Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Nation Guided by the Word

Volume 2, Number 29

Then in the third year of his reign he [Jehoshaphat] sent his officials … to teach in the cities of Judah; … They taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the LORD with them; and they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught among the people. (2 Chron 17:7,9)[1]

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching … (Acts 2:42)

In the history of the nation of Israel, Judah in particular, Jehoshaphat was one of the better kings. “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of father David’s earlier days and did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, followed His commandments and did not act as Israel did.” (2 Chron 17:3-4) Because of this, “the LORD established the kingdom in his control” (v. 5)

One of the advantages of a monarchy is the absolute authority of a king. A king does not need the approval of a legislative body in order to establish a law. The laws he decrees need not the ratification of a judicial court. His word is law, and the dictates of his own conscience determine the law of the land. If the king is benevolent, his subjects will enjoy the benefits of a good life. If the king is malevolent, his subjects suffer. If a benevolent king seeks the LORD’s guidance, the nation will prosper. Jehoshaphat, for the most part, was such a king.

In his desire to follow the LORD, Jehoshaphat purged the nation of pagan temples and destroyed all the idols. He understood that the worship of pagan gods was a curse upon the nation that withheld God’s blessing upon His people. He also understood that he could not take something away without replacing it with something better. He wisely handpicked a group of officials and Levites to go throughout all of Judah to teach God’s principles. “And they taught in Judah, having the law of the LORD with them; and they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.” (v. 9) The Bible does not say if all the people bought into the “state religion,” but indications are that they did not since they readily fell back into idolatry when less godly kings followed. Still, Jehoshaphat set the standard for his reign and God blessed him and the nation for it.

Our nation was founded on the principles of the Bible although revisionist historians would have us think otherwise. The framework of our Constitution has as its foundation the Word of God. The Bible was of such great import that on “September 10, 1782, the Continental Congress … responded to the shortage of Bibles by authorizing the publisher of The Pennsylvania Magazine, Robert Aitken … to print America's first English language Bible – ‘A neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools.’”[2] In so doing the Congress stated: “Resolved, That the United States in Congress assembled highly approve the...undertaking of Mr. Aitken...and...recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States, and hereby authorize him to publish this recommendation.”[3]

Those words are no longer heard in the ivory towers of academia. No, instead the opposite is true. The deconstructionists shamelessly slander our founding fathers, and cultivate the lie that our country is not and never was a Christian nation. They twist the words of our Constitution in attempts to banish the Christian religion from the public square. They foster the lie that our Constitution calls for a strict separation of church and state, when the words never appear in the law of the land. Instead, the very first amendment unequivocally affirms that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free practice thereof.” And when our founding fathers spoke of religion, they meant the Christian religion in whatever denominational form it may appear. Never did it cross their minds that this would come to include pagan religions. In his General Principles of Constitutional Law, 1890, Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, Thomas Cooley wrote: “It was never intended by the Constitution that the government should be prohibited from recognizing religion, or that religious worship should never be provided for in cases where a proper recognition of Divine Providence in the working of government might seem to require it, and where it might be done without drawing an invidious distinction between religious beliefs, organizations, or sects … The Christian religion was always recognized in the administration of the common law of the land, the fundamental principles of that religion must continue to be recognized in the same cases and to the same extent as formerly.”[4]

Much more could be said on this subject, but suffice it to say that our nation has moved so far away from those principles that it breaks the heart of any thinking individual, especially when that thinking individual filters his worldview through the lens of God’s Word. Jehoshaphat’s government emphasized the Word of God, and took measures so that everyone in the nation was taught the Law of God. The result was that God blessed and protected the nation. Our nation has spurned the Word of God and deemed it of no account. Rather than using it to teach our children, we ban it from our schools. It may be too late for our nation. Already the evidence is clear that God has taken His hand of blessing away from our nation. Unless there is national repentance and a return to the God of our fathers, this nation will perish. The writing is on the wall, but it is not too late. There is yet hope, but it lies with the people of God.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance. (Ps 33:12)

O day of God, draw nigh in beauty and in pow’r,
Come with your timeless judgment now to match our present hour.

Bring justice to our land, that all may dwell secure,
And finely build for days to come foundations that endure.

Bring to our world of strife your sov’reignword of peace,
That war may haunt the earth no more and desolation cease.

O day of God, draw nigh as at creation’s birth,
Let there be light again, and set Your judgments in the earth.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are taken from THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE UPDATE. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation.
[2] Federer, Bill, “American Minute” July 15, 2008.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid., September 12, 2008.
[5] Scott, Robert Balgarnie Young (1899-1987), “O Day of God, Draw Nigh,” The Baptist Hymnal, (Convention Press, Nashville, 1991), Hymn 623.

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