Lincoln delivered a message for today's America
Mr. Knowles, a
Church of God member for many years, makes his living as a writer.
This article is part of Mr. Knowles' "Out of the Box"
series of columns.
By Brian Knowles
Abraham Lincoln 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 Lincoln
had in mind Psalm 33:12: "Blessed is the nation whose 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 wrote, "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 13-14 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"
Not by might
The United States,
over which Abraham Lincoln presided, has become the most prosperous
and powerful nation in history. At the touch of a button our president
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
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 (1 Timothy 2:5). God does not show favoritism. He chastens every son He loves (Hebrews 12).
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 say were he still
alive. 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
consciousness was of an inspired sort. One of his most famous statements
is as fresh and applicable as when he first made it:
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 U.S. presidents were not
ashamed to kneel before God and acknowledge Him as the source of
national blessings, as well as national chastisements. Nor were
they shy about calling for national repentance.
in the face of evil?
The United States
and indeed the whole Western world faces 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 (Romans 14:13, KJV).
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 goes
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, who is behind terrorism, would flee from us (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.
But the apostle
John wrote, "... No murderer hath eternal life abiding in him"
(1 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" (1 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 (1 Peter 4:17), and, if we would judge ourselves, we would not have to be judged (1 Corinthians 11:31).
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