God's Mandate to America

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God's Mandate to America

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Two days after U.S. President George W. Bush won his second term, journalist Tom Friedman wrote in his New York Times column what many were already saying. "Meanwhile, there is a lot of talk that Mr. Bush has a mandate for his far right policies. Yes, he does have a mandate, but he also has a date—a date with history" (Nov. 4, 2004).

Time will tell whether President Bush has a date with history. There is little doubt the president will use his victory and spend the "political capital" he claims to have from the American electorate. The question is whether the president is listening to the right voice.

Campaign issues

Americans seemed to be voting on three major issues this season. The first was the issue of security. Within this are the war on terror against Al-Qaeda and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The president is now free to pursue his goals. Within days of the election, Marines began an all-out offensive against the rebel stronghold in the city of Fallujah, Iraq. If Iraq is to be stabilized to the point that democratic elections can be held, the rebel insurgents will have to be neutralized. Iraq is a test case for President Bush's desire to democratize the region. Failure here would be a major setback.

Look for the majority of troops to withdraw as soon as the "mission is accomplished," leaving a peacekeeping force in place, either in Iraq or some other country such as Kuwait. American troop presence in the Middle East will likely remain for some time.

Values were a second issue on the minds of Americans. Gay marriage, abortion and stem cell research are hot button items for those with traditional religious values. There remains a culture war within the nation.

According to a Pew Research Center report, 80 percent of Americans believe in God and 60 percent agree that "religion plays an important part in my life." While people differ on how they express their faith, and to what depth, there is still a large well of "God-fearers" in America. Many look nostalgically back on the world that was, while at the same time they fearfully look forward to an uncertain future.

The third issue this year was the economy—bread and butter social issues. In many states hit hard by unemployment, jobs are a big concern. The nation's Social Security system is in need of major overhaul to ensure benefits for millions of baby boomers and the generations to follow. Health care and prescription drug prices were also debated.

All of these are perennial issues of concern. It seems every presidential debate in living memory has included these critical social issues. You have to wonder what is lacking in our system that would create economic stability from one generation to the next.

Still, America has a good system, based on a strong benevolent strain. It has fed the world and itself like biblical Joseph fed Egypt and the surrounding nations. Yet many global forces shape today's world. America will not always be able to drive those forces to her advantage. There are changes ahead in the world economy—many of which will seriously impact the American way of life.

What about God's mandates?

There are great issues before the world at this time. Beyond the war on terror is the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of countries that may use them to influence their agenda. Dealing with Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs are immediate concerns. The idea that a nuclear weapon could fall into the hands of a terrorist group keeps many awake at night. America leads the world in dealing with these threats.

An overarching issue is America's preeminent position as the political, economic and military leader of the world. What would happen if the winds of history turned and America's role was greatly diminished? This is a subject covered quite extensively in past issues of this publication. The world would be a far different place. For that reason, we believe President Bush and America would be better served listening to the mandates of God than to the various and sundry political interests within the country.

The pages of your Bible show that when God had a message for His nation Israel, He sent it repeatedly through His prophets. These messages contained words of warning—we might call them mandates—to return to the first principles of a relationship formed at Mount Sinai. That covenant was the basis of every aspect of their national life. When they forgot and strayed from its terms, they suffered and fell short of their great God-given calling.

The message of God to Israel of old is the same for our peoples today. The English-speaking nations of America, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and perhaps a few others received a modern inheritance from God because of the promises made to Abraham. The story is told in our free booklet, The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy. This amazing truth holds a vital message for these nations at this critical juncture in history. God has a very different set of mandates for America and Britain than most would imagine.

Walk in God's law

God raised up a sheepbreeder named Amos in the seventh century B.C. and sent him to the capital of Israel in Samaria. Included in his mandate was a sharp warning to return to the law, embodied in the Ten Commandments.

Notice, "Thus says the LORD: 'For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed. But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem" (Amos 2:4-5 Amos 2:4-5 [4] Thus said the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked: [5] But I will send a fire on Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.
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). In this prophecy, Jerusalem symbolizes the entirety of the nations of Israel and Judah.

Ten of the tribes had split into a separate kingdom after the death of King Solomon. Jeroboam led the split and started the country on a long slide into apostasy. His first act was to erect idols in convenient locations to make it easier for people to worship (see 1 Kings 12:25-33 1 Kings 12:25-33 [25] Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelled therein; and went out from there, and built Penuel. [26] And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: [27] If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. [28] Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said to them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt. [29] And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. [30] And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even to Dan. [31] And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. [32] And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like to the feast that is in Judah, and he offered on the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. [33] So he offered on the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast to the children of Israel: and he offered on the altar, and burnt incense.
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). Israel never recovered from this idolatry, its first major step away from God. The people suffered as a result.

Amos was only one of the prophets who brought a message to Israel that they had broken faith with God and His law. Every subsequent social and political problem they faced stemmed from that decision.

Part of the culture war today is over the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings. In the summer of 2003 a controversy erupted over the Alabama chief justice's decision to put a stone monument containing the commandments on display in the Alabama Judicial Building. The resulting furor not only highlighted the cultural divide, but also brought up the fact that many pay only lip service to the idea of the law rather than looking deeply into its precepts in critical self-examination.

Amos's message, or should we say God's mandate, applies as much to us as it did to Israel of old. We also have "despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept His commandments." Those are strong words that many in our audience do not want to consider. But let's look at what God said through another prophet concerning just one of these commandments.

The Sabbath mandate

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God indicted Israel and Judah for both idolatry and Sabbath breaking, violations of the Second and Fourth Commandments. Today people would not want to focus on the observance of a day in honor of God. Few would consider that God looks at keeping the Fourth Commandment as a crucial sign of those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. Fewer still would accept the biblical injunction to observe the seventh day of the week as holy time as was the manner of Jesus Christ and His New Testament followers.

Ezekiel 20 is a key chapter to show how important the Sabbath is to God. It records that a group of elders—spiritual and political leaders—came to the prophet for understanding of their world and its times. After showing a hint of impatience, God lays out His case. Notice beginning in verse 5: "Thus says the Lord GOD: 'On the day when I chose Israel and raised My hand in an oath to the descendants of the house of Jacob, and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt, I raised My hand in an oath to them, saying, "I am the LORD your God."

"'On that day I raised My hand in an oath to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, "flowing with milk and honey," the glory of all lands'" (verses 5-6). God was the source of their blessings, just as He is the source of our blessings today.

But He goes on to show how Israel did not forsake the false gods of Egypt, but desired them instead of the truth. This rebellion incited God's anger. The history of Israel's rebellion actually spans the time from when God planted His people in the Promised Land to the time when He sent them into exile. It encapsulates the history of the nation recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures. God formed with the nation a covenant based on His statutes, judgments and law, a system that ensures success and abundance (verse 11).

Key to this was the Sabbath, the Fourth Commandment. Notice verse 12: "Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them."

The Sabbath is a sign between God and His people. It was a critically important feature of Israel's national life. Notice how God connects it to their existence as a nation: "Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes; they despised My judgments, 'which, if a man does, he shall live by them'; and they greatly defiled My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them in the wilderness, to consume them" (verse 13).

Israel continued to walk contrary to the laws of God, and eventually this led to their decline. Sabbath breaking and idolatry were linked together as twin pillars of defilement for the nation. "Because they despised My judgments and did not walk in My statutes, but profaned My Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols" (verse 16).

The words of God echo down through the years as a witness to the modern descendants of this ancient people: "'I am the LORD your God: Walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them; hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.'

"Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, and were not careful to observe My judgments, 'which, if a man does, he shall live by them'; but they profaned My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the wilderness" (verses 19-21).

Modern "prophets"

Ancient Israel went into captivity, their power eclipsed by other nations, because they would not heed the mandates of God through the prophets. Ezekiel singles out idolatry and Sabbath breaking as two specific problems leading to their fall. Would our leaders today dare look at the words of the prophets to receive a mandate from God for their leadership of their nations? Would President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair of England, Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia or Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand open the Bible, read these words and lead a national repentance and a return to God based on these mandates?

Some American religious leaders have issued public calls to President Bush to enact their personal views about God's will for the country. This publication believes the ultimate solution involves a much different vision, a completely new path for the United States to return to the God of our fathers.

That path follows the course laid out by Elijah, another prophet of God, who said to Israel, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21 1 Kings 18:21And Elijah came to all the people, and said, How long halt you between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
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). It is not a popular way, but it is the only way to a secure future, with any hope of avoiding the full impact of end-time prophecies.

A mandate against false religion

Our peoples, and our national leaders, would be better served by listening to another of God's mandates when it comes to those who claim to speak in the name of God, yet are not sent by Him.

Notice the words from Micah. "Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who make My people stray; who chant 'Peace' while they chew with their teeth, but who prepare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths: Therefore you shall have night without vision, and you shall have darkness without divination; the sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be dark for them. So the seers shall be ashamed, and the diviners abashed; indeed they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer from God.

"But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD, and of justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin. Now hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build up Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with iniquity: Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the LORD, and say, 'Is not the LORD among us? No harm can come upon us'" (Micah 3:5-11 Micah 3:5-11 [5] Thus said the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that puts not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him. [6] Therefore night shall be to you, that you shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark to you, that you shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. [7] Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yes, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God. [8] But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin. [9] Hear this, I pray you, you heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. [10] They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. [11] The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean on the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come on us.
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).

Is this the time for America to listen to the voice of God and make a deep examination of its ways and come to a heartfelt repentance for walking contrary to the Word of God? Is God holding back a gathering storm of change, giving us another opportunity to heed His mandate for repentance? Perhaps this is the moment to hear another prophet's warning—a warning not to trust in lies that cannot save.

Notice the words of Jeremiah, spoken while standing in front of the magnificent temple built by Solomon to the glory of God: "The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 'Stand in the gate of the LORD's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, "Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the LORD!"'

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: 'Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, "The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these." For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever'" (Jeremiah 7:1-7 Jeremiah 7:1-7 [1] The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, [2] Stand in the gate of the LORD's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. [3] Thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. [4] Trust you not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. [5] For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings; if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; [6] If you oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: [7] Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.
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).

God's mandates always hold the hope of restoration if there is repentance. There is still time for a change, but we must look to God and not trust in what we think is right. God has blessed America and Great Britain. To Him alone America owes its position as a modern colossus. We may be paused at a critical period of history when the tide could turn quickly and the world could go through dramatic changes. America may be in the last days of a long and prosperous summer.

The presence of God

Four years ago in his first inaugural address, President Bush spoke of God's presence over America. He quoted from a letter written soon after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The letter was from Virginia statesman John Page to Thomas Jefferson. Speaking of the tumultuous times, he said, "We know the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?" President Bush concluded, "This work continues. This story goes on. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm."

The allusion was to the book of Ezekiel and speaks to the presence of God among His people. The president was right, "an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm"—but for how long? The answer depends on whether he listens to the voice of the people or the mandates of God. Let us pray he listens to God. WNP


Recommended Reading

What is ahead of us now? What does the Bible say about the future for nations like the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand? We offer a well-researched booklet that can help. Request The United Staes and Britain on Bible Prophecy. While you are at it, request copies of the Ten Commandments and Sunset to Sunset—God's Sabbath Rest. They cover important information for today, and they are all free of charge.

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