This July 4 marks the 225th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, which set in motion the formal break between America and Britain that would lead to the United States becoming a separate country. The new nation’s rise from British colony to superpower is a remarkable story and one with lessons for countries and individuals everywhere. That point is well illustrated by this recent letter from a subscriber in Nigeria: “… I praise God for the beautiful job you are doing by educating us on current events and how they can be seen from the biblical perspective. In your March-April issue you gave us an explanation of how people misuse their freedoms … I thank God that I enjoy a bit of freedom, but not in comparison to the total freedom being enjoyed in America.
“I want to also praise God for the first leaders of America for building her on the solid foundation of the Word of God. In contrast, the house they built is now beginning to collapse. People are becoming more immoral day in and day out. If this level of immorality is not checked, people will misuse their freedoms and things will fall apart. Please continue to educate our people about the ills of their wrongdoings. I want everyone to know that America is leading the world today because of their motto ‘In God We Trust.’ I pray that we don’t ever have an American leader who would dig America’s grave by changing the motto.”
Sometimes it takes a perspective such as this to help the rest of us recognize some profound truths. What is so clear to this reader in Nigeria can be difficult for the rest of us to grasp. We’re too easily distracted by the rush of our busy lives that we seldom take stock of where we’re going—or where we’ve been.
God recognizes our all-too-human tendency to lose sight of His role in the rise and fall of nations. Notice His warning to the ancient Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land after He had miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt and sustained them for 40 years in the wilderness:
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God … “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth … If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed” (Deuteronomy 8:10-19 Deuteronomy 8:10-19 10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which he has given you.
11 Beware that you forget not the LORD your God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command you this day:
12 Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and dwelled therein;
13 And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied;
14 Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
15 Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought you forth water out of the rock of flint;
16 Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers knew not, that he might humble you, and that he might prove you, to do you good at your latter end;
17 And you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.
18 But you shall remember the LORD your God: for it is he that gives you power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
19 And it shall be, if you do at all forget the LORD your God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.
American King James Version×, New International Version, emphasis added).
In this issue of The Good News we begin a series of articles examining America’s unlikely, unexpected rise to greatness. Regrettably, this amazing story is seldom discussed much these days. Along with the story of the strong religious convictions of the nation’s founding fathers, it is often shoved into the background, rarely allowed out for public display. The United States has been blessed unlike any nation in history. Never has any one nation so dominated world culture and civilization with its economic, political and military strength.
However, as our reader in Nigeria pointed out, America, its people and its leaders are rapidly losing sight of the source of those blessings—if they have not already. May the wise, especially all readers of The Good News , remember the danger inherent in God’s warning not to forget Him—before it’s too late.