This past Thursday our country celebrated its birthday; 237 years ago we declared our independence from Great Britain. The declaration was adopted on July 4, 1776 by the delegates in the colonies, announcing the separation of Great Britain and the creation of the United States.
But how independent are we today, in 2013? Not very independent, but yet we still celebrate this day. It sure seems like the principles of the Declaration of Independence do not apply to today's day and age.
The problem in America today is that our political leaders have violated their oaths of office and ignore—and blatantly disobey—the "supreme law of the land," the U.S. Constitution. For instance:
Amendment IV—"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
"The Patriot Act" violates the Fourth Amendment in every point, which should be the concern of every person, because "it violated the Constitution by giving federal authorities unchecked power to obtain the private information" (Swartz, 2004)." The Patriot Act" allows the federal government to take away the property of a supposed terrorist without notice or the agreement of the judge, even though the person can be innocent. The FBI can search private records within financial institutions, which are our personal documents and should be protected and not searched by law. They can also look into personal records such as medical, phone, internet, student, or library records. The Constitution says government can't spy on us—not without suspicion. But now, thousands of government employees at the NSA and other agencies track our phones and read our emails. The government is dangerously trespassing on our rights. How can free speech, free association, or a free press survive when everyone is always being watched, even in their most private moments? So how free are we?
To give you another example, Thomas Jefferson said: "The Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."
Approximately 50 percent of American households now receive some type of taxpayer-funded government assistance, according to a Wall Street Journal report. During the last half-century the number of United States residents qualifying for governmental aid has reportedly grown monumentally.
A Pew Research Center survey conducted Nov. 28-Dec.5 2012 found that 55% of Americans have received government benefits from at least one of the six best-known federal entitlement programs.
Our independence is slowly being lured away by highly-corrupt Washington bureaucrats that know power is obtained through the class warfare of taking from producers and giving to entitlement addicts.
I believe that our corrupt government, our loss of freedom, and our progressive movement into slavery is a result of Yahweh's judgment on this nation. I believe we are under judgment because Yahweh's people, the Church, are living in dependance upon the government and independent of God.
I believe that this nation was founded upon Christian principles; "In God We Trust" is our national motto. It is engraved in stone in the House of Representatives in our Capitol, and it is printed on our currency. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation; and this is clearly documented throughout our history. But we have departed from those principles and it is costing us.
Instead of celebrating an independence that we don't really have, we should be mourning our country's departure from Yahweh. A departure that I believe was caused by our prosperity. Our prosperity has led us to a spirit of self-sufficiency. Think of all we have. We live in huge homes that are climate controlled; we simply turn a dial and our house gets warmer or colder. We have bathrooms with hot and cold running water, several of them. We have refrigerators and pantries filled with every kind of food you can want. And if we run out, all we have to do is get in our air-conditioned cars and drive to the supermarket where we can buy every kind of food imaginable. We have telephones that allow us to talk to anyone around the world. We have televisions that bring us movies and news and sporting events. We are a prosperous people!
The problem with all of this prosperity is that it creates a great spiritual danger. In our abundance there is a tendency to forget Yahweh. We begin to think that we are independent of Him. And this independent spirit brings judgment. In Deuteronomy 8 there is a warning to Israel against the spirit of independence. Let's look at it:
"All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers. "You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. "He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:1-3 NASB
When Moses reminded them that they did not live on bread alone, he meant that even their food was decreed by the word of God. They had manna because it came by His command. It was, therefore, ultimately not bread that kept them alive, but His word! God wanted to show Israel that He alone is the life-source of their corporate existence. Moses said that Yahweh did this to humble them.
HUMILITY is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons. Humility keeps us from depending on our own strengths. Yahweh was bringing Israel to a place of complete dependence on Him— humility.
Too often we rely on our own skills and strength, especially when the task before us seems easy. We go to God only when the obstacles seem too great. The humble person knows that he is dependent on Yahweh for everything!
The New Testament affirms, as does the Tanakh, that Yahweh will exalt those who are humble and bring low those who are proud:
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." James 4:6 NASB
Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:10 NASB
Let's continue on in Deuteronomy 8:
"Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. "Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. "Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. Deuteronomy 8:4-6 NASB
This was a special or miraculous intervention of their loving Guardian in preserving them amid the wear and tear of their nomadic life in the desert. Yahweh disciplined Israel by making her depend on Him for everything: food, water, and clothes. Since all these were provided by His decree, the only logical response was to obey His commands, following and fearing Him. Fearing to disobey the One who is so powerful and holy.
I think that our problem is that we don't see ourselves as dependent upon Yahweh, and therefore we don't fear or obey Him:
"For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. Deuteronomy 8:7-9 NASB
In contrast with the severity of the wilderness, these verses describe the abundance of Israel's new land. What a contrast! In the promise land they would lack nothing. It sounds a lot like what we have, only we have even more. Now, note carefully what their response was to be to all this prosperity:
"When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. Deuteronomy 8:10 NASB
They were to praise Yahweh for what He had given them, they were to be thankful to Him. All they had, He had provided, and they were to praise Him for it. Failure to praise God was to disobey His commands.
We have a problem being thankful for all Yahweh has given us. Four times in Psalm 107 the psalmist cries out for men to praise Yahweh for His goodness:
Let them give thanks to the LORD for His loving kindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. Psalms 107:8-9 NASB
Moses then spelled out the danger inherent in abundant prosperity. Please listen carefully:
"Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Deuteronomy 8:11-14 NASB
Whereas in the wilderness they had to depend on Yahweh for the necessities of life, their newfound prosperity might conceal their need for the same dependence.
If the children of Israel faced the danger of becoming independent of Yahweh because of the blessings of the promise land, how much more do we face this danger in twenty first century America?
They faced the danger of pride, "Your heart will become proud." An Israelite who ceased to praise Yahweh for what they had would find that his heart had become proud in his abundance:
As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me. Hosea 13:6 NASB
Israel's prosperity caused pride. In their pride they forgot God. Moses said that they forgot God by failing to keep His commandments. They ceased to obey Him. Do we face the danger of pride? Yes, I believe even more so than Israel did.
Pride is an expanded view of self. It is an undue confidence in and attention to one's own skills, accomplishments, state, possessions, or position. Pride places self above God. We must all understand that pride is something that everyone must carefully guard against.
In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis calls pride the "great sin," and says this about it: "There is one vice of which no man in the world is free ; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else. Pride is spiritual cancer, it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense. If anyone would like to acquire humility I can I think tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step too. At least nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed."
Pride is a sin we all struggle with; no one is free from the temptation to be proud. Pride is the opposite of humility, which is the proper attitude for man in relation to God. Humility is dependence upon God, and pride is rebellion against God because it attributes to self the honor and glory due to Yahweh alone.
Believers today are as guilty of pride as Israel was. The church today is biblically illiterate and ignorant of the standard. In the world pride is a virtue, but in the Scriptures it is a sin.
MTV did a documentary entitled "The Seven Deadly Sins," which is interesting, because those seven sins—pride, covetousness, lust, anger, envy, gluttony, and sloth— are standard MTV fare. It turned out to be a montage of celebrity quotes, movie out-takes, interviews, one-liners, and quips. It was an enlightening program. It clearly revealed the profound moral confusion of our culture. Rap singer Queen Latifah was asked about the sin of pride. "Pride is a sin?" she responded. "I wasn't aware of that." Actress Kirstie Alley added, "I don't think pride is a sin—I think somebody made that up." Rapper Ice-T echoed the same idea: "Pride is mandatory. That's one of the problems of the inner city. Kids don't have enough pride." It seems that one of the basic teachings of Scripture is totally out of touch with the values of our modern culture.
The Tanakh clearly condemns the sin of pride. Proverbs has a lot to say about pride:
There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, Proverbs 6:16-17 NASB
"The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate. Proverbs 8:13 NASB
When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 NASB
Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished. Proverbs 16:5 NASB
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. Proverbs 16:18 NASB
The Scriptures have nothing good to say about pride: it is a very destructive, very damaging sin that is to be avoided. We have a good example of pride and Yahweh's judgment against pride in Daniel chapter four:
'Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.' "All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. "Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. "The king reflected and said, 'Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?' "While the word was in the king's mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.' "Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled; and he was driven away from mankind and began eating grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws. Daniel 4:27-33 NASB
This is an unusual psychological delusion called "lycanthropy." It comes from lukos, which means: "wolf" and anthropos, which means: "man." A person thinks he is an animal and lives accordingly. There was a documented case of this in a British mental hospital in 1946.
These verses are a commentary on James 4:6, "God resists the proud." Nebuchadnezzar refused to acknowledge God's rule, and God judged him until he humbled himself before Him:
"But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?' "At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride." Daniel 4:34-37 NASB
After seven years had transpired, Nebuchadnezzar with his sanity restored praised the Most High. The only person he was praising was himself until God judged him.
The king who had sought honor and glory for himself now acknowledged that the Most High lives forever. The king confessed that Yahweh's dominion is eternal, that His kingdom endures. Thus he acknowledged Yahweh's sovereign authority.
Nebuchadnezzar also acknowledged God's irresistible will: He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. Also, the king confessed that man is answerable to God, not God to man, for no one can stop God and no one has a right to question Him
This is a warning to those of us who may never rule an empire other than the little one we all invent within ourselves:
A man's pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor. Proverbs 29:23 NASB
James I. Packer, in his book, Rediscovering Holiness, writes, "Pride blows us up like balloons, but grace punctures our conceit and lets the hot, proud air out of our system. The result...is that we shrink, and end up seeing ourselves as less—less nice, less able, less wise, less good, less strong, less steady, less committed, less of a piece—than ever we thought we were. We stop kidding ourselves that we are persons of great importance to the world and to God.... We bow to events that rub our noses in the reality of our own weaknesses, and we look to God for strength quietly to cope."
Pride lures us into living independently of God. There is an incompatibility between blind arrogance and the presence of God in our life. The proud person depends on himself rather than on Yahweh. This causes God's guiding influences to leave his life. When Yahweh's presence is welcome, there is no room for pride, because He makes us aware of our true self.
"He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. "In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. "Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.' " Deuteronomy 8:15-17 NASB
This is a danger we all face, "My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth." We think, "Well I have worked hard for what I have, or I studied hard to get where I am." Somehow we think that we have accomplished things apart from God; this is self-deception:
"But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 8:18 NASB
We must remember that Yahweh gives us all we have, no matter how hard we have worked for it. Who gives us the health to work? Who gives us the ability, skill, intelligence to work? God does, all we are and have come form His gracious hand.
"It shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. "Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 8:19-20 NASB
Did Israel forget Yahweh? Yes, they did. Did Yahweh destroy them? Yes, He did. In A.D. 70 God used the Roman army to destroy forever the nation Israel.
As America walks away from Yahweh, we praise Him less and less, we begin to think, "My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth." We become more and more proud as a nation, turning from the God who made us great. This country needs to repent before Yahweh brings judgment on us as He has on Israel.
In 1953 President Eisenhower made history by being the last President to refer publicly to the need for our nation to confess and repent of our sins in order to receive mercy and pardon. Even though many presidents have used religious terms and imagery in their speeches, none since Eisenhower have addressed the crux of the problem of American society and called for national repentance. Can you imagine the backlash such a statement would create today?
We look back at the history of Israel, and we see how they turned from God and were destroyed. History shows us many nations who have turned away from God and been judged, but do we learn?
Pride is our deadliest enemy because it causes us to trust ourselves rather than Yahweh:
Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD. Jeremiah 9:23-24 NASB
Yahweh is talking to His people through Jeremiah. Our only boast is in the fact that we know Yahweh. We shouldn't be proud that we are Americans, we should be grateful and humbled that Yahweh has allowed us to live in such a place and time as this.
America is a spiritual mess. We have turned from Yahweh and are promoting and protecting what He hates. But we can't blame our politicians, the Church is to blame. Listen to what James Jordan has to say in, the Biblical Horizons Newsletter, No. 20: "Who Rules the Land?":
The message of the Noahic Covenant is this: Right now, the Church rules the nations of the world. We and we alone have been given power and dominion, and if we don't like the way things are going, we have only ourselves to blame. Unbelieving rulers are puppets, and we are the puppet masters. They dance to our tune, and move as we pull the strings. They 'rule' only as we direct them. Right now, they are doing exactly what the Church has told them to do.
This is the True Reality. It is the way things really are. But because of sin, we in common with all men suppress the True Reality and believe a myth (Rom. 1:18). We believe that those who wield external power are the rulers of this world, but that simply is not the case.
When the Church is faithful, God will convert the heart of the ruler and he will rule righteously. Conversely, when the ruler is evil and destructive, this means that the Church has not been pleasing to God. The Church is always in charge of culture, and she has been in charge ever since the Flood.
This is not something new that comes in with the New Covenant, though the New Covenant puts it into force as never before. When Joseph was faithful, Pharaoh converted. When Daniel was faithful, Nebuchadnezzar converted. It was because Judah was wicked that Nebuchadnezzar conquered her. The picture of the world throughout the Old Testament is that Jerusalem is the center of the world, and that the faithfulness or faithlessness of God's priestly nation determines the fate of the whole world. The New Testament presents the same picture, making the world's fate rest in the hands of the Church. (Who Rules the World?)
The writer of Proverbs put it this way:
When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 NASB
When the Church is faithful, God changes men. We cannot reform the "State" as an action separate from reforming the Church. If the Church is faithful, God will bless her, and there will be good rulers.
Notice what Yahweh says to Judah through Nehemiah:
"But they, in their own kingdom, With Your great goodness which You gave them, With the broad and rich land which You set before them, Did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds. "Behold, we are slaves today, And as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, Behold, we are slaves in it. "Its abundant produce is for the kings Whom You have set over us because of our sins; They also rule over our bodies And over our cattle as they please, So we are in great distress. Nehemiah 9:35-37 NASB
This could be said to America today. The rulers that we have are a result of the sin of Yahweh's people. A weak Church is not the victim of an evil society. An evil society is the victim of a weak Church. We won't fix this country through an election, but through the Church honoring Yahweh through righteousness.
So how does Judah fix the situation that they are in?:
"Now because of all this We are making an agreement in writing; And on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests." Nehemiah 9:38 NASB
What was the agreement that they put in writing?:
are joining with their kinsmen, their nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God's law, which was given through Moses, God's servant, and to keep and to observe all the commandments of GOD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes; Nehemiah 10:29 NASB
This is how you fix the mess that America is in; you get His people to wake up, you call upon them to walk righteously with Yahweh. You call an illiterate church to get into His Word and learn it and live it. We denounce a health/wealth Gospel and call on Yahweh's children to live boldly and sacrificially crying out against the sin of our nation no matter what it costs us. We have to call His church to believe His word and denounce their futuristic theology: He said His coming would be soon, and two thousand years later we still look for it, making Him a liar.