Friday, January 15, 2010

God Blessed America

During my run this morning the Lord convicted me of having contradictory positions on Pat Robertson’s explanation for the earthquake in Haiti and why God blessed America. How can I say the earthquake in Haiti wasn’t punishment for turning away from God while claiming that America was blessed because of our Christian heritage? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I too had adopted at least this aspect of the prosperity gospel.

We certainly like to think that the blessings we have enjoyed in the United States have been due to our applying God’s principles. America was behind most of the Christian missionary work in the 20th Century. But did God bless us because we did good things or in order to be a blessing to others? To think that our salvation as a nation is in our own hands is akin to advocating salvation by works. America has been blessed because it has served God’s purposes to bless us.

God is in control, “He changes the times and the seasons; he removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:21, NKJ). Now I certainly believe that, on an individual basis, God does reward those who are faithful to Him with blessings even in this world. Indeed, “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). But we shouldn’t measure all our blessing in terms of what the world considers to be favorable circumstances; Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The Bible tells how God blessed Israel when they were faithful to Him and punished them when they disobeyed. So since America has sort of replaced Israel in the role of presenting the gospel to the world, people like to think that the pattern of blessings being directly tied to obedience applies to America as well. But Israel was unique since God used them as an object lesson for His followers. The relationship between God and the nation Israel established principles that help us understand the relationship between the Lord and an individual believer. On an individual basis, there is certainly a more direct correlation between blessings and obedience but we should not expect all our blessings to be material.

I can’t shake the feeling that we are entering a season in which America will not be as blessed as we have been in the past. People are not appreciating that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Perhaps more people will better recognize the hand of God if good gifts become more special. Regardless of what happens to our country, we can still be among the blessed of God if we are personally faithful to Him.

There is a principle for national blessing in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” If enough of us repent and cry out to God, he may have mercy on us and intervene on our behalf. He certainly has in the past.

Jonah was sent to alert Nineveh to the coming judgment of God and they responded… “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them” (Jonah 3:10). Of course in that case repentance was, “from the greatest to the least of them” (Jonah 3:5). Hopefully God will at least employ the same standard he promised Abraham regarding Sodom… “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten” (Genesis 18:32).

No matter what happens to America, thank God that, “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, NIV).

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