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America: Is it God’s Current Favored Nation?
Many Fundamentalist Christians like to believe that God has blessed those Countries/Nations that have been founded on, and operate in, Christian values, and, conversely, curses those that aren’t/don’t. It seems obvious to most that the conspicuous prosperity of Western nations in general and America in particular, must be the result of their systems of government/morality being based on Biblical principles. In the same token it is equally apparent to many that third world countries are the way they are, and remain that way, because of the religious beliefs that drive their systems. Moreover, it is also a widely held belief among fundamentalists that the current run of decadence, greed, disrespect for God and immorality prevailing upon the western world is the reason for recent calamities (e.g., the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York, and the devastating storm that hit New Orleans in September of 2005), and if we (Christians) don’t rise up against this trend, God will continue to visit new and more grievous events upon us, and we, too, will eventually sink into the same impoverished, embattled state of the third world.
The reasoning behind this comes from the belief that we are now in the New Testament, that the church of the present dispensation has replaced Israel as God’s chosen people, i.e., become “Spiritual Israel,” and—if this be the case—that America must be the “New Jerusalem.” This, according to the prophetic Scriptures, is the place from which the world will be ruled (see Isaiah 60,61,62; Zech. 14)). To a large degree, this explains the push by Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics to reunite. It seems they believe the disunity between the two largest factions of Christianity is the main obstacle holding up the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth.1
If, in fact, America is the New Jerusalem, and the church is Spiritual Israel, then it stands to reason that God would be dealing with his new chosen nation in the same manner he dealt with the old one, viz., to bless or curse them in accordance with their national obedience/disobedience (see Deut. Chapter 28). An often quoted verse of scripture among those in the politically motivated Christian Right is 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14
Never mind that this is written to Israel under the old covenant, and speaks of a “national” forgiveness. The modern fundamentalist mindset concerning Scripture seems to be: “Who cares about the context? If it will help to further our political agenda, amen!”
The question is: Is God presently dealing with nations and governments as He obviously was back then? If He is, has anyone figured out what exactly would constitute “national” repentance (turning from “wicked ways”)? Would it be to make it mandatory for the Ten Commandments to be posted in all government buildings? Or would reinstating prayer in the public schools* do the trick? Or maybe outlawing abortion and homosexuality, or making the death penalty mandatory for pornographers and drug pushers? “Why, surely if we (“which are called by my name”) would just put aside these silly doctrinal differences that divide us, and present a unified front against these evils presently polluting our land, God would move to restore the glory this country once knew.” It will never happen—at least where God Almighty is concerned—and here is why:
We are presently in the Dispensation of Grace (Eph. 3:2; Col. 1:25), not the New Testament. If we were in the New Testament the Lord Jesus Christ would be ruling the earth “with a rod of iron” (Rev. 19:15), and therefore none of the above things listed would be going on. In this present dispensation God has reconciled himself (through Christ) to the world, and is “…not imputing their trespasses unto them.” (2 Co. 5:19). This means God is not holding individuals’ sins against them.
America is not the “New Jerusalem.” According to Zechariah 14:11; Isaiah 60:18, in the New Testament, “Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited…and…violence shall no more be heard in thy land.” If we’re presently in the NT, and America is, indeed, the “new Jerusalem,” how could the 9/11 tragedy have happened?
The prophesied earthly Kingdom in the New Testament, of which Jesus Christ shall rule over, lasts a literal 1000 years (Rev. 20:4). Satan will be bound (rendered helpless) during this time.+ Witness: The present dispensation has been going on for almost 2000 years, in which Satan and his legions have hardly been “bound.”
*The “government school” is a Marxist invention.
+Rev. 20:2-4: And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
“The god of this world” (2 Co. 4:4),+ Satan, is the present spiritual ruler over its political/religious systems. This would certainly include America.
God is presently dealing with individuals, not nations. The body of Christ, which is made up of individuals who have trusted Christ for their salvation (Eph. 1:13), is the only entity God is presently operating through, and this is on an individual basis, not through any man made system. Political/religious institutions are not part of the program, much less the mainstay of it.
The body of Christ is not Israel’s replacement. To begin with, the body was a mystery “hid in God” (Eph. 3:9) that does not consider Israel or God’s plan for his chosen people; nor has God “cast away (forever) his people (Israel) which he foreknew.” (Romans 11:1,2). Indeed “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26), i.e., the 144,000 Jews who will go through the wrath of God—the “Tribulation Saints.” (see the section: “The New Testament/Covenant”)
God is not intervening in the political affairs of this world presently. There can be no other reasonable explanation for the wickedness that has been going on in the world, unabated and unanswered, for the last 1965 years. If God is ruling over this present world, He is doing a pathetic job of it. But indeed He cannot be, or else grace would be a farce. The world is under God’s grace (see #1); therefore he cannot presently be sitting in judgment and dealing out punishment.*
The present divisions of Christianity are not the obstacle to the return of Christ to set up his kingdom on the earth; rather the presence of the body of Christ is that obstacle. Since the body is not “appointed to wrath” (1 Thess. 5:9), and the prophesied wrath (“Jacob’s trouble”) has yet to come (there is nothing in recorded history which has happened that even remotely resembles its Biblical description), its (the body’s) presence must be removed (in the “catching up” of 1 Thess 4:16-17)++ from the earth before the antichrist comes on the scene: “even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” (2 Thess. 2:7-12). Once those in Christ’s body have been removed from the earth, you can be sure the world will all be united in a one world government/religion, but it won’t be the one present day Christian political activists think it’s going to be.
+In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
*Although this is true presently, God is going to have the last word. When this dispensation (grace) comes to an end, He will bring his wrath and judgment to bear on this wicked world.
++For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Government Based on Rights Coming From God
Having said all this, I don’t have the least problem with the idea that America was founded by some God-fearing men who sought to incorporate Biblical principles into the philosophy of the system they set up to govern this country. It is not my intention to disparage what they did. I believe, in principle, what they originally created was right: a republic under the rule of law, not men. From this sprang unprecedented prosperity and well being, because men were given an unencumbered freedom of enterprise, based on the premise that they had unalienable rights to life, liberty and property, which could not be abridged by any tribunal, judge, or monarch without due process of law. These rights could only be called “unalienable” because the belief was that they came from God. We have to believe, by what we read of the founder’s beliefs, the “God” from which these rights issued forth was the God of the Bible. “The” Bible at that time would have been the King James—there was no other English Bible. The King James Bible had such a prominent place in all that was going on then, that it was the basic textbook of the entire education system, from the grade school to the University.t
The Undermining Of Unalienable Rights By Undermining The Word of God.
This idea that the word of God was the King James Bible was well established until the advent of the 20th century. In 1901, 20 years following the introduction (in Great Britain) of Westcott and Hort’s Revised Version of the Bible, the American Bible Society published its American Standard “version” of the Bible. This was the beginning of the undermining of the idea that the absolute, immutable word of God was contained in a singular book, greatly contributing to the idea that there is no Supreme Being.* This being the case—that there is no God—how could men possess unalienable rights? From where or from whom do they now come?
A hundred years later, where are we? Despite the fact a majority of Americans call themselves Christians, we are a nation dominated by Secular Humanism, wherein “God” has become an idea, rather than a person; where people have been convinced that “God” can be found by turning inward to yourself. The old lie that the serpent deceived Eve with in the garden, that “ye shall be as gods,” has come to full fruition in America. All one is going to find when he searches his heart, according to the Bible, is insecurity (Jer. 17:9),+ and that is basically what one finds in present day America: a culture driven by insecurity, a culture where there is nothing of an absolute nature to get hold of, a culture that looks to fallible man and the corrupted systems he has created to secure its future.
t Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale and Princeton, were originally founded as Christian seminaries.
*The move toward this idea was greatly assisted by Darwinian Evolution, which would form the foundation for the humanism of educational theorists like B.F. Skinner, et. al.
+The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
America is neither a Christian Nation nor is it the “New Israel of God,” and never was, nor is God calling us to make it this now. The Lord Jesus Christ will establish a future kingdom to rule this world—including America—and he doesn’t need anyone to help him. This kingdom is not the inheritance of the body of Christ, and therefore is not our hope. The hope of the body of Christ is “the glorious appearing of our great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) in “the clouds”—not upon the earth—who will take us out of here to our true home in heaven. (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
“Okay, but what do we do in the meantime? Move into a commune and wait for the rapture?” No, of course not. Though we aren’t called to fix this world, we are called to live in it (1 Co. 5:10). While we’re here we should make every effort to be good citizens of whatever political system we find ourselves in (Romans 13:1-7), to “pray for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim 2:2). Certainly we should strive to retain our liberties in order that “the word of the Lord may have free course.” (2 Thess. 3:1) I’m all for supporting anything that promotes liberty, because without it this “free course” will vanish. (The other side of that coin is this: If we, as Christians, desire the freedom to preach our message, then it must be extended on an equal basis to other belief systems.)
As a qualifier to this the Apostle commands that we are not to get entangled in “the affairs of this life” (2 Tim. 2:4). In the world we live in this would certainly include quasi-religious/political movements whose underlying motive is to “bring in the kingdom,” or establish America as a Christian nation by forcing Christian morality on everyone else, through political action. The reason is obvious: our hope is not in this world, or in fixing it. So what does it look like when we, on the one hand, proclaim what is our true hope, yet spend the better part of our waking hours in quest of the world’s hope, which we know is no hope at all? Instead of demanding that folks clean up their act (repent), what we should be doing is telling them—regardless of what they’ve done or failed to do—that God has reconciled Himself to them by His Son’s sacrifice, and that they can be saved eternally and bound for heaven by simply believing Christ died for their sins, and was raised the third day for their justification (2 Co. 5:19; 1 Co. 15:3,4; Acts 16:31).+
While we must live and carry on in this world, our hope is otherworldly. If you are saved then you are in the body of Christ and your hope is a heavenly one:
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
+To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them…how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day….Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…
This appearing is not the Lord’s second coming to the earth to establish his kingdom; it is the appearing of him in the clouds of 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17, to catch us off the earth.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Whereas God isn’t going to save America, He is and will save those individuals—wherever in the world they reside—who call upon His Son’s name, and will someday take them to heaven to be with him forever.*