With Hurricane Katrina a fading memory, many merchants are going back to their old businesses—and their old ways. Is there a lesson we should be learning—and what are the consequences if we do not learn?
The rebuilding of New Orleans, called "the greatest urban renewal project in American history," is currently underway. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin and other leaders are faced with an unprecedented task—and opportunity—of rebuilding a whole city from the ground up.
Public officials are admirably trying hard to take input from many different community sources, such as developers, preservationists, businessmen and government and neighborhood leaders. But there is one source many are overlooking—the great God who created all, and gave every human being life and breath. What does God say? What would God's blueprint for a rebuilt New Orleans look like? Would God really want to resurrect those features of New Orleans that made it such a symbol of decadence and self-indulgence?
Already, while much of New Orleans remains uninhabitable, the "French Quarter"—symbol of the city's unsavory reputation—has made a remarkable comeback. As one newspaper reported: "Each night, there's a little more beat to the bawdy heart of New Orleans, the stretch of bars, restaurants, strip clubs and stores specializing in T-shirts with X-rated messages that is one of the city's strongest tourist lures… If such merry-making seems incongruous in a city hit by one of the nation's worst natural disasters, one that took hundreds of lives, those who are trying to kick-start a revival welcome any signs of comeback" ("Bourbon Street survives storm," Appeal-Democrat, October 2, 2005).
Is the "comeback" of commercialized fornication and lust really a step in the right direction? The Bible foretells of a Great Tribulation, in which the United States will be conquered and its major cities destroyed as a result of its people's sins. The prophet Isaiah warns: "Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God" (Isaiah 58:1–2). Adultery, fornication and trafficking in sexual sins are the scourge of any nation, and a source of its internal decay and eventual fall. Though many in the U.S. think of their country as a "Christian nation," a tribulation of unprecedented scale is coming unless people repent of their sins (Jeremiah 30:7).
But what about those who do repent now—who respond to Isaiah's warning? What about you? When Christ returns to establish His kingdom on the earth, one role He will give to the converted, changed and Spirit-led saints will be to rebuild those cities that were destroyed in the Great Tribulation! Notice what Isaiah wrote: "The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In" (Isaiah 58:11–12). Those cities will be built based on God's blueprint!
Many heroic efforts to rebuild New Orleans are taking place. How tragic it will be if a rejuvenated New Orleans just reappears as another tribute to human lust and uncontrolled desire. Without national repentance, more destruction and devastation will surely come. Sadly, most will not repent, but you can heed the warning and escape the curses yet coming on this world's sin-filled cities. In fact, if you obey God, genuinely commit your life to Him, and turn to Him with all your heart, you can have a part in rebuilding those cities!