For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
Our family's trip to Washington D.C. several years ago gave me great gratitude for our nation’s founding. Despite the current secularization of our government, the fingerprints of Christianity’s impact upon the establishment of our country were clearly evident to all but the most obstinate. For instance, images of Moses and/or the Ten Commandments are displayed in the National Achives building, the Supreme Court, the Capitol and the Library of Congress. The words, Laus Deo, meaning “Praise be to God,” are inscribed at the eastern side of the Washington Monument’s capstone. This monuments cornerstone contains a Bible. Inscribed in the Lincoln Memorial is the Gettysburg address which concludes with a statement regarding the centrality of God to our country, “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom . . .” Also in the House chamber is the inscription “In God we trust.” This same phrase is written over the South entrance of the Senate Chamber. I could write pages regarding the imprint of faith in God upon our founding.
The evidence of our nation’s reliance on God at its founding is so strong that the voices that deny this ideal were largely absent for nearly the first 200 years of our national existence. In 1911, President Woodrow Wilson said, “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 peace and salvation. America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture." President Wilson’s acknowledgement was not controversial in his day, but was an acknowledgement of our country’s dependence on God.
One of the many highlights of our visit to Washington D.C. was our tour of the Library of Congress. In the rotunda, a number of quotations are presented just below the domed-ceiling. As we stood in the balcony of the rotunda, a ray of sunshine was flashing off of one those quotations, making it most prominent. As I read it, a prayer for our country rose up within my soul. The line was from Alfred Tennyson, “One God, one law, one element, and one far-off divine event, to which the whole creation moves.” The line made me think of the current direction of our country away from God, away from liberty, away from moral order. It made me think of our nation’s future in God’s program.
As a teenager, I attended prophecy conferences that featured some of the nations best preachers explaining what God’s Word had to say about the end times. The question was often asked, “What place does the Bible assign to the United States in the last days?” The answer always given was that the Bible does not give any direct reference to the United States at the culmination of God’s plan for human history. Some of the speakers then speculated some possibilities. Perhaps the United States would be one of the ten nations that comprise the revived Roman empire led by the Antichrist. Or perhaps the United States will have diminished to the point of having no real impact on world affairs. Or perhaps we will have been conquered by another nation and merely folded in to that nation’s part in God’s sovereign plan.
I remember thinking at the time that those scenarios were unimaginable. We were so strong economically, militarily, politically and even spiritually that any of those options seemed so distant to me at the time. Much has happened in our great land that has made me realize that those options may not be so distant after all. I now believe that it is possible that we could become a completely secular nation like much of Europe and that we could crumble from moral and spiritual decay.
At those prophecy conferences, there was one more possibility regarding America’s place in Bible prophecy that was offered. Some of the prophecy speakers suggested that perhaps our country might be a stronghold of Christian faith just prior to the Rapture. If so, the rapture of the church would cause our country to lose a large portion of her leaders and laborers in the twinkling of an eye. Her strength would be drained overnight by the massive “recall” of the saints to heaven. This is the scenario for which I am praying. I love our country and long to see her blessed by God. For this scenario to happen, we need a reversal of our present course. We need a spiritual revival to awaken us to God and His glory. We need a vibrant church that proclaims the Good News of Jesus with clarity, boldness and courage. We need to pray that God would smile upon us in mercy. . . that He would not treat us according to our sins, but that He would rescue us by His grace.
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!