A caravan of approximately 7,200 Central American migrants is making its way toward the US border. They’re escaping Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, one of the most dangerous regions in the world. They are fleeing gang violence, political corruption, and crushing poverty.
Now a second caravan has formed in a Guatemalan city near the border with Honduras. They intend to follow in the footsteps of the larger group. As many as 2,500 Hondurans have gathered to form this second migratory wave.
Response to the caravans in the US has been sharply divided. Some are supporting the migrants and criticizing President Trump; others are taking the opposite position.
Whatever your view of these migrant waves and the issues they reflect, it’s worth noting that “immigration is the sincerest form of flattery.”
Every time I travel overseas, I return home with renewed gratitude for America. In light of my travels yesterday, however, I need to offer a cautionary word regarding our nation.
A scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Wednesday morning, our tour group visited Petra, one of the most astounding sites in the Middle East. The “Treasury” is the best-known part of the area, a massive carved structure that was made famous by the closing scenes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The area was developed by a people called the Nabataeans.
They came from ancient Arabia and settled on the border between Syria and Arabia, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Red Sea. At their height in the second century before Christ, they were the dominant kingdom in the region, ruling as far north as Damascus and Lebanon.
Petra, their capital, was truly remarkable. Here the Nabataeans carved a massive temple, built a theater with seating for six thousand people, and left hundreds of tombs carved into the rocky landscape. Their kingdom was both prosperous and secure.
But when the Romans arrived, the Nabataeans were assimilated into the Empire and today are no more.
Name this country: It possesses the world’s strongest military and largest economy. Its currency is the global standard. It leads the world in technology, education, and influence.
The answer is Great Britain–in 1900.
How our Lord judges nations
No nation’s future is guaranteed.
When I was in high school, I could not have imagined that the Soviet Union would fall and the Cold War would end so abruptly. When I traveled in Turkey twenty years ago, I was greatly impressed by its secular democracy and would not have anticipated its precipitous turn toward Islamism in recent years.
What surprises us, however, does not surprise our Lord.
God created all peoples and nations: “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26).
He intends all people to hear his message of saving grace: “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
In the meantime, our Lord judges nations as they judge him. The prophet said to God: “The nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste” (Isaiah 60:12).
That’s why Paul wrote so passionately: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
And it is why we must work for spiritual and moral awakening in our country while there is still time. Do you believe our holy Lord is honored by the moral trajectory of our culture? If Jesus returned today, would he be pleased with our nation’s response to his word and will?
“Relay the baton of truth”
A nation God can bless is composed of people God can bless.
It has often been noted that “God has no grandchildren.” Our faith must be transmitted personally from each generation to the next. Anne Graham Lotz makes this point well:
“Winning a relay race depends not only on the speed of the runners but also on their skillful ability to transfer the baton. If the baton is dropped, precious seconds are wasted, and the race may be lost. If the runner fails to pass the baton, he is disqualified from the race altogether.
“In the race of life, the ‘baton’ is the truth that leads to personal faith in God. Each generation receives the ‘baton’ from the previous generation, runs the race to the best of its ability, then passes the ‘baton’ smoothly and securely to the next generation.
“Every day we see advances in our civilization bringing better health care, longer life spans, and ever-expanding knowledge. But underneath all the progress and sophistication, our civilization is experiencing a bankruptcy of moral and spiritual values that threatens to erode our very existence. In the midst of wickedness and waste, we must strive to relay the baton of truth that leads to personal faith in God that has been handed down to generation after generation since Creation.”
Will America go the way of the Nabataeans?
John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, noted: “The most effectual means of securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is always to remember with reverence and gratitude the source from which they flow.”
I am not predicting that America will go the way of the Nabataeans. But I would commit the sin of presumption to claim that we cannot.
God’s word is clear: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). “Reproach” translates a Hebrew word meaning “shame” or “disgrace.”
Is sin a “reproach” to you?
For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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Publication Date: October 25, 2018
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images/John Moore/Staff