No 'Third Great Awakening' Without Repentance

This blog post references the following video:

Third Great Awakening Coming to America

It’s been a while since this came out; and I have been meaning to respond to it, but got busy with a project at work and subsequent vacation; so I am now just getting around to this…

Dutch Sheets, an internationally famous Christian author, teacher and speaker, recently revealed a prophetic dream a friend of his had (detailed in the video above and its associated article) which led him to believe that a Third Great Awakening is coming to America.  Now, I am not a critic of Dutch or his ministry; he wrote a book on intercessory prayer that I really respect and think is a classic volume every Christian should read.  Having said this, when I saw what Dutch was saying about this Great Awakening, I became concerned—not because I disbelieve what he says was dreamt, but perhaps over how it was interpreted.  In the article, a Revolutionary War flag was referenced containing an evergreen tree and the words ‘An Appeal to Heaven’.  I was a bit disturbed by the mention of an evergreen tree, because in my studies of recent years, I knew that the evergreen is a long-standing symbol of pagan idolatry; and the words, ‘An Appeal to Heaven’, are often used in the Babylonian pagan ‘mystery’ religion to invoke the favor of the Queen of Heaven—that is, Ashtoreth or Easter.  Because Dutch was saying this was comparable to Abraham’s covenant with God, I looked in both Genesis and Jubilees at the passages concerning the covenant and found nothing about an evergreen--the tree under which Abram met God was the oak at Mamre. 

Somehow I missed where the article very clearly references Genesis 21:33; but a user on Facebook who was reading my comments was kind enough to show me the reference in the article, and attempted to prove that the evergreen is a sign of God’s providence:

Genesis 21:33 "After making their covenant at Beersheba, Abimelech left with Phicol, the commander of his army, and they returned home to the land of the Philistines. Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he worshiped the Lord, the Eternal God."  (The tamarisk is an evergreen tree common to the Middle East.)

So, wanting to be more thorough, I looked at the context of the Scripture reference and the history and use of the tree.  Dutch’s basis for comparison was to the covenant between God and Abraham and its allegorical application to the covenant over America between God and the first arrivals at Jamestown who hoisted a cross on the beach.  Now, it should go without saying that we must never apply a Scripture out of context; a covenant with Abraham (or Israel by extension) does not necessarily have ramifications outside of the original circumstances, even though George Washington did indeed invoke this symbol as a plea to God for victory over the British at Boston.  However, as is shown in the passage above, the events surrounding Abraham’s planting of the tamarisk tree was not his covenant with God—it was a covenant with Abimelech.  In my research about the tamarisk tree, I found that I was correct in placing it as an object of worship in the pagan religions of the Canaanites, Philistines, and Babylonians.  So if Abraham was planting this tree in honor of God, we have a real problem, because this means he was equating YHVH with Bel (Ba'al) and Easter (Ashtoreth).  However, there is another reason that tamarisk trees were planted: they served as the gateway to a person's property--and I believe this was the reason Abraham planted the tree. However, this nullifies its association in Dutch's dream...which brings me back to my original sense of foreboding. 

George Washington’s intent notwithstanding1, the thought that immediately popped into my head when I saw the flag was, “This represents idolatry.” This thought made great sense to me because America has always been a land of mixture. (Constantinian Christianity had been a mixture of New Covenant Judaism and pagan religious tradition long before the colonial period—but to jump down that rabbit hole is an entirely different discussion.) Yes, we have a grand legacy of Christian influence from the day Christopher Columbus realized his discovery of the New World, and from the moment the Pilgrims conceived of setting off across the ocean in search of a life of religious freedom. God has used this legacy for His purposes; America has been a light to spread the Good News of Jesus to literally every corner of the earth. But these voices and this motive were not the only ones. From the very beginning, we have also been a nation of mixture.

The Babylonian ‘mystery’ religion I referenced earlier is interwoven into the principles of Freemasonry to the point where the practice of Freemasonry itself is an exercise of that religion; many people are not aware that nearly all the Presidents of the United States were Freemasons, including George Washington.  My family and I just returned from a short trip to Mt. Vernon and Monticello, which turned out to be a very timely accessory to this article; I was reminded again how the spirits of compromise, mixture, and idolatry were woven into the fabric of our nation from the very beginning.  Like the Roman Empire from which our nation ultimately gains its heritage, ours is a nation with feet made from iron and clay.

Jefferson, while most likely not a Mason due to his disdain for secret societies, was openly a Unitarian Universalist; he was a secular humanist but was fond of Masonic ideas—having been influenced by Enlightenment philosophers, and was equally fascinated with Roman paganism and its symbolism in architecture.  Our tour guide at Monticello even admitted that the images on the crown molding used in the entrance hall and parlor of our third President’s home were Roman pagan symbols which held profound meaning in Jefferson’s life.  When laying the cornerstone for the University of Virginia, Jefferson commissioned the Freemasons to perform the sacred rites over the stone; the band played ‘Hail Columbia’ (Columbia is another personification of the ‘mother goddess’—equivalent to Ashtoreth, Isis, Venus, or Easter).

This is not exclusive to Jefferson and Washington.  Universalism, the core principle of Enlightenment thinking, tainted expression of the Christian faith during this time period to include a universal application of Christian concepts.  Howard Trivers, an essayist writing in the Virginia Quarterly Review at the time of our bicentennial said that the major sources of the American idea “are to be found in the English heritage and tradition, the Christian tradition, and the 18th-century philosophy of the Enlightenment. These three sources are not separate; they are interrelated and in practice intermingled.”  Simply put, a person influenced by the Enlightenment most likely believed that the God of the Bible is a universal god—that is, rather than truly believing the Word of God at face value concerning the person and nature of YHVH God, they believed Christianity was simply an Englishman’s form of expression for deity, and that their national and cultural forms were better because they produced advanced technology, civility, and order for society. 

Through our nation's history, we have simply lived out the natural, logical thread to which Enlightenment religion leads us.  I would suggest that we return, not to ‘the covenant’ of our ancestors, but to the covenant that was made with Israel in the blood of Jesus Christ to which we are grafted in (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Matthew 26:27-29, Romans 11).  Not an ‘appeal to heaven’—to Nature and to nature’s god—not a natural, divine principle or a universal god (as Enlightenment philosophers would often say) under the banner of Ba’al worship, but to the one True God, YHVH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who alone made heaven and earth.

Furthermore, our national sins cannot be ignored. 

Again, compromise for the sake of convenience was the driving value of our Founding Fathers with regard to the issue of slavery.  Both Washington and Jefferson made strong statements demonizing slavery, yet both were slaveholders till the end of their days.  Their argument for not taking a stronger stand to push for the abolishment of slavery was that it would drive the nation apart.  They decided to leave the problem for another generation, which did tear the nation apart and cost the lives of 620,000 men and the wounds of hatred and discrimination from which we have never fully healed.

Right from the start, where there was a hunger for God, there was a thirst for gold; where there was a love for the LORD, there was a lust for land; where there was salvation preached, slavery was the reality.  We Christians, as a whole, have stood by and watched the exploitation of people and our land for money and called this the American Dream.  Our treatment of the Native Americans, our exercise of slavery and racism, our commitment to profit over character and the breakdown of the family through our embrace of multi-billion dollar corporate values, the use of the Gospel by some as a means for gross financial gain, the sacrifice of our children through abortion on the altar of sexual ‘freedom’ and convenience, our compromise of Biblical values for the sake of acceptance and inclusion—to list them all would be far too long for this article—all boil down to the idolatry of self. 

I am not saying there will be no Third Great Awakening; what I am saying is that there will be no Great Awakening without repentance.  God is calling us out of the idolatry of self.  He has poured Himself into this nation in an unprecedented way—only Israel has had a greater calling and history of being used by God in the advance of His kingdom.  We have a choice before us:  to simply let the American Christian legacy become a footnote, or to press into God and allow Him to shine through us as the Light of the world.  For us to catch hold of what God is doing requires us to get serious about the state of our affairs:

  1. We must choose this day Whom we will serve.  We have the ability to decide whether we will follow the dictates of the self, or whether we will worship YHVH.  Psalm 33:12-15 says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH, the people He chose for His inheritance.  From heaven YHVH looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth—He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
  2. We must make good on our commitment to this choice.  Rather than providing lip service, we must repent of our idolatry and focus our lives on the worship of YHVH.  I believe Isaiah 58 captures our current state perfectly.  If we expect God to take notice and move to heal our land, we must be serious--we can't just wave our hand at God in some sort of second-hand acknowledgement and expect Him to hear us.
  3. We must stop altering or ignoring the Word of God, allowing 'mixture'—that is, idolatry and compromise, to affect the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel.  We cannot continue to allow those who claim to call upon the name of YHVH to insist that His moral standards have been abolished.  While the means of communicating with God have certainly changed due to death, resurrection, and the Eternal High Priesthood of Jesus our Messiah, God's moral standards written in the Law of Moses will never change.  To think this way is to trample upon the grace and forgiveness we have received in Messiah, and we cannot expect others to take sin and righteousness seriously when we ourselves do not.
  4. We must adjust our thinking and allow the LORD to bring us into a new season.  God is calling us to abandon many ideas and practices we grew up with in the church, and to adopt new, more Biblical practices.  This will require us to be objective, less reliant on 'expert' teachers to tell us what God is saying (and what is right and wrong), and to become more dependent on the active, living presence of God and His Word. 
  5. We must be committed to reaching our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors with the Good News of Jesus the Messiah.  We have lost this nation because we abandoned our responsibility to be an influence where we live.  No longer can we invite a friend to church and let the 'experts' do the job of evangelism; we must be ready to give an answer for the hope we have.  What reason would a non-believer have to attend a church?  We live in a post-Christian nation.  We will have to adjust our relationships, because we may be the only 'Jesus' people will ever see.  Our lives will have to back up our beliefs to be taken seriously.
  6. We must prepare for persecution.  As Americans, we have never faced persecution because our nation has had enough Christian influence to always curry the favor of the people and the state.  This is no longer the case.  At least for a time, we will see a sharp up-tick in anti-Christian sentiment, and we should be prepared for the possibility that our country will never be the same.  We need to remember that it is prophesied that only Israel will be a YHVH-worshipping nation at the end of days.  This does not mean there will be no followers of Jesus around the world, certainly, but Israel will stand alone as the nation "whose God is the LORD (YHVH)".
  7. We cannot rely on political solutions to bring America back to God.  I would hope that the last two decades of political leadership in Washington have taught us all that our hope is not in American government.  God alone is our King, and only our Messiah can bring the shalom peace that we crave.  Fortunately for us, "the government shall be upon His shoulders..." and "...of the increase of His government there shall be no end."  While good laws make a good society, and those laws that are based on Biblical principles will always bring order, health, and benefit to our nation, and while we should always advocate for these laws as long as we have the privilege of casting a vote, we should commit ourselves to God's plan provided in the Great Commission rather than spending our energy to strong-arm through Moral Majority or pushing to get "our candidate" into office.  We have been systematically been disappointed by every administration in a great many years anyway.

This is the end of the matter:  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.  —Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

1I do believe that George Washington was sincerely a Christian person, an instrument whom God used to set America in motion for His purposes. However, like many of the kings of Israel and Judah, his understanding of God was not pure, resulting in worship that was compromised. As the Scriptures say about king Azariah of Judah in 2 Kings 15, "...he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there."