On April 30, 1789, on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City, George Washington took the oath of office as first President of the newly constituted United States of America. After he kissed the Bible and whispered “so help me God”, he went inside to deliver his first inaugural address to Congress and other governmental officials assembled. He acknowledged the hand of God in the founding of this nation, but he also warned, “…the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained….” Following his address the President led the group of leaders down the street to St. Paul’s Chapel where they all participated in a Divine Service scheduled by Congress to pray for the fledgling nation.
God has been faithful to protect the United States as long as we lived according to His ordinances. He has remained patient as we have turned from the “eternal rules of order and right” that he laid out in His Word. In the last few decades God has been removed from our schools, government, military, and our culture. Though He is still here, we have left His Providence.
As a result, the first attack by a foreign enemy on American soil occurred on September 11, 2001. We all knew within the depths of our being that the only protection we could count on was God. We filled houses of worship and sang “God Bless America” at ball games, but we did not repent and return to Him with our whole hearts. When the immediate danger was forgotten, we forgot Him as well.
In the years since, we have experienced devastating weather events, financial crises and terror attacks. We have suffered further degradation of our culture and deeper division as Americans. Politics will not solve the problem. Righteousness cannot be legislated because laws cannot affect change in a man’s heart. Only God can do that.
The nation’s first President and Congress prayed for God’s blessing on our nation. They had seen the hand of God countless times in the founding of the American experiment, and they were humble in asking His blessings on the nation and their posterity. God stands ready to extend His outstretched arms if His prodigal nation will return to Him. We still have time to ask His forgiveness for expecting Him to continue to bless an arrogant, corrupt and self-centered people. But at some time, His cup of wrath will be poured out.
The leaders of this nation must bow their knees to God, just as the first leaders of our nation did. They must lead the people of this nation to repent of our wicked ways and call on the Lord to heal our land. Will they be able to lay down their pride? Will we be willing to follow?