“The teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally – I do not mean figuratively, I mean literally – impossible for us to figure to ourselves what life would be if these teachings were removed.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Throughout the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the deliberations were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, when the proceedings ended in order to learn of the outcome. It has been handed down to us that a Mrs. Powell of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Quickly, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
I can’t help but think that his response – “if you can keep it” – betrayed a bit of uncertainty on his part. Perhaps he doubted that the American people would uphold and preserve the Constitution and be true to the Biblical and moral principles upon which it was based. Now almost 230 years later, in consideration of the national state of affairs, the statement by Franklin prompts the question, “Have we? – have we kept it?” Have we held on to the principles that shaped our republic or have we allowed what was entrusted to us to slip from our grasp and devolve into what the Founders abhorred and feared – a democracy, mob rule, or even worse, outright lawlessness and the tyranny that is sure to follow?
I believe it is obvious to all who have any grasp of biblical principle and basic knowledge of this country’s beginnings that we have, to put it mildly, lost our way. Many of our citizens disdain any notion that God providentially orchestrated our conception, played any role in our progression or has anything to do with our abundance and blessed way of life. In order to advance and legitimize their flawed point of view, this unbelieving segment of our society insists that our nation and ALL of its inhabitants should embrace and support their worldview and their agenda which includes many lifestyles that Scripture abhors – and it grows worse, literally, by the day.
Where our leaders are concerned, instead of standing for what is right in the face of evil and the growing immorality, they have decided to be the vanguard for these lawless mobs and wage war on the very morals and principles that helped to shape our nation. It’s bad enough that there are those who publicly endorse and promote these corrupt values but, now, even those who claim to uphold traditional values have begun to capitulate to the demands of the atheists, the LGBT, Code Pink and the like.
For instance, many so-called conservative politicians and pundits have conceded that same-sex marriage is a battle whose outcome has already been decided. They argue that, because it inevitably will become a reality throughout the nation, there is no point in continuing to stand against the tide of popular opinion. Just the other day I read a statement from a “staunch conservative” radio personality whose admonition to those who would fight against this issue was: “Give up the fight. It’s over.”
Consequently, emboldened by their success and waving the banner of liberty and equality, these homosexual couples and trans-genders are poised to become part of the fabric of everyday American life along side baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. Now considered legal and backed by the courts, they will receive the full support of the U.S. government and, in some cases, compensation and subsidies from you, the American taxpayer. Perhaps the worst of it is that, as we have already witnessed in cases around the country, they will – inspired by their string of victories in the courtroom – demand, not ask for, acceptance from you and me regardless of our spiritual convictions.
In tandem with these demands, government, at the federal, state and municipal level, has made it known that any resistance from those with a dissenting view will not be tolerated. Specifically, Christian business owners who have balked at providing services for these marriages – e.g. photographers, bakers and boutique owners – have found themselves being sued in civil courts and prosecuted by their own government for civil rights violations. That doesn’t even take into account the many threats of violence they receive from those who find their positions intolerant and bigoted.
The FFRF and the IRS
Now consider another development. Just recently, the IRS agreed to amend its policies in regard to how it enforces tax law on churches in order to appease the demands being made by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group that has long waged war against what they consider “rogue political churches.” Basically, FFRF wants to censor what priests, pastors, rabbis and other clergy say in their sermons by threatening an IRS challenge of their tax-exempt status. Presently, it remains unclear just what this will mean long-term, but given the fact that the IRS has proven to be antagonistic toward those with a “conservative” view and has agreed to adjust their standards to the satisfaction of this group, you can be sure that churches and religious organizations will have to walk a tight rope when it comes to voicing political views and engaging in political activity.
The irony of this situation is – at least as I see it – those who so vehemently insist upon enforcement of the separation of church and state (mind you, a mythical concept made viable only by a complete rewrite of history) have taken issues of morality such as homosexuality, once considered to be the domain of “the church” and Scripture, and have made them the domain of the state. In other words, though they claim to advocate a strict separation between the two, they, nevertheless, invaded the church in order to dictate what we can preach and discuss in our congregations. This tactic, if it continues to flourish, will, in effect, place a muzzle on the mouths of many of God’s people in churches, ministries, synagogues and even web sites with the ultimate goal, no doubt, being to provoke conformity to their way of thinking.
Until now, the provisions granted and required of religious groups by their tax-exempt status has supported the constitutional right given leaders of houses of worship in America to preach and promote anything short of an outright endorsement of a political candidate. But now, through the efforts of FFRF and others, even that freedom is being challenged. If the FFRF and other such groups have their way, the IRS will question and, perhaps, revoke the tax-exempt status of churches and other houses of worship if they preach on moral issues in a way that has – according to FFRF – “political implications.”
In other words, we have now come to the place in history where an American pastor or rabbi may place his congregation and their place of worship in financial jeopardy if he is faithful to Scripture. If he dares to say anything from the pulpit that counters the culture’s perverted mindset and their obsession with “tolerance,” particularly, if he should resist the notion that same-sex marriage is lawful, everything that his congregation has accumulated under their tax-exempt status could be seized by the government. Furthermore, given the aggressive nature of these groups and the prevailing attitude of our leaders toward biblical standards, the clergyman would, most likely, face civil suits and criminal charges. In this regard, it is a scary time in America and the world. (By the way, concerned that it would one day come to this, years ago, I opted NOT to file papers to make Shoreshim Ministries a 501(c)3 organization.)
Ever Heard of This Guy?
In sharp contrast to where we are now and the latest attempt to silence spiritual leaders, it was the church pulpits, the men who stood in them and the truth of God’s Word proclaimed from them that shaped the moral fiber of this nation and, consequently, played an integral part in its formation. In fact, the convictions and sermons of one particular pastor in Lexington, MA, played a monumental role in the events that led to the first shots of the Revolution in April, 1775.
From the passage of the Stamp Act in 1765 until that April morning skirmish on Lexington Green, the Reverend Jonas Clark had become the town’s principal leader in its town meetings and issues of liberty. His home was a frequent meeting place for men like Samuel Adams (Father of the American Revolution) and John Hancock (Clark’s wife’s cousin and President of the Continental Congress in July, 1776). As a matter of fact, Adams and Hancock were at Reverend Clark’s home on the night of April 18th, 1775, when Paul Revere arrived to warn them of the approaching British regulars.
History records that, on this very night, one of Clark’s house guests asked him if the Lexington people would fight if need be. Clark who, through his sermons, had cultivated among his parishioners a duty to defend God-given and inalienable rights is said to have responded: “I have trained them for this very hour!” In fact, it was his teaching of Scripture and its relationship to the issues of the day that helped his congregants to recognize the difference between liberty and tyranny. Reverend Clark’s role in the conception of the American Revolution should not be underestimated and is highlighted by the fact that the first shots of the entire war were fired on his church lawn! Later, he would proclaim: “From this day (April 19) will be dated the liberty of the world!”
This brief history lesson should not be construed as a call to arms or as an advocacy for revolution. It is merely to point out just how far we have drifted, morally, as a nation and just how shrewdly and successfully the enemies of God have rewritten our national history. We have gone from being a nation that believed God’s Word was to be revered and followed and that those He gave us to lead should be respected, to a nation that disdains the very idea that the Bible is authoritative and the ultimate pattern for how we should live. The very fact that this belligerent group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, refers to themselves as such gives us insight to their view of Scriptural principle and law – to them it is bondage and needs to be cast off at all costs.
Ironic isn’t it? They are revolting against the very principles that won us liberty, granted us prosperity and gave them the right to make such egregious accusations. It was the pulpit that helped the colonists to recognize the tyranny of King George and inspired them to declare, “We have no King but Jesus!” Now, many of their descendants wish to silence those same pulpits and force Believers into compliance with their twisted mindset, that the FFRF, their supporters and confederates may be freed from what they perceive to be an unfair, bigoted and tyrannical code of Law – the Bible. They do so, perhaps never realizing – certainly never acknowledging – that they are enforcing their own form of tyranny on us. Moreover, their arrogant disposition and ruthless methods proclaim to their enemies, though in a distorted application, the same message adopted as a rallying cry and symbol of the American Revolution – Join or Die!
So, again I must ask: “Have we kept it?” Have we kept intact what Franklin and others worked and fought so hard to establish? Have we been faithful, as a nation, to uphold the standards and principles that God ordained – principles and ordinances that, when respected and obeyed, are rewarded with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”? Have we?
Sunset in the West, Darkness in the East
While that question lingers, let’s ask another. In spite of a decade-long war against fanatical Islam, are we in the West seeing its demise or its resurgence? Moreover, in the likes of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) – also known as IS (the Islamic State) – are we witnessing the emergence of an Islamic caliphate, an entity that imposes the harsh will of Sharia upon all who find themselves trapped within its clutches? How strange it is that ISIS declares to those poor souls that have fallen under their control, “Join or Die!”
Multiple reports coming from the besieged territories in the Levant confirm that these murderous thugs compel those not of their particular strain of Islam to convert, pay tribute, leave with nothing or die. Aside from the vicious slaughter of so many innocent people, perhaps the greatest insult being imposed on the West by this group is that their success is due, largely, to the windfall of arms and equipment provided for them, indirectly, by the American taxpayer as a result of the U.S. departure from Iraq.
Political pundits and military advisers are warning us that this is a very dangerous situation, not only for those directly in their path, but eventually for those of us in the West and, particularly, the United States. The President is being strongly encouraged to take military action against ISIS because it is feared that if we do not, the black banner of ISIS will be seen in American cities and towns. Indeed, several threats have been made against the U.S. by their leader and by members of their ranks, including a vow to fly their flag over the White House. Are these to be considered idle threats or something to be taken seriously?
Seeing that there is this sudden shift of power in the east, essentially erasing whatever gains the U.S. and the West may have accomplished in the Iraq War, it would strongly suggest that ISIS, Hamas and the like sense that now is the time to act – why? Many believe it is due to a lack of respect for the ability and the will of the United States to act. More to the point, many in the East – and this would likely include Putin of Russia – sense that the United States has weak leadership, is on the decline and may, in fact, be on the verge of such internal strife and crisis that it would be incapable of mounting any kind of response to ISIS, Iranian, North Korean or Russian aggression. If that proves to be true, the stage is set for events we’ve heard about all our lives to unfold.
I have often wondered what must happen to America whereby Gog of Magog feels at liberty to invade Israel and why there is no one, save God, to come to her defense. As I have contemplated this over the years, the only conclusion I could arrive at was, America doesn’t respond because she either can’t or won’t – either of which infers a dramatic decline in America’s influence, power and, consequently, spiritual well-being. My point is: what is going on in the east is directly related to what is going on in the west. Wildfire is being ignited in the Middle East because the fire of liberty in the West is being reduced to smoldering embers. As John Winthrop’s “shining city on a hill” begins to wane and retreat, the consequent power vacuum invites every thug, despot and would-be king to fill it with tyranny, murder and violence. Perhaps never in human history has there been this great a threat to freedom; one capable of extinguishing, for all time, the light of liberty. It reminds me of what Y’shua said:
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” – Matthew 24:21-22
Failure To Guard?
There is a principle that appears in the very beginning of Scripture that teaches us, though God’s people are given a privileged status – a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe – they are also charged with a great responsibility. As for Adam, it was expressed this way:
Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” – Genesis 2:15
Put simply, the Hebrew words translated here as “tend” and “keep” literally mean to “work” and “to guard.” Meaning that, not only was Adam to work in the garden so that it was maintained and, thus, fruitful but also, he was to guard against anything and anyone that might come in to disrupt, contaminate and destroy the garden.
Considering the end result – man’s exile from the garden – we can deduce that, though he may have tended the garden, he certainly wasn’t diligent to guard it. How else does the Adversary gain access to the midst of the garden if Adam had been committed to guard it? My point is, because of his failure to focus on the guarding aspect of his mission as well as the tending, a shrewd and crafty adversary infiltrated the garden, seduced the woman and, subsequently, enticed the man to eat of a deadly fruit. This same principle – and unfortunately the same error and outcome – can be found throughout the Bible and Israel’s history. Sadly, we see this has also been the case in America. When we let our guard down, the enemy sneaks in, seduces and then steals, kills and destroys.
I find it fascinating that, among other parallels that exist between the two nations, Israel and the U.S. are being tested on their southern border. For weeks now – not to mention all the times before – Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) has harassed Israel’s southern border and beyond with rocket attacks and incursions meant to kill as many Israelis as possible. At the same time, the southern border of the U.S. is being overrun by those who feel that, if they can get their foot in the door, they will be eventually given amnesty which would allow them to stay and benefit as citizens. One could understand their logic given the fact that the President and many in Congress have expressed intent to push for amnesty, or course, all in the name of being sympathetic to their plight.
As frustrating and debatable as the humanitarian, political and economic aspects of this situation may be, the most lethal component of it, at least in my opinion, has nothing to do with impoverished people trying to escape their conditions and attempt a better life in America. It has to do with the fact that this massive influx of foreigners provides cover for those who have a more sinister plan in mind – violent criminals, ruthless drug lords and Islamic terrorists. The scenario is neither far-fetched nor a recent development but something that has been going on for decades. Consider this quote from President Ronald Reagan’s diary dated January 21, 1986.
“I met with Bill Casey (CIA Director from 1981-1987) who is leaving for Saudi Arabia. I gave him word I’ve received that there may be some hostile actions on our Southern border and that some of the illegal Mexican entrants are actually from the Middle East.”– The Reagan Diaries, p. 385.
What is the position of our current administration and what do they intend to do about the “humanitarian crisis” brewing on our southern border? The President, who we would assume has more recent information that President Reagan had thirty years ago, has pledged to act on his own without Congressional approval and, one would assume, that should be interpreted as action favorable to the ten-thousands coming into America illegally. Again, the primary issue is not those who wish to escape poverty but how many lawless among them are coming for entirely different reasons than what is represented to us on the nightly news? I would also like to point out that, if the President does, in fact, act without congressional backing, his actions would be unconstitutional, lawless and would border upon tyranny.
My point in all this is: it’s not sufficient to have a productive garden, regardless of whether it’s the greatest and most productive garden that the world has ever seen. If it is to continue serving its INTENDED purpose, you must also be diligent to guard and protect the garden against those who would sow tares and persuade you to eat of its deadly fruit. You see, with privileged status comes great responsibility because, in reality, “we the people” didn’t create the garden, someone else did. He just allowed us to enjoy its benefits – the “blessings of liberty” – so long as we and our posterity were faithful to keep (guard) what had been entrusted to us.
Therefore, all things considered, Mr. Franklin, it would seem that we didn’t keep it – we’ve let it slip from our grasp. On the other hand, to be fair, it isn’t necessarily the fault of politicians, judges, bank executives, Wall Street moguls and Hollywood producers. Frankly, it’s not entirely an issue of “We the People.” The real issue revolves around this phrase: “If my people…”
Realizing that what I’m about to say will not set well with some, nevertheless, I must say that the greater issue is not whether the United States, as we have known it, survives. The more relevant issue at hand is whether God’s people in America and throughout the globe will turn from their sins, rise up and be His people. Will we be faithful to the covenant He has made with us and proclaim His Kingdom and His Righteousness in the face of political correctness? Will we stand for His truth even when it disagrees with the popular notion of tolerance and co-existence? Will we bravely raise the banner of the crucified and risen Messiah even if we come face to face with the black banner of ISIS and the sword of Islam? We, the people of Messiah – His Body in the earth – are the nation that is to be salt and light, that city set upon a hill that cannot be hidden. It is the responsibility of God’s people – the elect – to fill the vacuum of darkness and be the light by reflecting His light among the nations.
If ISIS and other such groups are to be silenced and defeated, ultimately, it will not be with bullets and bombs but because God’s people repent. If the FFRF and other Godless, progressive organizations are to fail in their attempt to silence God’s people it will be because His people humble themselves before Him. If it is His will that America should return to her former glory, power and influence and be the “shining city on a hill,” it will not be determined by who sits in the White House and who doesn’t; it will not be determined by how many conservative justices are appointed to the bench or by how many G-rated movies are produced in Hollywood – if it happens it will be because “we the people,” that is, His people, those called by His name:
“…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.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
Rest assured, God is faithful to His promise and He keeps His covenant with His people. The only question that hangs in the air unanswered is, in regard to the covenant and our promise to Him -“Will we keep it?”