Ten Righteous Men

We check the news each day, our hearts filled with one part hope and ten parts fear and trepidation. Typical of a Marxist regime, none of our valued institutions are functioning in a reliable way. Our children are being abused by the very institutions designed to open the wonders of the world to them. Our young men, who should be in the prime of their lives, are dropping dead in the midst of the games they love to play. Our money is no longer worth much, we’re finding it harder and harder to fuel our homes and automobiles, and we’re seeing iconic businesses fold all around us. What with Ukraine and woke ideology, the military we have proudly depended on to protect us is unprepared and poorly supplied. We could -- looking back at history, throw up our arms in despair. But…

Many are the examples from history when the unexplained, the unexpected, the miraculous has happened and the good guys have won. Such was our War for Independence. England was, in 18th and 19th centuries, the world superpower. We were nothing -- a little upstart of a nation, not even a nation but a rough amalgamation of 13 (not even a lucky number) independent states. We had no national military, no national government, no way to fight back other than to throw boxes of tea into the Boston Harbor. And yet, we have been not only a successful and prosperous nation, but the biggest, richest, and most righteous of all the nations.

Our future as a nation was much in doubt during the Civil War as well. “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.” Yet, here we are. True we’re still troubled by that time period and the slavery that preceded it, but we have come a long way (at least we had until Barack Obama was elected president) toward mending that rupture. Anyone who has visited Gettysburg or has studied the assassination of Abraham Lincoln can fathom the horrifying angst of that time. And yet we came through it to become the main power behind the destruction of the hideous evil of the two World Wars. There is something about America that goes deep into her bones, some core attitude that has made us invincible.

I contend that that something is our relationship with God. He has been with us from the beginning. He brought the pilgrims through that first deadly winter. He saw to it that exactly the right men and women were brought into the world in the right place and at the right time to build our government. At what other time in history have such brilliant, wise, courageous people gathered to make a country from scratch? Our government was patterned after the biblical pattern of government from the family up, from the individual up, instead of from the king down.

I’m pretty sure that God isn’t happy with this nation right now, but His name is still on America, and He ever guards His reputation. God is faithful and will not abandon us -- not as long as we don’t abandon Him.

We are guilty of very largely abandoning His Word. Even “devout” Christians pay it little heed, yet it is within those pages that we can find hope for these United States.

Have you ever read the story of the “battle” King Hezekiah “fought” over Jerusalem in 701 B.C.? (2 Kings 19). His city was surrounded by 185,000 Assyrian troops led by the never-defeated Sennacherib. Hezekiah was not prepared for this, had apparently counted on a treaty he had with Egypt for protection, and Egypt hadn’t come through. Hezekiah had just watched as the Assyrians took neighboring cities, skinning alive their prisoners. He was ill-prepared for the battle that would soon be his. And now this cruel and invincible army surrounded Jerusalem. Sennacherib taunted him saying that he’d provide 2,000 horses if Hezekiah could find the warriors to mount them. But he could not.

What he could do was pray. So that night Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah stood upon the battlements and prayed all night for God’s deliverance.  Lord Byron tells the outcome best:

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,

And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;

And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,

And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,

But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride

And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,

And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

So the citizens of Jerusalem woke that morning to this picture -- all 185,000 soldiers dead, both horses and riders. Some extra-biblical sources explain this phenomenon with a story about the mice eating the Assyrian bow strings, but that seems a little like a CNN story to me. We do know that Hezekiah lived on and Jerusalem was not laid waste. No one was skinned alive. Why? The will of God was involved, and I’d lay odds that prayer played a big part.  This is part of Hezekiah’s prayer: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.  Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God…” And God, being ever protective of His name, answered.

Or remember Abraham’s dickering with God outside of Sodom and Gomorrah? God was ready to wipe out those sinful cities, but Abraham was calling on God’s mercy, asking Him that if there were 50 righteous men in Sodom, would He spare the city?  And then Abraham kept talking God down until He gets God to agree that if there were 10 righteous men in the town, He would spare it. Of course, God knew what Abraham didn’t -- that there were not 10 righteous men in town, but the point remains -- God is merciful, and He did get Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family out of the town before the explosion.

We don’t have enough information to work an equation that would tell us how many Americans would have to be righteous for God to spare us annihilation, but the principle remains -- it doesn’t take all of us. Whew.

It doesn’t take more than a quick brush with history to see that God controls history and manages to do so without messing up human free will. He raises up the right people at the right time. He brings about weather changes and natural disasters that change the course of battles and migrations. He provides natural resources when and where they are needed for His purposes to be fulfilled. Israel is now, after a 2,000-year hiatus, a prosperous nation. The Internet has come along just in time to allow free speech to once again rule the airwaves. The pandemic, for all its evil, has opened the schools to parental inspection and has made clear how untrustworthy Big Pharma is.

Let’s keep perspective here. Let’s count the ways God is holding this society together. Let’s look at being the righteous people He looks for, and most of all, let us pray.

Deana Chadwell is an adjunct professor and department head at Pacific Bible College https://pacificbible.edu in southern Oregon. She teaches writing, logic, and literature. She can be contacted at dchad_02@charter.net.

Image: Camille Corot

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