I heard these words as I read Bill Federer’s article about the young United States this morning. I was reading how our second President John Adams asked the retired first President George Washington to be Commander-in-Chief of the Army once again. The reason was an impending war with France.
Thirteen years after the American Revolution’s Declaration of Independence in 1776, France’s revolution erupted in 1789. Rather than embrace the ideas of the Enlightenment together with Judeo-Christian thought and values as the Americans did, the French revolutionaries embraced the former and rejected the latter. Without that godly underpinning, what followed over the next ten years was the Reign of Terror with tens of thousands of beheadings and an onslaught of violence. Thankfully. the French Revolution ended with Napoleon’s rise to power in 1799.
President Adams was very concerned that American college campuses were being infiltrated by “decadent, ungodly, and immoral Francophiles – the term used to describe those fascinated with culture, infidelity, and irreligion which was being exported from France.” With Washington’s acceptance, President Adams declared a fast on March 23, 1798, and another on March 6, 1799. The purpose was to appeal to God to keep the United States on a proper, godly course and not let the young nation be swayed by France’s ungodly influence which had already proved itself as a highway to bloody conflict and societal collapse.
Bill Federer’s article concludes with observations by Os Guinness in a 2017 interview that the culture war in the United States now stands between the American Revolution of 1776 and the “heirs of the French Revolution” of 1789. “Where secular France pulled away from God, America experienced a religious revival called the Second Great Awakening which spread across the country,” which turned society toward Biblical values and resulted in a great many powerful works and movements, not the least of which was the abolition of slavery!
As I was reading Mr. Federer’s article, I found myself thinking about what it might have been like being only the second President of a new-found nation. This new United States was birthed when it was brought to the brink of conflict with Britain over unfair, unjust, and unrighteous practices meant to drive down the colonists in subjugation to the British Crown. The struggle was between colonial rule and Crown. The French Revolution started as the people struggled under the oppression and abuses of an antiquated feudal system under the French Monarchy and Aristocracy. Both revolutions erupted from immense societal pressure
Like individuals, societies don’t handle unrelenting pressure well. Pent-up frustration and pressure must be released for a society to stay healthy. If not, the cork eventually pops.
The people of the United States have experienced tremendous frustration and pressure in recent years. The incessant accusations and investigations by politicians and a shameless media against a duly-elected President, sham House trials resulting in a baseless impeachment trial, racial tensions, the corona-virus lock-downs resulting in job losses, and business and school closings have ramped up the tension level and the pressure has taken its toll.
And the corks are beginning to pop. Riots have rocked the nation. Crime has escalated by triple-digits in some cities like New York and Chicago. The calls to defund or eliminate the police are touted as the solution to the frustrations many communities have experienced and still are. But do we really think that is the solution? Removing the pressure valve?
Something will give…big time.
This morning I heard the words, “I am bringing the United States to the brink.” After reflection, I believe the Lord is allowing these things to bring us to a decision we need to make at this time. Will we return to our Judeo-Christian foundation as a nation or will we choose to follow the way of the world and collapse as a nation? According to Jim Nelson Black in his book When Nations Die all the indicators of a culture in crisis, a dying society, are present and have been since his book was published in 1994. All ten signs are flashing red right now:
1. The Crisis of Lawlessness
2. Loss of Economic Discipline
3. A Rising Bureaucracy
4. The Decline of Education
5. The Weakening of Cultural Foundations
6. The Loss of Respect for Tradition
7. An Increase in Materialism
8. The Rise of Immorality
9. The Decay of Religious Belief
10. The Devaluing of Human Life
The Pilgrims undertook their journey to the New World “for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country.” The United States was founded on a Judeo-Christian worldview and principles informed by Enlightenment ideals. And yet, we are facing an onslaught of the heirs of the French Revolution – “an intentional campaign to separate American society from its Judeo-Christian past and replace it with a civic religion of state worship.” In short, God is asking, “Do you want me to guide you, or do you want to throw off my sovereignty and rule yourselves?” Yeah, that worked well for the French!
But God does not allow idols to compete with Him (Exodus 20:3). Elijah confronted the people of Israel over their doublemindedness, “Then Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him. But if Baal, follow him.” But the people didn’t answer him a word” (1 Kings 18:21).
With the words, “I am bringing the United States to the brink” still ringing in my head, I believe the Lord is using current events to force a decision. Do we want the fire of God to fall and purify our nation or do we want the fire of His judgment instead? Do we want a third Great Awakening or a Final Nightmare? Israel failed to fully embrace God, even after the Elijah event on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). God eventually allowed the center of Israel, His Temple, to be burned to the ground.
Will the pressure we all feel today be released through repentance and forgiveness as many of us have experienced when we come to the Lord or will God use intense pressure as a means to chastise and judge this nation when “the cork finally pops?”
I believe we are on the brink.