being of the nation, may have washed over on to us. It is something that is easily absorbed because human nature is always looking out for the self. That is a natural thing for it to do.
In order to get it turned around, let us say, as citizens of United States, there has to be a patriotic fervor, there has to be a willingness to sacrifice for our fellow man in order to help to lift the entire nation up out of the doldrums, the economic doldrums, which it has now.
I can remember when I was a boy, the little community that I lived in. My dad was an air raid warden during the war, he and these other men had to organize social get togethers and we would, have like a little picnic. The real point of the social get together was to help educate the people about how to take care of themselves and preserve the nation during the Second World War, and they would give us films, and so forth, on how to identify German Messerschmitt, Japanese Zeros, or whatever else that might be coming over.
They showed us the silhouettes of the airplanes so that we could identify them, just in case we ever went through a bombing run by those people. This is just a little peek into what I mean about this whole nation being put into a war effort in order to solve this problem.
Our leadership today will not do it. I think they feel that if they would start saying something like that during the campaign, they would surely feel that they are not going to be elected because they are just scare mongering.
I know that there are some among us who are watching what is going on, especially in Europe where the situation actually is just a little bit worse than it is here. As things begin collapsing, in Greece, Italy, Portugal, it is going to affect us very badly.
Do you know that in the United States, the Fed, has been buying our own debt, the bonds? That is where the quantitative easing is going. It makes no sense.
II Thessalonians 2:3-4 [notice this command] Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition [son of destruction] who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
But he is not God; he is a hypocrite, pawning himself off as if he was God. The man of sin is a liar. That is where it begins, because that is where Satan's conquering of mankind through the sin of Adam and Eve began, with a lie. The pattern is going to be followed. The man of sin will rise on the wings of a lie, or a whole series or a whole package of lies.
I believe that we are approaching this time and place in man's history, the man of sin who is a deceiver, is right on the cusp of being revealed.
II Thessalonians 2:9-10 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
This man is coming with energy, see the word “power” in verse 9, is really the Greek word for energy, working, the energy of Satan. He will perform supernatural things. However his astonishing performances will spring from the unrighteous heart of Satan with his desire to deceive and murder through self concern and sin.
The man of sin will deceive the many because they have rejected the love of the truth when they had the opportunity. Remember what Jesus said, “Many are called but few are chosen.” Why were they not chosen? Sometime in the past when they had the opportunity, they in some manner at some level rejected the truth.
II Thessalonians 2:11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.
In response to mankind's rejection of the truth and acceptance of the lies when they had the opportunity to accept the truth, God will send a deluding energy, just like He said in verse 9. In verse 11 He is going to send a deluding energy that results in those believing the lie hardening themselves. That is their penalty for believing the antichrist’s lies.
Is God being unfair to these people? No He is not. God is never unfair, never unjust, and God reveals right in the Bible a very clear pattern that He will follow in the near future. It is this: When a man acts against God's intended mercy, when they had the opportunity to respond in a right way to the truths of God, they instead rejected it. God sent out this truth to them and the intent was mercy, but when they rejected it, God reacts.
The pattern is very clear. Do you know that Pharaoh hardened his heart first? Then God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. That was His response. When Israel's king hates God's true prophets, the Lord then permits him to be deceived by a lying spirit. When men practice impurity, God gives them up then to the lust of their hearts, to impurity. When men refuse to acknowledge God, He gives them up to a base mind and base conduct.
Now brethren, we are living in a time when the lies are mounting up to heaven. You should see the latest issue of the “WhistleBlower” magazine. It is devoted to disinformation, not misinformation it is disinformation. They are not the same thing. Disinformation is a deceitfully planned and planted lie. It is more sophisticated and subtle to make it seem more reliable and trustworthy than misinformation, because in the manipulation of truth it seems to come from very creditable sources. The Russians are very good at this.
Disinformation rarely fails to throw its intended target into confusion. One day the people think one thing, the next day they get new information and it turns their heads right around, because it seems so reliable, because it seemingly is coming from such a credible source.
What is so bad about lying? First of all it destroys trust, it creates confusion, it separates friends, it kills relationships.
Jeremiah 7:16 [God is speaking] Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.
Jeremiah is preaching at the tail end of Josiah's reign. You know Josiah was a great king. He did a great deal, but if you read the book of Jeremiah, you begin to get a clear picture that for all of the effort that Josiah made in order to try to turn the nation around, turn the nation back to God, get rid of all the idols, destroy their temples and everything—I do not know how many false priests that he was responsible for putting to death because of what they were doing—it did not do any good.
It is going to take more than Josiah to turn this nation around, because we did not even have a Josiah as a forerunner. So we are going into this end time without anybody really making an attempt to teach the people about the immorality of the United States.
Jeremiah 5:1 Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; see now and know; seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her.
Remember the promise that God made to Abraham: "If we can find 10 righteous people in Sodom, I will not destroy it." Here God says to Jeremiah, "[If I can find] anyone." This is the direction that we are headed.
Jeremiah 5:2-9 Though they say, As the Lord lives, surely they swear falsely. O Lord, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved. You have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock. They have refused to return. [The date here is probably less than 5 years before the Babylonian's began to really come through Judah.] Therefore I said, Surely these are poor. They are foolish; for they do not know the way of the Lord, the judgment of their God. I will go to the great men and speak to them, for they have known the way of the Lord, the judgment of their God. But these have altogether broken the yoke and burst the bonds. Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the deserts shall destroy them; a leopard will watch over their cities. Everyone who goes out from there shall be torn in pieces, because their transgressions are many. Their backslidings have increased. How shall I pardon you for this? Your children have forsaken Me and sworn by those that are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. They were like well-fed lusty stallions; every one neighed after his neighbor's wife. Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord. And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?
That is the prelude to Jeremiah 7:16.
Jeremiah 7:16 Therefore do not pray for this people nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.
Jeremiah 11:14 So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble.
Jeremiah 14:11 Then the Lord said to me, Do not pray for this people, for their good.
Three times He told Jeremiah, "These people are so corrupt I will not hear your prayer to grant them repentance." Jeremiah continued preaching, though, right on through Josiah's tragic death in an ill-advised battle.
What we see in Jeremiah's writings is that the reformation of Josiah accomplished no lasting good. It did not turn Judah's corrupt culture around. Things got so bad in a short period of time, God issued these commands to Jeremiah.
So the United States has not even an advantage of going through a religious revival lead by a zealous, God-fearing king. Our nation, in spite of the polls claiming that 80% of its citizens believe in God, is falling, like a rock into a pond, in a pit of immorality. Corruption is everywhere, in every corner of this land, leading me to believe that a huge percentage of the citizens no longer even know what immorality is. We are so corrupt; an awful lot of people do not know that killing a baby in a womb is murder. It never sinks in.
How far gone is it? Have we reached the place where we should no longer pray for it, seeing God will not listen because His mind is set that it is already too late? I do not know the answer to that question, as to whether we have degenerated to that condition where God commands us to not pray for this nation, but I do know that things are very bad. And I know I feel inadequate in my mind and tongue, that I fail attempting to describe how far it has fallen.
I believe that its corruption is very bad, though, because I am old enough to have experienced this nation at the very height of its power and prestige before the world, as compared to what it is now. When I say power, I do not mean merely economic, academic, scientific, and military power before the other nations. I mean when it was truly respected and admired as the leader among nations because it had character-power before those nations.
I do not mean that its walk before the world was without flaw because nothing evil ever happened within it. I mean that its general character was such that the admiration and respect that it received was because it was truly judged as a good place to live. It was a place where the peoples of other nations wanted to emigrate to, and become part of it as full-fledged citizens. It was a nation where other nation’s leaders could receive generous and sincere freely-given help in their time of need whenever disaster struck them.
The book of Lamentations ends with a really heartfelt lament regarding Judah. I am going to apply it to the United States of America, because I think in principle it applies.
Lamentations 5:15 The joy of our heart has ceased; our dance has turned into mourning.
This was a man who really felt a love for his nation.
Lamentations 5:16 The crown has fallen from our head, woe to us, for we have sinned.
It is if the nation was such in the eyes of God and other nations that it seemed as wearing a crown. The leader among all nations, a crown signifying that leadership. The crown has fallen from our heads, “woe to us for we have sinned.”
Lamentations 5:17-18 Because of this, our heart is faint; because of these things our eyes grow dim [actually with tears]; because of Mt. Zion [that is where the Temple was], which is desolate, with foxes walking about on it.
Consider if this was said for this nation today. That the joy of dancing had departed, because there is no anticipation of joy. Israel's crown, as the king of nations, has fallen from our heads, and as a nation we are weary with the burden of sin. Worst of all in God's eyes the Temple area where people went to fellowship and communicate with God, is deserted, so deserted of people, that a wild animal like skittish foxes, walk freely about within it without any fear of men. God is abandoned.
These are sobering times, and lies are paving the way, greasing the skids, to put this nation in a pit. What do we have to do? Jesus tells us we have to endure to the end, persevering through it, while still holding faithful to God. It is our challenge.
That is what is before us. I read you the part in II Thessalonians 2, so that you can see that the man of sin, everything he says, and everything he does, has underneath, the lies of Satan together working through him, in order to deceive everybody. We have to fight that off. We need to make special efforts to keep our minds and our lifestyle activities centered on God. It is He who saves us from the effects of lies.
Make special efforts to give God thanks often for the love of His truth that He has graciously given us, because I think that the handwriting is clearly on the wall.