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Alex's Blog for March 16, 2011 - The Restoration of the Fathers' Heart to the Children
By Alex Dodson
Today, God's warning judgments continue to fall on our nation. Whether it's economic difficulties, severe weather, serious crimes, or other kinds of calamities that come to a people, God is speaking though we are not listening. It seems that we have become too sophisticated to listen to God anymore. This was not the case with our forefathers. They held times of fasting and prayer and confessed their sins before the Lord as a people in times of calamity.
In the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called for a National Fast Day and in his proclamation he wrote: "And whereas, it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord: And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisement in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?...We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown…But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own….Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!...It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness." (America's God and Country by William J. Federer, p. 383-384) Where are such proclamations today from our government leaders? It seems that we have gotten too secular for such. We are becoming so committed to the separation of church and state that we are separating ourselves from God.
Our nation has deep Christian roots that we are doing our best to try to forget. The secular revisionist historians have rewritten our history and repudiated our Christian past. Yet, our forefathers were here before us and they came to this land with high and godly motives. We must not forget where we came from. We need once again to regain the heart of our fathers. Malachi 4:6 (NASB) says, "He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse." We need to regain the rich Christian heritage that our fathers planted in this land. We come from deep Christian roots in this country. Our fathers trusted in the God of Heaven. They had no intention to separate this nation from God. On the contrary our history reveals that they acknowledged the true God every step of the way. Today, we are trying to throw off our Christian heritage. We are trying to completely secularize the country and disavow the morals of our forefathers. If we continue on this road, we surely will face judgment for our actions. Yet it is not too late to turn around. May God restore the heart of the fathers to this generation.
Our nation has a godly heritage. Let's consider first of all our Pilgrim fathers and those who followed them. David Brewer in his book The United States - A Christian Nation writes, "In our own land, from the very first, Christianity and patriotism have worked together. When the Pilgrim Fathers touched New England's shores, their first service was one of thanksgiving and praise to that Infinite One, who has, as they believed, guided them to their new home…" (p. 26) The Pilgrims came on these shores to make a beachhead for the Kingdom of God. Their charter read, "Having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith and honor of our King and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia." (The Light and the Glory, p. 120) They did not come to these shores with only a secular purpose. Our forefathers acknowledged their Christian purpose from the very beginning.
William Bradford, leader of the Pilgrims, wrote, "Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element…" (The Light and the Glory, p. 120) These Pilgrims came to a wilderness but they came for a purpose and they knew who would sustain them. Bradford again wrote, "…this poor people's present condition…no friends to welcome them, nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather beaten bodies, no houses, or much less towns to repair to, to seek for succour…What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace?" (p. 121) Later others would come with that same faith and determination.
William Federer writes, "In June of 1630, ten years after the Pilgrims founded the Plymouth Colony, Governor John Winthrop landed in Massachusetts Bay with 700 people in 11 ships (thus beginning the Great Migration, which lasted 16 years and saw more than 20,000 Puritans embark for New England)." (America's God and Country, p. 699) Later in 1643, the colonists of New England would include in their constitution these words, "Whereas we all came to these parts of America with the same end and aim, namely, to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel thereof with purities and peace, and for preserving and propagating the truth and liberties of the gospel." (Federer, p. 701) These were our forefathers who first came to this land to establish a nation.
Another part of our godly heritage has been the great times of revival that have occurred in this country in the past. If we believed the revisionist historians of our day, we would know nothing of the great times of revival that have covered this land in our history. There have been mighty awakenings on our soil that few today know nothing about. We live in places in our land today that in former ages experienced mighty outpourings of the Holy Spirit that effected the whole nation. Such was the First Great Awakening in the 1740's.
George Whitefield preached with mighty power all over the colonies in those years. On May 13, 1740, he recorded in his journal, "In the morning, preached at Wilmington to five thousand; and, at Whiteclay Creek, about ten miles distant, in the evening, to three thousand. The Word, I believe, was both like a fire and a hammer; for many were melted, and one cried out bitterly, as in great agonies of soul…" (Whitefield's Journals, p. 424) Again, he wrote on the next day in another place, "It surprised me to see such a multitude gathered together, at so short warning, and in such a desert place. I believe there were near twelve thousand. I had not spoken long before I perceived numbers melting. As I proceeded, the influence increased, till, at last, (both in the morning and the afternoon), thousands cried out, so that they almost drowned my voice. Never did I see a more glorious sight. Oh what tears were shed and poured forth after the Lord Jesus. Some fainted: and when they had got a little strength, they would hear and faint again. Others cried out in a manner as if they were in the sharpest agonies of death…." (p. 425) Again, the next day in a different place, Whitefield records, "As great, if not a greater commotion was in the hearts of the people. Most were drowned in tears. The Word was sharper than a two-edged sword. The bitter cries and groans were enough to pierce the hardest heart. Some of the people were as pale as death; others were wringing their hands; others lying on the ground; others sinking into the arms of friends; and most lifting up their eyes to Heaven and crying to God for mercy…." (p. 425) And so, it went all over this country. God had visited this nation with a great revival, the like of which had never been seen before.
Later, at the beginning of the 1800's another great revival was sent to the nation - it was the Second Great Awakening and lasted up to fifty years. It effected the whole country. This great revival started in the west but spread throughout the nation. It effected the whole of the populous both rich and poor, educated and uneducated. Under the preaching of Timothy Dwight, grandson of Jonathan Edwards, a wonderful revival broke out at Yale in 1802. Heman Humphrey, a student there at that time, gave his eyewitness account of what happened. He wrote, "It came with such power as had never been witnessed within those walls before. It was in the Freshman year of my own class. It was like a mighty rushing wind. The whole college was shaken. It seemed for a time as if the whole mass of the students would press into the kingdom….It put a new face on the college. It sent a thrill of joy and thanksgiving far and wide into the hearts of its friends who had been praying that the waters of salvation might be poured into the fountain from which so many streams were annually sent out….In the four preceding classes, only thirteen names of ministers stand, against sixty-nine in the next four years - nearly, if not quite all, of them brought in by the Great Revival." (From Sea to Shining Sea, p. 105-106) This revival at Yale continued in waves for several years to come "sending many hundreds of dedicated young ministers into churches and to the mission field." (p. 106) There are students at Yale today that know nothing about that great revival that happened on their campus so many years ago. Great revivals have come in the past and renewed our nation. The sad thing is that we have forgotten that they ever happened.
Next, let's look at the examples of some of our Founders. George Washington was a Christian gentleman and admired by the people of his time. It is such a shame that modern revisionist historians have not done him justice. He was truly a great man in every sense of that word. In June of 1779 near his headquarters on the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War, a prayer by Washington was recorded and documented in which he said, "And now, Almighty Father, if it is thy holy will that we shall obtain a place and name among the nations of the earth, grant that we may be enabled to show our gratitude for Thy goodness by our endeavors to fear and obey Thee. Bless us with Thy wisdom in our counsels, success in battle, and let all our victories be tempered with humanity. Endow, also, our enemies with enlightened minds, that they become sensible of their injustice, and willing to restore our liberty and peace. Grant the petition of Thy servant, for the sake of Him whom Thou has called Thy beloved Son; nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done." (Federer, p. 644) Washington was known as a man of prayer and one who acknowledged the God of Heaven.
John Adams on March 6, 1799 called for a National Fast Day in which he said, "I have thought proper to recommend, and I hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the twenty-fifth day of April next, be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain, as far as may be, from their secular occupation, and devote the time to the sacred duties of religion, in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offenses against the most high God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore his pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and through the grace of His Holy Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to his righteous requisitions in time to come;…that he would make us deeply sensible that 'righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.'" (Federer, p. 11) Adams recognized the nation's dependence on God and our accountability to Him.
Thomas Jefferson has been ridiculed by modern day secular historians and been dishonored by them. Yet, for those who take the time to search the documents cannot help but realize that he was an upright and moral man who was a friend to Christianity whether he was an orthodox Christian or not. On March 4, 1805 Jefferson offered a national prayer of peace in which he said, "Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; we humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners…In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen." (Federer, p. 328)
Washington, Adams, and Jefferson all acknowledged God publicly and prayed to Him on behalf of the nation. They had no problem in doing that.
Now, let us consider our present day decline. There is no doubt that this generation is sinking in a sea of immorality. Abortion, sanctioned by the government, still abounds. Millions upon millions of human beings have been slaughtered in the name of convenience and women's rights. Sexual sins in all their forms pervade the nation. Same sex marriage, something unheard of by former generations, is gaining more and more approval. We seem to have forgotten what happened to Sodom and Gomorah because of their sexual sins. Jude 7 says, "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." God will not always stand aside as we commit our immoralities. He will bring judgment on this nation for its sexual sins if we do not repent.
Today, there is a disrespect for God and His law in our nation. Whether its irreverence in the movies or the putting of the Ten Commandments in the back room so no one can see them or taking Bible reading and prayer out of the public schools, God and His Law are being put aside in this nation. No nation that disrespects God and His Law will survive. Nations have been judged in the past for forgetting God. Our nation is no exception. If we forget God, He will forget us. The Psalmist says, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." (Psalm 9:17 KJV)
Then, there is the increased separation of God and country. There are those today who want to totally secularize the nation. They want to separate the public sphere of the nation from God altogether. They want to confine Christianity to the church buildings. Our forefathers never thought of such a thing. They never intended to separate the nation from God. On the contrary our history shows that our forefathers acknowledged God and Christianity from the very beginning and onward throughout our history up until more recent times. Such a separation of God and country was not the intent of our forefathers.
There is a need for restoration. We need to regain the heart of our fathers. Malachi 4:6 (NASV) says, "He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse." The context of this passage is referring to the coming of John the Baptist, who would come in the spirit of Elijah. This passage is not talking about family unity as some might interpret it. The gist of this passage is that John the Baptist would come to restore the heart of the fathers to the people of his day. That is, he would come to restore to the people the faith of their fathers - the Patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David.
Keil and Delitzsch write in their commentary on this passage, "This chasm between them Elijah is to fill up. Turning the heart of the fathers to the sons does not mean merely directing the love of the fathers to the sons once more, but also restoring the heart of the fathers in the sons, or giving to the sons the fathers' disposition and affections. Then will the heart of the sons also return to their fathers, turn itself towards them, so that they will be like-minded with the pious fathers." (Commentary on Malachi, p. 472) Our forefathers came to this land as a Christian people. They acknowledged God and served Him. May the Lord now restore the heart of our fathers to the children of this generation. William Bradford wrote, "What then could sustain them but the spirit of God, and His grace? Ought not the children of their fathers rightly say: Our fathers were Englishmen who came over the great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice, and looked on their adversity…Let them therefore praise the Lord, because He is good, and His mercies endure forever." (Of Plymouth Plantation, p. 66)
True revival brings restoration. Heman Humphrey wrote concerning the Second Great Awakening, "Whatever view we take of the work of God at the beginning of this century (19th), it was a glorious period in the religious history of the country… those revivals stand connected, in the history of Redemption, with those aggressive agencies by which He is now turning our own moral wilderness into fruitful fields, and sending the gospel to all heathen lands." (Revival Sketches, p. 154) Now we seem to be living in a moral wilderness. Yet true revival can transform this land and return it to the faith of our fathers. We don't have to give up on our nation. It is not too late. We must storm the windows of heaven and ask the Lord to restore the heart of the fathers to the children of this generation. We must ask the Lord to send forth His Spirit in great convicting power as He did in the days of George Whitefield. We must pray that God will raise up great preachers of the Word who will blanket this land and call it to repentance. May the Lord send another John the Baptist to this land to restore the heart of the fathers to the children.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version unless indicated otherwise
Bradford, William. Of Plymouth Plantation, The Vision Forum, Inc., San Antonio, Texas, 2007 (Originally published 1650).
Brewer, David J. The United States - A Christian Nation, American Vision Press, Powder Springs, Georgia, 2010 (Originally published 1905).
Federer, William J. America's God and Country, Fame Publishing, Inc., 1996.
Humphrey, Heman. Revival Sketches and Manual in Two Parts, Sprinkle Publications, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1999 (Originally published 1859).
Keil, C. F. and Delitzsch. F. Commentary on the Old Testament - Volume 10 - Minor Prophets, William B. Erdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Marshall, Peter and Manuel, David. From Sea to Shining Sea, Fleming H. Revel Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1986.
Marshall, Peter and Manuel, David. The Light and the Glory, Fleming H. Revel Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1977.
Whitefield, George. Whitefield's Journals, Banner of Truth Trust, London, 1960 (Originally published 1738-1741).