Monthly archives "September 2016"

The Fall of the Roman Empire

Abraham Lincoln was the most profound of Presidents and the first Republican to hold the office.  One of his most famous statements was when he wondered if a nation like America “can long endure.”  Historian Stephen Oates noted that a quarter century earlier in an extraordinary speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, he had worried about the damage done to nations by “the silent artillery of time.”  George Will wrote that in this Lincoln echoed Edward Gibbon’s last volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,  where Gibbon gave the first answer to the question of why Rome had fallen as “the injuries of time.”

Gibbon’s last volume was published in 1788 as the ratification of The Constitution was being debated.  Benjamin Franklin, asked as he left the Convention what it had wrought, replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”  America’s Founders were haunted by history’s record of the failure of Republics.  In his Farewell Address, President George Washington pondered what could “prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations.”

The Founders realized that some day we could have Presidents like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and, heaven forbid, Hillary Clinton.  Their lies and lawlessness and the resistance to this by the Republicans runs back to the Founders’ thoughts about the perils that make a Republic perishable.  The Founders knew that virtue is a wasting asset, that morals tend to deteriorate, and therefore that fatalism is wisdom:  nations rise and fall in natural cycles.  James Madison wrote with dry understatement in The Federalist # 10, “Enlightened statesman will not always be at the helm.”  He anticipated the two Clintons and Barack Obama in between.  At the same time the boldness of America’s Founders was in their belief that history could be beaten by reflection that results in institutions–namely our Constitutional Order.

The Founders provided impeachment to cope with the lawless lying without remorse of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (unlike Bill who had some shame over Monica, Barack thinks he is always right which is delusional).  Hillary is in this same mold only worse.  It is congenital with her.  She said she and Chelsea landed under sniper fire in Bosnia.   No First Lady and First Daughter will ever land under sniper fire.   Mrs. Clinton later said she was tired and misspoke.  Years earlier she said was named for Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first to climb Mt. Everest.  The problem is he did not become known until 5 years after Hillary was born.  She blamed that lie on her mother whom she said told her that story to inspire her.   Now she lies about her lies concerning her e-mail server and classified documents.   She lies when she says she has always been honest.   She cannot tell the truth and probably  does not even grasp that she is lying.  That is what William Safire said when he called her a “congenital liar.”  One definition of congenital is inborn.

Let us look at our current state and factors that brought down the Western Empire in Rome in 476 A.D.  One reason was an overspending government.  Another was government corruption and political instability.  There was too much spent on bread and circuses to entertain the masses.  The Romans allowed the Barbarians to begin to enter their Empire by way of porous borders. Economic chaos developed in part due to able bodied citizens becoming idle and an over reliance on foreign labor.

The parallels between ancient Rome and modern America are unmistakable.  I would zero in on government corruption.  When Bill Clinton was involved with Monica, his sustained lying involved an extraordinarily corrupting assault on language.  Hence his saying “it depends on what the meaning of is is.”

Harry Truman would have fired Bill Clinton.  He told his advisers that if he found that any of them were stepping out on their wives he would fire them.  Why?  Because if one cannot be trusted to keep the most sacred of vows they cannot be trusted to keep the vows they have made to serve the country.  With Bill Clinton codes of personal behavior withered. (Madison and Federalist # 10)

One manifestation of the degeneration of our moral values is that we accepted Bill Clinton’s adultery.  Once we would have demanded resignation.  Another manifestation is simply electing a man who had the incapacity to imagine that honor might require his resignation.  For eleven months the nation lived with a paradox:  If Clinton had the moral sense to resign, he would not have let himself get into a position where he needed to.

When we allow this we then elect another liar who thought there were at least 57 states.  Obama told us we could keep our doctors and our insurance plans when he knew we could not under Obamacare.  He lied about ransom for hostages in Iran.  He seems to really believe America has never been better or safer as he leaves office.

Look at the fall of Rome and where our nation is today.  Can we survive as a free People if Hillary is elected President.  I fear not.  Thus, we have been given one more chance.  Donald Trump may be a wild card, but he has rightly defined our problems and is offering possible solutions including the rebuilding of our crumbling military. Hillary promises to be the next Obama.  How is that working out for us and our children?

A society that accepts no moral law such as we have with Bill and Barack and Hillary will soon have only law and that is tyranny.  The red lights are flashing warning of danger ahead and urging a different course.  Will we listen and heed?  Will we return to some semblance of America as Founded or will we become Rome 476?  This election will decide that.  We will be a Nation under God or a Nation Under Government which Ronald Reagan said is a nation gone under.  I pray and work for the former lest we get the latter.


Righteousness Is Better Than Evil

In the summer of 2013 my high school class celebrated 50 years since graduation.  My closest high school friend is Class President.  Another friend (now living on the other side) called and asked if I would do the prayer for the meal and the evening.  I asked his permission to share a few “then and now thoughts.”  I noted that Jack Kennedy was our President when we finished high school and that he was a strong anti-Communist, a WWII hero, and tax cutter.  In short, today he would be considered a Conservative and might not even be a Democrat.  I  reminded the class that when the Bay of Pigs fiasco happened, he did not run for cover as did the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He had a ready made excuse as the military brass set up the Cuban invasion under Ike well before our young President entered the Oval Office (John Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected President who succeeded the then oldest in Eisenhower who was later surpassed in age as a sitting President by Ronald Reagan).

But Kennedy was a man of class unlike Bill Clinton (it is H.W. Bush’s fault) and Barack Obama (George W. Bush did it).  He did not appeal to an excuse but stood tall and said that he gave the order and he alone was to blame.  He was a smart enough politician that he went out and changed the subject by saying we would get to the moon first–which we did.

I also said that night at the reunion that I increasingly noted that were was a four letter word that captured the time even more than 5 years earlier when we gathered.  That word is Fear.  We have a President who is a Lamb abroad and is scoffed at by the Chinese, the Russians and by Iran.  Meanwhile, Obama is a Lion toward Israel and his own People.  He is a buffoon who still thinks all he does is right, his opponents wrong, and that he is the smartest man in any room.  As Charles Krauthammer has said repeatedly, “The man is delusional.”  I would add delusional which makes him dangerous to the nation and to common sense.

The New Living Translation (NLT) is a more scholarly 1996 update of The Living Bible.  My Old Testament professor is one of the editors.  This version renders Proverbs 28:2 thus:  “When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily.  But with wise and knowledgeable leaders there is stability.”  Barack and Hillary have not given us stability.  Proverbs 28:15 reads:  “A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a Lion or a Bear attacking them.”

What has happened to the poor in the last 7.5 years?  There is far more poverty–especially among blacks who have suffered grievously under the first black President.  But worse, he thinks he is right and will not accept criticism.  Any problem is the fault of someone else.  What a contrast with Jack Kennedy and Harry Truman who said and meant, “The Buck Stops Here.”

The wicked ruler is compared to the wild beasts of the jungle.  Proverbs 28:16 says, “Only a stupid Prince will oppress his people, but a King will have a long reign if he hates dishonesty and bribes.”  Crawford Howell Toy was an Old Testament scholar of the 19th century (The Civil War & Reconstruction Era), but he captures the meaning of this verse still for today:  “He who is oppressive is lacking in intelligence, but he who hates unjust gain will live long.”  I think Obama is more stubborn than smart and Hillary’s dishonesty is a cocktail joke and bringing her down.  Toy’s words remind me of the Clinton Foundation and Pay for Play.  The Bible is always up to date.

Of evil men C.S. Lewis wrote in Reflections on the Psalms,   “If the Divine call does not make us better, it will make us much worse.  Of all created beings, the wickedest is Man who originally stood in the immediate Presence of God.” In Mere Christianity Lewis wrote, “Wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way.”   Does that not describe big government, Democrats, Obama and Hillary?

This all leads to evil and we must face this fact.  Evil in modern society is considered a primitive notion which is why we have so much of it.  Crime is not due to evil.  It is a wrong choice.  Mobs entering and robbing a store is not evil; it is an action of impoverished youth without focus.  Embracing Iran and rebuking Israel is not spitting in the Eye of God’s Chosen;  it is sophisticated diplomacy.  Benghazi was not the result of evil men attacking our consul and neglect by stupid, wicked leaders who are as dangerous as Lions and Bears.  It was a misguided video.  How many of us when upset by an insult carry around a mortar just in case?

George Will wrote of evil on April 30, 1989:  “The ambition of the modern mind is to spare itself a chilling sight, that of the cold stare of personal evil.  The modern response is to make the reality of evil disappear behind a rhetorical gauze of learned garbage.  In the past evil was punished swiftly and with terrible severity.  Punishment is now interminably delayed and ludicrously light.  That is why so many boys waiting trial sing rap songs in their jail cells.  A society that flinches from the fact of evil will flinch from the act of punishment.  It should not wonder why it does not feel safe.”

I noted the word fear in the opening of this post.  Have those who perpetrated violence and death at Benghazi been punished as Obama promised on 9/12/2012?  Of course not.  They have no fear of Obama.  Will Hillary be punished for her part in the neglect at Benghazi?  Will she suffer for having a private server which put Americans at risk overseas? Will anything happen due to her repeated lies about her e-mails?   Are people catching on to the fact that The Clinton Foundation is not for charitable giving but a play for pay scandal and a cash cow for Bill, Hill and Chelsea?   The answer remains to be seen in terms of the election.   She certainly is guilty of enough to disqualify her from public service of any kind, most definitely  including the Presidency.  But will she be punished by the law?  The F.B.I. and James Comey say not.

How does Proverbs 28:2 read?  “When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily.  But with wise and knowledgeable leaders there is stability.”   Lord, give us the wisdom to reject the former, embrace that latter and then to go out and vote for it.





Proverbs & Political Fools

The Bible is more up to date than the daily newspaper, the most recent FAX, a text of the moment or the latest tweet. Hillary Clinton said that 1/2 of Trump voters could be “put in a basket of deplorables.”  Even The New York Times (no friend of Trump or Conservatives) said this was not politically smart.  Bill Clinton is politically smart; Hillary Clinton is not and this is simply the latest example of a foolish campaign.

But the book of Proverbs dates back to as early as the 10 century B.C. and Proverbs 18:6 describes what happened on Friday night in New York City from the mouth of Hillary Clinton:  “A fool’s lips bring strife, and their tongue invites a beating.”  We wish Hillary well in her recovery from illness but we also wish her to be beaten in her run for President.

As William Safire, speech writer for Richard Nixon and the last true conservative at The New York Times, wrote in 1993: “Hillary is a congenital liar.”  She cannot tell the truth and she is not politically savvy.  She benefits from Donald Trump’s being a political novice who also has to watch what he says, but he has plans to change the future. She calls for more of Obama.  Surely eight years is enough.

There is something else that must be said–appealing again to Scripture.  Satan is the father of lies according to John 8:44 in the words of our Lord Himself.  Proverbs 12:22  reads:  “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are His delight.”

Hillary Clinton is a liar.  We cannot elect her President and maintain any semblance of the Nation under God we were raised up to be.  Her language about deplorables was planned and betrays how she feels about hard working Americans seeking to make it in a Democrat Party increasingly hostile to them and to truth.  Barack Obama feels the same as revealed by his 2008 comments about bitter clingers to God, guns and religion.  But he said that privately, not knowing it would become public.

The campaign is now set before us in broad relief.  There are no shades of gray anymore.  Will we follow a liar or seek the truth?  I choose the latter.  Hopefully millions and millions of others do the same.   We are running out of chances for renewal.


The Lion

The Lion is mentioned some 155 times in the Old Testament.  While some of the references may have been figurative indicating great strength, others were literal and the animal was well known throughout the Old Testament.  The Lion now lives primarily in Africa, South of the Sahara.  They once lived in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Iraq and Iran.  In the reign of King David they were found all the way to India.  While the Tiger is more solitary, the Lion lives socially in groups called a Pride.

The Lion began to lose ground once man made settlements and kept flocks.  According to Old Testament scholar, R.K. Harrison, the Cape Lion was lost about 1865, and the Barbary Coast Lion in the early 1920’s.  Not all ancient rulers regarded Lions as brutes.  Daniel 6:7 ff pictures them in captivity.  Some rulers trained them for the hunt. Ramses II is reported to have a pet Lion that accompanied him in battle.  King Ashurnasirpal II, who ruled Assyria from 883-859 B.C., bred them and had his own Pride.

The picture of the Lion in the New Testament is so different as to assume the animal had by then become rare.  But Julius Caesar gave shows involving as many as 400 Lions.  The cruel Nero organized fights between Bears, Lions and Christians.  Peter (I Peter 5:8) urges believers to beware of the Devil who roars like a Lion.  On the other hand, Revelation 5:5 gives Christ the Messianic title of the Lion of Judah.

With this background I wish to reference an unusual verse in I Chronicles, “Benaniah was a valiant warrior. . .who performed great exploits.  He struck down two of Moab’s best men.  He also  went down into a pit on a snowy day and slew a Lion.”  (I Chronicles 11:22)  The following verse indicates he struck down an Egyptian giant 7 1/2 feet tall.

King David appears to have organized his army under three strong men who may have been like  Joint Chiefs of Staff. Under these were mighty warriors like Benaniah.  General Dwight Eisenhower, who held the Allied Coalition together in WWII may have been like one of the three.  The mighty warriors may have been more like George Patton, the fighting general most feared by the Nazis.

This context would indicate that Benaniah probably killed a real Lion.  But there is symbolic meaning behind these real events.  At our best our nation has been like the Lion of Judah when facing foreign foes but more Lamb like and benevolent at home toward our own citizens.  This has led to liberty at home and strong defense of freedom when facing enemies abroad.

We saw again this week that we are now considered weak Lambs abroad with the snubbing of President Obama by the Chinese as he had to exit Air Force One by way of the kitchen rather than by a red carpet.  The Iranians continue to brazenly buzz our boats and Vladimir Putin treats Barack Obama with open contempt.

But the President is no Lamb toward his own citizens whom he views as bitter clingers to guns and to religion.  So Obamacare is forced upon us as are Middle Eastern refugees who cannot be vetted and unskilled people pour in from our Southern Border.  Those illegally entering may include terrorists hidden among them from overseas.  Obama winks at this.  The E.P.A. hamstrings private industry to the point that the Titans of Industry cannot provide new jobs for our workers.   Meanwhile government workers (in too many cases who produce nothing but more work and mischief for private citizens) swell in numbers which drain the treasury of the producers.

Hillary Clinton, like Barack Obama, has never run anything but her mouth and she is not even as effective as the President at that.  Meanwhile, Donald Trump has created jobs and may be able to help do the same for the nation if elected President.  I know there is risk here and the Donald was not our first choice either.  But he is asking black leaders to give him a chance by noting that the Democrats have given them only misery under Obama and Hillary would be more of the same.  He asks for the same confidence from all of us.

Today, as in 1980, we need a Lion abroad and a Captain of Industry at home rather than a Lamb abroad who creates ISIS and chaos and only despair at home.  We did not fully know that Ronald Reagan was going to be Ronald Reagan until we gave him power and saw the wonder of his leadership.  Do you remember the blessings for “Morning in America” and the taming of the Russian Bear by a Lion affectionately known as The Gipper?

I am trusting that Donald Trump is a Benaniah rather than a Barack.  I intend to vote for him.  I hope you will consider the same.  Remember a mighty warrior who slew a Lion in a pit on a snowy day.  And remember also a weak, failed President who entered China from his kitchen on Air Force One, whose Navy is buzzed by the Iranians and who has let the Russian Bear loose again in the person of Vladimir Putin.  We need a Lion!


Because You Prayed

We employ a booklet entitled Our Daily Bread out of Grand Rapids, MI for our devotions.  I have used the entry today as the title for this post.  It deals with Assyrian King Sennacherib and his invasion of the southern Kingdom of Judah in 701 B.C.  The Assyrians were conquered by the Babylonians (modern day Iraq) who in turn fell to Persia (modern day Iran) who would be defeated by the  Greeks before their downfall before the Romans.  Empires come and go but God remains the same.

Sennacherib sent a note to King Hezekiah (whose name means Jehovah of strength) of Judah saying he would destroy his Kingdom just as he had other nations.  But Judah was not like other nations, especially under a godly warrior king like Hezekiah.  He took the note from the Assyrian King to the temple and “spread it out before the Lord.”  (Isaiah 37:14)  He then prayed and asked for help from Almighty God.

Soon afterward Isaiah the Prophet delivered a message from the Lord to Hezekiah the King:  “Because you prayed to Me against Sennacherib, King of Assyria, the Lord has spoken.”  (Isaiah 37:22)  That very night the Angel of the Lord struck and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers died.  Sennacherib would leave Jerusalem never to return.  His army didn’t even “shoot an arrow.”  (Isaiah 37:33)

There is a lesson for us in our land today both as individuals and a corporate people.  We are overwhelmed with problems.  Many of them made for us by our leaders who do not respect freedom.  We have a President who embraces Iran and stiff arms Israel. This is very dangerous.  As we look at the Empires above they are all gone–the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans all lost their status as world leaders.  In fact, no one even speaks Latin, the language of Rome, anymore.  But Israel has returned home after nearly 2,000 years in exile (70 A.D. till 1948) when President Harry Truman signed off on establishing the modern State of God’s Chosen.

What do the Empires noted above have in common?  They all fell even as Israel goes on. No other People have survived as the Hebrews have despite persecution and banishment from their homeland for nearly two millennia. What should we do in the face of enemies all about us?  Hezekiah’s example is timeless and timely.  He spread the note from Sennacherib before God and The Almighty answered.

One does not hear much of Barack Obama’s going to worship or praying.  On the contrary he seems most comfortable on the golf course even when flooding overwhelms Baton Rouge.  He also often wears an expression of arrogance that reminds me of photos I have seen of Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator in WWII, who fancied himself a modern day Caesar.  Mussolini is gone and Obama soon will be.

Those who wish to succeed him do not seem to be people of prayer either.  Let us stand in the gap and pray daily for our nation.  Let us learn from Hezekiah and Isaiah and their stance for God.  If we do, He will hear and answer.  Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”  And let us remember Lamentations 5:21, “Return us to Yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored.”  Let us do this for our children and grandchildren and a generation yet unborn.