Written in Latin and signed in 1215, the English Magna Carta was a document specifying the relationship between the governed and the governing in mid-evil English history and became a crucial document in the history of that nation and in time our own. In a similar fashion, three months after the nation of Israel left Egypt with its bondage God drew up a document that would govern the relationship between Himself and His people whom He desired to be “unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” These are commonly called the 10 Commandments and form the basis of the Old Testament Law and were a preamble to the 615 ceremonial commands which dictated every aspect of the daily lives of this “holy nation.” The 10 Commandments have a universal dimension and consist of decrees based upon principles true for all peoples in all nations for all times. The first of these bedrock beliefs is that God alone is to be worshipped and that people who in His sight are “holy” are to have no other gods before God. (Exodus 20:2,3)
When our nation became a nation with its founding documents the Declaration of Independence and our U.S. Constitution, a cursory reading of these would reveal that as a nation we were from the beginning “One nation under God,” as the Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag states. That God is the Lord who says in His Word that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” (Psalm 33:12) He did not say “perfect” is the nation whose God is the Lord, but He did promise a special blessing to that nation and, doubtless, America has been blessed beyond measure because of the faith of founding fathers who acknowledged the universal truth that God alone is worthy of worship and we should have no other gods before Him.
21st century America, much like the ancient Israelite nation, seems to have forgotten that spiritual axiom warning us against idolatry. It was just months into the Israelites’ march to their “promised land” that they made a molten image, a golden calf, worshipping it and attributing their deliverance from 400 plus years of bondage in Egypt to the inanimate calf. A nation that, until God scattered all their twelve tribes eventually into captivity and bondage again, never could get past its proclivity to idolatry. They violated time and time again the first pillar of Israel’s “magna carta” concerning idol worship. America has not learned apparently from those history lessons inscripturated into the Word of God for “our learning and admonition. (I Cor. 10:11) We have so many gods, not golden calves and not always inanimate objects, but no less “gods” that we worship: Pleasure, Money, Sports, Man’s Wisdom, Fame, Success, and on and on; things that we have allowed to come between a holy God and ourselves, personally, individually and nationally. The “In God We Trust” has become words that we speak with our lips rather than with our lives, too, too often.
God did not allow idolatry to go on without His intervening chastisement upon those people whom He desired to be His “holy nation.” (Ex. 19:6) He allowed them to be ruled over by oppressive and wicked kings; He allowed them to suffer famine at times and other incredible hardships, and, finally, captivity by the Syrians and later the Babylonians.
He allows us to be chastened also. Believers who name His name and call themselves His followers are not immune to this pervasive sin; thus, John warns, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (I John 5:21). A fair case, too, could be made for the thesis that God is chastening America, whose God was once the Lord, by taking from us, almost overnight, so many of our “idols,” nationally. Our economy, a few months ago the envy of the world, suddenly was turned literally upside down. Sports, drawing hundreds of thousands to its weekend altars, has been pretty much shut down. Pleasure, entertainment (anyone thought of going to a Broadway musical lately?) all of these and just about every “god” that America has spent itself on in this 21st century, have been smitten to smithereens at least for the time being, much like Moses crushed the golden calf Israel made for itself when Moses was on the mount with God.
So, we need to get back to God and learn to live without these 21st century golden calves in our lives. Could it be that’s what the prolonged “shut down” due to Covid 19 is really all about?
“Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” (Ps.80:3,7,19).