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The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

God’s Personal Message to America

Posted by faithandthelaw on July 13, 2011

By Robert L. Cobb

Righteousness exalteth a
nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

Proverbs 14:34

Introduction:

Most of us place a high value on “personal”
messages.  Form letters and mass mailings are the norm in our day, so it is very
refreshing to receive a “personal” note from a person or organization.  Some
have made a concerted effort to make their mailings seem to be “one-of-a-kind.”
Today it is difficult to tell what is personal correspondence and what is “mass
mailing.”  Sometimes it may seem the same with scripture.  While many preachers
apply passages written for Israel to America, our text IS to
America!  In fact, it is a blanket statement to ANY nation!  What
would God say to America, if He spoke audibly to us this Fourth of July
holiday?  I believe He would remind us of this verse.
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any
people. 
These truths still hold true for any
nation today.  History is littered with the echoes of failed nations.  Nineveh,
the Egyptian Dynasty, Greece, the Roman Empire…. Today, the United States is a
proof text for this verse!  Let us see how this is so as we divide the thoughts
into four sections.

I.    The
Righteousness of a Nation

“Righteousness…”

The first word of our verse is “righteousness.”
It is a word seldom uttered outside of conservative churches today.  You don’t
hear our politicians speak about righteousness.  You don’t hear the news media
say anything about it.  There are at least three implications of the word,
righteousness.

1.   It Implies
Sovereignty.
If there is such a
thing as righteousness, then Someone sovereign must determine what it is.
Humankind has a varied idea of righteousness.  We could never in a million years
agree on what is righteous and what is unrighteous.  God, however, is an
authority on righteousness.

Psalm 71:19 Thy righteousness also, O
God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto
thee!
  Psalm 98:2  The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he
openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

2.   It Implies a
Standard.
  Society today does not want a
standard; they will not even acknowledge that one exists.  This is the main
reason that the Word of God has been attacked and ridiculed by unbelievers.
Psalm 119:40  Behold
,
I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
Psalm 119:142
Thy righteousness is an everlasting
righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
  At the
funding of our nation, the Bible was held in high esteem.  There are both direct
and indirect quotations in the correspondence of the founding
fathers.

3.   It Implies a
Straightness.
   It is one thing to admit that
there is a standard, it is quite another to make that standard your own.  The
word in our text intimates a personal righteousness, a personal morality.  The
Judeo-Christian ethic has guiding our nation from its founding up until the
generation in which we live.  Our forefathers chose the righteousness of the
Bible as it’s guiding light.  Notice the words of God to Israel after the
Exodus:

Deut. 4:5-9
5  Behold, I have taught
you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should
do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.

6  Keep
therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the
sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this
great nation is a wise and understanding people.

7  For what
nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is
in all things that we call upon him for?

8  And what nation is
there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law,
which I set before you this day?

9  Only take heed to
thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine
eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life:
but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’
sons;

II.  The
Reward of a Nation 
“…exalteth a
nation…”

Who can doubt that America has been exalted among
the nations?  Some Americans, like Nebuchadnezzer in the book of Daniel, take
the credit for such exaltation.  The mentality is that we somehow deserve the
greatness and power of our past.  That is a sad mistake to make.  America has
been exalted because of it’s citizens goodness and personal holiness!  America
has been exalted because of the churches that have carried out the great
commission both at home and abroad!  It is because of past obedience and
humility that we now enjoy a preeminent place on the world scene. Let us examine
the word “exalteth” a little more closely to determine just what God means in
this most glorious promise:  “Righteousness exalteth a nation…!”

1.   The Exalted Nation is
Set-Apart.
One of the meanings of the word “exalt” is “to be lifted up, to be made high.”
(Wilson’s Word Studies, pg. 151)   The Bible teaches us that God Himself is
exalted, the scripture is exalted, and Israel is exalted above the nations.  But
in this verse we find a promise that the righteous nation also will be lifted up
and made high. Ps 46:10  Be
still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be
exalted in the earth.
  Ps 37:34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to
inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
Surely there is no nation in the history of the
world which has been lifted up and exalted more than America!  The United States
has dominated history throughout the 20th century.

2.   The Exalted Nation is
Safe.
   Another sub-meaning of the word “exalt” is “to raise high as
an inaccessible fortress, out of the reach of danger.”  Psalm
32:7
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt
preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of
deliverance.
   Ps 119:114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
Many nations have been destroyed by their enemies
or by God Himself through natural disasters.  Plagues, pestilence, war, and
unbelief have destroyed many countries.  But America celebrates her 225th
birthday this July 4th.  What a testament to God’s protection and
preservation!

3.   The Exalted Nation is
Strong.
  Another shade of meaning of the word “exalt” is “to triumph
over enemies.”  A mere glance at the history of America will
reveal the hand of God’s protection watching over us in war and in peace.  Think
of the odds of the colonies defeating the most powerful nation in the 18th
century world, the British Empire.  Yet, it happened.  We take for granted our
victory in the Revolutionary War.  We assume that our power then resembled our
power today.  Not true!  It was a miracle from God that America gained her
freedom from England.  Why did the Civil War not tear this nation apart?  Could
it have been the protection of God?  In World War II, America took on much of
the world essentially single handedly and assured freedom throughout the globe.
There was a time when our citizens proudly said, “America has never lost a
war!”  We must give God the glory for past victories for He has protected us.
Ps 144:1 
Blessed be
the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to
fight:

III.   The
Revolt of a Nation   
“…but sin…”

We now come to the depressing aspects of God’s
promise to “any nation.”  As surely as righteous- ness exalts a nation, sin
destroys it.  God says so in the very same verse!  Today, many people want a
“buffet-style” religion.  They want a God who is merciful, loving and kind.  The
God of Christianity fulfills that desire.  But the God of mercy and love is also
the God of judgment and damnation.  People turn away from such a God.  But here
is a problem.  This verse is a couplet, having two parts.  The parts are
opposite and contrasting.  But one cannot be accepted without the other.  They
stand together as a testimony of God’s unapproachable holiness.  The truth is
that God WILL judge sin!  He will not wink at it, forget it, or misplace His
records.  To understand this truth, let us examine the meaning of the word
“sin.”

1.   Sin is an
Undisciplined Aim.
  To sin is “to miss the mark, as an archer misses
his target.” (Wilson’s Word Studies, pg. 395) Psalm
2:1
  Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth;
for the faithful fail from among the children of men.
Mankind is
bound to fail, seeing we are only flesh.  But our sinful nature is not an
excuse.  Missing God’s mark is the result of an undisciplined aim, a careless
shot at God’s perfection.  America does not demand greatness of itself anymore.
We do not honor what is good and right.  Contrariwise, we honor and reward the
evil and the froward.  Look at our culture.  The “bad guy” is now the norm;
the “good guy” is the potential hypocrite who bears watching.  A fitting
illustration can be found in the sporting world.  Former Atlanta Braves pitcher
John Rocker made international headlines when he spoke out against homosexuals
and other perverted lifestyles in a magazine.  He was assailed as intolerant and
a bigot.  His teammate, Chipper Jones, was engaged to be married, but
impregnated a Hooter’s waitress and reportedly tried to talk her into an
abortion.  She refused, had the baby, and Jones’ fiancé called off the
marriage.  Yet Chipper Jones was sought out by the media to comment on Rocker’s
verbal transgressions.  The “bad guy” has been turned into the “good guy.”  Such
is society’s undisciplined aim at righteousness!

2.   Sin is an Unwise
Assurance.
 Another meaning of “sin” is “to stumble, to err from the
path.”  Again, it seems that we have a built in excuse.  Which of us has not
stumbled from the path through no fault of our own?  It is human nature to fail,
to stumble.  Our stumbling and erring from the path comes from a false
assurance, a careless attitude.  America has taken for granted the blessings of
God, assuming that He will continue to bless and protect us in spite of our
sin.    Psalm 59:12 For the
sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their
pride:

3.   Sin is Ungrateful
Actions.  
The final meaning of “sin”  is “an
outright transgression, rebellion.”

Daniel 9:11
Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy
law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse
is poured upon us…because we have sinned against him. 
1John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is
the transgression of the law.

IV.   The
Reproach of a Nation  
“…is a
reproach…”

The first mention of the word “reproach” in our
English Bible can be found in Genesis 30:23: “And she
conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:”
Eve had borne a son whom she expected to be the
promised Messiah.  Her “reproach” was the curse that God placed on her because
of Adam’s sin.  Sin brings a reproach, whether it is in the life of the
individual or in the timeline of a nation.  Again we examine the different
meanings of our text.

1.   Disgraced.
One definition of reproach is “to be brought low, to
go from the heights to the depths.”

(Wilson’s Word Studies, pg. 350)  In
Nehemiah 1:3, Nehemiah reported, 
“The remnant
that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and
reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are
burned with fire.” 
Israel’s sin had caused them
to go into captivity and now their capital city stood in ruins.  The remnant was
brought low by their sin.  We too, have been brought from the heights to the
depths by the sins of our people.  God is bound to judge sin.  He will not turn
a blind eye to America’s folly.  As he judged Israel and the heathen nations, He
will also judge us.

2.
Dishonored.
Another definition of “reproach” is
“to be ridiculed, to rail on, to revile.”  In 1 Samuel 17:26   young David
said,
 “…What shall be done to the man that
killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is
this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living
God?  
Israel was powerless in the face of
Goliath and the Philistines.  Certainly they were ridiculed and reviled by their
inability.  Goliath mocked the army of Israel and the whole nation.  America
knows something about such disgrace.  We are the richest and most developed
nation in the world, but we are reviled by much of the world.  The Muslim
nations and Communist China have little respect for our system of government or
our culture.  We were reviled and ridiculed by the former Soviet Union until God
brought them low.  Don’t think that the same thing cannot happen to
us.

3.   Defeated.
The final definition of “reproach” means “to pluck or strip away all that is
good.”  Our culture is in the process of doing just that.  Our defeat has not
come at the hands of a foreign invader.  It has come at our own hands.  The
“silent majority” that Richard Nixon spoke of years ago has been splintered into
competing special interests.  Politicians pit one group against another to keep
us divided.  Ai was a little speck on the map of the Israelite army.  After the
great victory at Jehrico, Ai would be a simple campaign, a “mopping up”
exercise.  But the sin of one man brought defeat.  I believe that the sin that
is defeating America is found in the church rather than the culture.  Yes, our
culture is rotten; our society is eaten up with evil.  But the Christian Achans
are hoarding up the world’s gold and garments and allowing the gospel witness to
fall silent.

Conclusion:
America has been great because of God.  If we
fall, it will be because of our failure to honor God as our Sovereign Authority
and Lord.  Must we watch our beloved land become mired in the slough of
compromise and fearfulness?  It is the Christian that must stand up for what is
right!  We must not fear the wrath of man or the condemnation of sinners.  They
hated Jesus, so if we are the light which exposes their evil, they will hate us
as well.  What would God’s personal message to America be if He spoke to us
audibly in this day?  I believe he would say,
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any
people. 
Let us pray for our land and resolve to
do our best to make America great again.  If we achieve anything, it is God
which must accomplish it!

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