President Abraham Lincoln once said, “…it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
Of course he had in mind Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation who’s God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” In context, the Psalmist may be speaking of Israel. Yet only a few verses earlier, he had written, “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him” (verse 8). Clearly that is a verse of universal application. Verses 13 and 14 further describe the universal purview of God: “The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh down upon all the inhabitants of the earth.” Then he says, “There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength…Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine” (Psalm 33:18-19).
Not by might
The United States, over which Abraham Lincoln once presided as President, has become the most prosperous and powerful nation in the history of mankind. At the touch of a button, our President literally has the power to obliterate all life on this planet. This nation is blessed, not because of who it is, but because of how it has been – a predominantly God-fearing, Christian nation that has provided a safe haven for Jewish people. As the forces of evil gather strength in the modern world, it is only the good graces of a good God, not our military might that will save us from destruction.
There is only one God – the Creator, YHVH, the God of the Bible. There is only one Messiah (Anointed One) — one Mediator between God and man, and that’s Jesus Christ (I Timothy 2:5). God does not show favoritism. He chastens every son he loves (Hebrews 12:5ff.).
Abraham Lincoln was also aware of that. He said, “…insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People?”
Lincoln had a degree of God-consciousness not shared by any modern President except possibly Ronald Reagan. I wonder what he would have said were he alive today? How would Lincoln have viewed the barbarities of Pearl Harbor and 9/11? Would he have viewed these outrages as divine chastening?
Too proud to pray?
Lincoln’s God-consciousness was of an inspired sort. One of his most famous statements is as fresh and applicable today as when it was first made: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which has preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”
Lincoln then declared a national fast.
Can you imagine any modern president, including the incumbent, echoing closely Lincoln’s thoughts and declarations? Time was when US Presidents were not ashamed to kneel humbly before God and acknowledge him as the source of national blessings – as well as national chastisements. Nor were they shy about calling for national repentances.
Complacency in the face of evil?
Today, the United States and indeed the whole Western world, is facing the greatest evil it has ever faced. Regrettably, since 9/11, many Americans have sunk back into complacency. As a people, we are still busily “making provision for” the flesh (cf. Romans 14:13 KJV). With one ear, we are waiting for the other terrorist shoe to drop (and it will), and with the other we are listening for “smooth things.”
Scripture tells us that “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). The same is true for nations. If our national ways pleased God, the terrorists would be put to flight. If we as a nation would first submit to God, the devil that is behind terrorism would flee from us (cf. James 4:7).
Those who murder innocents think they do God a service. They believe that for committing these heinous acts, they shall receive a reward in Paradise. The apostle John wrote, “…no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (I John 3:15). The way of the true God is love, not hate. John was also inspired to pen the words, “God is love.”
John made it plain that, “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” (I John 3:10). Terrorism is wanton murder. It is the lowest form of unrighteousness. Death is its only reward (Romans 6:23).
Death will continue to breed death until the world turns to God. Let it begin with the Church. Let it begin with you and me. After all, judgment begins at the house of God (I Peter 4:17), and if we would judge ourselves, we would not have to be judged (I Corinthians 11:31).