A Voice in the
"Lord, You have been gracious to Your land...that Your people may rejoice in you...He will speak peace to His people and to His saints... that glory may dwell in our land. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from Heaven. Yea, Jehovah will give good; and our land shall yield its increase." (from Psalm ch85)
"God bless America, land that I love; stand beside her, and guide her thru the night with a light from above" the opening words from America's national hymn.
Since 9/11 people have been displaying flags in their front yards and stickers on their vehicles, proclaiming, "God bless America". During the recent State of the Union speech, honor is bestowed upon parents who lost a son in Iraq, whilst the mother and an Iraqi lady embrace, the dead son's dog tag getting snagged in the Iraqi woman's sleeve, a poignant moment symbolizing three souls united in the cause of sacrifice and 'freedom', while the congressional chamber bursts forth with prolonged applause; and many Americans feel a sense of "just-ness" to our existence as a nation, and the "rightness" of our purposes globally. As a citizenry we are encouraged by our leaders to feel patriotic -pride- in our nation. People in churches "thank" god for the great nation, and request his continued "blessing" upon us. We are told by our leaders, our educators, our psychologist/counselors and pastors that we are a "good" people; and while it is not expressed, there is an -assumption- that we are "deserving" of blessings from deity. (Whoever "deity" may be to them...that's another topic, not the subject of this article.)
After all, isn't this what we also just read in the opening passage of Scripture, taken from the Psalms? If it is in the Bible, it must be so! Right?
Now that you've done that...
What is the context? Israel had been in disobedience, and now the Psalm opens, "You have brought back the captivity of Jacob" (vs1) Israel has sinned, they were taken into captivity, they repented and called out to God, and God extended His grace to them. Notice the verse refers to "Jacob" (supplanter/heel), not "Israel" (the Mighty God prevails). When the nation was in rebellion it was typically referred to as "Jacob"; when they were in a place of obedience and blessing, "Israel".
All those things of 'blessing' I excerpted (out-of-context) at the top are actually in the context that: God has "forgiven" their iniquity; their sin has been "covered" (vs2) It is not so much that God is lavishing blessing upon them, but that He has "withdrawn" His "wrath", and has "drawn back" from His anger. (vs3)
Another thing I left out was Israel's prayer to "restore us" and give "salvation" (vs4); the same way Jonah prayed in repentance from inside the whale, "Salvation is from Jehovah!" (Jon2:9)
What is the -basis- for their "rejoicing"? What is the -context- of that praise? That God would "revive us again". (vs6) Praise is not because of: Look at us! See how -wonderful- we are! but rather: We have sinned, we have repented, and God's mercy has now restored us. You see, this was the very basis and root-core of their worship. They did not have the stupid worship songs we have, where they would mantracize, "Lord I've come to worship!" (see how wonderful I am, for taking time off my busy schedule to give some of it to God!) but rather: "Oh, give thanks unto Jehovah, for He is good; for His MERCY is eternal." (1Ch16:34) -Mercy- being that quality of God's compassions, which "never fail", which keep us from being "consumed" (La3:22); which when we "confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1Jn1:9) Because we are 'forgiven', -therefore- we can rejoice.
When a people has peace, it is not due to their own goodness; as Moses said to Israel "Therefore understand that Jehovah your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people." (De9:6) "but because of the wickedness of these nations" (vs5) which God was about to destroy from before Israel.
The "peace" God gives the nation is in the context of two principles: 1) Listening to God, and 2) Not returning to evil.
Notice that vs8 begins: "I will hear what Jehovah the Mighty God will speak"; and ends: "...but let them not turn back to folly". God's "peace" is sandwiched in between the concept that a people -listen- to God, and obey; and don't revert to the sin and depravity out of which God's mercy had just delivered them.
Salvation is for those who "fear Him". (vs9) And for all the imagined wisdom that our leaders think they have, the truth of the matter is that: "The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise stands eternally." (Ps111:10) Today's so-called "worship" does so, dressed often provocatively and gyrates sensuously to the drum-beats of demons; but notice that Godly praise is related to the "fear of the Lord" and the "doing" of His "commandments". "But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." (Ja1:22) What calls itself "christian" today is deceiving itself, assuming that going -to- church and merely 'hearing' is enough; but they don't -do- God's commands. Thus, because they refuse the "fear of the Lord", they are "fools" who "despise wisdom and instruction" (Pr1:7)
We are a nation of lies. Politicians lick their fingers, put them up to the wind, and whatever way the breezes are blowing, that is the direction they pretend to be going...to get elected. (If you doubt this, keep your eyes on Hillary Clinton, whose core beliefs are wiccan, and hear how her rhetoric has already begun to shift in the direction of values-based "christian" conservatism; perhaps licking her chops for a chance at the 2008 presidency?) Our legal system is totally morally corrupt: whilst swearing to "tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but...", courtrooms abound in lies. Thus, how can such a nation expect God's mercy? "Mercy and truth have met together" (vs10a) Without truth (Yes, God, I acknowledge I am a guilty sinner), mercy is not possible. By definition, mercy and grace can only exist in the environment of honest repentance. "..righteousness and peace have kissed" (vs10b) When criminals are released and just people imprisoned, there is no peace. What are the things which divide this nation? Abortion, gay agenda, marriage, 10 Commandments, etc. This nation, collectively, is on the wrong side of all these issues...and, appropriately enough, we are also a nation at war.
Notice that "righteousness...look[s] down from Heaven within the same context as "truth...spring[ing] out of the earth" (vs11)
And righteousness is defined by us being "in the way of His steps". (vs13) Righteousness is not paying lip-service to religiosity whilst sitting in the padded pew of a cathedral, but rather obeying God who prompts, "This is the way, walk in it..." (Is30;21)
This nation claims to be one that proclaims on its currency, "In God we trust". Many imagine it to be a "christian" nation, full of "christians" starting from the Oval Office on down. Many of its leaders presume to proclaim that this nation -belongs- to "God".
When this became Israel's label, "the people of Jehovah your God", what was Moses' exhortation to them? "Therefore you shall 'obey' the voice of Jehovah your God, and do His commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today." (De27:9-10)
God's blessings upon a nation only come when that nation is OBEDIENT to God, His laws and covenants.
Many in America claim that we belong to God?
Well...are we (collectively) -OBEYING- God?
Once you've pondered the answer to that question, then consider:
Is God's blessing upon this nation?
Many in this nation claim it to be God's nation. If that were true, and they want God's blessing, the verdict is clear...
"When I shut up the heavens and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who have been called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from the heavens, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2Ch7:13-14)