We’ve just celebrated another Veterans Day in the United States of America. It used to be called Armistice Day. It was the day that combat ended in the First World War. We now use it as a day to honor all our veterans. We had the pleasure of attending a service at a local Baptist Church, honoring those who have served. There were vets there from Viet Nam and Desert Storm, from Iraq and Afghanistan and Korea and a couple from World War II. And wonderful things were said; true things about why and how this country was founded. The godly principles of the Puritans and our Founding Fathers were mentioned. So was President Lincoln’s Proclamation of Prayer and Fasting of March 30, 1863. How different that time was.
The America of today has become a land of selfishness. We celebrate the exercise of our free will, not knowing that as we do we embrace the values that rob us of that very freedom. That free will was never meant to be exercised outside of the guidance of God’s Word. So we tear down every authority above ourselves. And we rewrite the laws of the land and the social contract that holds our society together. The God that has blessed this country beyond any other nation in history, is set aside, marginalized, forbidden a role in a culture once based upon Him. His laws are mocked. We’ve created a human-centered system that purports to have all the answers….and ones that have never been heard before. Let Man marry Man. And Woman marry Woman. Let us sacrifice our children on the Altar of Convenience – to the tune of 54 million dead since the 1973 decision of Roe v Wade. Pornography abounds. A Gospel of Compromise is preached from the pulpits. And we all become our own gods….petulant and selfish and self-serving and jealous and more concerned with our rights than with right. Even Jesus, the very Son of God, did not claim that place. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Sodom and Gomorrah….and Nineveh have not much at all on today’s America. We have turned our face from God. And we find ourselves lost in a wilderness.
And through all of this, we do not call out. We do not turn from our sins – but instead seek to justify them. We do not seek God’s face – but build up our own monuments to our own human achievements. It was Lincoln that saw things differently in those dark days of 1863 when the fate of the nation seemed so much at stake. [I fear it is not less so today!] Early in that proclamation, Mr Lincoln – [probably a new convert at the time, even though for some time he had been steeped in Biblical learning] – paraphrased a portion of Psalm 33. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” (Psalm 33:12) And taking into consideration the dire situation of the Union at that time he offered that the present circumstances might be “a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People.” It is a concept America must begin to grapple with today. Those of us of a certain generation have understood that America was the most blessed among nations. Now we see the change. The loss of vison – of mission – of purpose – beyond the goal of satisfying our own selfish whims. Lincoln, then, even in that much simpler time came to this conclusion….and it is well that we consider its application today. He wrote: “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!” And thus this President concluded that something more was needed. That just like Israel, this nation, once dedicated to God would become accountable to Him. And he declared a national day of prayer and fasting. Could we even conceive of the concept today? Would the Supreme Court approve? So here is what he wrote: “It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”[i] Can you imagine that today? Well it’s time that we do! It is time to repent and seek the face of God, to understand His will for us as individuals and as a nation. It is time to do just that! For God has promised, that if we, the Church, God’s People, “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.” (2Chronicles 7:14) Lord we need that healing! This means us as individuals….laying it down….taking up our cross….and really, really seeking His face. From that, revival will come!
[i] President Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation issued March 30, 1863, http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/fast.htm