Bible prophecy diehards often scour the Scriptures looking for Americas place as we head toward the second coming of Christ. Most of their efforts are thwarted by the simple fact that America appears to have little or no role to play in the culmination of human history. Occasionally, zeal combined with wishful thinking will lead a student of the Word down a path which, on the surface, appears to speak of Americas place only to discover the hermeneutical gymnastics necessary to force America into the text.
As we approach our 231st birthday as a nation does God have a word for America? I believe the answer is yes and it can be found in Isaiah 5:1-7. In this passage, God sings the song of His beloved vineyard. He speaks lovingly about how He plants His vineyard with the choicest vine on a fruitful hill. He builds a tower in its midst and He hews out a wine vat in expectation of the good grapes that the vineyard will produce.
The vineyard God is speaking about is the nation of Israel. While it is true Gods relationship with the nation of Israel is a unique, covenant relationship and cannot be directly compared to His relationship with America, I believe there are principles of how God builds a nation that can be applied. First, God did not plant America on the continent of Antarctica, nor did he allow this nation to rise out of the jungles of South America. He planted America on a fertile hill where the ground has yielded a bounty of crops that have made us the food pantry of the world. God dug all around and cleared the stones by planting America in a land rich with flowing rivers and a climate which encourages growth. When the world was led into war by the madness of Adolph Hitler it took the full productive might and limitless resources of America to stop him in his tracks. It appeared in the early stages of the war that Hitlers war machine would run roughshod over Europe, exterminating the Jews and enslaving everyone else. But from the moment America entered the war the outcome was never in doubt.
Biblically speaking, Gods placement of a tower in the midst of His vineyard speaks of its defense. 2 Chronicles 26:9 says, And Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the corner gate, at the valley gate, and at the corner buttress of the wall; then he fortified them. David spoke of the presence of God as a place of refuge and safety saying, For you have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy (Psalm 61:3). Solomon described the name of God as a strong tower saying, The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and they are safe (Proverbs 18:10). America currently enjoys the position and the responsibility of being the worlds lone superpower. God has been and continues to be a strong tower of defense.
But how long will God continue to leave the wall and the hedge of protection in place around America? One of the most compelling questions in the Bible is found here in this passage where God asks, What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? God gave us every advantage and just as He expected Israel to produce the fruit of obedience that would lead it to be a witness of Him to the nations, God expected America to produce the good grapes of witness to the world.
But both Israel and America produced not just bad grapes but wild grapes. We have produced the fruit of cowardice by allowing the removal of God from the public arena. We have produced the fruit of rebellion by allowing sin to move from private places to the very streets of our country. We have produced the fruit of complacency by taking the blessings of God for granted, forgetting to praise Him for His provision and refusing to repent of our unfruitfulness.
Puritan scholar and clergyman John Cotton once said, When He promises peace and safety, what enemies shall be able to make the promise of God of no effect? Neglect not wall and bulwarks and fortifications for your own defense, but ever let the name of the Lord be your strong tower, and the Word of His promise, the rock of your refuge.
I believe God is in the process of removing the hedge and breaking down the wall of America. Isaiah 5:6 describes what will happen when the hedge and wall are removed. I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed. But briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it. America is no longer allowing Gods Word to prune back the wild growth that separates us from Him. The briars and thorns of confusion, perversion, and injustice are choking us and laying us waste. The blessings of God that have rained down on us for over 200 years are beginning to dry up.
Is there hope on our birthday? Yes
it is the hope that Gods people will call on the name of the Lord, repent of our rebellion, and return to His ways. The broken hedge can be raised and the battered wall repaired through the brokenness of Gods people. Our mourning can be turned to dancing if we follow the formula given to the church at Ephesus to remember, repent, and return to the Lord.
Dr. Tony Beam is Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.