This does not refer to the United States.
The United States never was a holy nation. Some think so. Calling on the citizens to return this country to its roots, they insist that the United States was originally a Christian nation. They are mistaken.
Originally there were Christian influences on the nation, but it was never a Christian nation. Many of the most prominent and powerful founding fathers were infidels. Thomas Paine was a wild-eyed rebel against all authority, mainly Gods. Thomas Jefferson, chief author of the Declaration of Independence, denied the Godhead of Jesus Christ and reduced the Bible to the “Sermon on the Mount” (which he explained as mere moralism). The fornication of Benjamin Franklin in his old age astounded even the French.
The foundational documents – the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution – do not establish the United States as a Christian nation. If they did, they would expressly declare Jesus Christ to be the Sovereign; the Bible to be the law; and the glory of the Triune God to be the goal.
The act that gave existence to the nation, the revolution of 1776, transgressed the fundamental political calling of the Christian: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers” (Rom. 13:1), or, as Peter puts it, “Honor the king” (I Pet. 2:17).
It certainly is not a Christian, holy nation today.
Officially, publicly, nationally, the nation declares itself hostile to the Christian faith.
It maintains a system of education from which the God and Father of Jesus Christ has been banished and that trains its citizens to be godless.
It has made lawful the murder of millions of unborn babies. This is murder by the state. This is disobedience to the calling that God gives the state to protect those who are innocent before the law of the land. This is in most cases the state’s connivance in the sexual promiscuity of the citizens: Kill the unwanted consequences of fornication so that men and women can go on fornicating freely. This is the state’s taking into its own hands the sovereign authority of God the Creator over life and death: In legalizing abortion, the state claims Deity.
All three branches of government cooperate in this antichristianity. The Supreme Court has judged. Congress at the very least acquiesces. One of the very first acts of the current president was to relax all restrictions enacted by previous presidents against easy abortions.
Sinking now to the depths of national decay, the United States is in the process of legalizing homosexual behavior. Congress legislates; the courts uphold; the president advocates, appointing notorious homosexuals to high positions in his administration. With this legalizing of homosexual behavior goes a national program of educating the people in the naturalness, goodness, and necessity of homosexuality, especially by means of the state’s schools.
The life of the people corresponds to the unrighteousness of the government. The national life is greedy; mad for pleasure; violent; unfaithful in marriage and family; sexually debauched. The Word of God precisely describes the life of the nation at the end of the 20th century, specifically as regards homosexuality, in Romans 1:32: “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” The people have pleasure in those who commit the abominations that they know bring down upon them the sentence of death. Violence and sexual perversity are their summer reading, their favorite television programs, their movies and videos.
The United States is an unholy nation.
God does not bless America.
I write this editorial over the 4th of July weekend. I notice that churches, preachers, and patriotic gatherings of Christians assure themselves that God is indeed blessing America and beseech Him to continue to do so. It is an insult to the holy God to ask Him to bless this nation. The just God blesses only the righteous nation, and He blesses it only in the way of its holiness of life. We should thank God for the United States. By this nation, God gives us the good gifts of earthly freedom and outward order in society. But we may not ask Him to bless it.
God is sparing still this nation because there are in it yet at least 50 righteous persons – His church – but He is not blessing it.
On the contrary, His wrath is falling on this nation ever more heavily. In wrath, God gives the nation the miserable rulers that it deserves. In wrath, He visits upon the godless education the irresponsible people in business, politics, and family who are the products of that education. In wrath, He gives over the population to the “vile affection” of homosexuality. What is so often overlooked in the debate over homosexuality is that Romans 1:18 ff. teaches that the approval and practice of this sin is itself the awful judgment of God upon a people that has deliberately held the truth of God under in unrighteousness. This shameful, destructive wickedness is divine punishment: “For this cause God gave them up …” (Rom. 1:26).
The United States is not a holy nation. It never will be a holy nation. No earthlv nation has ever been, is now, or ever will be a Christian, holy nation.
For God has not purposed or privileged any merely earthly nation to be a holy nation.
This is reserved for one people and one institution only.
The one, only “holy nation” is the church of Jesus Christ.
Under the old covenant, before Christ, this was Israel: “And ye shall be unto me . . . an holy nation” (Ex. 19:6).
Under the new covenant, after Jesus Christ, this is the spiritual body of all those in all the world who believe in Christ and are sanctified by the Spirit, which universal body manifests itself in congregations and denominations that clearly show the marks of the true church.
That the church is now God’s “holy nation” is the teaching of I Peter 2:9: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people….” The largely Gentile church is the fulfillment and reality of Old Testament Israel. Peter applies to this church all the titles and descriptions that Old Testament Scripture applied to Israel: “chosen generation”; “royal priesthood”; “holy nation” (cf. Ex. 19:5, 6; Deut. 7; Is. 43). The notion, therefore, that the “holy nation” will be the Jewish race in a future kingdom-state of Israelis gross false doctrine. The hope for such a “holy nation” is a vain dream. The spiritual church is the holy nation.
Similarly erroneous and vain is the hope for a “holy nation” of a restored or reconstructed America or any other earthly nation that will be the kingdom of God in the world, fulfilling the national aspect of Old Testament Israel and even carrying out the judicial, or civil, law of that nation. Whatever “truth and substance” of the civil law of Israel remain in Jesus Christ are executed spiritually by the church. The national aspect of Old Testament Israel is fulfilled in the church. The spiritual church is the kingdom of God, the “holy nation.” There is no other.
God is king of the church in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Her territory, her fatherland, her country, is heaven, from which the members of the church militant are presently pilgrims and strangers on the earth. Her constitution is the Bible as expressed in the Reformed confessions and in the church order of Dordt.
Her law is the Decalogue.
The Spirit of Christ is her unity.
Her might is the gospel.
This nation is holy. She is holy. Her holiness is a fact. Her continued holiness is assured. This is great comfort and encouragement to preachers, elders, parents, and all church members in the face of the increasing threat to the church’s holiness. In the midst of all the unholy nations on earth, this nation is gloriously and infallibly holy. She has been separated spiritually from the unholy nations, their unholy citizens, and their unholy way of life. She has been separated unto God, to have fellowship with Him and to live His way of life. When a member of this nation falls, as fall he or she can, even deeply, he or she does not justify the sin and continue in it, but repents in order to take up again the holy life.
For God has chosen her to be His holy nation in eternal election. God has bought for her the privilege to be His holy nation by the redemption of the cross. God sanctifies her to be His holy nation by the Spirit working through the Word and church discipline. He has not done so with any other nation.
The calling then of the true church in the United States, more urgent than ever as our earthly nation decays, is to be what we are by grace: a holy nation. We must preach, pray for, and practice holiness. Eventually, this will mean persecution. An unholy nation cannot tolerate the holy nation within her borders. A nation that kills its unborn must silence the nation that calls this murder. A nation that places practicing homosexuals in prestigious and powerful government office will make war with the nation that excommunicates those who advocate or practice this perversity, For the darkness hates the light of the purity of God. The church to whom Peter wrote suffered persecution (cf. I Pet. 1:6, 7; I Pet. 2:12;I Pet. 3:9, 13 ff.; I Pet. 4:1 ff., 12 ff.; I Pet. 5:8-10).
But the threat of persecution does not deter the church from her calling. She is, and cannot but be, holy. God’s purpose with her has become her own purpose: “that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Pet. 2:9).