[ Watch the Beyond Today program - Biblical Questions for the President and You]
In the days of ancient Israel, kings had various counselors in their court to advise them on how to run the nation—based on the Word of God. Samuel guided Saul. Nathan counseled David. The prophet Isaiah revealed God's will to Hezekiah. These men of God were independent voices representing God to the king.
The president of the United States begins a new term of office on Jan. 20, 2013. What might he hear if a true servant of God—a Samuel, Nathan or Isaiah—entered the Oval Office? What kind of biblical questions might he put to the president of the United States? What questions should I ask if I were sent to the Oval Office? What would you ask?
Consider this. The United States and other major nations are facing serious problems. The days of reckoning began right after the November election. Runaway deficits, exploding entitlement programs and a moral slide into the abyss are carrying America to a day of judgment.
In the United States, bright prospects of hope and change have dimmed. What the president promised has not been delivered. Fear is a very real part of the American scene right now.
The rest of the world is intently interested in the decisions made by America's leaders. Despite a considerable level of anti-American resentment, most people know that what is decided in Washington impacts the world.
Which is why the president of the United States, and the rest of the world's prime ministers and leaders, could benefit from a biblical perspective when it comes to governing.
America's greatest threat
Let's start by examining a big question put to the two major presidential candidates during the last election campaign. Both men were asked, "What is the greatest threat to America's national security?" The answers given were what we would expect.
Let's look at what they identified.
Both men mentioned the Middle East tension since the eruptions of the so-called "Arab Spring" in 2011. Egypt is going through major changes as Islamic fundamentalists push to assert Islamic law. Libya and Syria are in turmoil, and this threatens the stability of other states in the region.
Iran's drive for nuclear weapons was next on the list. No serious leader feels a nuclear-capable Iran is good for the stability of the region or the world. Israel, which Iranian leaders have threatened with extermination, certainly doesn't.
The rise of China as an economic and military power is high on any list of threats. China holds in its hands billions of dollars in America's debt and is challenging longstanding American supremacy in Asia.
Finally, the candidates mentioned America's $16 trillion debt as a threat to national security. And it surely is. Even the world's most powerful nation can spend itself into bankruptcy.
Serious as these threats are, none is the most serious threat to national security. In fact, the threat posed by these are actually symptoms of a deeper threat that no one in government leadership has identified.
The most serious threat to America's security, and it applies to every other nation as well, is something you won't read about in any news source.
What is that threat? We can learn what it is from a source found very close to every president of the United States—God's Word, the Holy Bible.
You might laugh this off, dismissing the Bible as irrelevant to national security concerns. And you might think it has nothing to offer in terms of leading us out of the mess we're in. Really, though? Can you show me what is providing the help and direction we need? Why not turn to the Bible and ask the president—and every other world leader, for that matter—some straight questions? Both you and they might be shocked, but this approach would be the start down a path that would lead to some solutions.
Every U.S. president is sworn into office with his hand on a Bible. The custom began with George Washington and continues today. So why not open up this great book and read it? In its pages lies the answer to the question of the greatest threat to national security, not just for the United States but for any other modern nation.
The moral state of the union
The greatest threat to national security is easily identified in the Bible. It's your sins, my sins, and the sins of our nation. The greatest threat is the moral state of the union.
Let's look at Deuteronomy 28. In this chapter one of the great national leaders of the past, Moses, rehearsed the most important covenant or agreement ever made by a sovereign people.
Forty years earlier this generation's parents stood at Mount Sinai and made an agreement with God to live by His laws, the Ten Commandments, as a basis for their civil and religious government. No other compact among the nations comes close to the simplicity and beauty and justice embodied in this charter. The Israelites vowed to obey and worship God, and He in turn promised to bless and protect them as His chosen people. "All the words which the Lord has said we will do," they promised (Exodus 24:3 Exodus 24:3And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD has said will we do.
American King James Version×).
Now, in Deuteronomy 28, Moses repeats the terms of the agreement. Let's look at some of what he said and draw some questions that are vital to today's world.
"Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth" (Deuteronomy 28:1 Deuteronomy 28:1And it shall come to pass, if you shall listen diligently to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that the LORD your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth:
American King James Version×).
Here is the promise of national security—not just for Israel, but for any nation that obeys and worships the God of Abraham. God intended Israel to be the single nation on earth to which all others could look as a godly example to follow.
No other nation would be governed by His laws. As the Israelites prospered because of God's blessings, they would attract the attention of others who would want to emulate them and be blessed as they were (Deuteronomy 4:5-9 Deuteronomy 4:5-9  Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do so in the land where you go to possess it.
 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
 For what nation is there so great, who has God so near to them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call on him for?
 And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
 Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life: but teach them your sons, and your sons' sons;
American King James Version×). These others would come to Israel to learn their "secret." They would learn to do what Israel did.
Continuing in Deuteronomy 28:2 Deuteronomy 28:2And all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you, if you shall listen to the voice of the LORD your God.
American King James Version×says, "And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God."
What kind of blessings would come from obeying God? The list follows on in Deuteronomy. But note why and how the blessings come—from obedience to the voice of God, to His commandments and teachings.
Today, the idea of obedience to God as part of a nation's character seems so archaic and out of date. Yet America was founded on clear biblical principles. As John Adams, second president of the United States, said: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
The nation's Founding Fathers understood that adherence to the Ten Commandments was a way to make the U.S. Constitution work within society. True, the commandments were not written into that document, but there is no doubt that its framers, men who read the Bible, knew what type of moral character was needed for the nation to prosper. The character of the people had to be in line with the spiritual law of God.
The great law of God
Let's pause for a moment and think about the Ten Commandments. It's been rightly noted that these are the "Ten Commandments" and not the "ten suggestions." No greater law has ever been given by which men can be governed both collectively and personally. Taken as a whole, they are a moral compass for us—the basis for a way of life that can create a just and moral world. If each one of us committed to live by these laws and sought God's help to do so, the world would be powerfully transformed.
You need to look into what these laws mean and make them a positive and productive part of your life. Obedience to these laws is at the heart of a nation's security. And in Deuteronomy we are told about the promised blessings for obeying the commandments. Look at how they match up to some of the critical issues facing the nation today:
"Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body [that is, children], the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out" (Deuteronomy 28:3-6 Deuteronomy 28:3-6  Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.
 Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your cows, and the flocks of your sheep.
 Blessed shall be your basket and your store.
 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
American King James Version×).
This section outlines both general and specific results of a social structure rooted in God's spiritual law. Verse 3 is talking about a good and ordered life for everyone. It describes a peaceful and tranquil setting where people can pursue life, liberty and happiness. Think about this.
In America's Declaration of Independence it is written: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
That is exactly what God promised here in the Bible. He shows the way to a happy life where people can work and provide a good living for their family.
It begins with a solid moral foundation based on God's spiritual law. Ask yourself what it is that you want in life. If you're like most, you want good health and a happy life—a life at peace, secure from fear of any kind. You want to live free from fear and guilt—free from all the personal and private insecurities that come with this human experience. You want to be happy!
I learned this once in a counseling session with a person who was fighting the demons of a genuinely unhappy lifetime. "All I want out of this life is to be happy," this person screamed into my face. "I just want God, or someone, to lift this gloom and make me happy!"
What I learned then was that neither I nor anyone can make a person happy without that person first walking with God according to the agreement here in Deuteronomy —"because you obey the voice of the Lord your God."
Moral character impacts national security
Deuteronomy 28:7 Deuteronomy 28:7The LORD shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to be smitten before your face: they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways.
American King James Version×goes on to state that one of the blessings of obeying God will be that "the Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways."
The promise directly addresses a nation's security from its enemies. In the violent and troubled world of the past century, the United States has been a defender and guarantor of freedom for many nations. Twice in the 20th century American troops went to Europe to help liberate the Continent. During the Cold War the American military halted the further spread of Soviet totalitarianism. Today the U.S. Navy guards the seas and allows global commerce to thrive.
However, terrorism continues to eat away at world security. Threats of a nuclear-armed Middle East cast a shadow of fear on the world.
What is behind the world's continual strife and evil leading to war and suffering? Is there a deeper cause to these problems than we are willing to admit?
If a nation obeys the law of God, He foretells that their enemies will flee before them seven ways. Does this happen today when we see terrorists attack American diplomats in Libya with impunity? Obviously not.
What God is telling us here is that the moral character of a people is tied directly to its national security. He is saying that you and I have something to do with the security of our nation. That's right—your character, your neighbor's character and that of everyone where you live impacts the peace and safety of the country. It's time for some direct talk about this, and time we all face the individual responsibility we bear before our Creator.
A story from the seventh chapter of the biblical book of Judges illustrates the personal responsibility each of us bears. You're probably familiar with the story of Jericho, perhaps remembering the popular song about the Israelite leader Joshua and the famous battle that ended in victory for God's people Israel—when "the walls came tumblin' down." But what most don't know is the next scene in the story.
Joshua sent a reduced force of men against another smaller town called Ai. But instead of an easy victory, this strike force was ambushed, 36 were killed, and they all ran from the field in fear, their hearts melting like water. What was expected to be an easy victory turned into a humiliating disaster.
Joshua and his aides were dismayed and fearful. "How could this happen?" they wondered. "We're bigger and stronger. How could we be defeated?" They rightly wondered how to deal with this major threat to their security.
The answer was not in their physical strength. The problem was in the moral character of the people. God allowed this defeat to expose a sin that, if hidden and unrevealed, would infect the entire nation for generations. God had to expose it then and there, and in this story we find a sobering lesson for us today. Your country's national security is at stake if this lesson is not impressed on us and taken to heart.
But what is it? What was the sin that threatened Israel?
It was the sin of stealing—the breaking of the Eighth Commandment, "You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15 Exodus 20:15You shall not steal.
American King James Version×). A man named Achan had violated God's rules of war and stolen gold and other loot from the ruins of Jericho against the express command of God to burn and destroy the city and everything in it.
Achan had stumbled upon a treasure, and while no one was looking he took it for himself and hid it within his quarters. No one knew he had the valuables. But God did. And God was not going to let the sin of greed and stealing take root at this time among the people.
Not fair, you say? Why, everybody steals something, and no one is perfect. Well, that's almost right—many people do steal something, even if it's something small. And that's why this story is in the Bible. There's a crucial lesson for us to learn in it about our own conduct.
Sin—the violation of God's spiritual law, the Ten Commandments—is woven into the fabric of every nation in the world. Because of this, we see a world in conflict and suffering the consequences of broken law. God holds a nation claiming to honor and represent Him to a standard based on this law.
Achan's story of hidden sin and God withholding His blessing on the people teaches us exactly what we read in Deuteronomy: Honor and obey Him, and one's enemies will flee seven ways. Disobey, dishonor, walk all over His law and pretend to be something you aren't, and the result is confusion, suffering and threat. You and I do have a part to play in the national security of our country.
What does it all mean for you?
God has a question for you. Will you stop sinning? Will you begin to obey the Ten Commandments and all His ways today?
These questions strike at the heart of every one of the prophets of the Bible, beginning with the prophet Moses here in Deuteronomy. Every one of us has a responsibility before God to live by His laws. They are at the heart of every good thing we would want in life and for our nation.
What's the greatest threat to America and the world's national security? It is the moral character of the people. It's the type of people we will choose to be before the Creator and Judge of the world.
Our national character, the moral fiber of the people, is crucial to God's blessing and protection. America has the potential to be a great and good people, but it needs a careful examination in light of the law of God. Is America really a nation under God? Is Great Britain? Is Canada? Australia? The state of Israel or any other nation on earth? These are the biblical questions for the president, the prime ministers and you.
If a nation puts on its currency the statement "In God We Trust" but refuses to obey or trust God, then how can it expect Him to offer His gracious blessing and protection? It's another biblical question for the president and for you.
The problems listed by our nation's leaders as threats to national security are only symptoms of a greater problem. The nation's moral character has been crippled because it has not followed the basis of the agreement with God as outlined in Deuteronomy. God's promise to give national security if we follow Him is the basis for the only valid relationship between God and any nation at any time in history. Break its terms and there are consequences. No wonder we see so many threats to national and personal security!
Again, the greatest threat to America's national security is its moral and spiritual condition before God. When we violate His commandments and the terms of this agreement, we reap consequences.
We are rapidly approaching a time when every nation will have to face this issue. But you and I don't have to continue down this dangerous path the world is taking. We can turn it around in our lives today, seek and obey God, and enjoy the great blessings He promises!