Is There Not a Cause?
In the end of the movie The Patriot, Benjamin Martin’s sister-in-law attempted to comfort him, defending his initial decision not to fight the British. “You have done nothing for which to be ashamed,” she claimed.
Martin's thoughtful and poignant response was: “I have done nothing. For that I am ashamed.”
God forbid that Martin’s lament would become the tragic epitaph of our generation of Americans. I pray it is never what history writes of us! May we, like Martin, finally awaken to the cause and fight. Another characteristic we will need to change America is the willingness to fight for a cause bigger than ourselves.
If your personal desires and comfort are more important than Christ’s cause, you will never be one of the change-agents used by God to transform America. Stay in a settlement; enjoy the safety of a village. Find a congregation that has decided to live a tame and non-radical version of Christianity, and join them for an hour or two once a week as they try to make everyone in the settlement feel happy and cared for.
If, on the other hand, you’re tired of casual Christianity - passivity, ritual, routine, programs, grown-up day care centers - follow the ever increasing number leaving this modern version of Christianity in search of the old road. Difference-makers are being sought by Holy Spirit, not pacifists and comfort-seekers.
The Corporate Cause
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, three tribes received their land inheritance long before the other nine. The region they asked for and were given, well-suited for their livestock, was on the outskirts of Canaan and could therefore be conquered and awarded them in advance of the other tribes. However, Moses gave one stipulation to these three tribes. Regardless of how long before the remaining nine began their fight (which turned out to be decades), the men from these tribes would have to leave their families, their established homes and livestock, and fight for the others. Joshua held them to this requirement.
Although Israel was divided into twelve tribes, numerous cities and thousands of households, the Lord instituted principles such as this to insure that an independent mindset didn’t control them. All Israelites were required to observe several national feasts annually, and all had to leave their territory to fight for one another whenever wars occurred. God wanted the entire nation to remember that while they didn’t practice communism, they nevertheless must honor community. Yes, it would be appropriate to live and prosper as individuals and separate tribes, but not exclusively. There would always be causes bigger than their individual selves.
America was formed in much the same way. Forged in the fires of adversity which demanded hard work and self-sufficiency, it is also true that America was built upon the concept of unity. At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin said, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.“(1) This mentality - a willingness to fight and, if necessary, die for others - has been in the fabric of America since it’s beginning.
David, who later became king of Israel, spoke of this type of corporality when facing Goliath. After hearing the taunts of his older brother regarding his offer to fight Goliath, David responded with the powerful question, “Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29, KJV). His obvious insinuation was, although death was certainly possible, something more important than his life was at stake: the reputation of God and preservation of the nation were at risk.
Is There Not a History?
As powerful and poignant as David’s question was, when analyzed more closely, the Hebrew word used actually has other strong implications, as well. The word translated “cause” (Hebrew: dabar) also means “history.” Interestingly, David may have been asking, “Is there not a history?” – a past history to honor, and a future history to write.
“What about Abraham and our history through him?” David may have been asking. Or, “Has anyone considered Moses and the miracles our forefathers experienced in their deliverance from Egypt? Aren’t there instances in our past we can look back on and draw sufficient courage to face this giant?”
“And by the way, I have some personal history from which to draw inspiration,” David added. “I killed a lion and a bear while defending my father's sheep, and the same God that empowered me for those victories will empower me to defeat this giant.”
It is also possible that David was referencing future history. There’s an oxymoron for you. “Isn’t there a history to write? What will history record concerning our response to this giant? Will it state that we fought bravely and defended God’s honor? Will it read that we were willing to die, if necessary, to defend our wives and children? I, for one, would rather die with integrity and honor than live with my shame if I cower to this giant.”
Amazing parallels exist with this scenario and America today. In our past history God has helped us. And the continuance of our history as a Christian nation is also at stake. God‘s plans for America, which are integrally connected to His purposes for all the earth, are hanging in the balance of our decisions. Evil systems, political parties, false religions and ungodly leaders mock Him, His Ways, and His word, just as Goliath did centuries ago. Tomorrow’s history books are awaiting our response. What will our children and grandchildren read? The verdict isn’t in but closing arguments are certainly being made.
Is There Not a Promise?
Dabar, the word for “cause“ and “history,“ has other possible meanings, as well. It could be translated as “promise“ – “Is there not a promise?”
David may have been challenging his brothers to consider the past promises God made to Israel: “What about the promises made to our forefathers? Has anyone read the twenty eighth chapter of Deuteronomy lately which, among other things, promises that God will cause our enemies to be smitten before us; that they will come against us from one direction, but will scatter as they flee from us (verses 1-7)? Don’t we have promises we can stand on?”
As we face today’s Goliaths, we also must lay hold of God’s promises and believe that He will honor them. Nations are still blessed whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12). He continues to forgive and heal the land of those who fulfill 2 Chronicles 7:14: “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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.“ These are promises to stand on as we face our giants.
Is There Not a Strategy?
And finally, dabar also means “a word,” as used in the phrase “the word of the Lord.” Can you see in this the concept of a strategy? David may have been asking, “Hasn’t anyone yet heard a word or strategy from God concerning how to deal with this evil giant?” He obviously felt that he had one. It involved a sling and five smooth stones, only one of which was needed.
For America today, there are strategies waiting to be heard and acted on that will bring national deliverance and healing. God is never without a plan in dealing with His enemies and accomplishing His will. These strategies will, however, only be given to those willing to risk everything for the cause - those who will leave the safety of the settlement to find the old road.
Are you one of them?
We Are Pioneers
In Braveheart, Mel Gibson’s movie depicting Scotland’s history - can you tell I like this movie? - William Wallace was desperately trying to rally Scotland’s leaders to fight for the cause of freedom. In one powerful scene, King Edward, also known as Longshanks, spoke of how to control and neutralize the Scottish leaders: “The nobles are the key to Scotland. Give them lands and titles in Yorkshire. Make them too greedy to oppose us.”
Whoa! That hurts.
Hollywood sometimes unwittingly prophesies. What poignant words and, sadly, words true of America today. One can almost hear satan strategizing on how to neutralize the church: “Make them lazy in their passivity and complacent in their comfort. Promise them fun and fortune while you steal their freedom!”
This must end! A generation of cause-minded pioneers must arise and declare, “We will fight!”
Our determination must be like that of Wallace: “They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!” God is looking for a generation of warriors who will anchor to their God-given history, stand on His eternal promises, and fulfill their God-given assignment. We CAN win the war for the soul of America. We CAN defeat today’s giants. We CAN find the old road and follow it back to our roots as “one nation under God.”
Find your voice, pioneer. Let Christ find you, fill you with His pioneer Spirit, and sing His pioneer song over you. And when your life is over, “What have you done, others will do, bigger and better, and faster than you.”
Let’s go find the road!
Pray with me:
Father, we respond to the words You shared with us from the brave-hearted warrior, David: “Is there not a cause?” We say, in agreement with his passionate heart, “Yes, there is a cause that is worth the giving of our all.” We denounce casual Christianity, passivity, religious ritual and routine, and a feel good gospel that leaves self on the throne of our hearts. We cry out, “Jesus is Lord! And He is worthy of owning all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength!”
Father, we believe in biblical history. We believe in the church’s history. We believe in America’s righteous history. And we believe the history we are writing will be a glorious history of revival and worldwide transformation. We CAN defeat every giant. We CAN find the old road. We will tap into the strength of former pioneers of the faith, and we will leave a well-marked road for those coming after us. By the grace, mercy and strength of God, we will not fail!
Our God reigns! Always! Everywhere!
Click on the link below to watch the full prayer.
1.Franklin, Benjamin. In the continental Congress at the signing of the declaration of independence, 1776.