Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Should God bless America?"

This Sunday is Veteran's Day.  It is a day to remember those who have sacrificed much to defend the freedoms we enjoy in the United States of America.  My father was a veteran of World War II and fought as a marine on Guam and Iwo Jima.  I thank God for him and others who paid such a high price, many at the cost of their very lives.  We owe them a debt of honor and gratitude.  We also need to remember those who are standing for the cause of freedom around the world today as they serve our nation and those who are being oppressed by evil.  God has used the people and principles of our nation to bring freedom to others and continues to use the people of this nation to care for the oppressed and hurting around the world.  Those who hate Americans would perhaps have different thoughts if they were to experience the world without the aid that Americans have given in the past and are giving now all over the globe.  When disaster strikes or evil raises its ugly head, we are often the first to respond.  God has given us much.  Jesus said, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12:48).  But what is America, as a nation, giving to God?

To be clear, a nation consists of its people.  As a concept, the United States is a nation built upon the biblical principles of law and morality.  The success of our government is arguably dependent upon the people who vote and those who are elected abiding by these principles which are written into the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Without this unified standard derived from God's Word and from God Himself our nation has no legal or moral foundation.  When President Clinton quoted Proverbs 29:18 (or rather, misquoted it) and said, "Where there is no vision, the people perish," he believed that he was the one to give a vision to the American people.  President Obama has voiced the same idea when he said again in his acceptance speech, "There are no 'red' states or 'blue' states, only the United States of America!"  This is the vision that he wants all Americans to have.  But neither he, nor anyone else, has offered anything to make this vision a reality.  What Proverbs 29:18 actually says is, "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint."  In other words, when there is no unified revelation of truth the people will do whatever they want to do.  In rejecting the biblical principles upon which this nation was founded, there is nothing to hold us together.  This explains the division within our nation.  We are clearly a nation divided.  Which brings us to our question:  "Should God bless America?"

We are currently a nation that has turned and is turning farther and farther away from the God who has revealed Himself in His Word, the Bible, as the Creator of all things.  Legislators have, for the past fifty years, sought to remove God from the public arena, from removing prayer and the Bible from our schools to attempting to remove "under God" from the pledge of allegiance.  We continue to kill millions of unborn babies.  We have more recently embraced homosexuality and same-sex marriage and all sorts of immorality.  The list goes on.  God's Word is trampled on and tolerance is shown for every religion except Christianity.  We can talk about God, within certain limits, but we dare not mention Jesus Christ.  Following the election results and hearing of the various proposals that were passed in some states, I couldn't help but think of Psalm 2, where the writer says, "The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against His Anointed One. ... The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.  Then He rebukes them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath, saying, 'I have installed MY King on Zion, my holy hill'" (Psalm 2:2,4-6).

As a people, the majority of Americans are rejecting the one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and His Son Jesus Christ.  While many claim to be Christians because they believe in some "god," most do not know who He is and do not live by His revealed Word.  They have thrown off the restraints of His law and are resisting the influence of His Spirit, for their hearts are hard and their ears are closed and their spirits are dead.  The evidence is overwhelming, and much of the visible church seems to be following rather than leading as denomination after denomination approves of behavior contrary to Scripture.  Which again brings us to our question:  "Should God bless America?"

In the Bible God's blessing means His love and presence and grace.  When God blesses He brings healing and restoration and peace.  Does America as a nation need these things?  Absolutely, YES!  But what must happen for God to bless America?  Americans must fall to their knees in confession of their sin and turn from their evil ways.  We must seek the LORD through His Son Jesus Christ.  We must repent and acknowledge that there is one God and the only way to draw near to Him is through the cross of Christ, believing that Jesus paid the penalty for our sin.  We must humble ourselves and seek God's forgiveness.  Unless and until that happens, God CANNOT bless our nation!!

There was a similar situation in Judah in the days of Jeremiah.  The people were worshiping idols and doing detestable things.  God said to Jeremiah, "Do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.  Do you not see what they are doing in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?" (Jeremiah 7:16-17).  He goes on to describe their false worship and then asks in verse 19:  "Am I the one they are provoking?  Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?"  And in verse 20:  "Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says:  My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground, and it will burn and not be quenched."

Finally, God says to Jeremiah, "When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer.  Therefore, say to them, 'This is the nation that has not obeyed the LORD its God or responded to correction.  Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips" (7:27-28).  Wrath was sure to come.  There were "false shepherds" who were telling the people God was with them and that He would bless them, but God told Jeremiah that their message was not from Him.  The same is happening in the United States of America.  We have never been "the people of God" as Israel and Judah were, but the United States as a nation has claimed to believe in this God and to worship Him.  He is not a God to be fooled or taunted or ignored or despised without consequences.  When our leaders and prominent pastors casually toss out the word, "God bless America" at the end of a speech or a sermon, what must God think?!  How dare anyone ask God to bless a nation that has turned its back on Him and rejected His counsel and His Son??  Psalm 2 ends with these words, "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for His wrath can flare up in a moment.  Blessed are all who take refuge in Him" (Psalm 2:12).

As a Christian and as a pastor I cannot ask God to bless America in her current state.  Rather, I pray for His mercy and for an outpouring of His Holy Spirit to move people to repent, beginning with myself and all true believers, and those who claim to be followers of Christ.  The course upon which we find our nation inevitably leads to judgment and destruction.  The nation that exists today is not the same nation my father fought for and that many have died for.  We are straying farther and farther away from any moral foundation based on God's unchanging revelation of truth.  It appears that in many ways we are already under the judgment of God and unless the majority turns to the true God in humility, confession and repentance the future of our nation is bleak at best.  So what is the solution?  What can we do?  Our congregation has determined that based on God's Word, this is God's vision for the true Church:  "We exist to proclaim the reign of Jesus Christ over all things; glorifying and enjoying God, now and forever."  The true Church must proclaim the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and call people to repent, to turn from sin to righteousness - the righteousness revealed in God's Word.  Only God's mercy can save us!

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