Saturday, February 8, 2020

America: Who Will Stand in the Gap?

In last week's blog, I promised to come back with some follow-on thoughts.

In some ways, I believe God sees countries like He sees a person (Jer 2-3, Ez 16, Hos 1), and in some ways, I believe He looks at people like He does a country. Take Israel for example: Biblical Israel is a divine analogy for each of us as individuals. He lifts us from the pit, from the muck and mire, and sets our feet upon a firm foundation (Psalm 40). He builds us up, slowly from our perspective. God blesses our attempts to follow Him, and He fills in our gaps and our imperfections, of which there are many.

Looking back to America’s origins, we see an imperfect attempt to follow God’s ways. Yes, there were deists among the founding fathers, but there were also true Christians, and they had a profound influence in the formation of America. For example, take a look at Washington’s 1st Inaugural Address, where He consecrated this country to the Almighty God saying: 
it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe… that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States… we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained
Some have argued that Washington was catering to an overtly Christian culture in his repeated deference to God throughout this inaugural speech, purely for political reasons. I don’t believe that. He could have stopped with the supposed charade, but upon finishing this address, he immediately attended a service at St. Paul’s Church. Yet even if I were to cede to the fact that only God knows the intentions of any person’s heart, but there’s no question to the biblical, Christian influence behind these first official acts of our first president, reflecting a culture that sought after Him with earnest. 

Again, I can’t read a man’s heart, but if you read through the entire speech you’ll see a humility that I believe was far from pretentious. The courage of youth often comes from not fully understanding the enormous power that is set against us, but the courage of later years flows from trust in a power greater than ourselves. The humility of Washington’s address indicates a keen self-awareness for his own shortcomings as he entered the new office of this emergent country, so I choose to believe in the sincerity of both his statements and his corresponding actions. 

I also join with others who believe America’s consecration to God set it apart from most other nations. Like Israel, America was formed from humble beginnings with a great dependency upon God. Both rose to great power and affluence, and unfortunately both became haughty in their prosperity. 

I believe the blessings and curses associated with obedience to God as described in Deuteronomy 28 follow any country dedicated to Him. So, if God’s blessings came to America as a result of our obedience, what happens when we move away from Him and His ways? The United States has certainly seen the blessings of obedience, but in 1962, God was removed from schools and since that time we’ve seen a steady decline in our culture, including a growing divide between angry factions. 
But suppose a righteous person turns away from doing right and he does evil things. He does all the disgusting things that the wicked person did. Will he live? All the right things that he has done will not be remembered because of his unfaithfulness and because of his sin. He will die because of them. 
Ezekiel 18:24 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) 
There are two biblical approaches when facing opposition, and both take a great deal of moral courage and inner strength. The first is to turn the other cheek, to not take offense to either the insult or the insulter. The other is to oppose the evil that seeks to destroy that which is good. We need to remember that we do not struggle against flesh and blood but against principalities. These principalities can sometimes be so embedded within a person or a culture that the only way to resist the evil is to oppose it with physical force. For example, it was a moral imperative to wage a war against Nazi Germany. Although a country or person may say they seek peace, by observing their actions we can discern their sincerity. If their actions continue to belie their words, there will be a time to take up arms and fight for a greater good. 

America is close to a civil war, perhaps only one or two presidential elections away. We should be praying daily for this country and for our leaders. We should lovingly and respectfully oppose the cultural values that stand in opposition to Biblical truth with authentic example and articulate explanations that pull from facts and not just opinion. 

Some people and political factions appear to be beyond a loving confrontation with facts. However, as Augustine rightly pointed out, we don’t know who of those in the opposing camp will join the Kingdom and which of our allies will join the opposition. In truth, there are weeds sown amongst the crop of heaven and wolves in sheep’s clothing, but regardless, Our God is in control and His ways shall prevail. 

So, we struggle against principalities, prepared to fight the good fight through prayer, loving confrontation, divine discernment and physical force should it come to that. Yet we are mindful that physical force is always a last resort because once that line is crossed there is no turning back. A serious attempt to replace the Constitution or dismantle the Electoral College should give every patriot pause to decide where they stand and how they should respond. 

While the reconciliation of factions is well beyond any of us, God can bring healing through each of us. God fills in our gaps so that we can stand in the gap to defend this land from it’s enemies, both foreign and domestic. We exist, and God can use us despite our insufficiency. 
I looked for someone among you who could build walls or stand in front of me by the gaps in the walls to defend the land and keep it from being destroyed. But I couldn’t find anyone. 
Ezekiel 22:30 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) 

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