bible and american flag
By Douglas V. Gibbs

Evidence of God’s Hand on the United States takes many forms.  One of those pieces of evidence goes all the way back to the 1700s, and a span of forty years.

In the Bible the number forty appears 159 times.  The number forty is an important number to God.  It rained for forty days and forty nights.  Moses fasted for forty days and forty nights to prepare himself to receive the Ten Commandments.  Moses was atop Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights to receive The Law.  The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after fleeing from slavery in Egypt.  Manna rained down upon the Israelites for forty years.  The Prophet Elijah walked forty days and forty nights to reach Horeb, the mountain of God.  Jesus fasted for forty days and nights to prepare for his public ministry.  Jesus ascended into Heaven forty days after His Glorious Resurrection.  The human gestation period for new life is about forty weeks.  To God, forty is an important number.

Forty is important to God because it means something.  It signifies new life, new growth, transformation, a change from one task to another, repentance, newness, preparation for a new work or task, self-examination, task fulfillment, escape from bondage or slavery and entry into a period of renewal or liberty, nourishment or growth, a time to become spiritually ready for the task that is going to be at hand, and personal fulfillment such as redemption or salvation. Forty is biblical.  Forty is significant.  Forty often appears when God’s Hand is involved.

The number forty also appears during the founding of the United States.

Everything is a process.  Nothing happens instantly, or at least in our world it doesn’t.  The growth of relationships, the coming together of groups of people, or the process of altering a system of government takes time.  The American Revolution was not an instantaneous event.  The war lasted over a decade.  The writing of the Declaration of Independence took time, which included many meetings of the Committee of Five, and many meetings of the Continental Congress before the final draft was approved, proposed, and ratified.  And when it comes to God’s timing, forty years or forty days can be significant.

In 1662, the greatest generation, the original settlers of the English Colonies, had passed away.  Their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren comprised a significant portion of the population of colonists in the New World.  That first generation, those who arrived at Jamestown, the Pilgrims who had arrived at Plymouth, and others who had arrived on the shores of the Atlantic Coast during those early settlement years, were very involved in their Faith.  In fact, the Pilgrims traveled to Plymouth seeking religious freedom.  Their Faith was the main reason for leaving Europe and undertaking the perilous journey across the Atlantic Ocean and landing in an untamed new land.

The pews in the churches by 1662 were nearly empty.  People were not attending church like they used to.  So, in the hopes of attracting new congregants, the ministers in Massachusetts got together and decided to create a new policy, the Halfway Covenant.  The new policy basically said that when you joined Christianity you basically became half of a new creature.  As long as you followed God’s commandments 51% of the time or more, you were fine with God, and could still come to church and partake of communion.  They began to water down The Word, they watered down their sermons, and they watered down the overall message of Salvation.  The thing is, when you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior you don’t become half of a new creature.  The blood of Christ and the flow of the Holy Spirit within you completely changes you.  Full repentance and a new direction becomes your new navigation.  You don’t strive to be like Jesus half of the time.  You are not supposed to bear good fruit only half of the time.  How can one grow in Christ if one confuses their relationship with Christ with one foot lodged in the world?  When it comes to Jesus Christ you are either all in, or you are not; when it comes to Christ you are either all for Him, or you are against Him.

That truth was set aside in 1662.  They abandoned biblical truth in the hopes of attracting people to the pews.  As a result the culture deteriorated.  Sin worsened, and society became vicious and destructive.  When pastors don’t take the lead with the right message, and they lead the flock astray, it gets ugly.  That’s why right now in the United States, and around the world, we are facing serious moral challenges.  Pastors have largely fallen asleep at the wheel.  And when you fall asleep at the wheel, you drive the car right off the road.  Today’s pastors are committing the same folly that the ministers in Massachusetts committed back in 1662 with their Halfway Covenant.

Politics is downstream from the culture.  We can gauge where we are morally in our culture by watching politics.  Here in America we understand that things have gone in a bad direction, and rather than work on the foundation we try to treat the symptoms.  We are busy with our hammers and nails trying to fix the walls and the ceiling, and we are ignoring the fact that the foundation is cracked.  If you don’t fix the foundation, none of the other work on the structure is going to matter.  We cannot politically fix anything if we are not right with our Faith.  We can’t get our political house in order until we get our religious house in order.

We have pastors right now in our current culture who have watered down The Word in a manner no different from the 1662 Halfway Covenant pastors.  They don’t want to lose congregants, nor dollars in the tithing plate they pass around before service, so they proclaim we need to be a little bit like the world, and we’ll fly that rainbow striped flag because we don’t want to offend anybody.  We just want to show the love of Christ, but not get involved in the culture.

Are we out of our minds?

The love of Christ is a wonderful thing, but that’s not how God, and Salvation, works.

True love is not bending the Bible to fit some human narrative, or particular group’s will.  True love is standing firm and telling folks, “You need to bend to the standards of the Bible.”  Standing with two feet in the world chasing things that are not of God has real consequences right here on Earth, let alone the spiritual realm.  That doesn’t mean you have to fix yourself before coming to Christ.  God accepts you as you are, but through the process of Salvation, Christ will fix you and steer you away from habitual sin.  We are broken.  We need God to fix our brokenness.  Trying to fit God and the Bible into our brokenness is not the right thing to do.  If you have broken issues, through the conviction of Christ, they will be resolved.  And, when we stop chasing after worldly things, worldly feelings, and worldly lifestyles, the conflict in your heart ceases, and you begin to have a positive impact on the culture.  Once you are there, you need to stand firm on your new convictions, and defend your renewal and the source of that renewal.

The person does not change the Bible, the Bible changes the person.

Which brings us back to 1662, and the launch of the Halfway Covenant.

Let’s fast-forward to 1734.  Jonathan Edwards in Northampton, Massachusetts decided he was going to start preaching The Word.  He began to follow the Scripture, and teach the Scripture from a biblical foundation.  When you accept Christ, you are a new creature, and you are all-in with God.  You have to be all-in, and if you are all-in with God, then you need to act like you are all-in with God.  You need to bear fruit like you are all-in.  That is what God is all about.  That is the whole reason behind the Crucifixion of Jesus on the Cross on Calvary.  This halfway stuff doesn’t work.  God expects His flock to be fully in the herd.  And that is what Jonathan Edwards began to preach.

As Reverend Edwards preached the Gospel in a manner against the Halfway Covenant, and in a manner expected by God, his church began to grow.  People were attracted to his message.  People sought counseling, people converted, people abandoned their pre-salvation habits and turned back to God, and people became enthusiastic about their faith and their membership in the Body of Christ.

God puts within us the desire to seek Him out, and if we try to fill it with something else, we remain empty and unfulfilled.  When Jonathan Edwards began preaching the right message, and people were filling that void with the proper spiritual things, and fulfilling their search for God, it created a revival.  It launched a Great Awakening that began in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1734 with his messages about the fact that the people were “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

Once Edwards began his sermons, and word got out, pastors in the surrounding communities began preaching the same message.  A hundred communities around the region began to also experience revival as a result.  Word got to George Whitefield in Britain, so he traveled over to The Colonies to find out what the goings-on in America were all about.  He listened to Jonathan Edwards preach, and he met with him and told Edwards his message needed to be preached throughout The Colonies.  Whitefield traveled to The Colonies from Britain seven times to participate in spreading the word that Jonathan Edwards was preaching from the northern end to the southern end of The Colonies.  From that, a great awakening took place.  America transformed from the Halfway Covenant to a Bible-believing, faith-based, strongly Christian virtuous society.

To help you understand what happened, let me use an example.

I worked for a credit union for a handful of years.  During those years I handled a lot of cash.  Paper money is not just paper.  It’s cloth.  You could probably make a nice shirt out of it, if you knew how.  The special fabric we use to make our money has a unique feel to it.  When you handle money regularly, your hands begin to know how it feels – especially when you are in the banking world and you handle it all of the time.  For four years I handled an awful lot of cash.  And, I got to the point that my hands could recognize when a bill that was not the genuine article passing through them.  Why?  Because they were used to handling the genuine article all day.  If I had been handling a mixture of bills, a mixture of the real thing and counterfeits, my hands would not have gotten to know the difference.  They needed to handle the genuine article almost all of the time; they needed to be enveloped by the genuine article all of the time in order to recognize the fake, the counterfeit, the deception.  That’s the way it is with the Word of God.

Scripture is something we need to envelope ourselves with.  When we surround ourselves with the genuine article of God’s Word we learn to recognize the counterfeits, the fakes, and deception.  That’s what began to happen with the generation that launched the Revolutionary War against the British.  Their generation had rose up during a great awakening.  They were raised enveloped by the Word of God.  All they knew was the genuine article.  Therefore, they were quick to recognize that they were under tyranny by the British Empire.  They recognized the tyranny for what it was.  Their spirits knew that they were surrounded by a counterfeit; it was not godly, it was not something they should be forced to live under.

The culture rejected the tyranny.  They began to protest.  They spoke out against it, and then in 1774 they united against it under the Articles of Association; an agreement to boycott all British products.  It was the first time the colonies had all banded together to stand against the British Empire regarding an issue.  They were in complete agreement, and they stood together, agreeing to the Articles of Association in 1774.  The Articles of Association is commonly recognized as the first of the four founding documents of the United States of America.  They are the Articles of Association in 1774, Declaration of Independence in 1776, Articles of Confederation in 1777 and ratified in 1781, and the United States Constitution written in 1787, ratified in 1788, and effective in 1789.

Of the founding documents of the United States the first one was the Articles of Association in 1774, forty years after Jonathan Edwards launched the Great Awakening with his sermons in 1734.  In 1734 the colonists finally got their religious act together and surrounded themselves with God’s Word, and forty years later the colonists joined together to begin the process of standing against British tyranny.  They realized a renewal was necessary.  They were in bondage and they needed to escape that bondage so they followed God’s Will of which they were able to recognize because they had surrounded themselves with the genuine article for forty years.  They followed God-given leaders out of the wilderness of bondage, and it took forty years for them to get to that point.  Forty years from 1734 to 1774 to the first founding document.

Forty years.

The same forty that appears 159 times in Scripture; the same forty that when it appears in the Bible it represents renewal.  It’s about going from bondage to liberty.  It was akin to going from the bondage of Egypt, to the liberty of the Promised Land.  In fact, the Founding Fathers were not ignorant of the connection.

Benjamin Franklin’s original design for the Great Seal of the United States included the dramatic historical scene described in the Book of Exodus where the people confronted a tyrant in order to gain their freedom.  Jefferson’s edit of the original design doubled down on the desire to make that scene the image depicted on the Great Seal of the United States, along with the motto, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”  Jefferson liked the motto “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God” so much that he used it on his personal seal.  That motto also inspired the upper motto Charles Thomson suggested for the final design of the reverse side of the Great Seal: Annuit Coeptis (God has favored our undertakings).

Forty years from the beginning of the Great Awakening when Jonathan Edwards began his sermons to 1774 and the first of the founding documents.  Forty.  God’s Hand has been on America since the beginning.  And I’m a firm believer that the War for Independence, the push for independence, the Revolution that the Articles of Association was a part of the beginning of, would not have happened if there had not been a Great Awakening.

Like the culture today, with one foot in the world and one foot in the church you can’t tell the difference between the genuine article and the counterfeit if you’re mixing it all up.  You need to have both of your feet in the genuine article.  You need to have your hands all over the genuine article.  If you’re not in The Word, if you are not in the genuine article of Scripture and if you are not practicing the principles of the genuine biblical article, then you’re going to fall for the counterfeits.  You are not going to be able to recognize the deception.  You are not going to recognize tyranny.

The beginning of the Great Awakening in 1734 with Jonathan Edwards began a forty year process that led to those colonists recognizing the tyranny and deciding to do something about it.

Where are we in such a process?  Where are we in our own forty year cycle?  I don’t know, but I fear our revival is only beginning to sputter into existence now.  We need to get right with God.  We need to teach the new generation that the process to liberty begins with surrounding ourselves with the genuine article of God’s Word.  And it may take forty years of a process, forty years of wandering through the desert before Americans realize the path to the Promised Land.  We keep expecting some instantaneous transformation.  Tyranny has been at work for over a century, and to be honest, tyranny began its march against us before the ink was dry on the Constitution.  And our culture has been marching away from the Word of God, especially during my lifetime.  Do we have one more Great Awakening in us?  Do we have one more blanketing with the genuine article in our future?  If we do, it’s a process, and as the Bible has shown, and as our own history has shown, it could take us forty years to get there.

Every journey begins with the first step.  Our first step must be a Jonathan Edwards type of message.  It’s time to work together.  It’s time to get our religious house in order.  If we are going to stand against tyranny, we need to begin the process and work back towards being a virtuous society.

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” – Benjamin Franklin.

They didn’t just talk about working together and leading the colonies out of the wilderness.  They worked together.  They actively stood against the tyranny being thrust upon them through governmental oppression against liberty, and it began a process.  They didn’t just think about it, they didn’t just talk about it, they didn’t just sing about it inside the four walls of their churches.  They stood in the public square and confronted the tyranny head-on.  They did something about it.  They put legs on their prayers, and action in their understandings.  Are we doing the same today?  Or do we think we can get our political house in order without getting our religious house in order first?  Religion and politics go hand in hand, and we have been called into action.  We know that tyranny has risen up against us, and to do nothing knowing what we know would be the sin of omission.

James Chapter 1, Verses 22-25:

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

We are not supposed to simply be fans in the stands, observing what’s going on from afar.  We are called to be on the field of battle.  Remember when we were kids in church and we sang, Onward Christian Soldiers?  If we are in The Word the enemy targets us.  When you are over the target the enemy hits you with more flack.  You become a greater target.  You are dangerous to them when you surround yourself with the genuine article of God’s Word.

If any pastor is telling you how sweet and wonderful and comforting it is to be a Christian, they’re lying to you.  Being a Christian is a tough road.  You become a target because you have now announced to the enemy, “I don’t stand with you, I stand with Christ.”  And, you become a target.  You will be hit with everything they’ve got.  Surrounding ourselves with the genuine article is a tough life.  The world hates the name of Jesus.  The world hates what Scripture has to offer.  So, in fear, we have these Christians who sit inside the four walls of their church and they tell you they’ll pray for redemption, and they’ll pray for a rapid return of Jesus, and they’ll pray about the End Times that must be upon us…

That’s not what James 1:22-25 says, and that’s not what the Founding Fathers fought a Revolutionary War for.  In the Book of Luke it says we are to occupy until His return.  And if you look up the definition of occupy, the etymology of the word occupy based on its original scriptural placement, it means to attend to one’s ministry.  Your ministry is the Great Commission.  Your ministry is to share the genuine article of Biblical Truth.  Our ministry is to restore our virtuous culture, to restore the biblical foundation of this country so that we may then share the Good News throughout the world.  I’m not talking theocracy, like the opposition likes to scream.  This is not Christian Nationalism, as the left likes to accuse.  We are not talking about some authoritarian control over the country like the Biden democrats are currently pushing as they project that their enemies are the authoritarians.  We are talking about a vibrant Christian culture that has wrapped itself in the genuine article, and has launched the next Great Awakening.  It is our job to restore the foundation, for without a firm foundation the house that is built upon it will falter.

The foundation is damaged, and many of the pastors are not only not leading us, they have fallen into the deception being offered by the opposition.  We are not being the Christians God wants us to be.  We have been too afraid to stand up to the bullies of the left.  They are flaunting their opposition to God in our faces, and we shudder in fear.  We claim we are too busy with our lives to be in the public square fighting the good fight.  We are too distracted to defend the godly foundation of our system.  And, we don’t want to be ridiculed, we don’t want to be mocked and chided and be accused of being some sort of Christian Nationalist.  We’ve been convinced that our message is rude to talk about.  We’ve been told all of our lives that you don’t talk about religion and politics.  It’s not rude; it’s the right thing to do.  The First Amendment is all about religion and politics.  What type of speech and press do you think it is addressing when it comes to telling Congress that it can’t make any laws concerning?

Telling the truth, and spreading the Gospel is not rude; it’s love.  If someone is drowning we don’t say to ourselves, “Oh, I don’t want to say anything, they might be offended if I tell them they are drowning.”  We must speak up, and jump in the water to pull them out of it.  We must go into action.  Otherwise, they die.  We are in a life and death situation in America, and we’ve been convinced it is hateful, or some kind of phobia, to say something about it.

It’s like looking at brake fluid on the driveway of your neighbor as he walks toward his car.  But you don’t say anything.  You don’t want to be rude.  Gosh, the brakes aren’t likely to work.  Oh well, stinks to be him…

Are we insane?  Lives are at risk.  Tyranny has risen.  The federal government has become King George, and our culture has adopted something worse than the Halfway Covenant, and when we don’t act, when we refuse to be doers of The Word as the Book of James tells us, we are guilty.  We didn’t do our job.  It is our job to stand firm for a godly foundation and liberty, to be doers of The Word.  Occupy until His Return.

And it may take forty years to get us back on track.

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