A psalm. For giving grateful praise.
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:1 – 5
As we continue with social distancing and the other precautionary measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, I find my mind drifting to thoughts of my childhood days as a post-World War II baby boomer.
During the decades of the 1950s and 1960s, a significant portion of America’s families frequently attended worship services (and, most likely, Sunday school classes as well) in what we called the “denominational” churches. At that time, most Americans claimed to have a Judeo-Christian heritage. However, as a result of the many significant societal changes which have occurred over the past fifty years, America is now a predominantly secular culture which pays little or no attention to things spiritual or eternal.
This slow but very steady drift into secularism (secularism is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations) has left our nation ill-equipped to understand, value, cherish, and protect the liberties and freedoms upon which our nation was founded.
In his inaugural address in New York City on April 30, 1789, President George Washington spoke the following words to both houses of congress. Those words reflect the deep sense of humility and reverence which he considered to be necessary if he were to serve as the first president of our newly formed republic:
“…it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men, more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.”
After some brief intervening comments, the Father of our Country concluded his inaugural address with these words:
“…I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favor the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.” ~ George Washington
As our first president so appropriately and accurately acknowledged even before our nation passed any legislation or issued any court decisions, “there is an Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect… No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States.”
There is a sense in which the words and actions of our founding fathers expressed and created a covenant between God and the citizens of our nation. And, President Washington confirmed that covenant by expressing the allegiance of our nation to the God of the Bible with his concluding words “…his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”
In 2 Chronicles 7:13 – 14, God spoke these words to the people of Israel: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
To be sure, America is not a theocracy. Yet, history has recorded for us that the British colonies were founded in the seventeenth century by Bible-believing Christians seeking religious liberty in America. When those colonies gained their independence from Great Britain, the first President of the United States openly acknowledged the “divine blessings…on which the success of this Government must depend.”
America may well survive the pandemic of the coronavirus. But, will America survive as a nation? And, if so, will that nation be a people of freedom?
Please read again the words which are quoted from the very first speech spoken by our very first president to our very first congress. Meditate on those words.
Also, consider the words which were spoken by Patrick Henry in Saint John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia on March 23, 1775: “…Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
Despite arguments and opinions which have been expressed to the contrary, the United States of America was founded by Christians and for Christians. And, even if our current population of American citizens may choose to believe otherwise, we cannot overlook the importance of the teachings of the Holy Scriptures when it comes to the rise and fall of the freedoms, prosperity, and physical protection of the people of any nation.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31 – 32
The Bible says, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:13 – 15
Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:31 – 34
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:1 – 3
As written in Psalm 33:10 – 12, “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.”
And, as the psalmist concludes in Psalm 33:17 – 22: “A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”
John Adams (who served our country as our first vice-president and as our second president) said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”
And, as stated more recently by President Ronald Reagan on August 23, 1984, “Without God, there is no virtue, because there is no prompting of the conscience… without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure… If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.”
Pray for America. Pray that we as a people will humble ourselves as George Washington did when, on behalf of our fledgling nation, as his first official act, he publicly proclaimed (for the history books to record and for all of the world to know) that “No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men more than the People of the United States.”
Pray that we as a nation will “humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways”. If we do, God has promised “then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
You think about that.
April 16, 2020
© 2020 Nicholas Cook