Isaiah 64:3
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
St. Paul has a similar phrase in his first letter to the Corinthians, based on this verse from Isaiah: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him…”
I may get myself in trouble with some people because of what I am about to say. But, it needs to be said. We are one week after the glorious feast of Christ the King. Speaking of a king is a little foreign to our experience in this country. Now I am not saying that I want to go back to some sort of monarchy, because the inclination there is to turn into a despotism because of a prideful ruler.
But, we are already seeing that very thing in the way people are using, or rather misusing, statements like St. Paul’s and Isaiah’s. It was almost 30 years ago that a major politician misquoted St. Paul’s line that I quoted correctly a moment ago. I still remember what he said. I was… shocked… that he should so misquote the Bible. What did he say that was such a terrible distortion? “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what we can accomplish.”
Such arrogance as to avoid the name of God and the work of God for the sake of his people!
But I see the same inclination has not left the public sphere in our politics. There is a terrible lack of humility. Let me correct that: there is a destructive lack of humility in the minds and hearts of those who would be leaders in our country.
I have quoted him before, but President George Washington, in his farewell address to Congress said: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”
Political prosperity requires religion and morality – that means it requires humility! There is a decided lack of humility in those who are choosing to run and hold office in our country in our day.
Setting aside God’s action in our lives that Isaiah and St. Paul call us to recognize is among the most dangerous moves our society is making. It is a sign of a lack of humility, of selfishness, of disregard for others. And unless our country wakes up… No… Unless the church wakes up and stands against this godless inclination that has been a part of our society for well over thirty years, we will see things that the founders of our country would not have believed possible.
There is a tragic line that I have heard said a number of times. “A democracy and its people get the leaders they deserve.” It is not only on the heads of our leaders. It is on all the people of our land who refuse to understand the history of how we were founded, why we were founded.
We are beginning a new church year with this weekend. I am asking you to make it a year of prayer for our country. Not just for our leaders, but a year of prayer for the soul of our nation. Our nation will not survive much longer if we do not recover who we were at our founding.
Patrick Henry gave us the famous quote “give me liberty or give me death.” But his most important quote was similar to the intent of George Washington’s quote above. Patrick Henry’s most important quote was “this country was founded on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
I want to repeat the opening couple of lines of Isaiah’s reading today: “You, LORD, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever. Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?”
The last line is a question I believe needs to be at the core of our prayer for our country. And as we begin this new church year, as we begin what appears to be a new presidency only a few months away, this question needs to animate our prayers: “Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?” Amen.