THE UNITED STATES IS NOT ISRAEL
Curtis Pugh

Poteau, Oklahoma       

I

t is a fact that unregenerate people cannot understand the Bible in a spiritually profitable way. This is clearly stated in I Corinthians 2:14: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Therefore it is to be expected that people who have not had an experience of grace will have views foreign to the Bible even though they are religious in some fashion or another. Having the Holy Spirit as guide, even the true children of God do not come to a correct understanding of the Bible automatically. God’s thoughts are not somehow supernaturally injected into the minds and hearts of born again people. The Preacher wrote: “much study is a weariness of the flesh,” (Eccl. 12:12) and every faithful student of God’s Word knows that to be so. The Holy Ghost through Paul instructed a younger preacher named Timothy thus: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). Country people who were raised on a diet of King James English in the mountains of Southeastern Oklahoma used to admonish us children to exercise diligence in performing a task by saying, “you study to do it.” They meant that we were to pay attention and expend effort or “elbow grease,” as we called it, in getting something done. They meant we should devote all our faculties both mental and physical to see that the assigned task was properly completed. That is Paul’s meaning in his counsel to Timothy. A mere intellectual apprehension of the bare facts of the Bible is not what is meant here. Furthermore Timothy was to rightly divide the Word. Carelessness and a haphazard approach were not to be allowed. He was not to have a crazy-quilt exegesis of the Word and neither should we. Did you ever play “pick up sticks” or “Jack Straws?” Some people play a kind of “Jack Straws” with the Bible. The object in Jack Straws was to selectively lift individual sticks out of a pile without disturbing the others. Some people seem to select Bible verses that suit their ideas without considering all the verses which bear upon a subject. Or they may quote only part of a verse and by doing so give a distorted meaning to the Bible.  

Miles Coverdale (c. 1488 – 1569) made use of William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible and produced the first complete Bible in the English language. The importance of this to us is that more than seventy-five percent of our King James Bible is taken verbatim from Tyndale’s translation. Anyone who will bother to compare the two will see this. Coverdale gave what we think is the best brief advice to readers of the Bible who wish to really understand it. Here is his advice: “It shall greatly help you to understand Scripture if you mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom, and by whom, with what words, where, at what time, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goes before and what follows.” How good it would be if all who study the Bible followed this wise and thoughtful advice! Following this advice has made many persons sound Baptists!  

Today it seems that some Baptists have adopted the idea that the United States has somehow replaced Israel. Others seem to think that the unscriptural and mystical “something” that they call “the church” has replaced Israel. Some have called this last view “replacement theology.” They think that Christians in the U. S. can claim the promises of God made to Israel. This is not “rightly dividing the word of truth.” The Lord Jesus said He would build His congregation and He did so. This was something new. What Christ built was not and is not “Israel warmed over.” It is neither legal, logical, or Biblical to say that an agreement or promise made to a specific entity is an obligation to another and different entity. But this kind of promisemangling takes place far too often among professing Christians. Before we look at some examples of this kind of misappropriation of Bible verses, perhaps we need to consider how people tend to look at the past since the two are intertwined in some regard. Sometimes mere antiquity produces romantic notions about things. We talk about the “good old days,” but really they were the days so long ago that we have forgotten how bad they really were. The Bible says, “Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this” (Ecc. 7:10). The plain meaning is that the “former days” were not “better than these!”  

Some folk seem to want us to believe that at one time – “back in the good old days” - these United States was a morally upright, Christian nation and therefore blessed by God. This preacher is not lacking in appreciation for the Biblical principles upon which the legal system of the United States was founded. But – and here is where the rub comes in – most of the United States government officials and most of her citizens are now what they always have been: reprobates. God’s remnant is just that: a remnant! The officials of the United States have never lived up to the laws and principles upon which this nation was founded, let alone to the Word of God. Space forbids going into the histories of the many and varied groups who suffered unjustly at the hand of this nation. Suffice it to say that I know the history of some of my own ancestors. They were Choctaw “Indians.” Anyone who knows even a little about the treatment meted out by the U. S. government to “Indians” will not dare say these things were the actions of a righteous or Christian nation. Neither have we space to deal with the lies, corruption, crooked dealings, etc., etc., that this country’s government has perpetuated from her beginning. So why do we have romantic notions about how this nation was once a godly one? Or that it was founded by godly men? Or that the promises of God to Israel are ours because we once were or are now a godly people? We grant that the founding fathers of this nation were smart men. We rejoice that they founded this nation on Bible principles! But this nation cannot be called God’s people anymore than any other Gentile nation can. God chose the twelve tribes of Israel to be His people! And God said to them: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2). Did you get that? God said “you only!” The Jews are the only nation God knows in this way! They are the only nation with which God has made a covenant! God said so!  

In spite of the many evils perpetuated by the U. S. government some people seem to think that God has blessed these United States because the people have been Christian or good, or Bible believing. Folks, it just ain’t so! Some people quote II Chronicles 7:14 as if it applies to the United States. That verse says: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.”  

This preacher believes every word of that verse, but it is not a promise to these United States! It is not a promise to her Christian citizens! In Isaiah 65:1 God said these words: “I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.” This verse speaks of a Gentile nation. God said that Gentile nations were “not called by my name.” It is the Jews who were and are called by God’s name. Furthermore, the context proves that this promise of healing of the land is to and for Israel. Here is this verse in its context: “And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attend unto the prayer that is made in this place” (II Chron. 7:12-15). Any candid reader of that passage must say that it pertains to Israel! The United States is not Israel and that promise is to God’s elect nation, Israel. The promise is not to Christians. Christians were not promised land or prosperity. In fact, Christians do not have a land. They are not a national people. Often they have wandered about from country to country fleeing persecution. Jesus said to His disciples: “In the world ye shall have tribulation” ( John 16:33). Paul wrote: “That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know” (I Thess. 3:3-4). Again Paul wrote: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12). And yet many in America are thinking and saying that God wants to bless this nation with ease, prosperity, safety and comforts in their natural lives when God says His children are to suffer in this life. The Bible says we are “appointed thereunto!”  

The verse that says: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” is often only partially quoted, in an effort to apply it in some way as a conditional promise to Christians in the United States. A partial quote is often a misleading quote. The rest of that verse says, and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance” (Ps. 33:12). The complete statement makes it obvious that it is speaking of Israel! Israel is the people whom God chose for His own inheritance! That verse is a statement of fact about Israel. It is not conditional in any way whatsoever. It does not say that if a nation will make God their Lord they will be blessed. It does not say that at all! It has absolutely nothing to do with any nation or people other than those “whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance” - the Jews! (Psalm 144:15 says substantially the same thing and the context has to do with David, king of Israel, and his sons and daughters). Leave it to the Roman Church and her Protestant daughters to take Old Testament promises that were made to Israel and apply them to other than the nation Israel. It is neither Baptist nor Biblical to think that way. Search the Bible! Americans are not God’s chosen people! They never were and never shall be! And it is contrary to consistent and honest Bible interpretation to make the Bible speak to Christian Americans. It is also contrary to old Coverdale’s sound advice to do such things. More importantly it is not rightly dividing the Word! It results in confusion! When this haphazard, willy-nilly practice of interpretation is used, the authority of the Scripture is broken. Each man may choose what verses he will apply to whatever group or situation he chooses: thus man become the authority and not God’s Book. 

Some would have us believe that the reason the United States has prospered is because God has blessed the obedience and goodness of her citizens and government. In other words, U. S. citizens have earned or somehow qualified for God’s favor. That stinks of Arminianism! Are we to think that God looked down from eternity and saw that U. S. citizens would be good and so planned to bless them? Or shall we say that God waited until He saw that the U. S. citizens were good and so He decided then to bless them? Do we not understand the impossibility of mingling law-keeping (works) and grace? (see Romans 11:6). The Bible teaches that God has decreed all things that shall be from eternity. His plan is not subject to the actions of men either good or bad. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” are the words of Acts 15:18. “For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” are the words of Isaiah 14:27. God has a purpose according to Ephesians 1:11: that verse says that the children of God were predestinated “according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” God has blessed the United States for a purpose and that purpose is just about fulfilled if this preacher is thinking right. It is about over and done. That purpose was twofold. One purpose was to be a friend to little Israel and our national government is about to throw her under the bus. In addition, the United States was once a great repository of truth. Sound Baptists were here. Sound preachers went as missionaries spreading the truth. Overall, that is no longer true: most Baptists are apostate! And so we must ask: what purpose does the United States of America serve now? Few preachers know and preach the truth and few of them are going abroad as missionaries. Step by step our government is moving away from being a blessing and a help to Israel (see Genesis 12:3). How can we expect God’s blessing upon such a nation that sanctions and openly approves of baby-murderers, sodomites, blasphemers, apostates, adulterers, fornicators, Bible-deniers and such like? May God bless America by blessing Americans with “godly sorrow:” the godly sorrow that worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of” (II Cor. 7:10).  

In closing we must ask this question: why is the United States not mentioned in end-time prophecies? Other nations are mentioned: some by name. From the silence of Scripture on this subject are we able to arrive at any probable conclusion? Probably the reason the United States is not mentioned in the Bible as a player in end-time events is this: she will not have a significant place in those things that are to come to pass. Can it be that this government will either cease to exist or shall be reduced to the status of a third-rate nation with little or no power and no significant role in end time events? That seems likely. One thing is sure: the Bible, as always, is true and God says, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17). The United States is not Israel! But it seems she fits into the category as a nation that has forgotten God – willfully and purposely! We as Christians can rightly say this: May God be pleased to continue to do what He has been doing among the Gentiles since apostolic days: may He continue to visit the people of the U. S. “to take out of them a people for his name” (Acts 15:14).