When you receive this newsletter, we should be sometime between the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles and the American celebration of Thanksgiving. In the Jewish feast we remember the time in the wilderness when God supplied all our needs. We dwell in tents or sukkot for seven days and we celebrate the last, ingathering harvest with great thanksgiving. The Feast of Thanksgiving in the United States was modeled on the biblical Feast of Sukkot. This inspired me to pen some thoughts about the United States.
My friend John Dawson, the president of Youth with a Mission, writes that there are one or more significant distinct purposes for every ethnic group. These purposes are sometimes difficult for us to discern and purposes can overlap. Each ethnic people have their distinct expressions of art, literature, music, and cultural ways that enrich universal culture. Because he is a world Christian leader and identifies deeply with various cultures, John’s insights are wonderful and instructive. John also has a deep identification with the Messianic Jewish community and embraces the unique purpose of the Jewish people.
However, the United States is not an ethnic people. Rather, it is a blending of many ethnic peoples, which share a common language (English). The phrase of the founding fathers, “out of many, one” demonstrates something unique to the national purpose of the United States, which is distinct from God’s intention for the ethnic nations. Today, in the United States, there are more ethnicities than ever. Yet to be a coherent nation, it is crucial that in our diversity that we find deep unity and integration around shared values.
I believe that the United States was divinely called to fulfill two great purposes: one, to demonstrate human rights and to spread human rights throughout the world. Two, to be a key missionary center to spread the Gospel to the nations. These two purposes are intertwined.
Human Rights as National Purpose
The human rights purpose, was inherited from our British forebears. The human rights tradition; including free speech, real freedom of religion, a checks and balance system of government powers, and the right to vote, was the achievement of centuries of struggle. In the middle of the 19th century, this was expressed in the Christian inspired British opposition to slavery.
The Declaration of Independence’s affirmation that all men are created equal is the foundational statement enshrining human rights within the culture and government systems of the United States. The Founders understood that freedom is a divine intention and gift. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are great statements on human rights, including the establishment of freedom of religion, including the right to propagate one’s faith. The state is not to control religious institutions and the religious institutions are not to control the state. The inspired purpose of the United States is to demonstrate to the world that many peoples, from many cultures can join together and form a just, prosperous and free society, if they join together on the basis of sound foundational principles.
My friend and fellow leader, Asher Intrater, first pointed out to me that the United States is parallel to the Church. The United States is an amalgamation of many different ethnicities joined together in unity, based on the foundational principles of the constitution. The Church is made up of many ethnicities joined together in unity in Yeshua, based on the foundational teaching of the Bible.
The Gospel Purpose
Because of religious freedom, the churches of the United States have flourished. The human rights foundation of the United States made it the greatest center for spreading the Gospel to the nations and also the greatest refuge for the Jewish people in history. It is no accident that both are characteristic of this country. Indeed, the legal system of the United States goes beyond any other in allowing money to be sent out of the country for world missions. US charitable laws even allow tax deductions for giving to missions. In addition, the laws of the United States recognize the jurisdiction of church law to govern the life of religious organizations and the courts will only interfere on the basis of egregious violations of human rights.
It grieves me to see the moral decline of the United States and I wonder how far things will go. Will US society continue to embrace human rights? Will true freedom of religion be undermined by political correctness and the cry of the “Muslim minority”? Will Israel continue to be supported? Recently there has been backsliding on the issue of Israel.
Most of those I consider spiritually wise think that the only answer to America’s current moral decay is a great revival. We need to pray for this revival with great desire and zeal. Should current trends continue, we could lose God’s purpose for the nation as an example of human rights and strong morals, and as a base to finance and spread the Gospel. Of course, for those of us who live in Israel, the United States continued support as a strong ally is crucial.