The "pushin' 40" to which I refer in the title is a much more serious matter. January 22, 2013, will mark 40 years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade. In those 40 years, our nation has aborted approximately 55 million children. My mind can barely begin to make sense of that number; it is just shy of the total number of people killed in WWII. But this 55 million were not combatants or people living in a war zone - they were children in their mothers' wombs.
I am not a superstitious person, nor am I doom and gloom; but when I hear the number 40, my mind turns to Scripture. It is a number we encounter there from time to time. We find it, for instance, in Psalm 95 where Israel was warned:
The Epistle to the Hebrews quoted this Psalm to the early Church, adding "Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience" (Heb.4:11).Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness[at the time of the Exodus],where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”(Psalm 95:7-11)
When Jerusalem's leaders rejected the New Covenant God offered them in Jesus, they were given "a generation," (Mt.24:34), commonly understood as forty years, before God allowed judgment to fall. Instead of repenting of their crime and pursuing God's will however, they pursued their own wills year after year. They tried to stamp out the Church in its infancy. Their hardness of heart eventually brought them into rebellion against Rome; and Jerusalem and its Temple were leveled in 70 A.D. - approximately forty years after its rejection of Jesus.
And here is the United States, after forty years of allowing its children - its most innocent members - to be killed in their mothers' wombs. Forty years - how has the sin of abortion hardened hearts in our nation? How has it twisted us and eroded the respect we have for all life? How many Christians in this nation are horrified by it enough to speak out? Just look at how many Christians - how many Catholics - believe they can justify the unjustifiable: casting ballots for politicians committed to keeping this atrocity legal. "Today, if only you would hear His voice ..."
If we imagine a bright future for a nation that continues to practice - whose politicians actually seem to be doubling down on the practice of - killing the child in its mother's womb, then we are as blind as Annas and Caiaphas, as blind as Herod and Pilate. "God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption" (Gal.6:7-8). If we continue, then God will finally allow the evil we have courted to overtake us. I don't have a clue what that might look like, but it has happened again and again throughout history. Cultures rot from within, and like the Jewish rebellion against Rome, we will bring it upon ourselves. In our self-imposed blindness we will undoubtedly make foolish choices and bring it all crashing down.
Forty years is a long time for God to tolerate evil ... but He has been known to do so for longer. Hopefully, we still have time to repent. "Today if you hear His voice ..." Fast, pray, talk to your loved ones, and realize that God is with you the next time you step into a voting booth. We may have failed Him in the past, but we don't have to do so again! But make no mistake, "God is not mocked." As Ruth Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham, concluded, "if God doesn't bring judgment upon the United States, He's going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah." The cries of our aborted children - our 55 million aborted children - do reach His ears.