I think that there's a lot to say on this subject, so I'll be breaking it up into a few pieces. Don't know how many, but that's why this is part 1.
The Israelites were taken away into captivity. They were openly rebelling against God, so God punished them. So how do the Israelites, who saw such mighty wonders as the Red Sea parting, manna falling from Heaven for 40 years, and miraculous battles won, end up in a place where they are so wicked that God has to punish them? And what does that have to do with us?
And the sons of Israel secretly did things that were not right against Jehovah their God. And they built high places in all their cities for themselves, from the Watch Tower to the fortified city.
The Israelites started with secret sins. Don't we all have those? Maybe some of the guys liked to look at pornographic paintings or visit the local strip show. Maybe it wasn't even that blatant... maybe some of them were lusting after the neighbor down the street. Maybe some of the wives were asking "does this robe make me look fat?" and the husbands told little white lies, thinking that it didn't really matter anyway. Maybe some of the wives started gossiping about how the dashing Levite a couple of houses over sometimes argued with his wife. Perhaps people let anger and bitterness fester.
Whatever happened, the Israelites began to commit sins. They didn't sin openly, just in secret. They didn't think that anybody would ever find out.
Sure, they had seen many miracles (or at least had heard of the miracles from parents and grandparents. But they were humans just like us. Haven't we seen miracles too? Hasn't God blessed our country? We were able to fight off the British and become our own nation. We defeated Hitler in World War II. We are blessed with abundance that many people only dream about. From our country's very beginnings, God protected the Pilgrims by sending the Indians to help them learn how to feed themselves, and he protected Jamestown as well. They sinned despite seeing the hand of God in their country, we have had many of the same advantages and we sin as well.
The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
Sometimes it is easier to pretend that this is not the case. If I'm alone at my computer in the middle of the night, who is going to know what goes on? If I'm alone with my thoughts, who is going to know what I'm thinking? If God doesn't strike us down dead with lightning, maybe what we're doing is okay. Or that may be our rationale.
Our sins do come to light eventually. I'm sure the guys at Enron didn't think that they would ever get in trouble for their deeds. What about the millions of teenagers who engage in premarital sex and... when the girl comes up pregnant, their sins aren't so secret any more.
Our country has always had individuals who have had secret sins. Even the Puritans... they must have put the stocks to use at times, otherwise why would they have had them? In the 1800s you had the Wild West... most of those sins weren't so secret. But I suppose that in those days when the preachers condemned whisky and other forms of hard liquor, little ol' grannys and curious schoolboys alike probably took a swig at times.
If you move forward in time, we can see more secret sins. Some people decided that they didn't want to believe that God created the earth, and they decided to side with the Darwinists and with evolution. Eugenics was a big thing back in the early 1900s. In the 1920s we had the flapper movement, where some people engaged in secret sins like dancing provocatively and using cocaine.
ABC had a "7 Deadly Sins" special last Friday where they talked about vanity. People probably have been vain since long before Narcissus fell in love with himself during Greek times, but certain vain activities that us Americans take part in used to be secret. Like plastic surgery. It used to be something that people didn't like to talk about because they didn't want people to know that they were secretly vain.
However, secret sins usually don't stay secret. Often they come to light while we still live... but even if you take secret sins to the grave with you, God has seen them, and eventually they all will be known. Anybody who knows much about America can realize that dancing provocatively in bars and taking swigs of whiskey are not the controversial secret sins that they once were.
And be sure your sin will find you out.
Next time on Adventures In History: the continuing story of what happened to the Israelites and their secret sins... and how that relates to America and our country's secret sins.