A Tale of Two Americans
By: Jim O'Brien
There are lots of theories about how it happened, but there is no doubt that America is anything but united. We're split. One need only look at the Halls of Congress during the Presidential State of the Union address. Or follow the news media. Are they talking about the same country? The same President? The same constitution? The same values?
There is a cyclical pattern in the history of God's people. It is expressed in the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Joseph had died and the new generation forgot that he had saved their nation from famine. The history classes in the public schools edited that part of their history out of the textbooks. So the new king put the Israelites to forced labor. "The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and...looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them." (Exodus 2:23-25)
God called Moses saying to him, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians" (Exodus 3:7-8)
Like it or not, God does not do that for every nation. Lots of people have suffered under tyranny and were never delivered. But the people that God called His own He delivered. I realize that some people can't accept that kind of a God but He doesn't need the approval of man.
The big question is, why would a nation that was so blessed by God ever reject the God that blessed them? Where on earth was there a nation with better principles? Where was there a more virtuous nation? Was ancient Egypt with its slaves more virtuous than Israel? Was Pharaoh, who customarily had his wives and servants buried with him, more civilized than Moses or the Prophets? Was Babylon that believed in sacrificing children on an altar to a pagan god more honorable than Israel? Where were the Israelites going to go to find this nation of supreme virtue that would make the lives of the citizens better?
Consider the people who suffered under the heavy yoke of the Philistine oppressors and cried out to God for relief. Will they not rise up in the resurrection and condemn later generations who basked in wealth and prosperity but then rejected the God who delivered Israel?
Is America different than ancient Israel? Of all the people who appear to hate America, who protest and demonstrate-where is this nation of perfect virtue they seek? Is it Russia? Or Mexico? Or China? Or one of the Arab countries? Or North Korea? Then why do citizens leave those countries to come to America?
We were having church services a few years ago during a 4th of July weekend. As it happened the song leader chose God Bless America as a congregational hymn and a young man, new to the congregation, walked out of services. I called him later and he angrily responded that he was offended by a hymn that gave thanks to God for our country. In a free country a person has every right to walk out. But, I wonder-if the day comes that America is enslaved to a barbaric tyrant, will such a person cry out for relief from oppression? Will he call on God to intervene and provide a nation of virtue where he can worship in peace-where his children can grow up without fear of the Nazi heels on their throat? And if God hears his prayer, and grants him such a virtuous nation in which to live-will he then sing praises of thanksgiving to the God who provides such a blessing? Will he be moved to sing a hymn asking for God to bless the nation that makes his life better?
Maybe the tale of two Americas is the one that is grateful and the one that isn't.
Until next time,
Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati
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