Bring Back the Glory
As we think about the birth of our nation this month, it may surprise you to know that as nations the United States and Israel actually share some commonality. Many aspects of our history and Israel’s are similar.
If you look at Israel in the book of Judges, you’ll see some of those parallels. Judges is a sad book, yet one that holds out hope. God had blessed the nation Israel, then Israel lost the glorious heritage she had.
God had done miracles for them. By His power, the Hebrews had broken the tormenting bonds of slavery, come out of Egypt, and enjoyed His supernatural provision for 40 years in the wilderness. What followed for Israel were days of glorious conquest under Joshua as God gave them a promised land flowing with milk and honey—and with it the liberty and freedom to worship Him. By the time of King Solomon’s reign, Israel had become a jewel among nations. “So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.” (1 Kings 10:23).
Likewise, for America, God has given us a land, freeing the 13 colonies under British rule and blessing this nation with liberty to worship and prosperity like no other in the modern era.
Some revisionists today, however, are rewriting history to remove our Christian heritage. But they cannot do it. Patrick Henry, who gave the impassioned “Give me liberty or give me death!" speech, is the same Patrick Henry who said,
"It cannot be emphasized too much or repeated too strongly that America was founded not by religionists, but by Christians. Not upon religions, but upon the gospel of Jesus Christ."
George Washington, our first President, took his oath of office with his hand upon the Bible, then leaned down and kissed the pages of God's Word. His first official act was to take the entire Congress to church, staying for a two-hour worship service. Washington said,
“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."
In plain English, God did it. God established America. These were days of glorious conquest. Some don't want us to remember that.
Then for Israel came days of gradual compromise. God had given Himself to the nation. They had a Lord, Jehovah. They had a land, Canaan. And they had a law—His commandments.
But Israel soon failed to appreciate their miracles, their heritage, and their blessings. They denied their Lord. They defied His law. And they defiled the land, even erecting altars to false gods.
As long as the generation under Joshua who had seen God move in glorious ways remained alive, the people served God. “And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that He did for Israel” (Judges 2:7). But as soon as the generation who had seen God’s wilderness provision and miracles died, the nation began to forget God. Those who witnessed Joshua’s conquest of Canaan—they were now gone too. God had given them victory and a glorious heritage, but they forgot that heritage, and he had to bring judgment to the people who had been so blessed (Judges 2:1-4 and 10).
That’s so like America! Such a striking parallel. Friend, we're living in that generation today who does not understand the history of the miracles God worked for America. We’ve gone through a cultural revolution that started in the sixties, and now we're reaping the bitter fruit of that revolution.
No nation ever had such a Christian beginning as America. I say it with a broken heart, America has forgotten God. Yes, we still have religion, we still have culture, but all of that is the formaldehyde, the sickening perfume that disguises the deadliness and decay in our land today. Unless something happens, a historian will one day write The Rise and Fall of the American Empire.
In Judges we learn that in Israel at this time there was no fixed standard of right and wrong. "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6). Those days have come to America, aided and abetted by our educators and college professors. The 65% of Americans who believed the Bible was the authentic word of God in 1960, by 1992 had fallen to 32%. Today it is far less. That’s where we are today—in a serious situation where there's no fixed standard of right and wrong.
Isaiah described today very much like our day. “Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
What's that like in America today? Well, there are certain Canaanites we don't seem to be able to deal with. Drugs, crime, immorality, sexual perversion. Children live up to the expectations that we have to them, and we should be encouraging them to remain pure and live a righteous life. Our kids are falling off a cliff, and we're running ambulances to the bottom of the cliff. We need some people today who will build some at the top to help these kids, to tell them what is right and what is wrong, that sin will take you further than you want to go, it'll keep you longer than you want to stay and it will cost you more than you want to pay.
Thirdly, there were grim consequences. For Israel, there came that time when God, who had been their protector, going before them in battle, finally said, “Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. And it came to pass, when the angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept” (Judges 2:3-4). God said, “I'm not going to protect you anymore.”
God has protected America in the past. We have sung, “Long may our land be bright with freedom's holy light. Protect us by Thy might, great God our King.” But America has lost her protection. Militarily we are weakened now. We don't know what to do. Few of us have any confidence in our foreign policy. The scream of the great American eagle has become the twitter of a frightened sparrow. We're in a battle today, not of bullets and bombs, but ideas and morals. We don't know what's going to happen next.
In the past 30 years, our divorce rate has quadrupled. Teen suicides have doubled and violent crime has increased more than 500%. More than 1/3 of all births in this nation are to women without husbands. In the inner city, the rate of illegitimacy is as high as eighty percent. Violent crime in America costs us in excess of $100 billion dollars a year. We have diseases that are running rampant. Fifty-six million Americans suffer from some sort of venereal disease. Yet in America the government is spending $160 million dollars each year to teach kids how to use condoms. And that same money is used to attack abstinence-based education, calling it “fear and shame-based curriculum.” They say it distorts the facts and hides the truth. The truth is that sex outside marriage is dangerous and often deadly. Promiscuity leads to divorce, disease, abortion, broken families and lives of misery and despair.
We've taken the Bible out of the schools. In 1980 they said you can't post the Ten Commandments on classroom walls—it might be dangerous to some child who would read it. Yet James Madison said,
“We've staked the entire future of the American civilization on the right, the ability of each of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.
Dire consequences have happened in America today. We are in trouble militarily, culturally, and in our families. Why are we seeing all of this? One simple reason: the God who has protected us has withdrawn His protection, saying, “You say you want to do it without Me…go ahead. It's yours.”
You see, the reason we’ve been so blessed is that God has protected this nation. Do you understand that? Now, God doesn't have to judge us, He just has to let us have our own way. We judge ourselves. God says, “You want to do it without Me. You say there's no fixed standard of right and wrong and you're smarter than I am. ‘Every man does that which is right in his own eyes.’ You don't want Me. Alright, you've got it.”
We have forgotten God. We need to bring back the glory.
Now let me give you the good news: Judges 2:16. I love the first word of this verse:
“Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.”
Nevertheless, God had rather forgive than judge. God had rather save than condemn. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the world. (John 3:17). The word “judge” literally comes from a root word which means “to save or to rescue.”
There is hope for America. As Bible believers, we must quit the idea that there's no hope for America. There is hope for America. The book of Judges shows how in the history of God's ancient people He sent deliverers, men of God, to rally the people to the Word of God, to repentance and faith. God brought restoration and forgiveness. The God who did that for Israel so long ago can do t for America today. God has sent revival in times past in dark days.
Americans need to say to Jesus, “Lord, You're the one who gave us liberty and Lord, we're going with You.”
Father, I pray that you'll bring back the glory to America. Lord, forgive us for keeping company with Canaanites. Lord help us as the people of God to love you and to hold up the standard. In Jesus' wonderful name. Amen.