“Well,” I think to myself, “here I am again”, as I sit here musing, kicked back with my Bible and my laptop. I can hear the sound of fireworks in the distance as my thoughts try to decipher themselves into words. Tomorrow is the 4th of July, the birthday of my country, the United States of America. It also happens to be my birthday.
July 4th holds some of my best childhood memories. My dad would be off work for the day. We would often get together with family…go for a swim in the pool or the lake, have a cookout, and shoot off some fireworks after dark. It was a day I looked forward to every year.
But over the past few years, that childhood perspective has begun to change, and while those memories are still dear and I do look forward to spending the day with friends tomorrow, this year, as the night grows late and I sit here in the quiet, my thoughts take a different turn.
I think of how I love my country. I think about her founding fathers…I think about the men who have died over the past two centuries defending her liberty…I think about the faith, courage, toil, and blood that originally built and defined her despite her imperfections.
But as I look back over the years I also see her slowly dying…spiraling into a grave of ever deepening sin, apathy, ignorance, laziness, debt, dependence, and increased restriction on the liberty of her people. I look around me and see denial of any and all truth, and increased hostility towards God and His people. I see a country cluttered with corrupt, spiritually lazy churches full of false doctrine and lenience towards sin…willing to bend the truth, to distort the gospel in order to cater to a corrupt society.
Came across this quote the other day, and I found it to be profoundly relevant. Alexander Tyler, in 1787, wrote:
“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.”
~Alexander Tyler, “The Fall of the Athenian Republic”
Rather accurate summary.
Our nation will be 237 years old tomorrow.
And we are obviously on the downward slope. (If you don’t believe me, turn on the news and watch for a while. In fact, you don’t even have to do that; just look around you.)
Sobering is it not?
Folks, it’s nothing new. It’s the cycle of nations. At some point, this country will collapse. (Even if Christ comes back before it falls, it’s still going to fall before Him…because His kingdom will be a kingdom over all the earth…just saying.)
Now, do not mistakenly think that I am implying that all genuine Christians in the U.S. should just throw up their hands, abandon all churches, politics, and society and go hide in a bunker somewhere because the United States is just following the same old path of every other nation and there is nothing we can do about it so who cares. (I have come across this type of discouraged attitude more in recent months…and have been guilty of it myself at times.)
No. That’s not what we’re called to do. We are called to preach the gospel, to fight for the truth, to glorify God on this earth, and to do so wherever and in whatever walk of life God has placed us. That is our mission. And that mission won’t change until Christ comes back, no matter what physical administration may be over us at the time.
Believer, is that not a comforting thought? Our God does not change. Our mission as His children does not change, and He gives us the grace and strength to accomplish what He would have us do. He is sovereign over every king and nation that has ever existed and ever will exist, and He has promised to return and set up His kingdom…and He will. If you are a believer in Christ, your status of salvation in Christ, a child of God, is secure and unchanging…you are a permanent citizen of an eternal kingdom that cannot and will not be shaken. And Christ will be glorified above all. Because He said He will.
Scripture has much to say about this…all throughout. It would took a very, very long blog post to bring out every Scripture that applies (I’d have to post the entire Bible actually; I recommend you go read it for yourself rather than me attempt to type all of that), but there are some passages I would like to point out.
Psalm 2 and Psalm 46 in particular have stood out to me concerning this subject. I’ll post them here for you.
“Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His anointed, saying,
‘Let us burst their bonds apart, and cast away their cords from us.’
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD holds them in derision.
Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying,
‘As for Me, I have set My King on Zion, My holy hill.’
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage,
And the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
And dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.”
~ Psalm 2
Puts things in perspective, does it not?
Kings, rulers in the earth, coming together against the LORD, shaking their sinful fists in His face and saying that they refuse to submit to Him, and what does God do? He laughs. Divine contempt followed by divine wrath at their sin and rebellion. And then He speaks of His Son, who will shatter the nations of the earth and set up His eternal kingdom. A warning is given…serve the LORD; fear Him. Fear God.
And then…the Psalm concludes with “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” Such a wonderful statement to wrap up this Psalm! Believers, Christians, you are those who take refuge in Christ. You are blessed. He is God; He is in control. Nothing can touch you unless He allows. The nations of the earth will be in turmoil; they will shake their fists at God; do not let it affect your rest in His sovereignty, His righteousness, and His eternal plan.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters His voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come behold the works of the LORD,
How He has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the chariots with fire.
‘Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
This Psalm provides a stark contrast between the chaos and flux of the earth, and the immovable security of the city of God. Who is part of the city of God? His people. Members of an eternal, immovable kingdom. “God is our refuge…therefore, we will not fear…God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.” (emphasis added) Raging, unstable, earthly governments vs the power and stability of God. My favorite verse in this Psalm brings it to a climax, “Be still, and know that I am God.” This statement seems to be addressed to both non-Christians and Christians, telling the non-believers, “Cease your raging and see who I am. I am God”, and to believers…comfort: “Be still. Do not worry. I am God. I am sovereign. I will be exalted. You are my people and you shall not be moved.”
Recently, I’ve been studying through the book of Daniel. Challenging but rewarding in every way. Chapter 2 has a good bit to say on this subject, through the prophecy revealed by God in Nebuchadnezzar’s (the king of Babylon) dream. I’ll post the dream for you.
“You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hands, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”
Now if you stopped there, you would probably be thinking, “Wow, what was this guy eating before bed…”
But in the following verses, Daniel goes on to tell Nebuchadnezzar the meaning of the dream, (as it was revealed to Daniel by God). He expresses that the different parts of the statue represent different kingdoms as they progress through history, and that one day God will set up a kingdom on earth that will destroy all those other kingdoms…that He will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.
If you are placing all your hope for salvation in Christ, you are secure. You are a citizen of His eternal kingdom, you have eternal spiritual life in Him, and one day your king, Christ, will return to earth and set up His unshakable, immovable kingdom.
If you are not trusting in Christ, be warned, for you have no solid foundation, and you will be swept along with the chaos and tumult of earth, and your sin will condemn you to an eternal hell apart from God.
Think about it.
The hour is late and I must conclude…so, Christians in the U.S., on this July 4th…even as we spend time with friends and family, even as we gratefully remember the sacrifices made for our liberty…as we look around us and perhaps wonder how much longer our country will last…remember… Nations will change and fall…our God does not change and His perfect kingdom stands forever.