Christianity in Today's America
8/30/12 at 10:30 AM 0 Comments

The Price of Liberty, Part 4: That We May Return

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This is the fourth post in my blog series, titled: The Price of Liberty. If you’re just now starting the series, you can begin with the first post here.

The Old Testament prophets dealt with corruption and godlessness in Israel and Judah. And God had to punish the people for their sins and for breaking the covenant that had been established between themselves and Yahweh.

The book of Jeremiah, in particular, showed the people of Judah suffering because they had been disobedient and had broken their covenant with God. In Jeremiah 2:8, the prophet notes where the sin began: “The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.”

The spiritual breakdown of Judah had begun with the religious leaders and lawmakers. Jeremiah clarified the spiritual condition of Judah in Jeremiah 2:3: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

1. They have forsaken Me.
2. They have dug cisterns that do not hold water.

Once a national decline has set in, it is not easy to check the momentum. The wrong indulged in by those in authority soon becomes the fashion among the people at large.

Today some bishops and church leaders tell us that the Bible is no longer relevant. They also say that biblical morality should not be the norm. Deplorably, their message has traveled from the pulpits to the pews. We see the same downward progression as occurred in Jeremiah 2:8-13, where the priests rebelled against God, and ultimately the Lord brought charges against the nation of Israel.

Jeremiah’s message is as relevant for us in America today as it was in his time. His observation that corrupt leadership infects the entire nation with moral poison is certainly borne out in American culture. Further, inward moral failure results in outward national ruin. This downward spiral inevitably brings God’s judgment on a nation, and God’s judgment may be close at hand.

However, in Lamentations 5:21, Jeremiah cries out to God for help and restoration, “Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old.” Included in this verse is the suggestion of repentance, and, in fact, repentance for the sin that has been committed provides the key to coming back to God.

As we look at America today, we cannot help but see a comparison with ancient Judah. Surely every spiritually sensitive Christian in our country would conclude that we are losing our Christian heritage. Jeremiah, too, observed that the deterioration of the nation of Judah was because of its sin and disobedience. Like Judah, America has enjoyed its covenant relationship with almighty God. He has protected this great nation through the years—as long as we looked to Him and sought to walk with Him.

Judah was protected by divine might and heavenly love from its early days as a nation in the Promised Land. And it was to both Israel and Judah that God sent His prophets, His Word, and the promise of the coming Messiah. Moreover, before the kingdom was divided—in the golden age of David’s reign and later, under his son Solomon’s reign—Israel had prospered. In those days, psalms were sung as people made their way to the temple of the Lord. Scripture was held in high esteem.

However, in the days when Jeremiah took his prophetic office, he remembered the good days of the past when the priests—and the people following them—walked in the ways of the Lord. The prophet urged God to “renew our days as of old.” He desired a return to those glorious days when Israel gladly served God.

Like Jeremiah, our cry should be for America to return to God. We, too, should pray, “O God, renew our days as of old.”

In the book of Judges, we learn of a new generation springing up that neither knew the Lord, nor the works that He had done for Israel. Similarly, a new generation has arisen that does not know that it is God who made America great. Today our school children are not being taught the truth about America’s Christian heritage. In fact, people in other countries often know more about Christian America than Americans. In spite of what the humanists and liberals say, the men and women who settled this land came to worship God freely and to spread the Gospel.

Those settlers had their faults—they were not perfect! Yet, for the most part, the people who founded America were outstanding in their devotion to Christ. In fact, some of the colonies indicated their intent in their charters:

  • The First Charter of Virginia instructs the colonists to help “in propagating … [the] Christian religion to suche people as yet live in … ignorance of the true knowledge and worshippe of God.”
  • The Mayflower Compact specifies that the colony was established “for ye glorie of God, and advancement of ye Christian faith.”
  • The Delaware charter defines the one purpose of that settlement as “the further propagation of the Holy Gospel.”
  • The Charter of Maryland explains that its first settlers were moved by “pious Zeal for extending the Christian Religion.”
  • The Massachusetts Bay Charter emphasizes that Boston was founded by men who wanted to bring the New World “to the Knowledge and Obedience of the only true God and Savior of Mankind.”
  • The early settlers of Pennsylvania came to America, according to their own declaration, for the spread of “the Christian religion.”
  • The Charter of Rhode Island “commits its people to the true Christian faith and worship of God.”
  • The Connecticut constitution instructs its settlers to “help preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • The New Hampshire charter begins: “We … in the name of Christ and the sight of God.”
  • And the closing of the Declaration of Independence confesses that we are under the protection of the divine Providence.

The first national Thanksgiving Day was ordered by Congress in 1777. On that day, Congress asked for the people’s prayers that God would grant His solemn blessing and hear “the penitent confession of their manifold sins … and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot [our sins] out of remembrance.”

Our founding fathers were not atheists or unbelievers. They were not free thinkers. They were not Muslims or Buddhists. Despite our founders’ denominations differences, these men and women built their hope upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

But the American Civil Liberties Union tells us another story.

I’m not talking about church-state relations or intolerance and religious discrimination. These are incompatible with the Christian gospel.

Early on, America welcomed everyone who was seeking freedom. Now, the very people to whom freedom has been given are attempting to rewrite America’s history. We must not let them!

Let’s quickly review where our nation stands today:

  • God is being left out of school textbooks.
  • Prayer has been banished from the school.
  • Jesus Christ is not found in federal or state educational systems.
  • More information can be found in textbooks about Allah and Mohammad than about the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We also have new names for old evils.

  • Murder is now called abortion.
  • Drunkenness is now called alcoholism—a social disease.
  • Sodomy is referred to as gay rights—an alternative lifestyle.
  • Perversion is now called pornography and adult entertainment.
  • Immorality is now considered the new morality.
  • Cheating is referred to as abnormal social development.

America’s God and the Bible have been obscured. With this dismissal of absolutes, the rapid decline of our nation is easy to see:

  • Our crime rate is out of control. A serious crime is committed every 3 seconds. One robbery occurs every 86 seconds and a murder every 36 minutes.
  • Drug addiction and alcoholism are at epidemic proportions. More than 800,000 people in the US have sought treatment for cocaine addiction. Forty-two percent of Americans have smoked marijuana. More than 17 million adults in the US are alcoholics or have alcohol problems.
  • Suicide is the third-leading killer of people aged 15 to 24.
  • An estimated 65 million Americans are living with a sexually-transmitted disease, and 13 percent of all Internet searches are for erotic content.
  • Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, while 12 percent of couples living together are unmarried and 22 percent of first births are to women in a cohabitating couple.
  • Islam is the fastest growing religion in the US, and the Mormonism is the second. At the same time, the number of people with no religious affiliation has grown rapidly to 15 percent as other people turn to atheism and humanism.

No matter how terrible all of these statistics sound, we need to remember Jeremiah’s words, “Restore us to yourself, O Lord” (Lamentations 5:21). These words should become our words and our prayer for this nation. Let us not lose sight of the tremendous price our forefathers paid so that we might enjoy the wonderful freedoms we have.

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