The feckless American retreat from Afghanistan needs to be marked down as one of the more remarkable combinations of high hubris and low incompetence ever accomplished.
The tragedy is unfolding as I write, and I think it is safe to say that we are only going to see a fraction of the horrors. But what we can see should be more than sufficient to convince us that our ruling elites are diseased in the head. This might even provide a moment or two of some sort of blame-shifting comfort, but that is only until we realize that the body is diseased in the same way the head is, and we are that civic body.
The people making these decisions represent us, and they represent us well. If they didn’t represent us well, we wouldn’t allow them to represent us at all. More on that in a little while.
That travesty includes the summary execution of translators who worked with us, the deaths of desperate people falling off airplanes, missionaries and pastors awaiting their martyrdom, the summary execution of Christian congregations, the capture of sophisticated weaponry by the Taliban, the fall of Kabul, and the bootless attempt by the president to blame Trump for it all.
A Brief Aside
You can believe, as I do, that nation-building in a place like Afghanistan is a vain and fruitless enterprise. You can believe, as I do, that we ought not to have taken up the burden of trying to grow magnolias on the Arctic tundra. You can believe, as I do, that a strategic withdrawal of our forces from that place was needed, necessary, and long overdue. You can believe all those things and also maintain it ought not to have been accomplished by means of a rout. I do agree with Colin Powell’s formulation of what he once called the Pottery Barn Rule—you break it, it’s yours. Whether or not you believe we should have been there in the first place, we had a solemn obligation not to leave in the way we did.
When Pride is Brought Low
God knows how to humble great military powers. He has done it numerous times, and that is what you are seeing right now. What are we to make of that great patriotic vaunt, “these colors don’t run”? The reply is that they will run any and every time God determines that they will. Everything is in the hand of almighty God, and every thing includes every unit, every platoon, every regiment, every fleet, and everyone in the chain of command.
“The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting, They have remained in their strongholds; Their might has failed, They became like women; They have burned her dwelling places, The bars of her gate are broken.”
Jeremiah 51:30 (NKJV)
The warriors of Babylon were busy in their strongholds though. I am pretty sure they were current on all their intersectionality training, and they had conducted a number of robust seminars throughout the course of Pride Month. On top of that, they had just rolled out their new line of flight suits for pregnant mom-pilots.
Look. It doesn’t matter if your warriors are the best in the world. If God wants them routed, then routed they will be. If you have valiant men in the field, but God determines that they will be led by fops, wimps, and panty-waists, then that is what is going to happen.
“The most courageous men of might shall flee naked in that day,” says the LORD.”
Amos 2:16 (NKJV)
If God decides to chastise a nation seven times for her sins (Lev. 26:24), what is one of the things that can happen as a result?
“And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth.”
Leviticus 26:36 (KJV)
But why would God do this to us? When faced with a humiliation like this one, it is easy for us to lament it, and even to question the justice of God. This is true of Christian congregations that are supporting missionaries there. This is true of gold star families who not only have to deal with the loss of a beloved son, but who now have to deal with the loss of a beloved son for absolutely nothing. If there are victories with honor, and defeats with honor, and defeats with dishonor, and this is a sample of the last, defeat with dishonor, what are we to make of it? Why would God do this to us?
And so a prophet comes out of the wilderness, and he says, “I have a message from God for you.” And you say, reluctantly, “Say on.”
And so he says that you profess yourself bewildered at the judgments that are starting to fall. But do you have any right to be bewildered? Behold, you have no right at all. How many tens of millions of babies have been butchered in your country, where the Taliban has not ever ruled? Who did that? You say that when the Taliban takes over they will do horrific things to children, up to and including genital mutilation, but their kind of genital mutilation must be distinguished from the enlightened kind that we perform in places like Houston, San Francisco and Chicago. Not only are you willing to sanctify sodomy, blasphemously calling it marriage, you harass, and harry, and prosecute anyone who objects to it.
This is a judgment from the hand of God, and there are more judgments cued up. In the book of Revelation, there were seven bowls of wrath, not just one. And there is nothing whatever that is unjust about any of His judgments. Ever. Remember that He keeps them in Heaven, stored in golden bowls.
““Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive.”
Ezekiel 18:25–27 (NKJV)
God’s ways are entirely just. When a righteous man veers into sin, God judges it, and He judges it because He is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows. And if a wicked man—or a wicked nation—turns back to Him in repentance, He forgives them entirely. His ways are truly just.
We are a nation of hypocrites, and we should let John Calvin describe for us how the minds of hypocrites work.
“. . . hypocrites wished to have God, as it were, bound to them, and, at the same time, to remain themselves free, yea, to have a full liberty to lead a wicked life.”
John Calvin and John Owen, Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets, vol. 3 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 246.
Hypocrites want God to be bound to them, but without them being bound to God, and it does not work that way. They want the blessings that God can provide so that they can go a little bit down the road, get around the bend, where they can then take credit for everything themselves. They want to whistle God up whenever needed, as though He were a genie in a bottle, and they want absolutely no obligations in return. They want to live in Delusionville, in other words.
Only One Way Out
Our hope does not lie with any political party or faction. Our hope does not lie in the mid-terms. Our hope does not lie in any scheme that will navigate us back to an earlier point in these judgments that have been raining down on us. Our hope does not lie in the pastors of America rising up courageously—these are the men who have abandoned their flocks because of scheduled medical faux-crisis, and who have been trying to figure out how to administer the sacraments from their basements via Zoom.
No. Before there is any rising up to be done, there must be a falling down in repentance. We have forgotten Christ, and in this new creation that He has established, the choice is always between Christ or chaos. You have rejected Christ, for the sake of your vaunted secular order, in the name of your liberal democracy, and behold, the chaos has arrived. That chaos keeps arriving in waves, and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. You are not in control of anything. You are in the hands of God.
All you can do is ask for mercy. You can plead for mercy, but He will hear no one who refuses to use the name of Christ in those pleas. Jesus Christ is the one who came back from the dead in this world, and what that means is that He is the king of this world. Anyone who rises from the dead owns the world. That’s the rule. We must listen to Him.
Christ rules the world from the cross. Christ rules the world from the grave. Christ rules the world from the right hand of the Ancient of Days. The one thing that we must learn is that we must kiss the Son, lest He be angered and we perish in the way (Ps. 2:12). Like we are doing. Perishing in the way is something that we are starting to get really good at.
The only alternative is an evangelical repentance. The only thing needful is reformation and revival. And it must be a root and branch repentance. We must repent of Roe. We must repent of secularism. We must repent of Obergefell. We must repent of our vapid plans for racial reconciliation. We must repent of our self-inflicted gender dysphoria. We must repent of our Ls and Gs and Bs and Ts and Qs and pluses. We must repent of our universities. We must repent of our hatred of plain speaking. We must repent of all that “American exceptionalism” jazz, because we just watched those colors run. We must repent of all of it, and we must repent down to the footings.
Repentance of our actual sins, and faith in an actual Christ, risen from the dead. That’s it. Nothing else will serve.
In the meantime, in the spirit of that repentance, with regard to our military affairs . . .
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”
Psalm 20:7 (KJV)