The Beautiful Rise and Ugly Fall of America
Let’s begin with one of my all-time favorite verses of Scripture, one of several that pertain to God’s sovereign interaction with the human race, specifically applied to nations.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12, NASB).
There are also many passages that define and depict God’s relationship with individuals and with remnants of people (mostly the Jews) who seek and follow him despite most of the nation ignoring, disobeying, and even abandoning the true and living God.
When it fit the subject or thought at hand, Psalm 33:12 has been quoted a few times in Eye of Prophecy articles. Yet, I did not begin today’s post by first looking up the verse in the Bible, which would be the normal means of quoting Scripture—that is frequently done in my articles.
Instead, I was stunned to see the verse at the top of the next to last page of the Arizona Republic newspaper’s main section … Section A. Despite being the 15th of 16 pages in Section A, the page was prominently displayed; when removing the other insert sheets, this page unfolded as part of the front side. And equally amazed to see that the entire spread had been dedicated to the birth and founding of the United States of America, with famous quotes from prestigious American historical figures and sources. Such as our: Founding fathers, United States Presidents, Supreme Court Justices and Supreme Court Rulings, Congress, Universities, and Foreign Opinions.
The realty that the entire page was printed in the July 4th, 2016 (240th anniversary of America’s Independence) edition of the Arizona Republic didn’t diminish my surprise. If for no other reason than it is rare now days to find Scripturally-based articles or Christian themes in any public newspapers or on-line news sources, other than those dedicated to a conservative audience.
Without spending an inordinate amount of time checking other major newspapers throughout the United States (or the world), I can only wonder how many news sources consented to printing this page. Would even the ultra-liberal, anti-religious New York Times and Washington Post have dared to include this page in their July 4th edition this past Monday? Nah! (Well, maybe?). Did you happen to see it in your newspaper? Does anyone even read a newspaper anymore?
My aforementioned astonishment was tempered somewhat when I also observed the word, “advertisement” printed three times at the top of this page … left side, center, and right side. With the solemn realization: It’s unlikely that even the somewhat neutral Arizona Republic (leaning slightly toward the left, but for the most part editorially objective) would have printed this spread, unless someone paid for it. The very fact that a verse from the Bible is quoted, followed by several citations that referred to God, Christianity, and the Bible is rare indeed in today’s humanistic secular political, social, and literary world. Let alone Biblically based quotes from notable historical figures as Chief Justice John Jay, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and excerpts from the Student Guidelines of Harvard and Yale Universities in the early days of their founding, to mention a few.
(First United States Supreme Court Justice, John Jay)
Undoubtedly, you’re wondering; so I won’t leave you in suspense. The Arizona Republic page was sponsored by a successful retail company in this country … one of the most courageous defenders of Biblical and Christian principles in the business sector that we’ve seen in a long time. An organization that has not capitulated to virulent anti-Christian individuals and groups such as the ACLU. (It is right up there with, Chick Fil-A).
I’m referring to Hobby Lobby based out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They are shown at the bottom of the spread, just below this line:
“If you would like to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, visit Need Him Ministry at www.chataboutjesus.com. To download a free Bible for your phone, go to www.mardel.com/bible.”
*Disclaimer: This week’s Eye of Prophecy article is NOT a paid advertisement for Hobby Lobby (or Chick-Fil-A)! It’s not an advertisement at all. Rather, a simple acknowledgement to give credit where credit is due.
You knew that, yet it was still fun to say it!
Now then, let’s get to some things that are not so fun, but must be said. First, the good news: America once was beautiful. Tempered with the bad news: The United States is plunging into an ugliness that was never meant to be.
Removing God and the Bible From American History
A few decades ago, Ads like this would have not been all that unusual. Some news outlets might have published this page without requiring that the originator take out advertising space. But, most likely, the spread would have been relegated to the Religion segment of the newspaper; if, in fact, there was such a section.
For that matter, in the not so distant past, the need to publish such a column in major news sources would not have even been necessary.
Because just in the past 50 years or so, secular humanists (mostly liberal politicians, activists, and educators … particularly university professors) have been on a hell-bent rampage to eliminate any and all vestiges of religion, specifically targeting any references to or mention of Jesus Christ (or God) in our governments, universities, secondary and elementary schools, or in any public place.
They have gone to elaborate extremes to achieve their anti-Christian agenda, not the least of which is rewriting our history books to make sure there is no reference to God, Christ, or the Bible’s astounding influence on the birth and growth of this (once) great country.
*Note: Obviously our educational curriculum is not designed to replicate religious catechism or “Sunday-school” material. However, to deliberately dismiss or distort or defame the immense impact of the Christian faith embraced and espoused by our founding fathers in both their personal and public lives is to create an inaccurate, imbalanced, and unfair perspective of American history and of the Judeo-Christian beliefs that birthed our nation.
For example (a very mild one at that): Many Americans have read and/or can quote Patrick Henry’s famous words from an impassioned message (one of many made by the forefathers of our Republic) to inspire, rally, and clarify the only option left to the American colonies … to fight for their freedom from the tyranny of England’s oppressive monarchy.
Remember his words? Of course you do.
“I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Yet, how many history textbooks contain any of the preceding text (context) of Patrick Henry’s powerful plea for a call to arms?
Here is a portion of what headed Patrick Henry’s final words:
“An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left for us! … Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power… Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us… Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Astounding! No less than four times, he dares to declare and defer to God. Way to go Patrick!
Now then, a confession is in order: I can’t recall the last time (perhaps only once) that I either read or heard all of Patrick Henry’s message. However, I have read or heard many sayings and writings, in part or in full, from several of our founding fathers.
Such as the quote from Benjamin Franklin that I posted in the following photo as part of the Eye of Prophecy article, Separation of Church and State … For or Against? Part I (posted 4-2-16). I would encourage you to read that article and the Part II sequel (4-9-16).
Both Patrick Henry’s and Benjamin Franklin’s quotes were part of the Hobby Lobby sponsored page in the Arizona Republic. (However, they and others like them can’t be found in mainstream curriculum of American schools and universities).
As was a quote from George Washington: “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
From all I’ve seen, heard, and read, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and other prominent men and women who founded and served the United States of America professed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through believing and receiving him as Lord and Savior. They unashamedly and enthusiastically endorsed the Bible as the God-given source of truth, life, and liberty (beginning with freedom from the penalty of sin), through personal and national redemption.
In the context of today’s article and to understand the growing secularism in America that intends deceitfully to replace and remove God and Biblical truth from our nation’s governments (city, state, and federal), and our increasingly desperate need to return to the Biblical values and precepts upon which this nation was built, here is an excerpt from the Eye of Prophecy article, Separation of Church and State … For or Against Part II. (in italics)
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (II Chronicles 7:14).
Then, the Lord declares to Solomon: “As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’ But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them…” (Verses 17-20).
Make no mistake … this beautiful land of opportunity that we call the United States of America was, in fact, given to us by the true and living God. The surest way to lose our freedoms, if not the land itself, is to as a nation (all three branches of government) abandon, reject, and mock our Creator and Savior. Ironically, this is being done by many who claim they are protecting those liberties by eliminating all things shown, said, or done that smack of religion, with practically everything they do directed against Christians (true believers). Their real agenda is to eliminate the name of Jesus and take away the rights of those who name the name of Christ, including freedom of worship, speech, press, and assembly, in say a meeting room on a high school or college campus.
I firmly believe if we and especially our presidents, senators, representatives, governors, mayors, and judges adhered to (the basic) truths and principles found in Scripture, at least acknowledging God’s ultimate authority and thanking him for all of his blessings, there would be no need to debate the issue of Church and State separation. Our leaders would fully comprehend what it means to serve both God and the people. This service would not need to in any way, shape, or form result in a man-made religion or hierarchical religious denomination or institution to impose a distorted view of government ON the people.
One more quote from the Arizona Republic newspaper spread, this one from President John Quincy Adams:
“Is it not that in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?”
Quite likely, John Quincy Adams had the following verses and others like them in mind when he said those words:
Jesus said: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).
“For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12).
My reference (and many others who use the same terminology) to the founding fathers of our United States Republic logically and historically identifies those men (and women) who rightfully revolted against the repressive rule of England’s King George III.
In reaction to suppressive English laws imposed on the thirteen colonies, including the Stamp Act and tariffs on tea imported to the colonies, then later the “Intolerable Acts” enacted by King George III—which led to the main complaint of the colonists: Taxation without Representation—the American colonists formed the First Continental Congress. Although the very idea of a self-governing, representative body of constituents from the thirteen colonies was “revolutionary” (meaning the first time that the colonies exercised any degree of independence from their colonial benefactor Great Britain), the intent of this Congress was not armed revolt. Instead, their primary purpose was to consider response options to England’s “Coercive Acts.”
Concerned American colonists convened to discuss such things as: Presentation of rights and grievances with a formal petition to King George for redress of those grievances; also economic boycott of British trade/goods. This first “Congress” agreed to arrange another Continental Congress session if England refused to revoke the Intolerable Acts. Which, of course, King George III refused.
Essentially, the First Continental Congress was a “provisional government.”
The Second Continental Congress convened the following year (May 10, 1775). During this assembly, representatives did call for each colony to organize and train its own militia, in the event that armed resistance was the only alternative.
From there, most Americans know at least some of our history.
The Second Continental Congress led to a Declaration of Independence followed by military victory over England in what we all know as the American Revolutionary War. The Articles of Confederation for the Second Continental Congress became the foundational framework for The United States Constitution, which is arguably the greatest document of democracy and a republic (representative government) ever composed. It was signed on September 17, 1787, then ratified by all thirteen colonies (states) by 1790. It exists to this very day, modified (reinforced) only by the Bill of Rights and subsequent Constitutional Amendments down through the years.
Getting back to founding fathers: Our country has actually had two sets of men and women who established America on the same Biblical principles that would lead to religious and political freedom from dictatorial nations and rulers. The most important of which: Belief in and reliance on the true and living God for individual and national salvation, protection, and pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness afforded by the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Did you know that the Pilgrims and Puritans patterned their aspirations and actual plans and execution of those plans on Israel and the Jews? They saw themselves in the same situation as the Hebrews who were delivered by God through Moses from Egyptian bondage. Some of them equated England’s King Charles I (ruled 1625-1649) to Pharaoh. And before King Charles I came King James I … yes, the king who sponsored publication of the King James Bible. Also the same man who believed in the “divine right of kings.” That English kings were “higher beings,” far superior over the common people. Not at all unlike Pharaoh.
Although not as many colonists who initiated and participated in the events before, during, and after the Revolutionary War had expressed the parallel between America and Israel (as did the first group of founding fathers), the majority of them nonetheless acknowledged that God and Scripture could be and should be the enduring foundation for such an unheard of thing as—what Abraham Lincoln would later so eloquently summarize—a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Such a government and such a nation could not effectively begin nor successfully continue (indefinitely) without recognizing God’s sovereignty and seeking his providential guidance and protection. In that regard, they promoted the absolute truths found in Scripture.
Striking Similarities between the United States and Israel
Let’s examine some of the correlations between Israel’s birth and (what sadly became a stunted) growth to that of the United States of America.
God’s deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Pharaoh’s Egypt was a prototype parallel to the exodus of the Pilgrims and Puritans from England and other European Monarchies to America in the 17th century. They considered America as a counterpart to the “Promised Land” of Israel.
Approximately 190 years elapsed (1600 to 1790) from the time our early American settlers formulated plans to begin a new life across the sea to their actual deliverance from English autocracy, culminating in the United States Constitution with the first American President. This was nearly identical in time, form, and substance to the period after the Jews entered the Promised Land until the prophet Samuel anointed Saul as Israel’s first king (1240 B.C. to 1050 B.C.).
In the interim, Israel’s twelve tribes were governed by judges who repeatedly led the people back to God after several episodes of disobedience and rebellion against the Lord. Likewise with the colonies that were not yet states and certainly not the United States; their leaders were governors and judges. Although there was some measure of independence, the colonies were still under the general political and economic jurisdiction of England or France (hence the French/Indian Wars between France and England in the mid-1700s). Same with the Israelites during the time of the judges. During this period they were often oppressed, even subjugated by surrounding peoples that the Jews had failed to conquer—as commanded by God himself.
*Footnote: Although there were thirteen colonies at the time, only twelve sent delegates to the First Continental Congress! And, no, they weren’t trying to match or copy the twelve tribes of Israel (in number); that’s just the way it turned out. Thus, we can/should consider Divine providence at work!
During America’s formative stages (beginning with the Plymouth Bay Colony in 1620), our ancestors also went through tough times when many abandoned the Biblical principles that our first set of founding fathers followed during the early days. Though not as often as the Jews during the times of the Judges (cycle of rebellion and restoration), America experienced a few chapters of Biblical spiritual revival of her own. Not the least of which was the First Great Awakening in the 1730s and 1740s led by several Evangelical Protestant Ministers such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. Then a second Great Awakening that began (not coincidentally) in the latter part of the 18th century—before, during, and after the Revolutionary War.
Beginning with King Saul, but not completed until King David successfully defeated several surrounding nations, Israel finally gained their freedom and became a “United Kingdom” with each of the twelve tribes maintaining delegated and functional authority over its God-given portion of the Promised Land. However, all the tribes yielded allegiance and kingdom control of the nation/land to its central government in Jerusalem under King David, then his successor (son) King Solomon. With the Scriptures (Mosaic Law) as their constitution both in principle and practice!
This was almost identical to the American colonies achieving complete independence from their enemies (chiefly England), then establishing a Federal Constitution that governed the entire nation, but also granted a good deal of regulations and rights to individual states.
Additionally, the underlying bedrock of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution is equal and inalienable rights given to every person by our Creator—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob … the only true God. With the government’s elected mandate to protect those rights, not usurp them. It was crystal clear to many of our founding fathers: To marginalize, ignore, or certainly to reject God and the Judaic-Christian heritage that gave birth to One Nation Under God would inevitably erode the individual freedom and rights of the people on the one hand; and on the other hand imperil the nation itself if and when God withdrew his blessings and protection.
With great freedom and blessings come equally great responsibilities and requirements. To whom much is given, much is required.
Because Israel began to abandon the Lord their God by following after the gods of surrounding pagan countries and by refusing to believe what God had said would happen if they didn’t trust and obey him, the ten northern tribes of Israel broke away from the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin after King Solomon died. The individual and national sins and rebellion of the people finally exhausted God’s patience and he withdrew his protection from the northern tribes. In 722 B.C. Assyria utterly destroyed the Northern Kingdom, and deported the people to surrounding nations. In just a few generations, these Jews were virtually never heard from again.
It was actually during the reign of King Solomon (970 B.C. to 930 B.C.) that the seeds of individual and national disobedience began to sprout; top-dressed by Solomon himself when he allowed many of his wives to set up and worship their pagan gods. Regrettably, Solomon joined in this worship. Though Scripture does not give us the exact date(s) when this began to happen, it’s evident that Solomon and the Jews began their departure from God several years before Solomon’s reign ended.
If we split the difference and use the halfway point of Solomon’s reign, it would be the year 950 B.C. (I believe the evidence suggests that it began earlier than that). Thus, the time that elapsed from the beginning of the king’s and his people’s disobedience to God’s law and commandments (given for the welfare of the people and the nation) to the cessation of the Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C. is 228 years. If we move the date to say 962 B.C. (which very well could be historically accurate), then the intervened time is 240 years.
Where have we seen that number before?
Answer: In this article (and of course before the article through other news sources or just the math itself if you happened to think about our country’s birthday this past Monday). We the people of the United States of America just celebrated our 240th anniversary as a nation.
Although the Southern Kingdom of Judah continued for another 136 years (due exclusively to God’s mercy and patience), the Lord made it clear through his prophets that it would only be a matter of time before the southern kings and people of Judah would finally be judged. They had staked out an irreversible course, and stubbornly refused to get off that road of rebellion back to the path that God said they should travel.
When we combine the 240 years before the northern tribes met their demise with the subsequent 136 years when Judah fell to the Babylonians, we reach a total of 376 years.
The passage of time from America’s first colony to this very day (2016) is 396 years. That’s twenty more years than allotted to Israel before she ceased as a nation; then was reborn in 1948 in what is one of the greatest miracles of all time.
If our country was no worse off morally and spiritually than even 70 years ago (end of World War II) I wouldn’t be all that concerned. But we are worse off … much worse. So bad, that I’ll repeat what Billy Graham, the greatest Evangelist of our time, said over a decade ago:
“If God doesn’t punish America, then He will need to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!” (Paraphrase).
There is no doubt whatsoever that the Judeo-Christian heritage and values upon which this nation was built has eroded (almost—but that’s giving the benefit of the doubt) to the point of no return. And, for the most part, this has taken place almost exclusively in my generation … I was born in 1946.
Scripture is exceedingly clear on the following: God normally deals with sin on an individual basis for those who have rejected the Lord’s only remedy for sin and its penalty—the once for all redemptive substitutionary sacrifice of God’s Son, Messiah Jesus. But when the leaders of a nation (in today’s society … presidents, prime ministers, legislative officials, celebrities, and especially judges) and many of its people corporately and blatantly defy and distort God’s truth as found in His Word, then God’s punishment is applied to the entire nation.
It’s one thing for individuals within a society to abort babies; participate in same-sex behavior; individually mock and despise God, Christ, born-again Christians, and Jews; engage in hedonistic lifestyles; and privately wish there were no vestiges of Biblical Christianity (prayer, Ten Commandments, Christian emblems) in our courts, halls of government, centers of education, and any public place whatsoever. That’s between the individual and God.
However, from God’s vantage point, it’s altogether a different matter when governments and nations and organizations openly condone, publicly flaunt, then legislate and fund these practices. Please understand: neither I nor by brothers and sisters in Christ are judging individuals for their sins. Because I/We have all sinned (Romans 3:23). We all need the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.
Rather we are simply repeating God’s clear warnings found in Scripture. Such as:
“Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they cry, ‘and free ourselves from slavery to God’” (Psalm 2:1-3).
Then the Lord’s response later in Psalm 2: “Now then, you kings, act wisely! Be warned, you rulers of the earth! Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling. Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!” (Verses 10-12).
As well calling to remembrance God’s bountiful blessings as indicated at the beginning of today’s article.
(George Washington Prayed in Public, Almost Always with One Knee to the Ground)
The reverse of this model of God’s blessings is equally true. The nation who does not at least acknowledge the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the God of the Bible) will not be blessed.
Not to be blessed is not a good thing! For all practical purposes, not to be blessed is to be cursed.
History is littered with the rise and demise and irreversible ruin of nations whose leaders and people defied the Sovereign God. Including Israel during her times of disobedience. But in that regard, God promised that he would restore a remnant of Israel in the last days, which we are witnessing before our 20th & 21st centuries eyes. That has to do with the eternal covenant God made with Abraham (Promised Land of Israel belongs forever to the Jews) and with King David (Everlasting King who will rule and reign from Jerusalem … Messiah Jesus).
These specific covenants are not available to Gentiles or Gentile nations. However, the derivative benefits of God’s end-times blessings on Israel and the Jews will spill over to all those who have individually and on a national level accepted Messiah Jesus before and during the Millennial reign of Christ.
Yet, the universal conditional principles found in this verse quoted earlier is for Israel and all nations:
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (II Chronicles 7:14).
Things to Ponder
Though I am, like many Americans, passionately patriotic about my country, the truth must be told.
Some reading this article might question the premise that America the Beautiful (based on the song) is getting uglier by the day. Others could even be offended by the word, ugly as applied to America … especially its people.
First, my reference point and context is the condition in which the United States has fallen. One of many definitions in Webster’s Dictionary for condition is: “State of being.”
Secondly, let’s also defer to Webster’s Dictionary for some of the definitions of ugly: “Morally offensive or objectionable; repulsive … neither pleasing nor beautiful.”
For those things that begin in a perfect or near perfect state, then deteriorate to the point of demise, it is good if we can come full circle. As it was in the beginning in the Garden of Eden, so will it be again when Christ Jesus returns to set up his Kingdom of truth, justice, and peace.
As it was when the United States of America gave birth to freedom of worship and pursuit of life, liberty, and well-being through adherence to the timeless truths of Scripture and reliance on the Triune God of the Bible, we can only hope and pray that we will come (at least close to) full circle before it’s too late.
As we began this article, so shall we end it:
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.