O beautiful for spacious skies,
for amber waves of grain;
for purple mountain majesties
above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee,
and crown thy good with brotherhood
from sea to shining sea.
Reading God’s Word this morning regarding the cities of refuge set apart for the safety of innocent manslayers, God speaks through Moses concerning manslayers who are not innocent. He declares men who have killed with malice must be shown no mercy. Why?
So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD am dwelling in the midst of the sons of Israel.’ (Numbers 35:33-34)
The murderer is to be executed because the blood of his innocent victim has polluted the land. The blood of innocents defiles the land and only the blood of the manslayer himself is sufficient to expiate the land. The murderer’s own blood must cleanse the pollution of the land caused by the blood of his innocent victim.
When we read this, we must not dismiss the land itself thinking it’s only a metaphor for the people dwelling on it. Read through Scripture and note God’s concern and care for the land. The land is not to be polluted or defiled.
For four centuries, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been keeping track of the Amorites’ pollution of the land of Canaan. God had promised this land to Abram and his seed, but He warned Abram it would be 400 years before his seed would take possession. Why 400 years?
God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. …for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:13, 16)
The Amorites’ were given four hundred years to complete their wickedness.
Then God commanded the sons of Israel to cleanse the land by slaughtering the Canaanites who had defiled it. It was necessary to expiate the land. The slaughter of those who had defiled the land for so very long was the cleansing of the land, making it inhabitable for the People of God.
Then God commanded His Own Israel not to commit the horrors the Canaanites had committed before them:
You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her. You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.
These and many other acts of great wickedness God forbids His people had been committed by the Canaanites. Then, suddenly, the in-breaking judgment of God came on them just as it came on those living in the days of Noah; on the men of Sodom and Gomorrah. Immediately after forbidding these sins to His people, God repeats His warning of the consequences they may expect if they violate these laws:
Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.
At God’s direct and explicit command, the sons of Israel executed those who committed adultery with their neighbor’s wife, mated with animals, and slaughtered their own infants. Thus the land was expiated.
Now then, in came a new people displacing the wickedness of those native to the land.
Yahweh went with the sons of Israel, establishing them as His city on a hill. Surely they were tempted to think that being the recipients of God’s grace, they could depend on some immunity from His judgment?
Sure enough, the rest of the Old Testament records for us warnings beyond number that the sons of Israel did, in fact, presume on God’s mercy, long-suffering, and grace. They traded on His covenant established with them, at the center of which was temple worship. Their religious refrain was, “This is the temple of the Lord, temple of the Lord, temple of the Lord” (Jeremiah 7:4). This mantra and the rites they observed there in the temple of the Lord were all the protection they needed from Yahweh’s wrath. They never for a moment doubted He would keep the land from spewing them out, also.
They were the good people, right? They were God’s special people, weren’t they? He could be counted upon to shield them from the land’s rejection. They were the city on the hill. They lived perfectly confident of their own Hebrew exceptionalism.
Would their celebrations of Passover and the Day of Atonement; their sacrifices of oxen, bulls, male lambs, and goats, inoculate them against the land growing hostile?
Certainly yes, so long as they observed the sacrament of circumcision, marking their sons by the sign of the Covenant. God would see their sacramentalism and keep the land pacified.
Yet what had God warned them?
But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); so that the land will not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you. (Leviticus 18:20-28)
God could not have been more clear. No, the land would most certainly not remain pacified. Despite being God’s city on a hill, the subjects of a Divinely-instituted Hebrew exceptionalism, the sons of His covenant with their fathers who were beloved by God, if the sons of Israel committed the wickedness of the Canaanites, the Hebrew exceptionalism they were to expect was God’s judgment falling on them more quickly than it had fallen on the Amorites.
God would not wait four centuries for the land to spew them out.
Thus it was that when the sons of Israel gave themselves to adultery, sodomy, incest, bestiality, and shedding the blood of their own sons and daughters, the land once more became defiled and spewed out its colonizing inhabitants as it had also spewed out its native inhabitants.
Repeatedly across the Old Testament, we read of God judging and punishing His covenant people for the very sins of the Canaanites. The following condemnations are only a sampling. They polluted their land, most particularly by the shedding of the blood of innocents:
They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with the blood. (Psalm 106:37-38)
Son of man, when the house of Israel was living in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds; their way before Me was like the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity. Therefore I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which they had shed on the land, because they had defiled it with their idols. (Ezekiel 36:17-18)
Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood and the city is full of perversion; for they say, ‘The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!’ But as for Me, My eye will have no pity nor will I spare, but I will bring their conduct upon their heads.” (Ezekiel 9:9-10)
As the entire world goes crazy over Covid, both sides equally furious and determined to get their way, do we, the people of God, not see our own nation’s sin which has brought all this sickness, bondage, and death upon us? Is our sin today not much worse than the sin of the Canaanites—and the Israelites after them? Has the Church lost Her Old Testament witness? Do the people of God no longer study God’s methods of discipline among the people called by His Name?
“But that doesn’t apply to us,” you say. “We aren’t committing adultery.”
Yes we are.
“Well, maybe some of us are, but we aren’t committing incest, surely.”
Yes we are. You may be blind to it in your extended family and congregation, but your pastor isn’t. Incest has been the bane of the conservative reformed church the past few decades, and many of us in pastoral ministry are so very weary of the work of protecting children from the predators in their own homes, many of whom were baptized as infants and take weekly communion.
“Well, maybe some people allow their children to be abused, but abusers are sneaky and they should have kept a better guard up around their children. Even so, we don’t have people in the church who commit bestiality.”
Yes you do.
“Oh, alright! But there are no real Christians who kill their sons and daughters! I don’t know about your church, but nobody in my church does that! We adopt children. We don’t kill them!”
Yes you do. You and the people of your church have murdered hundreds of babies. How?
By your use of potions that spew the unborn children God has blessed you with from your wombs. You use the Pill, and its agency is known to include the unborn child being sloughed off by the womb. You use Plan B and its agency is known to include the unborn child being sloughed off by the womb. There are many other methods of birth control that don’t just function as contraceptives, but also as abortifacients. Did you not know this? Did your pastor or the older women of the church not explain this to you? How could that be?
We remember how the Israelite women sang and danced to the tune, “Saul has slain his thousands; David his ten thousands” (1Samuel 18:7; 29:5). We could clothe ourselves in sackcloth and ashes, singing the dirge, “Amorites slaughtered their sons and daughters by the thousands; Americans by our tens of millions.”
The wickedness we have committed here in the United States this past half- century is unfathomable.
Recently, it has become popular to trot out Francis Schaeffer’s warnings against the tyranny of the government of the United States of America in which he calls out Christian Americans’ cheerful acquiescence to the lawlessness of our civil authorities:
See what a great prophet he was! Finally, Covid has opened our eyes to the tyranny our fathers and mothers in the faith refused to see when they were warned by Dr. Schaeffer. But look at what they’re trying to do to us with masks and vaccines. Finally, some of us see it. Everyone needs to listen to Francis Schaeffer!
Of course, the context for the final years of Francis Schaeffer’s prophetic ministry was the slaughter of our sons and daughters across our nation through abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. Along with his friend, C. Everett Koop, Schaeffer wrote a book and made a movie crying out for the Church’s repentance in this insane genocidal bloodshed of our babies. And yes, it was (and still is) “our babies.”
When the Supreme Court issued its oppressive and bloody ruling, Roe v Wade, the Protestant and Evangelical Church accepted abortion without blinking. We accepted it not just for others—with the Canaanites with whom we share this land—but also for ourselves. If the civil authority declared abortion legal, who were we to question, let alone call for a revolt against his lawlessness?
My father wrote columns rebuking reformed Evangelicals for their mindless compliance with the bloodshed. For their cheerful participation in the bloodshed Roe v. Wade caused to explode—a bloodshed which continues to this day forty-seven years later. Koop and Schaeffer took their book and movie across the country. It was a barnstorming tour. Each stop they both lectured before and after the film segments, also selling their jointly-authored book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?
I know this because I attended their movies and lectures in Denver, Colorado. We were living in Boulder at the time, and I distinctly remember Francis Schaeffer publicly lamenting that he and Koop had just been in Chicago and no Evangelical leaders in Wheaton had come to hear them. He said he and Koop had called seventeen prominent church leaders in Wheaton asking them to come, and all of them had refused.
It was 1979, six years after Roe v Wade, and Schaeffer was one of the most respected Evangelical leaders and thinkers with his compatriot, C. Everett Koop, the most respected pediatric surgeon in the world and an elder at Philly’s Tenth Presbyterian Church. Yet the two of them together could not get Evangelical leaders to care, let alone oppose, the defilement of our land by the wholesale slaughter of our little ones.
Babies in the millions were being murdered year by year across our land. The soil was being deluged and had become absolutely saturated with their blood in every state of our country. Nevertheless, it was not the children’s blood that concerned reformed Evangelicals. I was there and knew many of Evangelicalism’s leaders. Dad was one of them.
Indicative of Evangelicals’ acceptance of abortion are a number of letters in my files between Dad and C. Everett “Chick” Koop, surgeon-in-chief of Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, just prior to Koop being nominated by President Reagan as Surgeon General. Koop had operated on several of my brothers and I so that, over the years, Dad and Koop became close friends.
Just as Koop and Schaeffer finished up their Whatever Happened to the Human Race movie and lecture tour during which they testified to having failed to awaken Evangelical leaders to the evils of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia, Dr. Koop resigned his two-decade membership in Christian Medical Society, the professional association for Evangelical physicians and nurses.
CMS had just asked Dad to become their executive director, and Dad took up the job in addition to continuing as Vice President of the Christian Sunday school publisher, David C. Cook Publishing Company. The board of Cook had agreed to allow Dad to serve in both capacities, and one of the first things Dad found as he entered this new position was the following letter just received in CMS’s home office from his dear friend, Chick Koop:
June 27, 1979
Christian Medical Society
P.0. Box 890
Oak Park, Illinois 60301
I am enclosing the invoice for my dues which I regretfully will not be paying any longer.
I have waited for a long time for the Christian Medical Society to come to a Christian position on abortion and its associated problems in infanticide and euthanasia.
Inasmuch as it has refused to do this, I can no longer in good conscience be spending more than half of my life fighting these evils when the Christian Medical Society tries to strike a balance between a biblical position in reference to the sanctity of human life and part of its membership and staff which are pro abortion.
C. Everett Koop, M.D.
Dad was distraught. Koop was the most respected Christian physician in the country, known widely as one of the world’s preeminent pediatric surgeons. But here he had just resigned from CMS because of their refusal to condemn abortion. Other letters followed between these two men who cared deeply for each other. Koop was confirmed as Surgeon General and that became a sad story to those who knew him beforehand.
The point of reproducing this letter, though, is to hammer home that, six years after Roe v Wade, the people of God were not opposed to the bloodshed. Not the little people. Not the big people. Not the poor people, Not the rich people. Not the patients. Not the docs. Not in Philly. Not in Los Angeles. Not in New York. Not in Wheaton.
So did this mean that Evangelicals and their leaders were compliant under their government back then—that they were not hot and bothered about anything in a way that is similar to conservative Christians’ present agitation and anger over Covid and public health authorities?
No, conservative Christians back then were not compliant. They were busy agitating against government then as they are now, but the issues then weren’t public health. Evangelicals’ protests weren’t against docs taking money to slaughter a million and a half little babies each year. Evangelical physicians weren’t crying out against medical murders of handicapped newborns.
Here in Bloomington, Indiana, two and a half years after Koop and Schaeffer’s lecture tour and Koop’s resignation from CMS, Baby Doe was starved to death as the whole world watched. Koop told me he received requests from fifty couples wanting to adopt the baby, but no one stopped the judicial-medical execution of this little one. Not Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. He explained that he was not just Baby Doe’s Surgeon General, but also the Surgeon General of Baby’s Doe’s doctor and parents (who wanted him starved to death). Lot lived in Sodom and Gomorrah and Koop had moved to Washington D.C.
The Supreme Court of the United States did not stop the murder by execution, nor did Indiana’s judiciary. Indiana’s governor didn’t stop it. The Evangelical Christians and their pastors and elders here in Bloomington didn’t stop it. So little Baby Doe cried for days in the hospital’s nursery, watched over by nurses in agony listening to his increasingly pathetic whimpers as he starved to death.
In the wilderness, the Hebrews were fickle in their rebellions. God didn’t give them water. They wanted meat. Who did Moses think he was and where did he get off bossing them around like he was god? Too, he was married to a black woman, for Pete’s sake! Disgusting man.
In the years of Covid, God’s people are still fickle in our rebellions. Our authorities have no right to tell us to wear masks. Our public health authorities lie to us. Who do they think they are and where do they get off bossing us around as if they are god himself? They try to come at me with one of those needles and I’ll put a couple bullets in their forehead!
Back in the early eighties, God’s people were fickle, too. Who does the Supreme Court think they are telling us we can’t pray in school? We’ll pray if we want to pray. What’s this nation coming to, anyway? Our Christians fathers founded this nation and it was a Christian nation. Christians came across on the Mayflower. Christians wrote the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of our United States of America. Our coins say “In God We Trust.” But now these evil justices tell us our children can’t pray in school?!?
Dad was diffident towards Evangelicals who were loudly proclaiming themselves the “Moral Majority” and angrily marching on Washington, denouncing and agitating against the Supreme Court’s banning of prayer from our nation’s public schools. In a column at the time titled “Our Reich of Indifference,” Dad condemned Evangelicals for refusing to oppose our nation’s civil authorities for promoting the slaughter of the unborn, handicapped, feeble, and elderly.
We live in a post-Koop and Schaeffer world in which conservative Christians now claim to be pro-life with even a few more firmly calling themselves “anti-abortion” (Dad’s term for his own commitments). But make no mistake: it is not abortion that has fueled the engine of our anger and agitation this past year and a half. We have not risen up and issued calls to “Resist the tyrants!” in order to rescue the perishing or save the dying. Our agitations and protests have been for ourselves. We have rights and the civil authority has no authority to rob us of them. We don’t have to wear masks if we don’t want to. Who does he think he is, telling us our children can’t pray in public school? Who do they think they are lying to us about what our Constitution says? Who do they think they are lying to us about what the statistics say?
So now, notice: it’s been just short of fifty years since the slaughter of the unborn has been legalized by our civil authorities and the death toll from (only) surgical abortion is close to seventy-five million in our nation alone. But what we as Christians are known for is not agitating and protesting and marching in defense of the unborn, but agitating and protesting and bearing arms in defense of President Trump and our own bodies, ourselves. Again: “You come near me with that needle and I’ll put a bullet in your head!”
I. Me. Mine.
Yes, there have been a few periods when Christians in a particular area have made some attempt at demonstrations and civil disobedience in protection of the unborn, handicapped, and aged, but what has been most noteworthy across my lifetime is the overwhelmingly selfish nature of our acts of conscience. Never has that been clearer than the past year and a half. Although some of the loudmouths calling for resistance of tyrants mention abortion, its not their thrust. As said before, the thrust of their anger and protests is the same as the women who defied our nation’s laws against abortion fifty years ago when their battle cry was, “Our bodies, ourselves!” and “Keep your laws off our bodies!”
Back, then, to the land. Those who know God’s ways revealed in Scripture have no doubt why He has visited on us this plague of Covid, just as we had no doubt why He visited on us the horrors of 9/11 twenty years ago. These are His judgments and warnings and should be met, not with anger, denial, and rebellion, but meekness, humility, and repentance.
One of the most sobering verses of Scripture is this from the prophet Isaiah:
For behold, the LORD is about to come out from His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; and the earth will reveal her bloodshed and will no longer cover her slain. (Isaiah 26:21)
The good earth will reveal her bloodshed. The land will no longer cover her slain whether by the Pill, the IUD, Plan B, surgical abortion, chemical abortion, infanticide, or euthanasia.
As President Lincoln put it a century and a half ago in his Second Inaugural Address:
The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
Again, Covid is God’s hand at work, and no believer need wonder why. Count the bodies of your own fair city. Weigh the blood drenching your own land and crying out to God. Is God not just? Does He not hate the bloodshed of innocents? Has He not warned us that if we give ourselves as a people to adultery, sodomy, child-slaughter, and bestiality, our land will spew us out just as the Promised Land spewed out God’s covenant people, the sons of Israel?
If Samuel Johnson was right saying “no man is a hypocrite in his pleasures,” a corollary would be “no man is a hypocrite in his anger and rebellion.”
Out of the heart the mouth speaks, and the hearts of the people of God are outspoken today in very clear and public direction in the same way that the hearts of the people of God were outspoken and clear in the days of Koop and Schaeffer, in the days of Moses, Miriam, and Aaron.
“We have our rights! Resist the tyrants! God bless America!”
While the land cries out, “God curse America!”