(Lessons From George Washington, et. al. [and others])

by Steve Stone

     In his recent PBS documentary, Civilization (and book of the same title)[1], British historian and Harvard professor, Niall Ferguson, has voiced his opinion that Western civilization, and especially the U.S., may be in danger of imminent collapse because she is in the process of forfeiting many of the strengths that made her the most dominant force in the world. I agree that it does look very much like our nation may well be headed for drastic times, even more dire than we are now experiencing, but for somewhat different reasons than those noted by Mr. Ferguson. I have not finished the book yet, but he mentions six things ( he calls them “killer apps” ) that the US and the West are in danger of abandoning ( he says “deleting” ). They are competition, science, the rule of law, medicine, consumerism, and the work ethic. Its all very interesting, and he may be correct about much of what he says, or not, (our judicial system is definitely out of whack and the protestant work ethic of our ancestors has all but disappeared) but either way, I believe these are only symptoms of a much, much deeper problem. My concern is that America seems to be heading down a path toward destruction of the very foundation upon which she has stood secure for these many (approximately 250) years.

     Although I am not a historian, I do enjoy reading about the subject, and I have learned that mankind has often forgotten many of the lessons that history teaches – and, as many others have said, we do so at our own peril. Our first President, affectionately and honorably referred to as “the father of our country,” George Washington, was one who often reminded us to hold fast to that which he believed was one of the most essential elements in establishing and maintaining a strong foundation for our nation, – our faith in God.

     In fact, Washington is the standard-bearer, being the first in a long line of Presidents and others who have cautioned and encouraged our nation to protect and secure this solid base of faith. In his first Inaugural Address, in 1789, Washington stated –

    “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States…..the propitious (favorable) smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained….”[2]

     In other words, “There is a God in heaven and if we do our very best to live by the standards He has established in this world, we will be blessed by Him; however, if we dont – we won’t – period!”

     In his National Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation, in Oct. of 1789, Washington borrowed from the wisdom of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:13 , which says, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

    “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor….”[3] And again in 1795, “It is…our duty as a people…to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God…the great Ruler of the nations….”[4]

     In his Farewell Speech on September 19, 1796, President George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions (tendencies) and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.”[5]

     In 1776, the man who would later become our second President, John Adams, wrote, “Statesmen…may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.”[6] Also, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”[7] In today’s culture, “Morality” and “Religion” have become words to make jokes about, but that in itself should serve as proof of how far we have fallen as a nation and people!

     Thomas Jefferson has not often been labeled as overly-religious, but even he recognized the great value of faith in the God of the Bible. “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” [8] Indeed!

     Benjamin Franklin, one of the most prominent of the Founding Fathers has said, “…the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”[9] In the same speech, Franklin quoted Psalm 127:1, “…except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.”[10]

     Abraham Lincoln echoed the sentiments of Washington in 1863, when he said – “…it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”[11]

     Our 28th President, Woodrow Wilson commented, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about….The Bible…is the one supreme source of revelation of the meaning of life, the nature of God, and spiritual nature and needs of men. It is the only guide of life which really leads the spirit in the way of salvation.”[12] Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President, was a man of few words, they say. He was recorded as saying, “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”[13] And President Dwight D. Eisenhower, former WWII General, in 1954 said, “This Biblical story of the Promised Land inspired the founders of America. It continues to inspire us…..The Bible is endorsed by the ages. Our civilization is built upon its words. In no other book is there such a collection of inspired wisdom, reality, and hope.”[14]

     The history of the United States of America reveals a civilization which I believe is unique in many ways to any other that has ever been established. If you were to look at the history of all of the nations that have existed, I seriously doubt if you could find another one that has so finely-entwined within its laws the truths that are found in the Scriptures of the God of Israel, the God who claims to be the only “God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.” (Deuteronomy 4:39)

     So, is this a Christian nation, or not? This question goes on daily in America. Back and forth we go. While one side desperately holds on to the values and truths that have upheld this land for almost two and a half centuries, the other seems to be completely surrendered to the mission of destroying and removing every landmark of our past.

     But who is right? Does anyone seriously believe that it is time to throw Washington, Lincoln and the rest of our fore-fathers under the bus, along with God and His Word? Is there, or is there not structural value for strong foundations? Is a strong and secure foundation important when we build our homes? What about other buildings, bridges, families, and nations?

     Its time to look at results. Despite our many problems, the USA, as Ferguson has noted[15], is the model for much of our world today. The success of America is unparalleled. Are we really ready to throw out the ideas of our Founders? Do we really want to tear down the foundations of America, or could it be, possibly, that it is time to restore them???

     If we would dare to consider the Source of our founders beliefs, we would soon know what God’s opinion is considering this matter – and when it comes right down to it, this is the only viewpoint that matters!

     “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth…..From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” Acts 17:24-26

     “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.” Psalms 33:8-12

     “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters.’ The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.” Psalms 2:1-4

     “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Proverbs 16:7

     “No one is like You, O Lord’ You are great, and Your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere You, O King of the nations? This is Your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like You…..the Lord is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King. When He is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure His wrath.” Jeremiah 10:6,7,10

     “Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.” Isaiah 45:22,23

     “Then Jesus came to them (the disciples) and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:18-20

     “You are worthy (Jesus – the Lamb of God) to take the scroll and open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God, from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9,10

    The United States stands at the precipice today. In a time when so many are calling for “change,” we need to make very sure we understand what they are trying to do. As this nation continues down its current path, someone needs to sound the alarm that this is the path to self-destruction. God’s ways are proven and stable. They are the ways that have brought success to us, as well as to all people that have ever tried them. They are tried and true. The one who is leading this nation away from the precepts of God is the enemy of our souls. (please see my article – Unmasking the Enemy of Our Souls) [16]. And any society that presumes to eliminate or eradicate the ancient laws of God is essentially spitting in His face and begging for judgment!

     “Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’……Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what will happen to them. Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it.” Jeremiah 6:16,18,19

     Some may call me unpatriotic, but that is not the case at all. Is it wrong to want your country to honor God rather than face His judgment? I think not. But like Jefferson, I, too, tremble when I think about the justice of God. America has been blessed too much, and yet has been heading down this path for many years now. Take a look at history. The old maxim that those who forget the past are doomed to relive it is not one that I would like to see fulfilled before my eyes.

     But just as it is true that God’s justice will not sleep forever, it is also true that God’s mercy is everlasting. If it were not, there would be hope for no one. We are all sinful people, in need of God’s unconditional love and grace. Just as God must punish evil, He has also promised to forgive anyone who comes to Him in sincere repentance.

     Just as Moses offered life or death to the children of Israel, we have the same choice today.

     “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land…..But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed……This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose LIFE, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…..” Deuteronomy 30:15-20

[1] Civilization, The West and the Rest, with Niall Ferguson, c.2012 BBC World Wide LTD, Produced by Chimerica Media, DVD; Book – Civilization, The West and the Rest, by Niall Ferguson, The Penguin Press, 2011

[2] William J. Federer, America’s God and Country, Fame Publishing, 1996, p.652

[3] Ibid, p.654

[4] Ibid, p.656

[5] Ibid, p.661

[6] Ibid, p.8

[7] Ibid, p. 10,11

[8] Ibid, p.323

[9] Ibid, p.248

[10] Ibid, p.248

[11] Ibid, p.382

[12] Ibid, p.697

[13] Ibid, p.181

[14] Ibid, p.226,227

[15] See Note 1

[16] Signposts On The Road To Reality,, Articles – “Unmasking the Enemy Of Our Souls

* Special thanks to Tom Kanitz for Scripture compilation in this article.

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