Here’s a weird but real riddle: When in human history with God have we seen a single loss of 3,000 souls (human beings), then the additional of 3,000 souls, and then perhaps the loss of 3,000 souls on American soil? The answer hints at the importance of remaining in the covenant (two-way marriage-like relationship) with God.
First, God told the Israelites that He would be their God (King) if they would be His people. The arrangement was based on the ancient Hittite suzerain-vassal (lord-servant) covenant in Abraham’s day renewed through Moses. The Israelites agreed and then committed spiritual immorality by worshiping a golden calf while Moses worked with God to receive His Instructions written in stone. Moses commanded that all who aligned with God join him and worship God as they had promised. The rebellious died for breaking their word to God and leaving the covenant. Guess how many people died that day? Yep – 3,000 (Exodus 32:26-28).
Second, and conversely, 3,000 people gained their lives so-to-speak by embracing the covenant during the post-resurrection Pentecost celebration (cf. Acts 2:36-41). Alright – 3,000 lost souls replaced. Good. But have we then lost 3,000 again at any time on our turf in the U.S., perhaps because we’ve left God’s protection? Maybe.
About 3,000 (2,996) people died in the horrific September 11, 2001 attacks (https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/9-11-attacks). You’re probably thinking something like, “But, Ron! Aren’t we a godly nation and in God’s good graces and protection?” Not really. We might have been hundreds of years ago. After all, our nation was founded on Christian principles by God-fearing people. Schoolbooks used the Bible to teach anything from the alphabet to morality, and Harvard and Yale were Christian institutions. Abortion was not a consideration, and divorce was uncommon. Sexual immorality existed but wasn’t pervasive or acceptable behavior.
Today? Christianity in the United States is declining, and churches are closing their doors at an alarming rate. Abortion is legal and commonplace, and divorce frequently divides families inside the Church and out. Most schools cannot teach about Christianity, allow prayer, or tolerate Christian gatherings. Universities like Yale and Harvard discourage the faith and even teach against it occasionally. And we engage in or condone immoralities, not unlike that of Sodom and Gomorrah or Emperor Caligula’s Rome. Was the loss of 3,000 souls on September 11, 2001, related to a decaying morality and departure from God? Who knows? Still, the 3,000-soul death toll and our nation’s direction make interesting bedfellows!
The Exodus and Acts messages’ thrust is the covenant (two-way relationship) and dedication to the Lord God. Next week, we’ll explore that relational framework that began with Abraham and continues today. Why? So that you too may choose well.
Blessings and peace,