The Church’s Prophetic Voice: A Mark of True Patriotism

An exposition of Hosea 10:1-15. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 4, 2010.

I must admit, everything in me feels as if I should say, “Mr. Chairman the great state of Oklahoma cast all her delegates upon the next president of these United States – the honorable…”  I must acknowledge my struggle with this sort of celebration.  I fear too often there is a blurring of the line in Evangelical churches.  Often the church seems to equate patriotism and nationalism with the Gospel.  THAT IS A MISTAKE.  Yet I think it fitting that our celebration of the Nation’s birth begin here in the house of God.  For apart from the mercy of the Almighty there would be no United States of America.  No nation rises to power without his aid.  We are celebrating 234 years – young by the standards of history – yet the longest on-going constitutional republic in the history of the world.  I’m convinced it is the direct result of the blessing of God.  Not that America is perfect – for she most definitely is not!  And never has been.  Not that we are uniquely the people of God and stand entitled to special rank and privilege for we most certainly do not.  At the same time many today seek to “rewrite” our history.  Determined to downplay our Christian heritage modern day scholars say our Founders were at best Deists influenced by Enlightenment philosophy.  That’s simply not true.

While not all were devout, orthodox Christians – it is a fact that 27 of the original 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence held seminary degrees.  An honest reading of the founding documents and correspondence of the Founding Fathers reveals these are not the prayers and words of Deists!  In fact George Read, a delegate from Delaware, also considered to be “The Father of Delaware” wrote that state’s first laws and the 1776 Delaware Constitution. The Delaware Constitution initially read, “Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: ‘I, do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given.”  Hardly the words of a Deist.

A significant number of the signers were presidents or vice presidents of various Bible Societies.  Two of the Continental Congress’ first actions were to hire military chaplains and to purchase 20,000 Bibles to remedy a national shortage. America’s first Speaker of the House was the “Reverend” Frederick Muhlenberg.  The reverend John Witherspoon, president of Princeton University played a major role in the American Revolution.  While Witherspoon’s influence alone was extremely impressive, “The record of Princeton men who studied under Witherspoon is outstanding, including President James Madison [primary author of the U.S. Constitution], Vice-President Aaron Burr, nine cabinet officers, 21 United States senators, 39 members of the House of Representatives, three justices of the Supreme Court, 12 governors, and numerous delegates to the Constitutional Convention.”

Those who are upset when politicians make reference to Scripture and the wear their faith on their sleeve have obviously not read the Founders!  The language of Scripture and the Christian Faith has permeated our National rhetoric from the beginning.

Now before this turns into a political rally – let me hasten to say, I’m no Archie Bunker – “America love it or leave” – type.  I love my country.  I am proud to be an American – I wouldn’t trade it for anything – but I do not wear blinders.  I confess that I have a higher Loyalty.  And we, in the church, must not abandon our prophetic post.  We have a responsibility to speak to the nation – both the government and the citizenry.  We must not allow partisanship to distort our vision or silence our voice.  Corruption is corruption, evil is evil and injustice is injustice regardless of who is in “office.”  And we must not fail to hold the moral rope.  We must not fail to point to a higher standard.  We must speak the truth with passion and conviction.  In May of 1776, just weeks before America declared her independence, John Witherspoon declared, “He is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I do not hesitate to call him an avowed enemy of his country.”

Love of country and love of God are not antithetical.  God grant us the courage and boldness to speak with a true prophetic voice to the heart of our Nation.  Our text this morning is found in the 10th chapter of Hosea’s prophecy.

Text: Hosea 10:1-17
Israel is in its last days.  After repeated warning and extended grace – the time of judgment was at hand.  Hosea – whose name means “salvation” was called to close the book on the nation.  He was uniquely qualified – who knew the pain of spurned love.
He knew what it was to love a wayward spouse.  Thus he spoke with conviction and compassion – the awful truth was wrapped in love.

We would do well, on this celebration of our nation’s birth, to learn from Hosea the true nature of godly citizenship.  In our partisan culture – few statesmen are left.  Gone are those who love country above party; who are committed to truth rather than power; good rather than glory.  Hosea’s prophecy serves to remind us that:

Thesis: True love of country demands that the church fulfill its prophetic role.

There are four duties of a prophet reflected in our text.

  1. The voice of the prophet dares to expose the nation’s shallow faith.  (10:1-3)
  2. The prophetic voice boldly addresses the nation’s sins.  (10:4-11)
  3. The voice of the prophet passionately pleads for repentance.  (10:12)
  4. The voice of the prophet broken-heartedly declares the nation’s doom.  (10:13-15)

God’s patience will not always abide with us.
Repeatedly turning a deaf ear to his commands – comes with a price.
We do no service to our great country by denying reality.
If we love this land – we must stand as the prophet:

  • Exposing its shallow faith
  • Addressing its sin
  • Pleading for repentance
  • Broken-heartedly declaring its doom.`
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