Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 20, 1960

Righteousness Exalteth A Nation --- ( I )

Jerry C. Ray, Irving, Texas

The United States of America is a great nation. Have you ever stopped to ponder why it is a great nation? Wherein lies the strength of America? Alexis de Tocquevine, a brilliant French writer, wrote concerning this:

"I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers; it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her fertile fields and her boundless forests; it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her rich mines and her vast world of commerce; it was not there.

"I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her free public schools and her institutions of learning; it was not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her matchless Constitution and her democratic Congress; it was not there.

"Not until I went into churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the greatness and genius of America. America is great because America is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." (Preaching in the Twentieth Century, p. 9)

As the wise man said, "Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people;" (Prov. 14.34) and our strength, as a nation, lies in righteousness. This nation was founded by God-fearing, Bible-loving men upon the principles of truth and righteousness found in the Bible.

But there has been concern in the last few years for the future of the U. S. A. in the face of ever-increasing lawlessness and ungodliness. America cannot continue to prosper when wickedness and immorality multiplies with every passing year.

Ours is a nation of great power and potential but with little ethics and morality. Dr. Raymond B. Fosdick stated: "Knowledge is not enough.... Unless we can anchor our knowledge to moral foundations, the ultimate result will be dust and ashes.... The towering enemy of man is not his science, but his moral inadequacy."

Gen. Omar Bradley very aptly stated:

"We have too many men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. Man is stumbling blindly through spiritual darkness, while toying with the precarious secrets of life and death. The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living."

Israel's prosperity in Canaan depended upon her continuance in God's commands. (Dt. 28-29) And we are persuaded that God continues to deal thusly with nations today. A nation steeped in sin cannot long exist. We must not delude ourselves by thinking that God is an American God.

America is not God's chosen people, and we, as a nation, cannot continue to exist without righteousness. This is an inexorable law of humanity. There are two interesting thoughts to consider from Arnold Toynbee, the outstanding historian.

(1) Nineteen of the twenty-one civilizations have died from within and not by conquest from without. Moral decay and corruption slowly killed them.

(2) On an average the great democracies of the past have lasted only two hundred years. When the city-states of Greece, the Roman Republic, the French Republics, and all the other democracies of history are examined, the average life of them is two hundred years. The U. S. A. is now 184 years old. What lies ahead for us? Will our children live to see the U. S. A. a conquered and broken nation? God shall judge individually in the day of judgment, (2 Cor. 5:10, Mt. 25) but God judges nations during the course of this world's existence. Has America's "cup of iniquity" (cf. Gen. 15:16b) filled to overflowing? Only time can tell.

But someone will say, God will not punish us. While we are wicked, still we are more righteous than Russia (or any other nation). This was the same argument presented and answered in the book of Habakkuk concerning the kingdom of Judah. Habakkuk was first perplexed as to how God could be so indifferent in the presence of wickedness and violence. (1:2-4) God answers that He is not indifferent, judgment shall come upon Judah at the hand of the Chaldeans. (1:5-11) But then Habakkuk asks how a holy God can employ an unrighteous agent (who is more unrighteous than Judah) to punish Judah, (1:12-17) to which God replies that the Chaldeans will be used to chasten Judah, and then they, in turn, will be chastened for their wickedness. (2:1-4)

To whom God has given much, of the same He requires much. While America may be more righteous than other nations still she has fallen far short of God's blessings and requirements. Let us pray for God's continuance in long-suffering, all the while working as salt and leaven to preserve our country and influence it for good. Let us preach and teach the truth and call all men to repentance, lest someday a historian shall write of this nation:

"America committed suicide."