Back in the 1980’s Rachel and I had the privilege to meet Steve and Annie Chapman, Nashville recording artists with a wonderful ministry to married couples. One of their great songs touches on blowback from divorce:
All across this nation homes are falling and daily the number increases
And the ones who suffer most aren’t the mothers or the fathers – The children are the broken pieces
The children are the broken pieces when a home falls apart
The children are the broken pieces – who’s going to mend their broken hearts?
And when a nation is fill with broken pieces, it’s so hard to build upon the ruins
You mothers and you fathers if you will not stay together, your children pay the price for what you’re doing . . .
(‘Broken Pieces’ © Steve & Annie Chapman, Star Song Records)
Over two thousand years ago the prophet Malachi said much the same:
- “YHVH has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your marriage companion and your wife by covenant . . . Be careful then about your spirit, and see that none of you deals treacherously against the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce, says YHVH, the God of Israel, and him who covers his garment with violence, says YHVH of armies. So be careful about your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously” (Malachi 2:14-16)
Denial and the blame game
When a husband declares to his marriage counselor that there really are no problems in his marriage, a red light starts flashing. Or conversely, when the wife states that all the couple’s problems are simply her husband’s fault, something is up. And what is true about individual marriages can also be true about an entire nation.
The recent elections in the U.S.A. reveal sobering dynamics. Approximately 163 million voters (out of 239 million – 66.7%) were listed as having cast a ballot. The initial results showed a comfortable majority for President Trump, but within a few days, amidst much disputation and accusations of electoral fraud, the Democratic candidate had pulled ahead. Today’s estimates are that between 74 and 75 million Americans voted for Trump, while close to 80 million voted for Biden. That’s a lot of voters on both sides of the aisle.
Proverbs 18:18 says that “the cast lot puts an end to quarrels, and decides between the mighty ones,” but the latest U.S. elections points in an opposite direction. Proverbs 18:17 throws light on the present context, “The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.” Whereas 77% of all polled Republicans believe that the election was stolen from Trump, only 10% of polled Democrats agree. Over 66% of polled Republicans say that the Presidents lawsuits are helping American democracy, while 84% of canvased Democrats think Trump is harming democracy. Approximately 90% of polled Democrats are relieved with the results of the election, while 67% of canvased Republicans are angry.
Like two spouses on the brink of divorce, acrid disagreement has touched just about every major area of life – the vision for the country; politico-economic direction (free-enterprise versus big government); sexual ethics (biblical morality versus legalized abortion, homosexuality, etc.); freedom of speech/press (public square debate versus big tech/social media censorship); a common historical vision (the Declaration of Independence versus a belief that America’s ‘DNA’ foundations are built on systematic racism).
Mutual accusation, acrimony, sniping and nastiness have exploded on both sides of the body politic, spotlighting long-standing divisions in a country once known as the United States of America. And like children in a divorcing family whose security is shaken to the core, many Americans are in shock. Will daddy and mommy (that is, the United States) separate? Will they actually start hitting each other (will there be civil war)? Will we end up homeless?
Are America’s ‘children’ turning into “the broken pieces as this home falls apart?” Should the motto on the Great Seal of America motto remain ‘e pluribus unum’ (out of many peoples, one nation has arisen), or are things are moving more in the direction of ‘ex uno plures’ (the one united entity breaks down and is transformed into many divided groups)? Is the U.S.A. heading for a ‘no-fault divorce,’ or have the fault lines been visible for some time?
Solomon once said that “a brother who is offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and quarrels are like the bars of a citadel” (Proverbs 18:19). The roots of America’s divisions are spiritual, and her solutions are also ultimately spiritual. Those who advocate a radical and violent departure from America’s original spiritual and ethical foundations are “sowing wind and harvesting a storm” (Hosea 8:7). Ultimately, the “one who troubles his own house will inherit the wind” (Proverbs 11:29).
Progressives versus Primitives
I was raised to be a Communist revolutionary. My parents were disciples of ‘the Gospel according to Karl Marx,’ and as a youth I longed to follow in their footsteps. I was taught to scorn people who were ‘politically incorrect’ – that is to say, right-of-center or even just center. My mother told me that she hoped/prayed that I would never become a capitalist, a fascist or a rabbi. When I studied political science at McGill University in Montreal, my instructors sneered at conservatives, religious people and successful entrepreneurs. I was taught that all revolutionary movements (which they labeled ‘progressive’) were activated and led by elites – intellectuals and left-wingers who had chosen to be on ‘the correct side of history.’ Today these same poisonous perspectives characterize the curricula of most Western universities and the worldview of the mainstream media. Scorn for political and religious conservatives, whether Westerners or Israelis, is considered business-as-usual on the internet, the TV screen and social media.
If Communism is the only politically correct position, then a refusal to bow the knee and worship at a Marxist altar can only be considered as a mental aberration, as a political sickness, as insanity. Indeed, until quite recently those brave Russian souls who publically disagreed with a Marxist view of history (or with Russia’s political activities) were often considered psychiatric cases, and sentenced to brainwashing in psychiatric prisons/institutions known as ‘psikhushka’ (психу́шка – ‘crazy ward’). The forced confinement of dissidents in psychiatric hospitals, where debilitating drugs were administered, was normative KGB practice. The goal was to isolate, discredit and break ‘enemies of the state’ physically and mentally.
Recent trends in America’s mainstream media carry a faint echo of KGB approaches. The suppression, mocking and censorship of eminently newsworthy stories (e.g. legal attempts to investigate potential voter fraud or ‘smoking-gun’ laptops); the categorizing of a sitting President and his party as Russian spies or enemies of democracy; the caricaturing of right-of-center politicians and white Americans as guilty of systematic racism – these (to paraphrase Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’ anthem) feel like they are all part of a slow build-up, like individual “cogs in something turning.”
The weaponizing of mainstream media and social media (based on philosophy and perspective similar to the KGB’s use of psychiatry) is a developing and worrisome trend leading quite possibly to the rise of a new totalitarianism. Whether led by the Left or by the Right, the toxic results could be the same. And anti-Jewish/anti-Israeli trends are usually not lagging far behind.
Whereas the recent The Plot Against America miniseries aimed it sights at the rise of an anti-Semitic Right, recent developments point soberly to the concurrent rise in America and the West of an anti-Semitic Left (see Abe Greenwald’s article in Commentary, where he describes current events as a revolution “aimed in all directions at once” but it is “most fundamentally a revolution against the United States of America and all it stands for”).
A heart like Pharaoh
In Exodus, YHVH prophesied ten times that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart. The text also tells us ten times that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Whether from YHVH’s perspective or from Pharaoh’s, the hardening of the Egyptian ruler’s heart was a sign and expression of God’s judgment:
- “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 7:3)
- “But indeed, for this reason I have allowed you [Pharaoh] to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name throughout the earth” (Exodus 9:16; Romans 9:17)
When God brings judgment to a nation, it can involve giving its leaders a ‘deluding influence’ – something that will reinforce them in ways not pleasing to YHVH.
- “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a depraved mind” (Romans 1:28)
- “For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged – who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)
A city set on a hill
In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua challenged His Jewish disciples: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). He was teaching about righteousness – external and internal, and reminded His followers of their calling to shine in the midst of a dark and evil society (see Philippians 2:12-15).
The Puritan lawyer John Winthrop delivered his sermon, ‘A Model of Christian Charity’ on March 21, 1630 at Holyrood Church in Southampton, England, just before the Massachusetts Bay colonists embarked on the Arbella for Boston. Winthrop warned his fellow Puritans that their new community would be “as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” If the Puritans failed to honor their covenant with God, then their sins and errors would be exposed for all the world to see: “So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.”
America has Winthrop’s challenge as part of her spiritual history. The United States has been the world’s point-man in so many ways. It has been the main super-power, the economic powerhouse of the world, the cutting-edge innovator in military, science, medicine, music, film and theater. Both its triumphs and its sins cannot be hidden.
Every empire has its time in the sun before it fades. The Roman historian Livy (Titus Livius Patavinus) declared that Rome was “a city destined for glory” (Roman History: V.54.4). Edgar Allan Poe spoke of “the glory that was Greece, and the grandeur that was Rome” (‘To Helen’). The only kingdom which has a guaranteed and prophesied ‘place in the sun’ is a Jewish kingdom – the Davidic Kingdom – when Messiah Yeshua reigns from Jerusalem. Until that day, as Thomas à Kempis noted in his 1418 ‘The Imitation of Christ,’ “O quam cito transit gloria mundi” (“How quickly the glory of the world passes away!”).
How should we then pray?
- Pray for a spiritual revival of national proportions to transform America
- Pray for the increase of the Good News of Yeshua to spread throughout the cities and towns of the USA
- Pray for the protection, salvation and relocation of Jacob’s children back to their Promised Land
- Pray for the raising up of the Ezekiel 37 prophetic army among the Jewish people
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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