One Nation Under God
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The flag is an object. It is nothing on its own. But the flag stands for something. A pledge of allegiance to the flag is not idolatry, but in a civic sense is promise of allegiance (loyalty) to that which the flag represents—the United States of America. It means that as citizens of this country, we will stand up for it, defend it, and respect what it stands for—”life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The entities “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are examples of the “inalienable rights” enunciated in the United States Declaration of Independence. The Declaration declares these rights have been given to all human beings by their Creator, and further that it is for the defense of these rights that governments are created.
While these rights are an expression of the intent of its framers, wars have been fought to preserve them among us. The exercise of them has never been perfect or without heart-ache. That is the nature of existence in a world of sin. Further, honesty compels us to admit that the understanding and upholding of these inalienable rights has often been very subjective.
As evidence of that assessment we offer the following:
At the whim of individuals and now with governmental approval, children, living albeit in the womb, are aborted (murdered) in the name of rights and the pursuit of the happiness of women (and men) for their own selfish reasons.
The pursuit of happiness by governmental definition today includes the approval of immorality as the law of the land, as well as the redefinition of marriage. To some in our day liberty has become freedom to do what one pleases, while liberty to practice one’s faith, and to express one’s faith in the public work place–as well as to exercise one’s conscience in accord with the Word–is now under assault by the government. Inasmuch as government represents the public face of our country, it becomes increasingly more difficult for many to pledge allegiance to the republic which the flag represents.
We acknowledge with the preacher, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). We know also by the word of the Lord—as well as by personal experience– “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9)? The Lord says the following concerning evil of those to whom death is the ultimate and expected end, “This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ecclesiastes 9:3). As further evidence of there being nothing new under the sun we offer this: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). In his letter to the Romans Paul wrote the word of the Lord which gives the reason for the sin and its course outbreak. While what is said there is in the context of homosexuality, it finally applies to all sin (lying, deceit, hypocrisy, and others). Because men do not like to retain God in their knowledge, Paul says, “God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting” (Romans 1:28).
The government is not appointed to be the guardian of the heart. The power to guard the heart lies in the Word of the Lord—the law to uncover sin, and the gospel to sanctify hearts unto salvation. Therefore we do not expect and do not want the government to do what is not its role. However, we are dismayed that the government is now entering into blatant promotion of activities that the Lord abhors and condemns.
Though it is not within the province of the Church to save society per se, concerned Christians, including ourselves, lament the direction of the nation in which we live while waiting for heaven. Since Scripture is absolute truth, it is true that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). But what is the sense of this passage? That nation is blessed which acknowledges Elohim (Hebrew for “God”). He is not just any god. He is the Triune God, the mighty God Who created all things and Who preserves and controls all things. He is the One Who holds the fate of the nations of the earth in His hand, the God Whose glory the heavens declare (Psalm 19:1). He is the God whom the world will not acknowledge!
The Psalm does not say that nation is blessed who has a god. He blesses that nation whose God is the LORD—Jehovah! Jehovah is the covenant God, the God of revelation and grace Who dwells with His people. The God of Scripture is the Mighty God, Jehovah God, the God of our salvation. This set sets Him off from just any god. He is the God beside whom there is no other(Isaiah 43:11). In other words, that nation is blessed who worships the true God, the only God, the God who has created us, saved us, and sanctifies us. He is the God Jehovah who wants all to be saved, Who as the God of our salvation gave His only Son to redeem mankind by His blood. Again:He is the God whom the world will not acknowledge.
To some “One nation under God” may mean that God oversees and rules all things. But will they acknowledge that He is also the God Who brings judgment upon unbelief and wickedness? Some who use the expression “one nation under God” may mean the god of man’s choice. But that is idolatry. The passage is meaningful only as we believe that He is the God of heaven and earth Who revealed Himself in Christ, by whose Spirit we live and move and have our being, and who ultimately will take each believer in Christ to Himself in heaven.
Given that the Lord blesses a nation for the sake of His children who are in it, the best that we can do for our nation in its death throes is to preach the Gospel according to the commission the Lord Himself gave us. By the Gospel the Lord God will pluck from the dying world His elect from every tribe and nation under the sun.
As we observe the cultural deterioration of things round us, and “life. liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are waning as a functioning principle in our country, we do well to keep the Lord’s words in mind. To His disciples He said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9) “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures unto the end shall be saved” (Mark 13:13)
This assessment may seem to some to be extreme pessimism. We prefer to see it as facing reality that will help God’s people focus on the real Life, the real Liberty, and ultimately enjoy the real Happiness which shall not be taken away from us. That will be when we are in heaven with our Lord, the Jehovah God Who has redeemed us by His blood.
Pray to the Lord God of Heaven. Pray for our nation. Pray for the repentance of people caught in the throes of sin. Pray for yourself—for the forgiveness of your sins, and for the strength to resist sin. Pray for strength to withstand the attacks of Satan. Pray without ceasing. Pray that the Gospel will win hearts unto salvation. Pray that others still sitting in death may by the Spirit be led to sing with us in anticipation:
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon,soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
One thing is sure. God’s special people, His chosen generation “(One) holy Nation” under God (1 Peter 2:9) will be gathered into heaven with the Lord. Pray therefore, with the apostle John, himself in exile on the island of Patmos, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”(Revelation 22:20).