Once again I interrupt our study for a single post to insert a burden that weighs on my heart. I was also able to share this in my weekly column in our local newspaper.
A few posts back I mentioned Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who pastored Westminster Chapel in London from 1939 to 1968. He was one of the greatest Bible expositors the Church has ever known. In reading his biography, written by Englishman Ian Murray, I came across an incident that is appropriate for our times.
Lloyd-Jones was a Welshman by birth. While he condemned what he called “carnal nationalism,” which claims that one’s nation is the only one on earth that matters, he also opposed the idea that being a Christian erased one’s national identity or that he should leave the culture into which he was born. He was, indeed, a Welshman through and through. Though living in London and pastoring there, for example, he read Welsh newspapers and listened to Welsh radio. He also deplored the Welshman who tried to lose his accent to please his “English masters.”
Roger Weil, who was a member of Westminster Chapel, recalls seeing a side of his pastor’s character in a new light when he happened to visit the Lloyd-Joneses during one of their summer “holidays” (“vacations” to we Americans). They spoke together in the course of an evening on the state of the Welsh churches, past and present, and this was followed by family prayer, which, as usual, closed the day. The English visitor later wrote:
I will always remember the deep note of sadness in that part of his prayer when he interceded for Wales, that God who had so signally blessed her in days gone by would revive His work there once more. It was that tone of sadness that stuck in my mind at the time—I did not realize how it grieved his heart. I suppose it was memorable, too, because while on our knees there together we were privileged to glimpse him on a more personal level than ever we could in the services at the Chapel. It was not so much the words but something more like a groan in how he said what he said. (Ian Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith, 1939–1981 [Banner of Truth Trust, 1990], 202)
I was struck profoundly by that last statement—his prayer was “more like a groan.” It immediately reminds us of our Lord weeping over Jerusalem and the prophet Jeremiah weeping over Judah.
But what about America? As many are aware, former Arkansas governor (as well as former evangelical pastor) Mike Huckabee weighed in on the recent horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut: “We ask why there is violence in our schools,” he said on Fox News, “but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?” Addressing the Aurora, Colorado shootings a few weeks earlier, he added: “We don’t have a crime problem, a gun problem, or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem.”
He is right, and if anyone gets angry at what he says, that proves his point all the more. We don’t want to face the real truth. We have systematically, methodically, and steadily removed God from every aspect of our culture: schools, courtrooms, government, media, military, communities, public conversations, and, ironically enough, even many of our churches. We then, if I may be so blunt, have the unmitigated gall to ask where God is when some horror befalls us.
Please consider our Founding Fathers for a moment (although many politicians today view themselves as smarter than the Founders). Just one example of many is Fisher Ames, who, according to the Congressional Record of September 20, 1789, was the man who actually offered the final wording of the First Amendment (and didn’t view the Bible as a violation of that amendment, as our “much smarter” politicians do today). In an article in a national magazine dated January, 1801, Ames wrote of his concern about all the new textbooks that were appearing. He said that while these are good, the Bible still must never be replaced as the number one textbook in our schools:
Why then, if these books for children must be retained, as they will be, should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble.
So, what is the result of our defection from God and His Word? The United States of America (if that means anything anymore) is headed for economic ruin, political tyranny, and moral bankruptcy. Most important of all, it is headed for divine judgment. In fact, every nation in history that has fallen did so because they followed the same path that America is now proudly traveling.
Is there an answer to our headlong spiral into the abyss? Yes. While said specifically to the nation of Israel, 2 Chronicles 7:14 applies to every nation: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” What’s the answer? What are God’s requirements for blessing?—humility, prayer, devotion, and repentance
My Dear Friend, do you groan for America?