Sunday, January 02 2011
In the last 2 months, I have been making some observations of the dynamic shift in the standing of our country. I listed these general points: 1) the economy remains in flux; 2) national security remains threatened by outside enemies; 3) government corruption is at an all-time high; 4) we have increased our national debt in just 2 years to an amount that exceeds the entire history of our country combined; and lastly, 5) our country is divided in its overall interests and pursuits. Last month, I addressed the second issue in the list and concluded that essentially, America has learned to trust in its own ‘horses and chariots’ and has failed to acknowledge that Yahweh Sabaoth (Lord of Hosts) is the only source of true military victory. Again, I realize several other areas footnote these items. But I only seek to address the accentuated changes in our culture in the United States of America. And let me reiterate as well, as I observe these issues, I am not so interested in how the world handles it as much as I am in how the church does. According to Jesus, all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). We being His disciples then must follow His lead, not our own.
There seems to be no limit to the level of debauchery that our government officials will stoop to in these times. Grant you, as I speak in gross generalities, as there are a few individuals who would appear to be striving for godly principles. But these are rare exceptions, and at the risk of sounding extremely pessimistic, there seems to be an infectious virus that even the best of men 'catch' once inside the DC Beltway. And from there, everything else rolls downhill causing lower-level politicians and judges to follow suit. If the highest level of human responsibility is corrupt and the rulers no longer respect God, there is no left to hold the lower levels accountable for their actions.
I could sit here and wax eloquent with a flow chart of point-in-time references to specific individuals, groups, parties, events, laws, periods, etc., of when the United States began its decline to destruction. But as contemporary American Christians (which we should just be Christians) we would simply take these facts as my opinion and either 1) endorse them because we like the way they sound, or 2) disagree with them and argue from a political aspect that we otherwise support. Both are insincere and self-centered. There are exceptions of individuals that genuinely sift things through a biblical worldview and accept the results regardless of how they ‘feel’ about it. However, it is rare when God’s will is strictly the driving force that trumps all of one’s personal wants, desires, and opinions. Why do you think the vast majority of individuals in our culture are offended about something? How often do you actually hear someone speak of where the Word speaks of how God is offended? It is a clear indicator that the average attention is focused on ‘one’ as opposed to the "One."
Therefore, I will pluck out one of several examples I could give that demonstrates the typical human reaction of God’s people when it comes to His blessings of prosperity and freedom. Nehemiah, cupbearer to king Artaxerxes is allowed to return to Jerusalem to complete the rebuilding of the city walls in approximately 445BC. The short version is during the process of restoring the city, the Pentateuch (meaning ‘5 books’ - the Law of Moses; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) had been uncovered. Nehemiah gathered the people together to hear the reading of the entire Torah (the Jewish word for the Pentateuch). They stood for the reading. When finished, the Levites spoke in Psalmist form reciting the history of Israel, from creation to their present state. They spoke of when the Israelites were delivered from Egyptian captivity, and while in the desert, "our fathers, acted arrogantly; they became stubborn and would not listen to Your (God's) commandments. They refused to listen and did not remember Your wondrous deeds with You have performed among them’ (Nehemiah 9:16, 17a)." Aside from the irony that a person who has been born a slave, delivered against insurmountable odds, and is stranded in the desert, manages to find arrogance, it’s the middle of verse 17 that speaks the exclamation point of the paradox. It states "So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt." So in essence, in a very short period of time, from slavery to an outrageous deliverance of freedom, they want to go back. It’s like washing a pig. But if you observe our nation, we started out by fighting against a tyrant across the Atlantic demanding tribute, to developing our own tyrants who extract tribute in larger amounts than King George ever demanded. In the state of New York, some citizens are now being taxed an average of 62% of their incomes. That literally means they get to keep 38 cents of each dollar they earn. Shocking? You bet it is. But we the people have voted in the very individuals who have done this. And under currently economic models — and it matters not to which political party you apply yourself — we are in for a taxation increase that dwarfs even our imaginations. So in essence we have become stubborn and appointed leaders to return to our slavery.
The priests continued in their psalm speaking of how Israel would turn to God and be blessed, and once prosperous again, they would subsequently show Him their backs again. In verse 26 it refers to the time after they possessed the promised land of Canaan and were enjoying the fantastic produce of the land. It states, "But they became disobedient and rebelled against You, and cast Your law behind their backs. And killed Your prophets who had admonished them so that they might return to You. And they committed great blasphemies." The psalm then tells of how God continued to protect them from their oppressors, and yet after being delivered, in verse 28 we are told, "But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You." It is all too fresh in my mind the sudden sense of humility of the United States after September 11, 2001. In a country that had just been crying ‘separation of church and state,’ the ACLU was nowhere to be found when Congress was gathered in the National Cathedral (which most Americans had no idea existed) for prayer. Suddenly, most people 'got religion.' I remember total strangers walking into the church building where I was serving at the time. But after 3 weeks, they stopped coming. The concern was over. The people stopped praying. Politics were status quo. And just as before the planes crashed into the buildings and a field, God was out of the picture because His name was considered offensive to a remote few. Even the God-fearers went back to their economic concerns. And despite his call to prayer, our president’s ultimate advice to America for recovery was to go shopping. How short our memories are. We truly have become the ultimate form of short attention span.
This is probably the simplest of all the points to be written, but perhaps the hardest for the contemporary church to embrace. Serious Christians must be elected and appointed to the governmental offices of the United States of America if we are to survive as a nation. The line of Christians would be lengthy to offer me their objections that all of our national leaders should be Christian. But imagine ancient Israel electing an official from Assyria. And in some instances, they inadvertently did just that by making alliances with non-God followers. These actions were unilaterally met with God’s punishment and discipline. What would ever make us, who are called by the name of Christ, think any less today? A simple web search will demonstrate the debate among Christians of whether or not we should even be concerned with having Christians in government. Are we really so ignorant? So deceived? So willing to succumb to the pressure of the world? So willing to give up what God has so richly blessed us with? And how asinine is it to think that our country’s rich Christian heritage needs to be buried? To what do people attribute the source of such great wealth and power? How dare us — again.
We must have Christians elected to office who are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This means that every principle that they govern from will come from His divine will as given in the Holy Scriptures. Natural law must be acknowledged once again and the Giver of said law. The evil must be undone - and it can be, with the hand of the Almighty God. We must remove those who publicly quote Scripture and ask sarcastically ‘which of these do we think we should govern by?’ We must deny those who deny God. We must categorically expel anyone who is openly an abomination before the Lord. How do we ever expect to receive the blessing of God if we are not willing to do so? And we must stop trying to justify stances against the obvious will of God by the wrangling and selective application of His word. We would despise anyone who would do such with our words. Why would we attempt such things as His people? He is clear in His application.
I am well aware of the feeling that one’s efforts are incapable of making any difference against the juggernaut of evil. But remember the exodus. Remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we will not believe in His ability to do once again what He has done in the past, how can we believe in what He promises to do in the future? Remember the people of the time of the deportation of Babylon. Those that were preserved were the ones who dared to object to the status quo. You belong to God. You belong to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. We are not our own.
Keep the Faith,