By Larry Dozier
The “Cup of Iniquity”- What is it?
In His infinite wisdom, God allows a nation to have power until it fills up its cup of iniquity, and when it does, the Bible says He removes that nation from power. (See Daniel 2:21; 4:17; Leviticus 18:24-28.) What makes this process so remarkable is that God, even within the chaos of sin, always accomplishes His plans and purposes on Earth! We may try to explain the outcome of earthly events by analyzing the actions of the players, but somehow God always works things out for the good of those that are called according to His purpose (Romans 8: 8).
The Full Cup Principle
The Bible says that God is love. (1 John 4:8) The Bible also says that God has wrath. (Colossians 3:5, 6; Revelation 15:1) Because God’s character has both properties, it is sometimes difficult to reconcile these two attributes. So, let us consider how the perfect balance works between God’s love and God’s wrath. Bible history reveals that God follows a consistent principle when dealing with humanity. I call this principle the “full cup principle” because the Bible often uses the metaphor of a cup to indicate the fullness of an experience. For example, consider the words of Jesus just before He was arrested and crucified, “. . . My Father, if it is possible, may this [bitter] cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39, insertion mine) Jesus did not want to endure the experience of a bitter death on the cross, but He was willing to do it if this was the only way to save the human race. The metaphor of a cup can be used to indicate a joyful experience. Consider David’s well known words, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup [of joy] overflows.” (Psalm 23:5) King David uses the metaphor of an overflowing cup to express joy beyond containment! From these two examples we see that a cup represents an experience. The contents of the cup indicate the type of experience.
Notice how God used the metaphor of “the cup” in Jeremiah’s day: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: ‘Take from my hand this cup filled [to the brim] with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.’ So I took the cup from the Lord’s hand and made all the nations to whom he sent me drink it:” (Jeremiah 25:15-17)
The full cup principle is based on the idea that God measures the actions of mankind. Every time we do wrong, we add a sin to our cup of grace. And every time that we sin and repent God forgives and removes it from the cup (1 John 1:9). But, every time we sin and don’t repent, it stays in our cup, eventually becoming full of bitterness (un-confessed, willful sin) and we have to drink the consequences of our actions. When God causes people to reap what they have sown, He is returning to them what they deserve. (Galatians 6:7) The golden rule is an iron clad rule. It says: As we do unto others, the same will be done to us. (Matthew 7:12; Obadiah 1:15) Because God acts on this principle, He is said to have vengeance (Romans 12:19; Revelation 2:23).
In a similar way, God measures the actions of nations.
Do you remember the words Daniel spoke to King Belshazzar the night he saw the handwriting on the wall? Daniel said, “This is what these words [on the wall] mean: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:26-28) Babylon had filled its cup and God responded. God’s patience with man’s arrogance and defiance has limits. But, when the cup of iniquity is nearly full, God breaks His silence by sending a warning through His selected messengers. If the warning does not work, He then uses one or more of His four deadly judgments (sword, famine, plagues and wild beasts – Ezekiel 14:21; Revelation 6:8). If the situation is redeemable, His judgments are redemptive. If the situation goes beyond redemption, His judgments are totally destructive such as the time of Noah and Sodom & Gomorrah.
So where are we in America today? Is America’s cup full, or perhaps nearly full?
It appears the words of the Prophet Jeremiah are as true today as they were back then.
“Take warning O Jerusalem (America) or I will turn away from you and make your land desolate so no one can live in it…To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. But I am full of wrath… and I cannot hold it in…From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.” (Jeremiah 6:8, 10-11, 13)
“Thus saith the Lord of Hosts…Mend your ways and your doings and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust not in lying words…You shed innocent blood…You trust in lying words that cannot profit…You steal, murder, commit adultery and swear falsely.” (Jeremiah 7: 3-9a)
“Thus says God: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glories, glory in this: that he understands and knows Me, and that I am God, Who practices mercy, justice and righteousness on the earth; for in these things I delight, says God.” (Jeremiah 9:22-23).
“Thus says God: Cursed is the man that trusts in man, and depends on flesh for his strength (power), and whose heart departs from God. He will be like a bush in the desert, and will not see prosperity when it comes…” (Jeremiah 17: 5-6).
How about you? Will you join me? 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us how. “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from the wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Now it’s time to ask a couple of difficult questions. Is America turning back to God? And are we mending our ways? There are some that believe the USA is about to see the judgment of God. Others are saying that if God doesn’t bring judgment to America, he will have to apologize to Sodom & Gomorrah. If they are correct, what will happen? Does that mean America will be completely destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah? Time will tell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord by mending our ways, turning back to God and encouraging others to do the same.