|FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS|
volume 18, number 39, September 26, 2019
“And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.” -Daniel 7:14
In the third Punic War (149 to 146 B.C.), after a lengthy siege, the wall of the great city of Carthage in North Africa was breeched and the Roman army poured in and wrought havoc on the people. Anywhere from 150,000 to 400,000 citizens and soldiers were killed and another 50,000 were taken as slaves. Scipio Africanus, the commanding Roman officer, wept as he gave the command for Carthage to be plundered, razed, and burned. Why did he weep? After all, he had conquered this nation with which they had fought for over one hundred years. Why was he not rejoicing? Polybius, his associate and friend, reports that Scipio said, “O Polybius, it is a grand thing, but, I know not how, I feel a terror and dread lest someone should one day give the same order about my own native city.”
Scipio Africanus knew his history. He knew of the demise of all the great civilizations up to that point—including the thirty-two pharaonic Egyptian dynasties and the Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Macedonian dynasties. In other words, he knew that “what goes around, comes around.” It is a simple fact of history that dynasties of any sort do not last. They all die, sooner or later. In fact Scipio was prescient in his remarks because Rome did fall to the Visigoths led by King Alaric in 410 A.D. Within the last few years great businesses like Enron, Blockbuster, Schwinn Bicycle, Marvel Entertainment, Atkins Nutritionals, and Lehman Brothers all filed for bankruptcy. And I hate to tell my fellow Alabama football fans, but this dynasty will not last either. Sooner or later it will also die, and maybe Clemson is eclipsing us already.
This historic reality brings me to a most sober point. The United States of America will not last forever. There is no way that we can sustain our freedom perpetually. Yes, of course, we must try with all our might. We should definitely say, “Not on my watch,” but this nation will one day end. We must, however, strive to delay the inevitable.
But why do civilizations die? Os Guinness observes three reasons for this inevitability. These reasons are the external, the internal, and time. Consider first the external reason—nations being invaded and conquered by other nations. This reason, however, by itself is unlikely to be the means of our own demise. Vast oceans on both our eastern and western boundaries have long shielded us from invasion, but the advent of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles with nuclear warheads has changed all of that. Until the Cold War our leaders never worried about a foreign invasion which could take us down. In fact Abraham Lincoln in a speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum at Springfield, Illinois in January, 1838, famously said:
“Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.”
Lincoln goes on in the speech to say that what could bring us down would be the issue of slavery.
Of course it is now possible that a nation like Russia, China, or some other country in the distant future which is not even on the geo-political landscape could invade us. But still, an external takeover, pure and simple, is highly unlikely.
What should concern us, however, is a fall from within. I will deal with this in my next post.
We know, of course, that our allegiance, first of all, is to our Lord Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Daniel the prophet, six hundred years before the advent of our Lord Jesus, prophesied that a king was coming who would possess the great, massive, and eternal kingdom, the rule and reign of God over all the world and all world leaders. All the great nations and all the great peoples of them would serve Him in His everlasting kingdom. It would never suffer demise like all the dynasties of the world. That, of course, is our great hope. We belong to God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. One’s nationality, though very important, is secondary at best. Though there is nothing wrong with patriotism to one’s country, this is never the end game. Our allegiance ultimately is to the Lord Jesus and the fulfillment of His Great Commission for the glory of God and the salvation and sanctification of God’s people in every nation and tribe.
This great truth of Christ’s eternal kingdom, however, does not mean we have no obligation to concern ourselves with the health, or lack thereof, of our own nation. We all know that we are in big trouble in America. There is massive division in our nation. There is a push for socialism among the millennial generation. This is absolutely mind boggling to me. It shows how remarkably bereft many in our nation are concerning our history.
What is the solution? While our demise is inevitable this does not mean that it must be imminent. Getting back to God in revival, as always, is any nation’s only hope of survival and prosperity. The wrong kind of freedom (I am free to do what I want, when I want it, with whom I want) that so many crave actually enslaves people. There must be a whole paradigm shift and only God by the work of His Holy Spirit can make that happen. It always comes back to the same thing, my friends. We must gain an intolerable burden for revival and seek the Lord earnestly while He may be found, while He holds back His hand of judgment on our nation which has fallen into perversion, wickedness, and murder unlike anything we have ever witnessed on these shores. We have sinned. We have been wicked. We must repent.
1. Punic is from the Latin Punicus which means Carthaginian. The three Punic Wars (264 to 146 B.C.) were fought between the powerful dynasty of Carthage in North Africa which also controlled Sicily and Corsica and the upstart Roman Empire. The Romans wanted Sicily and Corsica and the Carthaginians did not mean for them to have them. By the end of the third war Carthage was a shell of its former greatness. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children were killed in these three wars.
2. As told by Os Guinness in A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future, page 70.
3. “Ten Once Dominant Businesses that Ended Up Declaring Bankruptcy,” <www.businessinsurance.org>
4. A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future, pages 75-92.
5. “Abraham Lincoln’s Lyceum Address,” <wikipedia.org>