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A National Identity Crisis

September 15, 2016

The Old Testament is immensely profitable for New Testament Christians. Having stated the obvious attention must be given to one of the threats to the American Christian’s benefiting from the Old Testament. The confusion of America with Israel severely undermines a proper understanding of the Old Testament. Sometimes this conflation is blatant by applying to America the promises and curses given to Israel. Sometimes it is more subtle by reading the Psalms as if they are about American Christians or by believing that being moral will automatically result in physical prosperity for our country. If America is going to be compared to the Old Testament the more accurate comparison is to the Gentile nations of Canaan or to Babylon.

America is not israel. We are not a covenant people. Even if one was to grant a Christian founding for our nation and to assume a pervasive Christianity until the mid-1900’s, this still does not make America a covenant nation with God. In the Old Testament God called out a person, a family, a tribe and a nation to be His people. He formed that people into a unique state that existed as a sovereign nation among the nations. He gave laws for that nation, made promises to that nation and marked that nation out as His own special treasure.

God has done none of those things with America. God’s covenant today is with the church. The church is not a tribe, an ethnicity, a biological family or a sovereign nation. Even if one believes the is Israel, America is not the church. We are not a nation called out by God to bring blessing to the entire world.

America is not the world. In some areas America still sets the trend for world culture, but the moral trends in America are not identical with the trends around the world. Some places are farther down the slope of sin, others are not. Some nations are violently opposed to all Christians, some are welcoming of Christianity. Some countries are seeing an increase of Godliness, some are not. America is one nation in the world. Though it is influential, God is not limiting His work in the world to what He does in and through America.

The plan of God, the fulfillment of the end times promises and the progress of the church is not directly tied to the Christianness of America. We are one nation, but not set apart by the covenant of God like Israel. We are one nation like England, Rome, Greece, Iran and Egypt. God’s plans do not rise and fall on America. For all we know America may be playing nothing more than a secondary role in the great theater of God’s eternal plan. For all we know America is the expendable crewman in God’s epic saga of redemption to show the world His incomprehensible, inconceivable, immeasurable glory.

We are Americans, but first we are Christians. We must never forget that the plan of God is far greater than this one nation. We love America, but our hopes are not in its moral, military or economic might. God’s plan to redeem men and usher in His glorious kingdom will be accomplished in exact accord with His will with or without America. As Christians we pray for our nation that it might be peaceful so we can proclaim the gospel without hindrance. If God choses to continue to allow Americans freedom, then we rejoice. If God choses to allow the ongoing dive into judgment, then we rejoice. Christians are a peculiar people. We are not a royal priesthood because we are Americans. We are a holy nation because God has called out us of darkness into His marvelous light. Christians are the people of God and nothing that happens in America can ever strip us of that eternal citizenship.


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