“I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid.” (Daniel 4:4–5, NIV 1984).
[Daniel] answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air— you, O king, are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.” (Daniel 4:19–22, NIV 1984).
Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” (Daneil 4:29–32, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Contentment and prosperity. Elements of the “American Dream.” It did not necessarily begin that way. The original settlers fled their homelands to escape religious persecution. That was the original dream, born of hardship.
But as the colonies grew, there followed “a long train of abuses and usurpations…design[ed] to reduce them [to] absolute Despotism” from the mother country. As a result, the colonists concluded “it [was] their right, it [was] their duty, to throw off such Government.” And a new dream emerged that encompassed “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” A dream born out of a revolution they had no chance of winning. But they did. For you see, “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” For a time, He has given it to America.
It took a while, but the newly founded nation “grew large and strong…until it reach[ed] the sky…and [its] dominion extend[ed] to distant parts of the earth.” Not direct dominion, but an influence exerted through its unrivaled economic power and military might. “Visible to the whole earth.” Its “abundant fruit” and “amber waves of grain” helped feed the world. Emerging as a world super-power following two world wars, it gave “shelter” to other nations facing the growing threat of, and helped bring down, the “iron curtain” of the cold war. For years, this “new colossus” provided “nesting places in its branches” for the “tired…poor…huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” “The wretched refuse of [the] teeming shore[s]” of other nations. “The homeless [and] tempest-tost.”
But lately, some may say for a long time now, from its humble beginnings and noble endeavors of the past, has emerged a proud and arrogant people. Seeing itself as the “one indispensable nation.” The only nation with “the power to guarantee global security.” That “it is America that the world looks to for help.” That “if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.” That this “has been true for the century past and it will be true for the century to come.” (The collective thoughts of Sidney Blumenthal, Madeline Albright, and Barack Obama, and perhaps by a plurality of America’s citizens).
“Is not this the great [America we] have built…by [our] mighty power and for the glory of [our] majesty?” Wasn’t it us that made America great in the first place?
My Advice – “If only the dream applied to [our] enemies and its meaning to [our] adversaries!” “If only the dream applied” only to Nebuchadnezzar and that history never repeated itself. But if we continue down this path, we may find that the iron feet of this “new colossus” is mixed with clay. That Lady Liberty’s light is flickering out. Unless we, the United States of America, “praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven,” we will lose our place as a nation that “God sheds His grace” upon, and our royal position will be taken from us. “Because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:36–37, NIV 1987).
It begins with us. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV 1984). We cannot expect the rest of our nation to “humble themselves” to “seek [His] face,” and to “turn from their wicked ways,” if we, like good shepherds do not lead the way. This is the only path to “make America great again.” Because greatness is not measured by economic prosperity and military superiority. It is measured by the favor of God.
Inspired by Kevin Rutledge’s June 21, 2020, sermon. Follow the sermons at http://www.fbcsycamore.com.