Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Last week we looked at consumerism; today, we look at politicisms. When many Christians read Psalm 33, verse 12 jumps out. How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh, the people he has chosen as his heritage. NJB
The idea that the promised New Israel is America goes back a long way. Independently, many Puritans took up and applied the older idea that England enjoyed a covenant with God—a ‘covenant of grace,’ they called it—even if they hesitated at first about whether the Promised Land was to be found in the new England or the old. From The Chosen People
The idea was preached around the colonies and into the Federal government. It was one of the themes of the several Great Awakenings, the First around 1740. Americans today like the notion. Here is part of a speech by Vice-President Mike Pence given to the Israeli Knesset. My country’s very first settlers also saw themselves as pilgrims, sent by Providence, to build a new Promised Land. The songs and stories of the people of Israel were their anthems, and they faithfully taught them to their children, and do to this day. And our founders, as others have said, turned to the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible for direction, guidance and inspiration.
Is America promised by God to be the New Israel?
One of the most important prooftexts is 2 Samuel 7:10; And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. NIV I have a hard time seeing America in the text.
Over the past few centuries, several countries have claimed to be the New Israel, beginning with the Roman Empire, then the Byzantine Empire, with a long list after that.
I’m sorry, but the US is not special. In January 1949, we believed we were the saviors of the world. We accounted for about half of the world’s wealth. We were helping war-torn countries rebuild. We were the sole possessors of the A-bomb (at least until August of that year). And we defeated both Germany and Japan because we are God’s Chosen Ones. OK, Russia and Britain might have helped some.
With that mentality, we became convinced we could do no wrong. We were sure we could take care of Korea, Viet Nam, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, etc., etc.
What went wrong?
We miss-read and miss-understood the Bible, the Word of God. We focused on verse 12 of the Psalm instead of verse 16; The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. ESV We forgot verse 5; The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. NIV We thought verse 8 referred to the US; Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. NIV He must have meant the Soviet Union or Afghanistan when He said, Adonai brings to nothing the plans of nations, he foils the plans of the peoples. CJB
We have trouble understanding God when He says he loves everyone, that He wants everyone to believe in Him and live with Him forever. We prefer the warnings He gives to us about what will happen if we do not say yes.
In this world, armies are necessary for defense, but we have become confused about what defense means. Invading countries we’re not happy with is not defensive. I believe George Bush did a good job when Iraq invaded Kuwait. He rounded up an international team and gave Iraq every opportunity to move out. We can debate the nuances of, and reasons for the war, but he conducted it properly.
War is always wrong, but it is sometimes the only option left to us. May God forgive us for all the times we have misused our defensive forces.
Be righteous and do good.