By John Price
The voice of God can be clearly heard in history. America needs to hear that voice today.
The Rebirth of America
General Lew Wallace was a scholar in his time. He served in the Civil War as a Territorial Governor, and as the Governor and US Senator from Indiana.
Wallace decided to disprove what history taught concerning Jesus of Nazareth. He put his mind to the task of debunking the “Christ matter” once and for all. As a learned scholar, he anticipated no problem; it was a matter of gathering enough treatises and writings.
In setting about to change history by exposing the falsity of Christianity, General Wallace instead changed it by finding Christ. The more Wallace read, the more he was forced to accept the role of God in history. Finally, he reached the conclusion that many other critics have come to; God not only is in the history of man, he also intervened in that history with his son, Jesus Christ.
Lew Wallace never wrote his book proving Christ false; he wrote the classic Ben Hur, a tale of Christ.
And so it must be with any man who seeks the truth, for God has so firmly placed his fingerprint on the history of mankind that no one who examines it can question, that it is of God.
History: the same song, second verse.
Throughout man’s history, man has fulfilled the old law “that the only constant is change.” Man’s memory is short. The very generation which God freed from Egypt turned to grumbling within one month after their liberation. Their eyes were on the fleshpots of Egypt, rather than the Promised Land.
Dr. C.I. Scofield has illustrated man’s failing in his analysis of Israel: a fourfold cycle of rebellion, retribution, repentance and restoration. God’s people, whether in the Bible or in post biblical times, have lived this cycle repeatedly. First, God blesses his believers with abundance, peace and joy. Then man soon forgets that it all came from God. Pride sets in.
From pride comes rebellion, as each new generation thinks that it is great because it is wise, and then comes sin (which each generation says is not sin “in these modern times” but instead liberation from the “overly restrictive ways of the past”).
God, being long suffering and patient, allows his people to drift away in sin because he knows what is coming. Sin leads to sin and the corruption of man increases. After matters have come to an accelerated state of decay, our Lord could let it all continue to fester and grow worse: however, his love for us requires that he call us back to repentance. The call to repentance is then given prior to the third stage, retribution. History shows that the call to repentance is nearly always “preceded by a period of gross iniquity, disgrace, and consequent fear.”
What happens when a nation repents?
History’s lessons must be considered quite seriously by American Christians who seek repentance for our land. There will be some in America who, upon hearing the increasing calls for national repentance, will dismiss any need for revival. Others may see the need, but doubt revival can happen. They will say that we live in a modern time, that America is too large and diverse to expect history to repeat itself.
God has given us the history of the great city state of Nineveh as an example of what can happen to a large nation which humbles itself and repents. Or, what can happen if it doesn’t.
Nineveh, the capital of mighty Assyria, was mightier than Babylon. Nineveh was located at the juncture of two rivers, and like greater New York, for example, the limits of the city extended for many miles. In fact, it required a three day trip to circle metropolitan Nineveh. The inner city of Nineveh (comparable to the borough of Manhattan) was fortified by five walls and three moats. The major wall was fifty feet high and extended for 8 miles. The wall was broad enough at the top to allow four chariots to race adjacent to each other.
Nineveh’s population is not precisely known, but we know that the city had 120,000 infants; hence we can guess that Nineveh, had about one million inhabitants—substantially larger than the city of San Francisco today.
God determined that he would call Nineveh, which was not an Israelite nation, to repentance. For this job, he chose Jonah, an Israelite, one of the traditional enemies of Assyria.
“Now the word of the lord came to Jonah… saying, ‘arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.'” Jonah arose, but he didn’t head for Nineveh; instead he bought passage on a boat and headed in the opposite direction. The story of Jonah and the whale is well known. God saw that Jonah landed in Nineveh, however unusual the transportation.
Reluctantly, Jonah entered Nineveh and proclaimed, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). To Jonah’s own amazement, the people “believed God and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” Word reached the king, who ordered that all “cry mightily unto God; yea, let them turn everyone from his evil way… who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?”
God promptly restored a repentant nation, and granted a delay in the city’s predicted destruction—in this case, 160 years. Those who repented and many of their descendants were spared the destruction that finally came in 612 B.C.
What happens when a nation does not repent?
Later, in the book of Nahum, we get a look at how Nineveh had retrogressed since its national repentance. And before its final destruction, one commentator says that Nineveh’s “surrounding nations were corrupted so that they ministered to the luxuries and vice of Nineveh. Merchants, motivated by greed for gold, sold their wares in a city lusting for fine things. Morality and honesty were allowed to perish, so the wealth might be acquired and pleasure enjoyed.” The description of Nineveh could easily fit the United States today.
Nineveh was totally destroyed, and not a single person remained there. Later, when Alexander the Great came through that area, he passed by close to Nineveh without being aware that the sight of Nineveh was near. In fact, for hundreds of years, many thought that the Nineveh story was only a myth because, unlike other world cities, which continued to grow and expand, nobody even knew where it had been located, if in fact it ever did exist.
The site of Nineveh was discovered, though, in 1840 under thirty to forty-five feet of strata built up through the years. The site confirms all the biblical descriptions; its walls, its size, its fine palaces, numerous written clay tablets which had been bills of sales, invoices, historical records, and literature.
Each age thinks it is a “modern time” as it is compared to times past. One can look back and see apparent progress in the arts and sciences from any age. What we fail to see is that our moral change is sin, not progress.
The Ninevites enjoyed the best chariots, finest food, most exotic entertainment, stoutest drink, and an extensive business and commercial system like none other in the world. In addition, Assyria had ruled the known world for 200 years or so and led the world in military might. Rumors of growing Babylonian military power, must have been dismissed as nonsense.
Alarmed over the state of the nation, various Christian leaders have called for the election of Christian congressman as a solution to our troubles. Though many of our problems emanate from Washington, D.C., and though a Congress which sought to reverse America’s decline could have a major impact, the real question is, how many of America’s problems come from the top and how many are based upon a widely spread populace who are in general agreement with current policies?
What America needs is a sweeping meaningful revival of believers who humbled themselves and who bring millions more into the ranks of God the redeemed. If this nation has a real repentance at the individual level, then our leaders will reflect that basic change in America,
If we begin to see national revival sweeping America, we will begin to see Christians united in common effort to pray, drawn together by their common faith and their desire to call the nation to repentance.
Repentant Christians in prayer will be able to do more for America than all of the government programs rolled into one. They will find the purpose and power that allows them to take public stands in league with their fellow believers, which could radically change the future of America.
Taken directly from The Rebirth of America, published by the Arthur S. Demoss Foundation, pgs. 153-155, 1986