Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, July 4, 2021

Shavuah Tov,

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sun 4 July 2021 24th of Tamuz, 5781

Nu 30:2-31:12 Ez 17 Neh 12 (Lk 18) Eph 5

Happy Birthday, America! by Dr. Raymond Finney

A BRIEF HISTORY REVIEW… A TRIBUTE TO ADONAI: Today– July 4, 2021– is the anniversary of the United States’ birth. Our tiny nation declared independence from powerful Great Britain 245 years ago– on July 4, 1776. The day was recorded as hot and muggy (typical for July), at a time before air-conditioning and electric fans. Delegates from the thirteen colonies were exhausted and nerves frayed, after raucous debate which began with the Congress’ being convened on May 10, 1775. Many delegates surely doubted the likelihood of a successful revolution, as the war was not going well for General Washington’s army. 

Remarkable events that occurred at this time and place included:

● The delegates’ faith in God and reliance in His will for their undertaking remained an integral part of the proceedings; our nation was born in the desire that it would be a Godly nation.

● America’s grand experiment in self-rule as a constitutional republic was announced to the world.

● Adonai smiled on a little spot on the Atlantic coast of North America; thirteen British colonies were given a chance to serve as the governance model for other nations; and, Israel, which would not be reborn for nearly two more centuries (in May, 1948), was provided with a strong protector for the future. 

I begin today’s RR history review even earlier than our July 4, 1776 birthday. A human lives approximately nine months in his/ her mother’s womb before birth. Similarly, America gestated for years before announcing her appearance on the world stage. A brief, incomplete summary of early American history is:

Puritans, fleeing the doctrines of the Church of England and desiring religious tolerance to live more closely to precepts of the Bible, sailed on the “Mayflower” headed for the Virginia Colony. Storms caused their little ship to veer toward Cape Cod (Massachusetts). While aboard the “Mayflower” in late 1620, they signed the Mayflower Compact (originally titled: “Agreement Between the Settlers of New Plymouth”). This Compact stated their intention of planting a colony in the New World for “the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith.” The Puritans hoped to live pious lives, better serving and worshiping God. They sought freedom from governmental and organized religious interference. This desire for such freedom still burns in the heart of every true American.

Now, advance to the next century. From 1774 to 1789, two Continental Congresses served as the government for thirteen British colonies in rebellion. These colonies formed the original states in the United States and are honored by our flag’s thirteen red and white stripes. These congresses resisted new taxes, especially taxes imposed without the citizens’ representation in government. Although most colonists did not favor war, war with Great Britain, the American Revolutionary War commenced in 1775 and continued until 1783. The Second Continental Congress convened in 1775. In 1776, this Congress declared America’s independence from Great Britain. Such a declaration was a treasonable act, and every member of Congress could be hanged.

The First Continental Congress, comprised of delegates from the colonies, first met in 1774 in reaction to the Coercive Acts, a series of measures imposed by the British government on the colonies in response to their resistance to new taxes. In 1776, Congress took the momentous step of declaring America’s independence from Great Britain. Five years later, the Congress ratified the nation’s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, under which the country was governed until 1789, when the Articles were replaced by the current U.S. Constitution. 

AMERICA’S GENIUS: The United States has had two periods of genius, times Adonai surely blessed our nation with great favor. These periods are:

● Late eighteenth century: A small number of men founded our nation and established its guiding principles. (And, yes, they were all men because women were not allowed to participate in government at this time.)

● Mid-twentieth century (1930s and first half of 1940s): the entire nation sacrificed and worked together to overcome the Great Depression and to defeat the Axis Powers– Germany, Italy, and Japan (World War II). Americans living in this period of trial have been called, appropriately, “America’s Greatest Generation.” This generation includes those Americans born from 1901 to 1927.

FOUNDERS, FRAMERS: The United States was founded and shaped by two small groups of men, who met in Philadelphia from 1774 to 1789. These two groups are called:

● Founding Fathers– these men created the impetus for the Colonies’ ragtag army to fight armies of the powerful British Crown. By their meeting, they committed treason, for which they could be hanged. (They realized they were committing a capital offense, prompting Benjamin Franklin’s quip appealing for unity: “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”) Among other things, the Founding Fathers created a beautiful, powerful defense of the rationale for breaking ties with Great Britain, “The Declaration of Independence.” Read the text of the Declaration at: https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript. Dependence on God is mentioned five times in the Declaration.

● Framers– after the Revolutionary War was won, the difficult task of creating a government was undertaken by a group of men, the Framers. They were so named because they framed a document, the Constitution, which would define the course for a federal (central) government, for individual state governments, and for the people. Abraham Lincoln eloquently summed up the relationship in his “Gettysburg Address,” when he described our government as being “of the people, by the people, for the people.” 

The Constitution should serve as a model for governance and for a relationship between government and citizens (the governed). Read the text of the Constitution at: https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/full-text. The opening phrase of the Constitution, written in large, bold letters, reads: “WE THE PEOPLE.” Americans should proudly remember that the Constitution– the basis of our government and system of laws– is written and preserved for the people. The Constitution has served our nation admirably well.

Less than a century later (November 19, 1863), President Abraham Lincoln memorialized this relationship between government and people in his beautiful   “Gettysburg Address,” which reads in part: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. … It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us– that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion– that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain– that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom– and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

SIDELIGHT: One indispensable feature of our Constitution is a system of checks and balances. Our government is divided into three separate Branches of equal power, each Branch exerting checks and balances (oversight and protection against abuse of power) over the other two Branches. The three Branches are: Executive Branch (president and various cabinets); Legislative Branch (Congress– Senate and House of Representatives); and Judiciary Branch (the Supreme Court and lower courts). James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, proposed at the Constitutional Convention of 1789 to divide the government into these three Branches, based, he said, on Isaiah 33:22: For Adonai is our Judge [model for  Judiciary Branch], Adonai is our Lawgiver [model for Legislative Branch], Adonai is our King [model for Executive Branch]– He will save us! END sidelight.

FRANKLIN’S FEARS: As the Framers concluded their duties in writing a Constitution, they walked out of Independence Hall (in Philadelphia). A lady, who has been identified as Elizabeth Willing Powel of Philadelphia, asked one of the Framers, Benjamin Franklin: “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Franklin’s response was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” Franklin recognized how difficult it would be (as it is now) to keep evil, selfish people from tearing apart the nation.

Never make the mistake of identifying the United States as a democracy. We were created as a republic. A republic is a form of government in which the government is “a public matter,” not the self-serving concern of or owned by a person or persons (for example, a monarchy). America’s republic is governed by certain guiding principles, including: (1) the people assent to being governed by democratic processes (voting); (2) the people elect representatives to act on their behalf; and (3) laws issued and other activities engaged in by the government must be in accordance with the Constitution and laws passed under its principles.

Franklin, through his answer of Mrs. Powel’s question, expressed fear that we Americans may some day lose our republican government (small “r,” not capital “R,” as in the Republican Party). On other occasions, Franklin feared for the future of our nation. For example: Our government was formed with contentious, raucous debate. George Washington sat in an ornate chair, The Rising Sun Armchair. This chair showed half a sun peeking over the top frame. A photograph of this chair may be seen at: https://www.ushistory.org/more/sun.htm. On the final day of the 1787 Constitutional Convention as the last delegates were signing the Constitution, Franklin pointed to the sun on the back of the Convention president’s (George Washington’s) chair. Observing that craftsmen had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising sun from a setting sun, he remarked: “I have often in the course of the session looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.” 

Franklin has properly interpreted “America’s sun” as rising for more than two centuries. With all of the problems our nation now faces, is “America’s sun” still rising, or is it beginning to set?

LIFE CYCLES: Biological organisms, including humans, have a life cycle of birth, life (infancy to various stage of maturity), and death. Nations have a similar life cycle of birth, life (infancy to various stage of maturity), and death.

I have briefly discussed the birth of America. We presently experience the life of America. Sadly, America will, sooner or later, experience death.

The average age of an empire only lasts 250 years. If we count 1776 as America’s birth date, our nation is 245 years old. We are right at the mark for an average life span of an empire. Empires may die slowly, but they do die.

We are accustomed to believe that every youngster should receive a “participation trophy” for just showing up for a game. There are no participation trophies in the rough-and-tumble international arena. As in most endeavors, opportunities may be offered, but results are not guaranteed. Adonai gave America tremendous opportunities, but we must earn results. In The Revelation, Yeshua implies this principle by telling unproductive Messianic congregations that their candlesticks would be removed from them and given to another congregation.

HOW MUCH LONGER? Let us bring the past up to the present and wonder about the future. Anyone who loves America should fear for her future. I believe in the prophetic words Adonai has placed in the Bible. I have searched for a Scriptural reference for a nation resembling the United States. Surely one of the most powerful nations (the most powerful nation?) at the end of the Age of Grace would be mentioned. I only find hints that America is so mentioned. These hints are weak (quite possibly incorrect, as I interpret them), and some Bible students would disagree with some of my interpretations:

● Is America among the “young lions of Tarshish” who will debate the invasion of Israel in the War of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38:13)? (Explanation: Tarshish was land far to the west of Israel– Spain and possibly Great Britain. The “young lions” could represent New World colonies, which were largely established by Spain and Great Britain. Therefore, is the United States a “young lion of Tarshish?”)

● Is America “Babylon the Great,” which is destroyed for her excessive, irreverent  indulgences (Revelation, chapter 18)?

● A nation resembling America is not found in the Tribulation wars leading up to the Battle of Armageddon. Why? America cannot let a good war pass without our center-stage involvement. During the Tribulation, does America remain a strong nation, or has America been greatly weakened or essentially destroyed?

HOW MAY THE END COME? Yeshua, when asked about the end-time collapse of nations, warned of several scenarios, including:

● There will be famines, pestilences, earthquakes, persecution, and other catastrophes (see Matthew 24:7-9). We have seen the global devastation caused by a relatively weak (COVID) virus. (I know. Many have died and been very ill, but large segments of the population are little affected.) What if the pandemic had been caused by a much more lethal virus, such as the Ebola virus (weaponized by one of our evil enemies to be spread through the respiratory route)? We have been warned to expect massive crop failures due to the current extreme drought and high temperatures in the western United States. America is home to very dangerous earthquake-volcano zones, such as the California faults, the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the Yellowstone Caldera, and (closer to us) the New Madrid fault. All of these will cause significant, deadly shifting of the earth’s crust in the future. To a geologist, the “future” could be next month or thousands of years from now. Massive economic, climate, transportation, and agricultural chaos could follow major seismic activity in any of these areas. There is a fault in the Canary Islands (La Palma Island) which is at risk of creating a massive landslide in the Atlantic Ocean and which would create a historically overwhelming tsunami, with extreme destruction of the eastern seaboard of the United States. And so forth. The truth is, we Americans, having experienced the best of times, may be living on borrowed time.

 There will be wars of kingdoms against kingdoms and people groups against people groups (see Matthew 24:7). The world and our nation are at war with each other. America has many powerful enemies, including China, Russia, North Korea, and Islamic nations. These nations are building powerful weapons, increasing soldier strength, occupying strategic lands, building infrastructure in foreign lands, and threatening America. America, on the other hand, is preoccupied with obtaining the right balance of transsexuals in the military ranks. Putin and other leaders of our enemies openly laugh at a bumbling Joe Biden.

Iniquity will abound (see Matthew 24:12): Abortion, gay marriage, adulterous heterosexual marriages, riots, deceit, government corruption, and other moral declines are rampant in today’s culture. Crime in big cities is spiraling out of control, and city leaders have no other solution than to blame Trump.

There will be a social, cultural climate “as  the days of Noah were” (see Matthew 24:37). Wickedness will abound. The Tanakh tells how was it in Noah;s time (see Genesis 6:5): Then Adonai saw that the wickedness of humankind was great on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil all the time.  Humankind was so evil that Adonai regretted creating these beings, who supposedly shared His image (Genesis 6:6): So Adonai regretted that He made humankind on the earth, and His heart was deeply pained. Does Adonai look at us today and grieve again in His heart that He created us? He destroyed His miscreants with water, and has promised a second destruction with fire.

SIDELIGHT: It is considered a sign of intellectualism to scoff at some of the seemingly ludicrous “myths” of the Bible. The intelligentsia may condescendingly challenge beliefs of conservative, Bible-quoting Believers with something like:  “Oh, you don’t believe that silly old Bible fable, do you?” Noah’s flood is a favorite target of this superiority-complexed crowd. The flood is incompatible with <drum roll, please> science, and everyone knows that science is always settled and never wrong. (Another future RR is suggested.) Only people ignorant in all scientific disciplines (Hillary Clinton and her climate change assertions come to mind) would make the ludicrous assertion that “science” is always settled and never wrong. “Science” is a collection of knowledge generally accepted by students in a certain field. These students (scientists) constantly challenge theories comprising this knowledge, and welcome correction (better knowledge). 

These scoffers of Scriptures need to be asked about this passage (Matthew 24:37-39): [Yeshua said] “For just as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For in those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. And they did not understand until the flood came and swept them all away. So shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man.” 

If anyone doubts the existence of Noah’s ark or Noah’s flood, he/ she denies the Word of God in both the Tanakh and the B’rit Chadashah, and he/ she calls Yeshua a lying fraud. I personally am not prepared to do this just to seem “cool.” (I pause to ask myself who my cool friends are, coming to realize I don’t have any cool friends. Good! I am not impressed by cool people.) END sidelight.

There are other signs, which I will not discuss because of space limitations.

The Apostle Paul mirrored Yeshua’s warnings (2 Timothy 3:1-9, beginning with verse 1): But understand this, that in the last days hard times will come– ….  The TLV translation of “hard” is probably softer than Paul intended. “Hard,” here, translates χαλεπός (transliterated, chalepos). Better translations include  “dangerous, fierce, savage, brutal, perilous,” all implying more danger, urgency,  and adversity than the TLV translation. 

More could be written about the United States’ origin as a nation intended for God’s glory, but I will not wear more on your patience. 

Enemies of Yeshua downplay any involvement of a triune God in founding America. They argue that our Founding Fathers and Framers were atheists, agnostics, or Deists– that is, they were generally not Christians, Believers in Yeshua, or religious Jews. There is overwhelming evidence that these enemies of Yeshua are completely wrong. The men who founded America were mostly deeply devout in believing in and worshiping a triune God.

SIDELIGHT: A Deist believes in the existence of a god, but in few or none of the more special doctrines of Christianity (that is, they do not have Biblical faith). A Deist may accept some of the general moral teachings of Yeshua and other Biblical authors, but denies revelation and any authority of general faith bodies (churches, etc.). A Deist denies that there is a Supreme Being (God), who had or now has interest in the personal affairs of humans. A Deist believes a Supreme Being (God) is distinct and separated from the world and its people. END sidelight. 

How do we prove these enemies of the cross wrong? Well, a logical place to start is to examine the writings of these men. Did they express faith in and love for God? Thank you, self, for asking. In last Sunday’s RR, I discussed some of the statements of deep faith recorded by these men.

It is worth your time to read how men of God labored to create a nation pleasing to Him. These men surely listened, as the Ruach HaKodesh led them to found the United States. How we have ruined their noble experiment! How we have ruined their great nation meant to be a tribute and offering to Adonai!

I fear we Americans have reached a “point of no return.” Adonai severely punished His people Israel, when they sinned against Him. Why would we believe that Adonai will not punish His people America, when we sin against Him? A nation suffers the consequences of its leaders. Regardless of how many good intentions we Believers may have, I fear all we can now do is watch our beloved America destroyed. I do not agree with many things Biden is doing, but, c’mon, man, Joe never asks my advice about anything. I have no influence with him.

OUT OF LEFT FIELD: I take the liberty of making comments that may seem to be poorly connected to the topic at hand. 

I am dismayed at the violence erupting throughout our nation. Such violence is claimed to protest unjust deaths of black people (Black Lives Matter, etc.), even though the nation is essentially unanimous in decrying the recent, senseless murders of black people. A black life, created by Elohim, is every bit as precious to Him as is a white life. To a Believer, “Black Lives Matter” would be better renamed  “All Lives Matter.” All lives would include people of all races as well as babies in their mothers’ wombs. 

The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech (expression) and assembly, which would include protest marches. But, there is an all-important qualification. Such demonstrations must be “peaceable.” Rioting; burning buildings; looting; assaulting police officers; throwing rocks, bricks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails; and destruction of private and public property are NOT “peaceable” activities and are, therefore, outside the bounds of Constitutional protection. Such riotous acts are not protests. They are crimes (felonies). 

How far will the rioting progress? Many apparently fear it will progress to endanger individuals’ homes. Gun stores cannot keep certain popular home defense ammunition in stock, a shortfall that was dubbed “the 2020 ammo shortage” last year and, now, “the 2021 ammo shortage.” Some commentators warn of a coming civil war in America. 

Whether the riots worsen or subside, national scars will persist. Yeshua warned  that a nation divided against itself cannot stand (see Matthew 12:25). As I see our nation torn apart, with every vestige of our old culture fair game for destruction (cancellation), I am reminded of a George Orwell passage in his epic novel (“1984”) about future totalitarianism: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” Culture cancellation has a sinister plot, which I lack space to discuss now. (Another future RR?) 

Donald Trump popularized a campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” (MAGA). We Believers should adopt a slogan– perhaps, “Make America Holy to the Lord Again” (MAHLA). We are told how to make America holy (2 Chronicles 7:14): [Adonai said] “…when My people, over whom My Name is called, humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Unfortunately, Yeshua and other prophets warned that we will ignore Adonai’s desires in the last days. I do not see America becoming a holy nation. Americans are too sinful and enjoy living in sin. Modern man is like the proverbial dog who returns to his vomit (Proverb 26:11): Like a dog that returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. We Americans and other citizens of the world– fools feasting on vomit– always return to our folly of sinning against God. Shalom and Maranatha.