On Various Subjects
By Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
Preached June 29, 2008 - Patriotic Sermon
Text: Psalm 11:1-3. "In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? 2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. 3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"
Introduction: Our text is a psalm of David. As in so many of David's psalms, he doesn't indicate the historical setting. We are left to speculate just when the events described in this psalm took place. Most believe that David is describing the time when his estranged son, Absalom, led an armed revolt against him, in an attempt to seize the throne of Israel. David describes it as a time when the battle lines were clearly drawn between the righteous and the wicked, between those who loved God and delighted in His ways, and those who were hostile toward God and wanted nothing to do with His ways. It was a time when on the surface at least, the good guys weren't doing so well! We can read the entire account in II Samuel 15-18, and discover how it all came down, but as David pens this psalm, he has no such luxury. David's kingdom was eventually restored, but as he writes this psalm, he was watching his beloved nation Israel, fall into disarray and chaos, right before his eyes. The moral and spiritual foundations of Israel were beginning to crumble.
The single most important part of any building is the foundation. If the foundation is inferior, then the entire building will not last. It will crumble!
What are the foundations of America? The second paragraph of America's founding document, the Declaration of Independence states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Our forefathers began by acknowledging God as man's "Creator." Thomas Jefferson, who was the primary author of this document, acknowledged these transcendent truths to be "self-evident," that is, God's existence was revealed in creation itself! Whether or not Thomas Jefferson was a Christian per se is debatable. What is undebatable is the fact that Jefferson is referencing the God of the Bible! There were no Moslems, Buddhists, Confucianists, or Hindus present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. If Thomas Jefferson was a follower of Islam, he would have produced a very different document and social order! On another occasion, Thomas Jefferson asked rhetorically, "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that their liberties are the gift of God?"
It is God who has revealed Himself not only through His creation, but through His Word, who is the highest authority and lawgiver! This echos Paul's words in Romans 13:1, "Let every soul (every person, every citizen) be subject (made accountable and obedient) unto the higher powers (authorities). For there is no power (authority) but of God: the powers (authorities) that be are ordained of God."
The foundations upon which America was built, are the acknowledgment of God and His written Word, the Bible. God and His Word, the Bible, are the source of all authority and truth! Out of these foundations, flow the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Out of these foundations, flow the values of the sanctity of life and biblical morality! When man and the state become the highest moral authority, then these rights are no longer "unalienable." They become subject to the whim and definition of a dictator, judge, or legislator! The word "unalienable," is another word for eternal, that is, not subject to change under any circumstance. This implies that there are moral absolutes. Thomas Jefferson's entire argument about people having "unalienable rights," is contingent on the existence of God and allegiance to His Word.
The foundations in America are crumbling! Why? Because American Christians are crumbling! We cannot expect unbelievers to embrace and advance biblical truth and values. It is up to Christians and churches to be salt and light in America. Jesus asked, "What good is salt that has lost its flavor, it saltiness? What good is a light that is hid in a corner?" We could make the following statement based on David's question in verse 3 of our text. "If we as Christians crumble and abandon our most basic Christian beliefs and values, then our society and nation will crumble around us."
This last Tuesday, on the front page of The Dallas Morning News, a headline read, "On religion, there are few absolutes." Based upon a poll taken among the religious of America, the article concludes that even among Bible believing Christians, there is less certainty about the most basic truths of the Christian faith. The report based on a massive national poll said that 61% of Southern Baptist believe that many religions can lead to eternal life. 73% of Protestants polled questioned the existence of Hell. Only 60% of Protestants polled believed in a personal God, as opposed to an impersonal force. Even more disturbing was to discover that only 45% of Protestants thought Hollywood threatened their values. All of this is more evidence of Christians crumbling, retreating, abandoning their faith and purpose in this nation! Today we are witnessing the spiritual and moral foundations of our nation eroding away at a frightening pace, because of crumbling Christians.
Even though the event in our text took place in Israel over 3,000 years ago, as we take a closer look at Psalm 11, we can gain valuable insight, instruction, and encouragement as we witness the spiritual and moral erosion in America today. From this text, I want to bring three observations about our beloved America; and three directives for American Christians. Three Observations Of America
Observation one: America is a battlefield. II Samuel 15:10 says, "But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron." When Absalom's trumpet sounded from Hebron, there was war in Israel. Jerusalem became a battle ground!
These days, we constantly talk about the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, but America is a battlefield. Why is America a battlefield? Because she is the "...land of the free, and the home of the brave." This is the great land of religious freedom and liberty! A usurper is attempting to take over our great country! Satan desires to bring America down! Just as the moral foundations of society in David's day were in danger of crumbling under attack, today the moral foundations of our nation are in danger of crumbling under the attack of those who want God and His moral laws to be thoroughly rooted out from every institution of society. We see a concerted effort in government, in education, in the media, and in virtually every other institution of society, to subvert the moral foundations upon which our nation was founded. The basic principles of reverence for God and respect for God's moral laws, are under relentless attack by those who reject God, and any kind of moral absolute whatsoever.
Observation two: In this battlefield, the lines are more and more drawn between the wicked and the righteous. When Absalom's trumpet sounded, everyone was forced to take sides! There was no neutral ground in this conflict. Either you lined up with King David, or you lined up with the usurper Absalom! There were a few surprises along the way. Notice II Samuel 15:11. "And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not any thing. 12 And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom." King David's faithful counselor, Ahithophel deserted! He joined the forces of the enemy!
In our text, the sides are defined differently. Notice verse 2. "For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart." David was God's choice as king of Israel. It would be through his lineage and line that God will bring the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We know that David wasn't a perfect man. In many ways, he contributed to this situation, never-the-less, to side with David, was to side with God and His Word. Those who joined Absalom's rebellion, sided against God and His Word. Those loyal to David were regarded as the "upright," or righteous. Those loyal to Absalom were regarded as the wicked!
As our beloved America moves more and more toward a humanistic, secular government, the lines will be clearly drawn between true Christianity and phony Christianity; between the power of faith and the empty form of religion; between those who profess Christ, and those who possess Christ; between those who fake Christ, and those who follow Christ!
In David's day, those who were hostile toward God, "the wicked," were launching an attack against those who gave their allegiance to God, "the upright in heart" or the righteous. The time will come in this nation, when as the battle intensifies, Christians will actually suffer for their beliefs!
Observation three: America's spiritual and moral foundations are not yet destroyed. If you read II Samuel 15-18, you will notice that even though David was forced to retreat from Jerusalem into the wilderness, David never lost hope. In chapter 16, as David left the city, a man by the name of Shimei, who was from the family of the former king Saul, threw stones at David and cursed him. This man full of hate and bitterness, blamed the present situation on David. David however did not stop believing in the providence of God. Why? Just earlier, a man named Ziba, who was the servant of Mephibosheth, also a member of Saul's family, met David with a care package! Mephibosheth expressed his love and loyalty to David with two donkeys loaded with food and drink to sustain him! Surely, David was made to see that not all was lost!
We are in a battle for the very heart and soul of America! I think it's significant that many of David's advisors were telling him that the battle was already lost, and that he should withdraw from the battle, and go into hiding. This is the attitude of many Christians today. In their minds, the battle for the soul of our nation is already lost. But in verse 1b David asks, "...how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?" He goes on to say in verse 3, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" David is basically saying, "If I withdraw from the battle, if I give up in despair, and give the battle into the hand of the enemy, then the very foundations will be destroyed. And if that happens, what can the righteous do then?" You see, when the foundations are destroyed, then the battle is really over, and the enemy has won.
The spiritual and moral foundations of our nation are eroding, but they haven't been destroyed as of yet. If we, as Christians crumble and give in to the world and give up the battle, then they will be destroyed, and our children and grandchildren will be living in a nation that will ban the Bible and deny the existence of any moral absolutes whatsoever.
The question is, "As Christians, what can we do about our situation in America?" What should be our response as Christians to the spiritual and moral crisis in America? It's easy to take a defeatist attitude toward the problem, thinking that it's impossible to reverse the tide and that there's no hope of ever seeing the moral foundations of America restored. Some have stopped participating in the political process for this very reason. It's easy to become discouraged when we so often see ourselves being defeated in the battle for the heart and soul of America. But giving up on America is certainly not the answer. These three observations of America lead us to: Three Directives To Christians Living In America
Directive one: As Christian's, we must remain engaged. Don't retreat!
This psalm begins with a positive declaration. "In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?" When you read the account of Absalom's rebellion, it appears that David did flee. Notice II Samuel 15:13-14. "And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom. 14 And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem, Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom: make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword." When you go on to read this account in II Samuel, you discover that this is a defensive tactic. David is choosing his battles. He is temporarily giving ground to the enemy to spare destruction in Jerusalem, and to fight another day. As David crosses the Kidron Valley and heads toward the wilderness, he leaves strategic people behind to serve his purposes. Once in the wilderness, David sets up a command post and engages the enemy.
We must remain engaged in this spiritual conflict for the heart and soul of our nation. There is never a time when we can say, "I have done my share. Let someone else take my place." There is no retirement or retreat in this warfare! At times we may become discouraged, but it should never get the best of us! In Galatians 6:9-10 Paul issues the challenge, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Remain engaged in church! Remain engaged in Bible study. Remain engaged in prayer. Remain engaged in witnessing. Remain engaged in giving! Remain engaged in living a life that is different from the world!
Directive two: As Christian's, we must be encouraged. Take heart. How can we be encouraged?
Be encouraged and remember that God is in control! Pray to your great, almighty God! Verse 1 begins, "In the LORD put I my trust." Verse 4 continues this burst of confidence in God. It says, "The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven." David was confident that even when the battle seemed to be going against the righteous, God was still in control. David didn't see a God up in heaven wringing His hands and wondering what to do. He saw God on His throne, ruling from Heaven! God is and will always be the sovereign ruler of the nations. Psalm 103:19 says, "The LORD hath prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over all." What David is saying, is that even when the whole world seems out of control, God is still in control!
It was a major blow when Ahithophel deserted David, and joined Absalom. Why? II Samuel 16:23 informs us that people regarded the counsel of Ahithophel as the very voice of God! What a resource to have at your disposal! What did David do? David prayed that God would over turn the counsel of Ahithophel. II Samuel 15:31 reads, "And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness." Guess what? That is exactly what happened! Absalom did not follow the counsel of Ahithophel, and it cost him dearly!
As far back as we can remember, people have said, "God is in control, and prayer changes things!" That saying has become somewhat trite, but it remains true. In the midst of the battle, the one thing we have to remember is the central truth of this psalm. God is still in control. A praying saint is a might weapon! One way to see the power of God released in the midst of the battle is through prayer! It is prayer that moves God to step into a situation. It is fervent prayer that will release God's mighty power in America and in our world. God can use the most unlikely people to accomplish His purpose. God can use the most unlikely means to gain the victory!
Be encouraged and remember, justice will be served one day. God is not only in control, He knows exactly what's going on and will settle all accounts one day! Verse 4b-6 reads, "....His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence His soul hateth. 6 Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup." This sad tale ends with the great counselor Ahithophel taking his own life, and the rebel prince charming Absalom experiencing death by hair!
Nothing takes God by surprise! Nothing catches Him off guard! God sees all, He knows all, and in time, He will make sure justice is served! One day soon, Jesus Christ will come in the clouds to catch all true believers up and out! That day will begin a time of judgment this world has never before witnessed!
Today, all around us, we can see and hear the signs of the second coming of Jesus Christ. The time of the return of our Messiah draws near. Whether your eyes have been open for some time, or you are just beginning to see through Satan's deception, be encouraged! We are on the winning side! Battles may be lost, but the ultimate victory is ours!
Directive three: As Christians, we must remain focused. David's love and loyalty was tested in this rebellion.
David loved his son, but when the line was drawn, he proved once again to be "a man after God's own heart!" God loves doing right, above family loyalties or self indulgence. Notice verse 7. "For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; His countenance doth behold the upright."
Who are you living to please? Are you committed to doing the thing that is right in God's eyes? Where is your focus? Are your eyes fixed on Jesus? In eternity, it is Jesus we will face! We will give an account of our lives to Jesus! Are you a crumbling Christian, or are you a committed Christian? God Himself would remind you today that every Christian has a place to serve, a role to play. You are important in the kingdom of God. You are important in America! Christians must not crumble in these last days. Instead, Christians must crucify self, and serve the Lord.
The challenge before us is to:
Witness to everyone God places in your life.
Pray for your nation and its leaders!
Live a Christian life that is different from the world and reflects biblical values.
Wake up spiritually! Don't be defeated, passive, or fatalistic! You can make a difference!