“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:9-13
Today, our nation completed something that is rare in our world. A peaceful transfer of power from one presidential administration to another. There will surely be disagreements, protests and difficulties over the next four years, but as always, for all intents and purposes, Friday was peaceful. Admittedly, it was possibly the first inauguration I’d watched outside of doing so in school while growing up. I’m glad I watched. As a fan of history, I was able to watch the inauguration of arguably one of the most controversial presidents, at least in my lifetime.
“The bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.”
– President Donald J. Trump, Jan 20. 2017
As I watched, and listened intently to President Trump’s inaugural address, I caught a scripture reference (quoted from the speech above) and immediately, my hand went to my forehead, followed quickly by my fingers to the keyboard. President Trump referenced Psalm 133:1, which reads in the ESV, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” The president seemingly quoted from the NIV which replaces “brothers” with “God’s People.” The president used this verse to infer that America is “God’s People” and as such, that God will protect America. I’d like to take the remainder of my article and your time to briefly address the fallacy of this.
First, the word “brother” used in every translation I could cross-reference, except the NIV. The Hebrew term used is “אָח” literally “brother”. It carries definitions of brother (sharing same parents), half-brother (sharing same father), & blood-relative (kinship, same tribe). The term itself does not carry the definition of “God’s People,” but it possibly could be inferred from the context of the poem. Verse 2 refers to anointing oil. Some scholars believe David penned this Psalm in response to the unity of the tribes who came together to make him their king. And you may think… “Oh, well that sort of ties into a new president.” Not so fast… The key is that if the term “brother” means “God’s People” then it is referring to the tribes of Israel, who were God’s People when the Psalm was written. That term cannot be used today as a blanket statement for another nation, especially now that we live in the latter days, the days of the Messiah’s Kingdom. Jesus opened the doors to the Kingdom of Heaven and gave the opportunity to become a “Child of God (Jn 1:12)” to all who would receive him and follow His commands. “God’s People” and “Child of God” are interchangeable. The church is considered “God’s People” because it is made up of His children. America as a whole, however, is not, nor has it ever been.
John 1:9-13 (at the start of the article) shows us that only those who have received Christ and have been born of God (through the commanded “rebirth” or baptism laid out by Christ in John 3:1-21) have the right to become “Children of God.” Romans 6:1-14 outlines the necessity of baptism and how it unites us with Christ, becoming co-heirs to the inheritance of Heaven (Rom 8:16-17). We are co-heirs with Christ because through our baptism and uniting ourselves to Jesus, we are now God’s children, just as Jesus is. Romans 6 also teaches us that the protection which God provides is not from persecution, ill-doing, political scuffles, foreign invasion, etc., rather that God protects His children from sin and ultimately death. And I’m not talking about death of the flesh. Rather this protection is spiritual (cf. Mt. 10:28).
We are saved, because of Christ and our obedience to His commands (Mark 16:16). This salvation is not a salvation from pain and suffering in this world. The Son of God, His apostles and disciples were not freed from pain, suffering, persecution and even the killing of their body, so how could we ever assume that we would be spared these things? Revelation paints a clear picture to the contrary. God’s protection for His children is from eternal damnation. That protection was made possible through His son Jesus Christ. How? Because through Christ, and the following steps, sin is wiped away. Sin is what separates man from God (Is 59:2). Only those who believe in Christ, repent of their sinful ways, and are baptized for the remission of their sins, uniting themselves to Christ in the waters of baptism, becoming co-heirs and a Child of God… Only they receive this protection from death. Instead of death, they receive life eternal. So long as they continue in humble obedience to His will.
Therefore, with respect, Mr. President, America is not God’s People. America hasn’t been “chosen by God” according to what scripture tells us. Those who are “God’s People,” those that are the “brothers” even within Psalm 133, are those who belong to God, and as such we should live in unity with one another. If the term “brother” is used to mean those of the same nation, then again… Yes! All American’s should live in unity with one another; how good and pleasant that would be. However, unification will not come from Washington, elected officials, pundits or the voting booth. The unity of a nation will not come from man, but from a uniting of the hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. It is only through Christ that true peace and unity can be accomplished.
Washington cannot save America from destruction of body and soul. Only the church bringing the Gospel message to America can accomplish that. Be the light in this dark world, dear church. Be the salt that brings flavor and preservation to a dying world.
As always, if you have any questions about this, or if you’d like to learn more about how to become a Christian (a child of God), feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— DD —