A Nation's Decline

By Sylvia Bambola Monday, 03 March 2014 17:54:00

Continuing to follow Jesus we finally get to Matthew 21:23-46. By this time the chief priests and elders are desperate to silence Jesus. But fearing the people they can’t chance doing this openly. If only they could discredit Him! Show Him up as a charlatan, then the people wouldn’t care what they did with Him. And how better to do this than by asking trick questions? Jesus must have become weary of this because He tells them two parables which reflect Him opinion of them. The first is the story of the man who asked his two sons to go into the vineyard and work. The first son refused, the second said he’d go. But the exact opposite happened!

In the second parable Jesus tells them the story of a rich master who planted a vineyard then rented it to tenants while he journeyed to another country. When it came time to get his share of the harvest, the master sent his servants to collect the fruit but they were badly mistreated: one was beaten, one killed, the other stoned. The master then sends additional servants but the same thing happens. Finally, he sends his son, the heir, thinking that surely these tenants will respect him. But no. Instead of being respected, the son is killed.

Jesus ends by asking the chief priests and elders what will the master do to these tenants? They answer: “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and rent the vineyard to other tenants” of better character. At least they got that right! Jesus responds with “Have you never read in the Scriptures: the very Stone which the builders rejected and threw away has become the Cornerstone . . . for this reason the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the fruits of it.”

Of course the chief priests and Pharisees knew right away that Jesus was talking about them, and instead of repenting, they become angry and more determined than ever to arrest him.

What a sad picture! And how it must have broken God’s heart! God had poured out such grace upon His people, the Jews, and their nation, and still they refused to listen to the prophets. And now they refused to listen to the very heir to the throne, the King of Kings. It would prove tragic for the nation. It solidified their decline. They would be scattered and abused; doomed to suffer greatly at the hands of the gentile nations. But praise God, He isn’t finished with them yet. He has returned them to their land and has promised that nothing will ever remove them again. And in the coming years He will begin preparing Israel to become the “Head of Nations.”

These scriptures touch my heart on many levels. First I rejoice that God is so merciful and kind, so long suffering and willing to forgive. But I also shudder at His need for justice, and I fear greatly for my beloved America. God has poured out grace after grace upon the U.S.. We have been blessed above all other nations. His Word, as revealed in the Bible, has been freely available to all who care to hear or read it. He has truly made us the head and not the tail. But all that is changing. We are declining, and I believe it can be traced directly to our rejection of God. More and more our “Pharisees” our leaders, those in authority on many levels, are pushing God aside. They, too, are desperate to silence Jesus. Many are overtly hostile to Him, while others try to mock Him by “testing” Him, His Word through foolish devices. Good is condemned as evil and evil is declared good.

God has planted a rich vineyard in America, but where are His fruits? And what will happen when the master of the vineyard comes to collect? Who can say for sure, but this I know, it won’t be a pretty picture.

Something to think about.

Until next time,




Valley of Shinar

By Sylvia Bambola Monday, 02 May 2011 10:53:00

The Bible is full of types and shadows that are like gems waiting to be excavated.  For the next few weeks I thought I’d look at one of them, namely “valleys” and see where it leads. I think it will prove interesting since our life’s journey seems to be a cycle of going from mountain tops to valleys in often seemingly random fashion.  Since I’ve never looked at Biblical “valleys” before I’ll be discovering these gems along with you.


The first valley mentioned in the Bible is the Valley of Shinar (Genesis 11:2) which in some translations is listed as a plain but whose original Hebrew, biqah, means a “wide level valley between mountains”.  We visit this valley right after the story of Noah and the flood.  It is where the existing inhabitants of the world have chosen to dwell, and not surprisingly, where they have chosen to rebel against God by building the Tower of Babel, to “reach unto heaven” and “make a name” for themselves.  Just what were they trying to do? On a corporate level they were setting up a one-world government to replace God.  On an individual level they were magnifying “self”. 


Rejecting God or rebelling against Him will always bring us to a valley, the kind of valley that will “rend, rip, or make a breach” (which is the root meaning of that word, biqah) in our relationship with God, and, as we will see later, in our relationship with each other. I can’t think of a sadder place to be.


And the immediate result? God confounded their language, then scattered them. On one level it was an act of mercy.  His concern was clear when He said, “now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do” (Genesis 11:6b). He is obviously referring to unrestrained actions that would necessitate judgment on His part.  But on another level it was deeply tragic since people were now confused, isolated, aimless, and limited in their ability to communicate; all mirroring the isolation, confusion and aimlessness of life without God. And what a hopeless life that is, when self occupies the position that belongs to God! Oh, may we never find ourselves in the Valley of Shinar!


The next valley mentioned is the Valley of Siddim, the scene of the very first war described in the Bible.  I suppose that’s to be expected. If we don’t have peace with God, can we have peace with our fellowman? But more on that . . . .


Until next week,