A gracEmail subscriber asks whether the United States is God’s nation in any special sense, and whether Americans as such can claim God’s Old Testament promises to Israel as his covenant people.
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Americans are not God’s people in any special sense, although the United States inherited a semi-Christian culture from its European founders and it includes many Christians today. The much-quoted promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 was not given to any modern nation but to God’s ancient covenant people of Israel. It applies indirectly today to God’s people in Jesus Christ, whether they be Nigerians, Americans, Iraqis or New Zealanders, but not to any political entity or to any specific geographical territory.
Like George Washington, several of our founding fathers were devout Christians. Like Thomas Jefferson, others were deists who denied the biblical miracles and the deity of Christ. Twenty percent of our population in 1776 were enslaved as human non-persons. Much of our land was acquired by the dispossession and extermination of the previous population. A smaller percentage of Americans regularly attended church in 1776 than do so today. The notion of a “Christian nation” with a “manifest destiny” contradicts historical fact.
As do all other countries, America exists by divine sovereignty and survives by divine providence. “The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and he sets over it whomever he wishes” (Dan. 5:21). “God who made the world made every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:24-27). God’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). As Christians, our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). We await a kingdom that cannot be shaken — one that will last forever (Heb. 12:26-28). Christians everywhere may love and pray for their respective countries. But we do so with the certain knowledge that this world is not our home and that we are only pilgrims passing through.