Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, September 8, 2019
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,
A Nation Divided by Dr. Raymond Finney
America’s quadrennial silly season is well underway. I speak of what should be a most important event in our nation’s destiny– the presidential election of 2020. Although important, it will become a media circus.
Two candidates promising the most things for the most people will be pitted against each other. The more enlightened among us realize that promises of the candidates and their platforms are often little more than hot air. Can we tamp down the politicians’ hot air messages in the interest of reducing global warming?
Although the presidential candidates might actually believe some of their promises, many promises cannot be kept because of sharp divisions in the Congress, with equally sharp divisions in the courts, among citizens, and within the media.
A deeply divided United States is in a mess– a mess which, I fear, no person can resolve.
There is mutual hatred among:
** Democrats and Republicans
** Progressives (Liberals, Socialist Democrats, or whatever they call themselves now) and Conservatives;
** Geographical areas; and
** Elites and “deplorables.”
Issues are strongly drawn in black and white (no gray) terms. Example: Can pro-life and pro-abortion (‘pro-choice”) candidates compromise? Would such a “compromise” mean we commit only 500,000 abortions in America each year, rather than the present 1,000,000 abortions?
Yeshua gave us a warning which Americans ignore but Abraham Lincoln understood… (Matthew 12:25): But [Yeshua] knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” Comparable statements are given in Mark 3:25 and Luke 11:17.
We will endure the most absurd spectacles ever devised to elect a national leader– presidential “debates.” Ignoring charges that a favored candidate may be fed questions before the debate, think of the absurdity of the premise. If our nation is in peril, I want my president to spend more than two or five minutes thinking of a solution to the problem. I want him/ her to consult with numerous advisers and experts before arriving at a solution. I want the solution to be more than an off-the-cuff thought, a blending memorized lines or a rehearsed gestures of charm, charisma, and wit.
I have never been president, of course, but I assume weighty questions are answered after intense consultation with advisers, other nations’ leaders, diplomats, attorneys, military leaders, and so forth. The presidential debate format is the product of the media and the short attention span of viewers. Short answers are given to short questions. Next question, please.
Much of the problem lies with political parties. George Washington wrote his “Farewell Address,” which was never delivered as a speech but was published on September 19, 1796 in Philadelphia’s “American Daily Advertiser.” Washington addressed his handwritten letter to “friends and fellow-citizens.” He wrote the letter near the end of his second presidential term (1796), before retiring to his Mount Vernon, Virginia home.
Take time to read this “address” (available online). If America had heeded Washington’s advice, we would be a much better nation today.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington%27s_Farewell_Address
A major problem is the existence of political parties. Politicians often vote for best interests of a party, rather than best interests of the nation. In 1789, when Washington was inaugurated president, there were no political parties. Within months, parties started to spring up. In 1791, it was Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Party; in the following year, Thomas Jefferson’s Anti-Federalist Party. Most politicians now identify as Democrat or Republican, not American.
In Washington’s “Farewell Address,” he strongly argued against formation of political parties. His condemnation of parties is too lengthy for this RR.
In addition to the dreaded debate, prepare for the pious prattle of “journalists” panting after one or the other candidate. Empty your wastebasket for an avalanche of mailed materials. Prepare to answer numerous political robocalls and almost daily polls. Should you disregard polls? Ask President Hillary Clinton about the accuracy of polls.
Many Americans may not passionately favor either the Democrat or the Republican candidate. The ballot will contain the two major parties’ candidates and several “also-ran” candidates. I wish we could add one line to the bottom of the ballot: ( )-None of the above. I suspect “None” might win. This option would create a Constitutional crisis in January, 2021, of course, when “None” is sworn into office.
In my opinion, we have too much government. Yeshua may have hinted this (Mathew 22:21b): ”… [Yeshua] said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar [symbolic of any government] the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Should we give more to God and less to man? Peter advised this obedience (Acts 5:29): But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” This advice is not a call to civil disobedience, as Yeshua urged a balanced approach to life– serve government, serve God (again, Matthew 22:21b).
We spend far too much time waiting on and hoping that government (“Caesar”) will provide for our needs. We should look to God or stand on our own feet to make life’s decisions for ourselves.
America is truly a “house (or kingdom) divided against itself.” The greatest division occurred in the 1860s America. The Civil War (War Between the States) was horrific. Newest data suggest that 750,000 persons– twenty percent of the 1860 American population– died in this war.
Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States during the Civil War, realized civil war could occur even before he was elected president. On June 16, 1858 (nearly three years before his inauguration), Lincoln delivered his “House Divided” speech in Springfield, Illinois. In this speech, he said: “In my opinion, it [the issue of slavery] will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved– I do not expect the house to fall– but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”
We actually have people wanting to dissolve the United States at this moment. For example, there is a strong Calexit movement in California in which Californians wish to secede from the United States (similar to the Brexit movement in which Great Britain wishes to break ties with the European Union). Other parts of the country mumble about seceding from the United States.
We live in a time of peace and prosperity. Americans should be lying prostrate on the ground, thanking God that we live in a country such as America.
Many Americans seem not to be happy unless they can protest something. We have developed a class of perpetually offended (see the RR from yesterday) Americans who must unceasingly protest. A spiritual illness is sweeping the country, and there also seems to be a mental illness affecting many Americans. A good life is never good enough. We must protest something… anything.
The Apostle Paul taught us to be grateful and to ask God how we can make our nation better and more Godly (1 Timothy 2:1-3): Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,….
Do you remember a recent story about 22 year-old Akash of India? His parents gave him a birthday present of a new BMW automobile. Akash promptly drove the BMW into a river, destroying it. His reason: he really wanted a Jaguar automobile instead. Poor baby! How hard it must be to be Akash.
Poor American babies. How hard it must be to be an American. Many Americans want our nation to turn to socialism (which has failed Venezuela and all other nations which have ever experimented with it), rather than our present version of capitalism (which has served our nation well). Many Americans promote Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC’s) Green New Deal. Are you ready to join AOC and give up automobiles, airplanes, beef, air conditioning, etc. to combat “climate change?”
Incidentally (off the subject), the only unchanging feature of climate is that it changes– always has, always will. Important questions are: What causes climate change– solar activity, man, or other? Would marked reduction in America’s use of carbon-based fuels stop or reverse climate change? How much should we rely on climate models, which have a poor track record for predicting the future and which often use estimates and altered data, rather than measured data? Finally, if a Believer understands that Yeshua’s return is “at the door” (Revelation 3:20, etc.), should he/she be concerned about the earth’s climate a century or two in the future, or should he/she look forward to an eternity of perfect climate in Heaven?
Many Americans (“snowflakes” and others) are like spoiled brat Akash. God has given Americans an amazing nation and a special time in history in which to live. Unhappy Americans seem not to want the “BMW America” we have, but want a “Jaguar America” we do not have.
Without God, we Americans cannot heal a deeply divided America. With God and as Believers, America can be healed (2 Chronicles 7:14): [The LORD said] “… “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
I fear our divided nation will limp along, with generational, sectional, political, racial, and other divides separating us. By the Word of God, our thus-divided nation cannot, therefore, stand. A divided America seems destined to fall.
In a future RR, I plan to discuss briefly questions which have perplexed many Believers: Is the United States mentioned in Bible prophecy? If not, why?
In this election season, I present two additional Scriptures for your consideration:
** Daniel 2:21b: [Daniel said] “… [God] removes kings and raises up kings;….”
** Romans 13:1-7: Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Even though God raises up kings (presidents), He may have different reasons for doing so. A king (president) may be a blessing or a curse for the people. For example, God raised up two kings for Israel. King Saul was a curse, but King David was a blessing.
Although President Trump is greatly hated or disliked by millions of Americans, there is a reason God elevated him to this position. Whether Trump proves to be a blessing or a curse for America remains to be seen.
America’s motto is: “God bless America.” God HAS blessed America. It is now time that Americans bless God!
Does God tire of Americans’ constant whining, complaining, being offended, arguing, wishing for more and more things, and other signs of dissatisfaction and discontent? We engage in these negative actions because we are divided– divided from each other (our neighbors) and, especially, from God. Absent a good relationship with God and neighbors, a person cannot have good self-esteem. Absent good self-esteem, a person lashes out at those around him/ her, blaming others for his/ her inadequate status in life.
Father, thank you for our nation. Please grant wisdom, safety, and health for the president elected in 2020. May he/she seek and follow Your guidance. May the Holy Spirit sit in the Oval Office beside him/ her. May he/ she be Your blessing for our nation and world. May Your people called by Your name humble themselves, and pray and seek Your face, and turn from their wicked ways. May our divided nation be re-united (healed), until Yeshua comes to call us home. Amen.