The American war for independence was fought by ill trained, over taxed, over-burdened Colonists who pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor believing that this call for independence was supported by a “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence”.
It was remarkable that America had won her independence. The ragtag colonists had pitted themselves against the most powerful, best equipped military in the world at that time. And yet, they prevailed.
At his inaugural address George Washington declared:
No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency... We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.1
Just about all of the founding fathers saw God’s hand in the making of America.
Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying…
I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel.2
John Adams said…
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” 3
Contrary to the opinions of many, the majority of the founding fathers of the United States had a deep and abiding trust in God. And who was this God? We get a hint from Benjamin Franklins afore mentioned quote. This was the God manifested in the Hebrew scriptures.
The Bible refers to the eternal God of the Universe over 200 times as the “God of Israel”. Elsewhere He’s described as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob… the Patriarchs of the Jewish people.
But why would the God of the Universe be so exclusive as to focus on identifying with Israel? The answer to that question is far more involved than I can communicate in a simple essay. Suffice it to say that God’s identification with Israel is necessarily His plan for blessing the entire world by ultimately trading in man’s plea for “tolerance” with the preferable attribute of love which brings with it genuine peace.
Were the founding fathers, therefore exclusivist? By no means! George Washington was quoted as saying
“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.”4
(As an aside, note, if you will, Washington’s words in bold. I believe that that is a statement particularly relevant in this day.)
Against all odds, the United States was created with the blessing and aide of Almighty God. This God has certain characteristics of not only power, omnipresence and all of those attributes that are universally assumed by monotheists, but of love and intimacy, justice, kindness and absolute adherence to what would be universally known as virtues. He manifested His nature to us throughout scripture but most explicitly through the manifestation of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.
For the most part, it seems that what is commonly known as “the Church” forgets the reality that the God they profess to worship identifies Himself as the “God of Israel”. It does tend to remember this fact once a year when it traditionally sings “born is the King of Israel”.
The King of Israel died and rose from the dead not so that we can with cavalier abandon take what He accomplished for us on the cross for granted. Nor are we to put words in His mouth and condone that which He, in reality and according to His Word, the Scriptures, condemns. Historically when we’ve condoned what God condemns, He’s punished us. Lincoln interpreted the Civil War as punishment from God for not having eliminated slavery.5
The King of Israel died and conquered death so that we might serve Him and obey Him, not so that we can pursue our own self-interests. If we fail at this task as individuals and fail to encourage this as of foremost importance collectively we will certainly lose the freedom that the God of Israel desires for all people, and subsequently our “independence”.