Thursday, December 17, 2015
Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock. O God, enthroned above the cherubim, display your radiant glory to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh. Show us your mighty power. Come to rescue us!
Turn us again to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.
O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, how long will you be angry with our prayers? You have fed us with sorrow and made us drink tears by the bucketful. You have made us the scorn of neighboring nations. Our enemies treat us as a joke.
Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved. Psalm 80:1-7(NLT)
Tuesday night I watched the GOP debates – the first hour warm-up with four candidates that are all pretty much “done” – and then the hours-long war with the front runners.
The moderator (CNN’s Wolf Blitzer) and others asked questions (there were even some video questions via Facebook™), and then the candidates smiled and mostly didn’t answer the questions; they mostly stuck to their talking points – passionately, repeatedly, and maddenly!
Now, I may have missed it (I went to bed around the start of the third hour), but nowhere in all of the questions did I hear anything close to the truth of the Psalmist’s prayer…Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved. (Psalm 80:7NLT)
There were lots of questions about war strategy, about taking down ISIS and who is going to pay for the cost of it all. There was lots of posturing about temperament, presidential swagger and making America great.
But I heard nothing for America’s dilemma approaching what the Psalmist knew about Israel of old: unless God chooses so, no nation can endure. And the fact is, God rarely chooses to sustain nations that do not choose God.
There was a lot of talk about presidential power and military might from the candidates; there was little humility before God (or man for that matter). I fear we might be drowning in our own political arrogance!
I’m not running for anything; never really had any great storehouse of political savvy, or inclination towards political intrigue; I’m just not hard-wired towards the political arena. In fact, I detest most of it to the point that I watch political debates with one hand wrapped around a bottle of Pepto Bismol™ to settle my stomach.
So what’s the point here?
The point is that our nation constantly attempts to get back our greatness by electing the next great savior. We never seem to learn the lesson that praying at the altar of Bush, Obama, Trump or any of the other candidates is misplaced.
The Psalmist nailed it over and over….ONLY then will we be saved. He was talking about the kind of revival that does not include waving American flags and congratulating ourselves on being the biggest, best, baddest or whatever. When it comes to our infrastructure, superstructure and just plain existence as a nation, we hang like a spider over an open flame (to quote Jonathan Edwards). And it’s only by a single strand of faith that we stand, connected to God. What we’ve consistently done in America is stretch that strand by overloading our pockets and ignoring the God Who gave us our freedom and blessing.
According to the best guess, borne of research, Alexis de Tocqueville never said it, nor did he write it, but these lines were never truer:
America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.
There are a lot of candidates out there; will you choose one who serves popular opinion, or one who has a heart to serve God?