George A. Bowers Sr.: Americans must seek God
On May 30, 1765, the Virginia House of Burgesses adopted Patrick Henry’s four resolutions protesting the insidious Stamp Act of England. This was the initial spark that lit up the colonial landscape and eventually ignited the American Revolution 11 years later. Most Americans look back on those days with respect and admiration, grateful for what our forefathers did to confront injustice and oppression. Most of us deeply appreciate the great personal sacrifices they made to secure the abundant liberties that we enjoy in the United States this Independence Day.
It’s hard not to be a little proud and a lot thankful for our heritage as Virginians in particular. Many courageous men and women rose up from the Commonwealth to provide leadership to the fledgling movement that has eventually become the most powerful, most wealthy, and most influential nation on earth.
But in our thanksgiving and celebration this Fourth of July, let us be keenly aware of the warning Patrick Henry gave regarding our new nation. On the back of his copy of the Stamp Act Resolutions, he wrote:
“This brought on the war which finally separated the two countries and gave independence to ours. Whether this will prove a blessing or a curse, will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation. Reader! Whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.”
This famous Virginian was quoting Proverbs 14:34 which says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Henry knew that America only existed by the favor of God and that our intentional disregard for his laws would not bring God’s blessing, but his judgment.
Another famous Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, knew this too, for he said, “The 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.”
Both of these great patriots knew that God cannot bless a nation that consistently ignores, disobeys, and flouts him. Deuteronomy 28 lays out the blessings that a nation can expect for obeying God and the curses that she will experience for disobedience. I encourage every person to read that prophetic chapter and see if you can identify any parallels in our nation’s history from our founding to the present. Our prosperity is not due to our economy nor to our abundant resources. It is not due to our industry nor to our ingenuity. It is not even due to our military nor to our intelligence. It is due to the blessing of Almighty God in response to a people that historically followed hard after him. This chapter makes clear that it is no coincidence that prison populations are rising in the U.S. while church attendance drops.
I fear with Jefferson that God’s justice cannot sleep forever. He will assuredly judge America for our total disregard of his institution of marriage, for our toleration of pornography, abortion, and consumerism, for our insatiable appetite for profane and wicked entertainment, and for our obsession with immoral sex and pleasure. His justice cannot sleep forever and I fear it may be awakening even now. Please do all you can, in Henry’s words, to practice virtue yourself and encourage it in others. And pray for God’s mercy on America before it’s too late. I pray it isn’t.
In mourning for our nation, George
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.