The Lord, The Nation, And The Choice
By Richard Owen Roberts
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance" (Psa. 33:12).
God is interested in more than the redemption of individuals. I am convinced God has a plan for the nations. It is long past time we developed concern for our nation. Here in America, we have got to have revival or the whole cause of missions that we have been deeply involved in for centuries is going to dissolve. The collective testimony of the American church is so dreadfully erroneous that the average person witnessed to does not believe in Christ because they cannot believe in the Christians they know. Hypocrisy! There is an incredible change when the church is revived and becomes the living, vital body of Christ. The testimony then to the individual is ringing and clear.
I am sure that about all of you admit that America is at a crisis point. I do not have the impression that God is longing for the chance to destroy us. I do not see any evidence whatever that He has set aside His plan for the United States of America. If things go rotten even more than they have already, if God is to become our enemy in a 100% fashion, it will not be because that is His heart. It will be because we are content to maintain a focus in our lives and in our churches that does not represent His heart. We must recognize the corporate aspect of Christianity, and we dare not suppose that because some individuals are being saved, the heart of God is satisfied.
God Has Made America a Great Nation
If you know anything about the history of this land, you know that we did not get where we are at by our strength or by our piety. It was God who put us in the position we are in. Democracy is an outgrowth of Christianity. This nation has been a democracy because of our devotion to Jesus Christ and His Gospel. And now we are losing the very core element that made us a democracy and thinking we can go elsewhere in the world and bring democracy to them! If we want to see the nations of the world turn to democracy, we better start sending missionaries who, under the power of the Holy Spirit, proclaim the Gospel that frees men from the love of sin and self and enables them to embrace Jesus Christ and His love for humanity and His respect for the poor and the downtrodden. But like insane men, we toss aside the thing that has made us great. And we think that we can help others to get established when we do not even understand ourselves our own roots. Oh, may God help us!
I am saying to you that the heart of God is for the nation. And the heart of God was toward these United States because there were men deeply committed to make this a Christian nation. Oh not completely, but can you name another nation in the modern world that came as close to being a Christian nation as this nation did? I think sometimes somebody has to remind us of some of the basics.
Patrick Henry wrote, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religion, but on the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!" He might as well not have lived as far as some of our historians are concerned.
Samuel Adams in a proclamation on a day of fasting in the year 1795 said, "The supreme Ruler of the universe having been pleased in the course of His providence, to establish the independence of the United States of America, we ought to be led by religious feelings of gratitude to walk before Him in all humility according to His most holy law, but with true repentance and contrition of heart we may unitedly implore the forgiveness of our sins through the merit of Jesus Christ, and humbly supplicate our Heavenly Father." You cannot even get the average preacher to call his church to repentance, to say nothing of political leaders calling the nation to fasting and prayer and confession and repentance and crying out to God to come and save us!
Benjamin Rush, that medical man so vitally involved in the early days of the country, wrote, "I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am perfectly satisfied that the union of the state in its form and adoption is as much a work of divine providence as any of the miracles recorded in either the Old or the New Testament."
John Jay, a distinguished statesman in America’s early history, wrote, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and the interest of our Christian nation to select and to prefer Christians for their rulers."
Do not tell me we had no Christian origins. Men did not write passionate words like that without fire burning in their hearts and without a vision of one nation under God. This nation was founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and governed by the commandments of our God.
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance." Obviously Psalm 33 was not written about America. Clearly, it is a passage dealing principally with Israel. But nonetheless the sober fact remains, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." But that other phrase in verse twelve must not be neglected: "…the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance."
Can you explain the incredible growth, the strength, the beauty, the wonder of America apart from Jesus Christ? Do you think it is possible for a nation to move from being a howling wilderness to a great nation in a relatively short span of time, merely on the basis of its natural resources or the imagination of its scientists or the might of its politicians? You cannot explain America apart from God.
Some of you are familiar with the words of the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited these United States, and who was so utterly convinced of this that he wrote these impressive words that appeared in his Democracy and America, a two-volume set, the first volume in 1835, the second volume in 1840.
"I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, her fertile fields, and her boundless forests, and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich mines, her vast world commerce, her public school system and in her institutions of higher learning, and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic congress, and in her matchless constitution, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America did I understand the secret of her greatness and her power. America is great because America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."
You and I have lived through the destruction of the America that was great because America was good. Would to God we could live through the resurrection of America to greatness because of a return to God and His goodness! When 9/11 occurred, after a few stuttering moments, I said inwardly, "Something has happened that will get our attention and turn us back to God." And for three weeks or so the churches seemed full and everybody was talking about God. It was so difficult to get plane flights in those days. I had meetings canceled and some places I had to drive where I never would have driven before merely to get there, and everywhere I went I was struck by signs that said, "God bless America." Great flags were waving all across the land. But it was not very long before my own heart was saying, "God has blessed America. It’s about time God got blessed by America." But that flurry of interest and activity lasted only for a period of about three weeks.
And now where are we? Brother Blackaby clearly stated that there is a time of repentance and there is the time when it is too late. My dear brothers and sisters, do you understand the concept that God grants to every individual and every entity a measure of sin? When that measure is full, the wrath of God is upon that entity to the utmost.
But I am not ready to give up on America. I have not had any word from the Lord that has said, "Lie down and die." I do not have any message from my Father in heaven that says, "You have done your piece, now take your rest."
God’s Blessings and His Curses
But I want you to turn now in your Bible to the Book of Deuteronomy at chapter 28: "Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth" (v. 1). This passage is obviously dealing with Israel; there can be no question about it and that is precisely what the Lord promised Israel He would do. But I ask you again, how did America get to be such a great nation? I never heard any other explanation that made any sense than simply that God Himself made us a great nation. And I do not say that in a prideful fashion. I say it with amazement in my heart.
"All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out" (vv. 2-6). We can hearken back to the past and say, "Lord, considering the incredibly great investment You have made of Your heart and Your love to America, can You see, Lord, that another investment of that grace and love could bring a great return of glory to You?"
I am not going to read all the chapter, but He goes through the list of blessings and then through a list of curses. "But it shall come about, if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be…" (vv. 15-16). Notice now, starting at verse 15 and going through verse 68, there is about three times as much devoted to curses as to blessings! I do not believe God wants to curse us. I think our Father in heaven would be thrilled to have the privilege of bestowing upon His people the richness of His grace again. But He absolutely cannot because He cannot bless that which is defiled by sin.
As gross as the adulteries and homosexual behavior are, and which are multiplying among those who claim to be evangelical believers, these are not the great sins. These are the fruit sins. The great sins are pride, stubbornness and rebellion, and unbelief.
And what if our pride were destroyed, and in our homes and our churches we were a broken and a contrite people? Some of you have a very low esteem level. You do not think you have any possibility of being mightily used of God. But you are a child of the King. The same power that made Peter great can make you great, and give you a voice, a testimony and make you an impact. Pride often works in reverse. Sure, there are plenty of arrogant people, but there are a lot of people who seem to be overwhelmed with humility, and it is nothing but pride in reverse.
But I ask again, what if our pride were to be destroyed and our stubborn, rebellious spirits removed and we were to have a true faith in God? Is it not possible that even a little group of devout believers, if God were to come upon us, would be more than enough under God, to turn the course of this nation?
If America comes under the full brunt of the curses in Deuteronomy 28, it will be because the believers who knew better were willing to let it happen. Any nation that is willing to be doomed, will be. But any people who cannot live without the blessing of God will find God is more than ready to pour out His blessing in a measure so great that it defies the imagination.
"Lord, we do not sense any greatness in us. We do have a deep sense of the awfulness of our own sin. We have a heavy load of a wayward nation upon our shoulders. Some of us have been many hours before Your throne, pleading, pleading, pleading for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And some of us are convinced, absolutely convinced, that You could yet turn America into a great force of righteousness, so that others would write, as was written in 1835, ‘America is great because America is good.’ We cannot turn ourselves that way, but we believe in the Holy Spirit and in the power of Your Word, and we plead together that You will so impact us that America cannot continue in its moral and spiritual decline, because our voices raised to heaven turn the nation about to the glory of King Jesus for ever. Amen."
– Excerpted from a message given at the 2004 Heart-Cry for Revival Conference.