But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD’s flock has been taken captive. Jeremiah 13:17
We’ve all heard the obnoxious tone, and then the words, “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and other authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency.” But what would happen if the alert was not a test, but for real?
Last Tuesday, many Illinois residents found out. Radio and TV stations received an alert. It said that an emergency message was going to be broadcast from the White House. Station engineers were told, under penalty of law, not to disconnect the signal. For many, it was an unnecessary instruction as many stations shut down and others automatically patched into the signal of WGN in Chicago (a Lutheran Hour station).
Spike O’Dell, the morning broadcaster on WGN, was surprised to find PBS was carrying his words along with many other music and talk radio stations. Confused, Spike waited for a White House message that would explain the emergency. It was a message that never came. It never came because the whole thing was a major mistake.
And just how did the public react to the possibility of Armageddon? Did they get hysterical? Did they begin to panic? Those are easy questions to answer. The public did almost nothing. Only a handful of calls were received from concerned listeners. Most people kept on going as if nothing were happening. In short, the system for warning people worked. It’s just that the people didn’t listen.
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah would have understood that last line. You see, Jeremiah’s life was dedicated to warning people that their sins were going to be punished and bad things were coming. Sadly, folks reacted to Jeremiah’s message in the same way people listened to the emergency warning on their radio. God’s system for warning people worked. It was the listeners who didn’t pay attention.
As Christians, we dare not ignore God. When God talks, we really ought to listen. If He calls us back from sin, we should listen. If He tells us His Son is the sacrifice that will take away our sins, we need to listen. If He tells us to share the Redeemer’s story of salvation with the lost of the world, we should listen to that, too. We should listen because God’s grace wants to make sure as many people as possible survive the coming destruction.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, we give thanks for the warnings and gifts You bestow upon us through Holy Scripture. May we hear the Word, pay heed to what it says, and allow the Holy Spirit to translate those words into responsive action. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.