America has had many difficult struggles in it’s short history.The revolutionary and civil wars, the great depression, September 11th, and the current “great recession.” A nation born of patriots; men and women who risked and gave their lives for freedom. From our nations earliest days, God’s promises in 2 Chronicles 7 tells us that He will hear the cry of a humbled people. In 1775 when our new nation was forming, the Continental Congress called for a day of prayer to ensure God’s help and direction. At critical junctures in the Civil War, President Lincoln called for our nation to fast and pray.
Richard Wumbrand (1909-2001), a Romanian evangelical Christian minister and author spent 14 years imprisoned in Romania for his faith. Later he founded the Voice of the Martyrs, an organization that works with and for persecuted Christians around the world. In 1967 he shared this about America:
Every freedom-loving man has two fatherlands; his own and America. Today, America is the hope of every enslaved man, because it is the last bastion of freedom in the world. Only America has the power and spiritual resources to stand as a barrier between militant Communism and the people of the world.
It is the last “dike” holding back the rampaging floodwaters of militant Communism. If it crumples, there is no other dike, no other dam; no other line of defense to fall back upon.
America is the last hope of millions of enslaved peoples. They look to it as their second fatherland. In it lies their hopes and prayers.
I have seen fellow-prisoners in Communist prisons beaten, tortured, with 50 pounds of chains on their legs – praying for America…that the dike will not crumple; that it will remain free. (cited in William Federer, America’s God And Country [Coppell, Texas: FAME Publishing, Inc., 1994] pp. 705-706)
Powerful words from a man who, tortured for his belief in Christ, experienced first hand a world without freedom.
In his Farewell Address, Ronald Reagan commented:
The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the ‘shining city upon a hill.’ The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still…. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.
John Winthrop’s “city on a hill” has uniquely served America as a metaphor of example ever since it was penned in 1630. Ronald Reagan spoke of the city on a hill several times, using the powerful imagery in his 1989 farewell address. The “City on a Hill” symbolism was a call to righteous living based on God’s covenant with his “New Israel” in 1630 Massachusetts. As colonial America became a nation, expanding beyond the original borders, the idea of the “city on a hill” often took new meaning. Americans saw themselves as caretakers of a great and noble experiment that would bring hope and opportunity to many people. Still today the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor holds high a torch bearing the light of freedom. The city on a hill set the stage for a society that easily blended divine providence with practical goals both in the private lives of Americans as well as national politics.
This is a description of the America that I know and love. It is not an America riddled with the current poor against rich rhetoric, class warfare, erosion of absolutes, and over-reaching government schemes for overhauling society. It is an America where hard work, personal responsibility, integrity, and hope and faith in our Creator formed the basis of our foundation.
Second Chronicles helps give us a model for spiritual renewal. The book shows us how a succession of righteous kings in Judah led to reforms that helped bring the people back to a true faith in God.
“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. -2 Chronicles 7:14
Our nations problems at the core are a result of a moral sickness that has plagued our culture. We must not forget our history, and we must not forget who we are as chosen people of God; the light in a world full of darkness. We must remain resilient, we must do our very best to make sure America remains the land we all love; the land of the free.