In the Fall of 1938, as war was again threatening Europe, Irving Berlin decided to write a song emphasizing peace. Pulling a little known composition off the shelf, that he had written twenty years earlier, he made a few alterations to reflect the current state of the world. Then, on Armistice Day of that same year, Kate Smith sang it on her radio program for the very first time. "God bless America, land that I love! Stand beside her, and guide her, thru the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam. God bless America, my home sweet home!"
God bless America. A song we sing and a petition we offer. And especially so in light of recent events. Since September 11th, Americans have been pleading with God to bless this nation; and national leaders seem to be doing the same thing, every chance they get. There have been national days of mourning and prayer, numerous special religious events often televised live, and memorial services in nearly every community. And every one ends with the plea that God would bless our nation. As I said last week, "Signs saying, 'God bless America' are everywhere. It's on gas station signs, grocery store signs, bank signs, billboards, Hardee's, it's everywhere!"
A few days following the disaster, President Bush visited the World Trade Center site to praise and encourage workers who were desperately searching for survivors. He told them that "America today is on bended knee in prayer."
Responding to President Bush's declaration of September 14 as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, the entire leadership of all branches of government, including the members of the Supreme Court, attended a multi-faith religious service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. In song and sermon, God was praised and His blessings solicited.
Prior to September 11, when you heard someone say "God" is was usually with the word "damn". But now everybody wants God to bless America. We want God's blessing. America wants God to protect us from the terrorists, to keep us safe and secure. But do we know what brings God's blessings? Do we deserve to be blessed just because we live in America?
Let me show you what God told the nation Israel about His blessing:
Deuteronomy 28:1-7 (NKJV) "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 "And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God: 3 "Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. 4 "Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. 5 "Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6 "Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. 7 "The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
God told the nation Israel, "If you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments...all these blessings shall come upon you."God told the nation Israel that His blessing was dependant upon their obedience to Him. The writer of Proverbs put it this way:
Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV) Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people
What is righteousness? "Righteousness" means: "that which conforms to a standard or norm." Righteousness is conformity to the will of God. The one who in faith gives himself to the doing of God's will is righteous.
It is not democracy that has made the United States great. A widespread myth exists in our day that the foundation of our freedoms lies in the great documents that launched our national history: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But important as these may be as instruments of freedom, they are not the foundation of it. Scripture reveals that the element which makes a nation great is righteousness. When righteousness pervades a nation, that people are strong; without righteousness, it begins to falter. The element of righteousness is fast disappearing within America.
Continuing on in Deuteronomy 28 God tells the nation Israel that He will curse them if they do not obey Him:
Deuteronomy 28:15 (NKJV) "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
The chapter goes on for 53 more verses laying out the curses of disobedience.
God gives us this same idea of "blessing the righteous" in:
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) "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.
Can you hear the requirements? Can you hear what America needs to do before we can expect the Lord's blessing? It's pretty clear, isn't it? Righteousness. Humility. Turning from sin.
What it is that brings God's curse upon a people is made quite clear in the story of Balaam:
Numbers 24:1 (NKJV) Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times, to seek to use sorcery, but he set his face toward the wilderness
The account of Balaam is recorded in Numbers 22-25. Balak, who was king of the Moabites, was afraid of Israel, because he knew that God was on their side so he wanted to hire a prophet, Balaam, to curse them. God told Balaam that he could not curse Israel, so he tells Balak's men he could not go with them. Balak eventually bought him off and Balaam tried to curse Israel three times, but each time God stopped him (Numbers 23:1-24:10). On one occasion God even stopped him through his donkey (Numbers 22:22-31). God stopped Balaam every time he tried to curse Israel.
Since he couldn't curse Israel, he came up with another plan: cause Israel to sin and then God will curse them. The only way to destroy Israel was through corruption. Numbers 25:1-9 recounts how Israel joined with the Moabites in sin and how God subsequently judged Israel:
Numbers 25:1-9 (NKJV) Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. 2 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel. 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the LORD, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel." 5 So Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor." 6 And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. 9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
Twenty-four thousand people died because of their sin. Listen carefully, Americans, God hates and judges sin. God's blessing is upon the righteous.
In Numbers 31:16, we learn that Balaam had advised King Balak to corrupt Israel through sinning against God:
Numbers 31:16 (NKJV) "Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
Balaam couldn't curse Israel so he got them to sin and God cursed them. With this is mind, do you think that America deserves God's blessing? Not hardly! Several weeks ago I quoted Billy Graham as saying, "If God does not punish America for all it's sins - He owes Sodom & Gomorrah an apology." What Billy was saying is that America is not a righteous nation. We have turned from God and are as sinful as Sodom and Gomorrah. Many in America are crying out, "God Bless America", but God can't bless sin, and America is corrupted with sin. Let me give you several of America's more prominent sins:
There have been more than 48 million abortions in the twenty eight years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized unrestricted abortion on January 22, 1973. That's over 20 times greater than the number of Americans lost in all U.S. wars. Someone has said, "The most dangerous place in America is in the womb."
Abortion cheapens the sanctity of human life. When we allow actions that cheapen life, we are contributing to an overall decline in our society's moral values. We are now making decisions as to who lives and who dies on the basis of whether it is convenient for the living.
It is easy to see that America is highly committed by law and practice to mass murder. It's a stark transition from the America of history; a nation known as a nation of liberty and freedom and privilege and rights; a nation where justice was the protector of the people; a nation which always seemed to pride itself on it's humanitarianism, its care for the poor, needy, weak and defenseless. Yet it is this very nation in which mass murder has been taking place for many, many years.
There are nearly 2 million abortions a year in this country. Every 3rd baby being conceived is murdered. Somewhere between 42,000 and 45,000 recorded abortions take place every day, which breaks down to about 3 per minute. In some metropolitan hospitals, abortions outnumber live births. How can this happen in America? It's happening, because we are buying the lies of the humanists who say that pregnancy is a disease.
The Bible teaches that conception is an act of God. This is perhaps the strongest Scriptural and theological argument against abortion there is. Biblically, God Himself is said to create the child in the womb. So then, those who have an abortion are not merely destroying tissue or protoplasm, but an actual work of God Himself.
We suppose that the power of reproduction lies solely within the ovum and sperm and is entirely controlled by the genetic code. But biblically, it is clear that God Himself is involved in the process. God creates, personally and individually, every human life. God not only starts a pro-creation process but is active in that process bringing into existence all those people whom He has foreordained to life:
Genesis 16:2 (NKJV) So Sarai said to Abram, "See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her." And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.
God ordains who will live and when they will live:
Genesis 25:21 (NKJV) Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
Ruth 4:13 (NKJV) So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.
Psalms 100:1-3 (NKJV) Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! 2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
There is nothing in Scripture that even remotely suggests that the unborn child is anything less than a human person from the moment of conception. So life begins at conception, and conception is an act of God. The life of a baby begins long before he or she is born. A new individual human being begins growing in the mother's uterus at fertilization, and if the baby's life is not interrupted, he or she will someday become an adult man or woman. The sixth commandment, "thou shalt not murder," is equivalent to, "thou shalt not commit abortion." Simply put, abortion is murder. America is stained with the blood of millions of murdered babies. How can God bless America when we live in such violation of His law?
Another prominent sin in our country is that of:
One of the most critical issues in the preservation of our society is the society's attitudes and actions toward homosexuality. It was not that long ago in our country when if a person chose to practice homosexuality, he had to be careful to hide it. If news of it got out, he would be ostracized in one way or another, because our society viewed homosexuality as something extremely shameful. Today society has become very tolerant of homosexuality. We need to understand the destruction that this sin brings.
Why is this vile sin spreading so fast? Why is it becoming so widely acceptable? I think that it is because behind this sin is a movement, a sub-culture. Homosexuals have a support network. What other sin do you know of that has a support network? Have you ever heard of a liar's bar where all the liars go to drink? Have you ever seen murderers marching in the streets for their rights? Or how about fornicator's pride week? Those once hostile to it, now tolerate it; those once tolerant of it, now embrace it. Most people, Christians included, have gradually acclimated to the commonness of homosexual behavior. We have been and are being desensitized to its unnaturalness and sinfulness. If the next twenty years proceed like the last, homosexuality will be taken for granted by most Americans.
Let's look at what the Bible has to say about this sin:
Genesis 1:27-28 (NKJV) So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
The text says, "male (zakar) and female (neqebah)," He created them. There is no third type, no he-she's or shims. How can homosexuals carry out the command of verse 28? God's created intention was for man and woman to bear children. Marriage is the union of a man and woman.
The first reference to homosexuality in Scripture is in the infamous account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. The wickedness of the men of that city is obvious and is of such a severe nature that it brought divine destruction upon the entire city (Genesis 19:1-5). The Bible is filled with references to the vile sin of sodomy:
Leviticus 18:22-30 (NKJV) 'You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. 23 'Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion. 24 'Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. 25 'For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. 26 'You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you 27 '(for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), 28 'lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. 29 'For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people. 30 'Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the LORD your God.'"
Leviticus 20:13 (NKJV) 'If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
Believer, do you understand that sodomy is an abomination? This is not just Old Testament, the New Testament has the same thing to say about this sin.
Romans 1:26-27 (NKJV) For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
This sin is vile and against the creation order:
1 Corinthians 6:9 (NKJV) Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
Paul condemns this sin, it is unrighteous behavior and it will be judged by God. The Bible says that homosexuality is "unclean," "impure," "dishonoring to the body," "vile," "degrading/disgraceful," "contrary to nature," "unseemly/ obscene," "improper activity of a depraved mind," "unrighteous," "wicked," etc.
As believers, we must hold high the standard of God's Word and not be sucked into society's acceptance of this vile sin. THIS IS NOT HOMOPHOBIA, IT IS HOLINESS! It is the church's job to be salt and light, which involves speaking out against sin. We all have a sphere of influence, and we must use it to proclaim the truth of God's Word. If we want God's blessing on America, we must call our nation to repent.
Another prominent sin in our country, very closely related to sodomy, is that of:
Sorokin, in his book Sexual Revolution says, "When the ruling group and the society as a whole relax their code of sexual morality, within three generations there is usually a cultural decline, as was the case in the later stages of the Babylonian, the Persian, the Macedonian, the Mongol, the Greek, and the Roman civilizations."
Would you say that America as a nation has relaxed its code of sexual morality? Of course! Who could disagree with this?
During the 1976 election, Democratic candidate, Jimmy Carter, was asked if he was ever unfaithful. He sadly responded that he had committed "adultery in his heart". The press howled and scoffed at this honest, sensitive, religious man. Twenty years later, the President of the United States from the same denomination commits adultery in Oval office, and that same press defends him. God help us as a nation!
In his speech Thursday Night, speaking of terrorists, President Bush said, "We must defeat the evildoers wherever they hide. We must round them up and bring them to justice." Just what is an evil doer? Biblically, this is someone who violates God's will:
Hebrews 3:12 (NKJV) Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
The writer of Hebrews says that an evil heart is one that departs from the living God.
1 Corinthians 5:13 (NKJV) But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."
This is referring to a man involved in fornication! Because of sexual sin, he is called an "evil person." To most people, the word "fornication" means very little. They never hear the word used unless spoken by a preacher, or they stumble across it in the Bible. Fornication is defined as "unlawful or illicit sexual intercourse" (Webster). It pertains to sexual relations outside of marriage - all of them! We can change the name, but it is still the same thing ("making love... going all the way...sleeping together...having an affair... or pre-marital sex"). No matter what society thinks, sex outside marriage is still sinful.
In America, sexual sins are running out of control. Illegitimacy is in the hundreds of thousands. Venereal disease is epidemic. Extra-marital affairs are common. Living together arrangements are flourishing. When you consider our society - the things which entertain us, the things we read about, and the loose and relaxed attitudes toward sex, it is clear that America is filled with evil doers.
Deuteronomy 22 and 23 deal with a wide variety of sexual sins and their appropriate punishments. Under Old Testament law, sexual sins were crimes not just against God but against individuals and society as a whole- and most were punishable by death.
Deuteronomy 22:22 (NKJV) "If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die; the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel."
We can see from the severe penalty for sexual sin how serious and repugnant it is in the eyes of God. In the NT believers are often warned against this sin:
Galatians 5:19 (NKJV) "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,"
Ephesians 5:3 (NKJV) "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;"
Colossians 3:5 (NKJV) "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."
It should go without saying that a Christian man or woman should have nothing to do with pornography. Pornography may be defined as any visual, written, or recorded stimulus designed to cultivate or heighten a person's desire toward immoral sexual behavior. Remember, lust is immoral sexual behavior, "whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." If that definition is true, than the TV is a major source of pornography.
People, we can put up all the "God Bless America" posters we want, but if America doesn't turn from its sin, God cannot bless it. The blessing of God is tied to righteousness. If we want God to bless America, we must call Americans to turn to Jesus Christ and trust in Him:
Acts 3:26 (NKJV) "To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities."
As people trust Jesus Christ and receive God's righteousness, only then will they be able to live righteous lives. And, believer, please remember it all starts with us living righteously.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) "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.
Believers, if we want God to bless America, WE need to humble ourselves, pray, and turn from sin. Let's commit to walk in holiness and to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will hear.