9/20/2021

AMERICA'S COVENANT WITH GOD

The earliest immigrants to this land believed that they, as a people, had entered into a sacred covenant with God. This was clearly expressed by John Winthrop who, in 1630, led a flotilla of eleven ships with 700 passengers to New England and founded the city of Boston and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. 


During their journey across the Atlantic, Winthrop formulated a sermon entitled “A Model of Christian Charity.” In it he exhorted his fellow pilgrims that “the eyes of the world are upon us” and that God would have them, in their new home, to be that “city on a hill” of which Jesus spoke, a shining light exhibiting a model of Christian living for the rest of mankind to see.

He also spoke of the seriousness of the covenant with God into which they had entered. He exhorted,
We have entered into an explicit Covenant with God. We have drawn up indentures with the Almighty, wherefore if we succeed and do not let ourselves be diverted into making money, He will reward us. Whereas if we fail, if we fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, the Lord will surely break out in wrath and make us know the price of the breach of such a Covenant (Hyatt, 1726: TheYear that Defined America, 28-29).
The late Harvard professor, Perry Miller, considered this to be, in a sense, America’s true founding. He saw Winthrop’s clearly articulated vision of being that "city on a hill"--a light for other nations--as that which came to define the nation. He went on to say,
A society that is both clear and articulate about its intentions is something of a rarity in modern history. Most of the nations of Europe and Asia grew up by chance and by accident either of geography or politics.
This was not the case with America. Those first immigrants to America came with a clearly articulated vision, which they recorded in written documents—documents which they considered to be covenants with God.
The Mayflower Compact Was a Covenant
Ten years before Winthrop and his company arrived, the Pilgrims had landed at Cape Cod. Before disembarking, they drew up a written document patterned after the church covenants that were common among Separatist churches in England. Being part of a Separatist congregation, they were very aware of such documents, which knit the signees together in a solemn, contractual agreement with God and one another.
In the Mayflower Compact, each signee promised “solemnly and mutually in the presence of God” to “covenant together” for the better ordering and preservation of their community. This covenant also stated that their purpose in coming to the New World was to glorify God and advance the Christian faith.
Perry Miller, said, “The Separatists aboard the Mayflower found a covenant the obvious answer to the first problem of political organization” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year thatDefined America, 21).
Some have called the Mayflower Compact America’s founding document. That is going too far, but there is no question that it set the stage for succeeding communities and colonies that would base their existence on written documents—covenants--that gave recognition to God and prioritized the Gospel of Jesus Christ as their reason for being.
New England Covenants with God
This idea of a social compact (covenant) with God was expressed, not only in the founding of Plymouth, Boston, and Massachusetts, but also in the 1639 founding document of Connecticut entitled “The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.” This document states,
We, the inhabitants and residents of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield, knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there ought to be an orderly and decent government established according to God . . . we do for ourselves and our successors enter into combination and confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we now profess (Hyatt, 1726: TheYear that Defined America, 30-31).
With thousands of new immigrants arriving in New England and new towns springing up, there arose a felt need for some sort of centralized government to facilitate mutual defense and to arbitrate land disputes. To meet this need, the United Colonies of New England was formed, and a constitution was formulated, patterned on the idea of covenant. Dated May 19, 1643, the opening statement of the constitution expressly states why they had all come to the New World. It reads,
Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the Liberties of the Gospel in purity and peace (Hyatt, 1726:The Year that Defined America, 31).
The constitution provided that each colony would choose two representatives who would form a council of eight. This council of eight was invested with power to arbitrate boundary disputes, coordinate mutual defense, and facilitate mutual advice and support. It was clearly stated that this council was brought into existence for “preserving and propagating the truth and liberties of the Gospel” (Hyatt, 1726: TheYear that Defined America, 31).
There is no question that this constitutional system wherein each individual colony retained its autonomy, and the powers of government were limited by the constitution, was a forerunner of the federalist system that would be created at Philadelphia in 1776 and 1787. The United Colonies of New England clearly foreshadowed the United States of America in both its form of government and in its Christian character.
The Puritans clearly saw these written statements as covenants, not only between themselves, but also between their society and God. They believed that God dealt, not only with individuals, but also with social units, including families, churches, and nations. According to Perry Miller, “The central conception in their thought is the elaborated doctrine of covenant.”
The Blessing & Responsibility of Covenant
These early immigrants saw Israel in the OT as a pattern for their social covenant with God. Like Israel, they believed that if they, as a people, kept their part of the covenant, which was to walk uprightly and make His name known, they would be blessed. If, on the other hand, they lost their sense of purpose and began to live selfish and sinful lives, they would suffer God’s wrath because of their rejection of the covenant. During the voyage to New England, Winthrop warned,
Now if the Lord shall please to bear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath He verified this Covenant and sealed our commission . . . but if we fail to perform the terms of the Covenant, we shall perish out the land we are crossing the sea to possess (Hyatt, 1726: The Year thatDefined America, 32).
This social sense of responsibility to God is the reason the Puritans tended to hold one another accountable. They believed that since communities and nations cannot be rewarded in the next world, they must necessarily be rewarded in this one, according to their deeds. The sin of one or a few could, therefore, bring down God’s judgment on the entire community. This is also the reason that laws were passed outlawing adultery, fornication, profanity, drunkenness, and Sabbath breaking.
Virginia Too
Although New England was where the writing of constitutions was profoundly developed, all the colonies were founded on similar social compacts with God. When the Jamestown settlers disembarked at Cape Henry, VA, their first act was to erect a seven-foot cross they had brought from England. They then gathered around the cross for a prayer service in which they dedicated the land of their new home to God. In his dedicatory prayer, their chaplain, Rev. Robert Hunt, declared, “From these very shores the Gospel shall go forth to not only this New World but to the entire world.”
This act was in line with the official Virginia Charter, which recognized “the Providence of Almighty God” and expressed the desire that the establishment of the colony would “tend to the glory of His Divine Majesty.” This document also expressly stated that the purpose of the colony was to propagate the “Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God.”
There are amazing similarities between the Virginia Charter, the Mayflower Compact, and other founding documents of New England. This led Perry Miller to suggest that Virginia and New England were not that different. He pointed out that both communities were children of the Reformation, “and what we consider distinctively Puritan was really the spirit of the times.”
There is thus no question that these early social compacts, or covenants, were precursors to the founding documents of the United States of America. Gary Amos and Richard Gardiner are correct to say, “The early New England constitutions were covenants. These covenants clearly foreshadowed the United States Constitution” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 33).
God and America’s Founding Documents
The Declaration of Independence begins with an acknowledgement that human rights come from God. It ends with the signees expressing a reliance on Divine Providence, a common expression of that era for the God of the Bible. It was commonly used by revivalist ministers, such as George Whitefield, in their sermons and writings.
It is obvious that the Founders saw the U.S. Constitution as a sacred document, and they treated it as a covenant. That is why George Washington took the oath of office with his hand on a Bible and solemnly swore to uphold and defend the Constitution, “so help me God.”
This sacred view of the Constitution was obviously inherited from those earliest immigrants who considered their covenants to be sacred oaths between their communities and God. This covenantal attitude became a part of the psyche of colonial America and was clearly present in the attitude of the Founders toward America’s founding documents. Historian, Benjamin Hart, says,
The U.S. Constitution has worked because there has been a sacred aura surrounding the document; it has been something more than a legal contract; it was a covenant, an oath before God, very much related to the covenant the Pilgrims signed. Indeed, when the President takes his oath of office, he places his hand on a Bible and swears before Almighty God to uphold the Constitution of the United States. He makes a sacred promise; and the same holds true for Supreme Court justices who take an oath to follow the letter of the written Constitution. The moment America’s leaders begin treating the Constitution as though it were a mere sheet of paper is the moment the American Republic—or American Covenant—ends (Hyatt, 1726: TheYear that Defined America, 133).
Abraham Lincoln Understood America’s Covenant with God
Abraham Lincoln understood that America had a covenant with God. That is why, in the midst of the desolation of the Civil War, he proclaimed a national, day of prayer and repentance for April 30, 1863. In this proclamation, he acknowledged God’s hand on the nation and, in so many words, explained the present calamity to be the result of national sin, i.e., the breaking of the covenant. He said,
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us (Hyatt, The Great Prayer Awakening of 1857-58, 37).
The populace, especially in the North, responded en masse to Lincoln’s call to prayer. On the appointed day, businesses and schools closed and people gathered in churches and homes throughout the land to pray and repent for personal and national sins, including the sin of slavery.
And whereas the South had been winning battle after battle and it looked as though the American union could well be dissolved, there was an almost immediate turn of the war in favor of the North after this day of prayer. God intervened and America was sustained after she renewed her covenant with God.
Where Are We Today?
America is at another critical juncture in her history. Powerful forces reject the notion of God having any role in the nation’s founding and they consider the Constitution to be a useless, outdated document—a mere sheet of paper--as Hart warned.
Taking the oath of office is now seen as a meaningless formality that may be carried out with the Koran, as well as the Bible, or with any religious book. America’s future has not been this uncertain since the Civil War.
The next presidential election holds great and grave consequences for America’s future. That being said, America’s ultimate future will not be determined at the White House, but at God’s House. Lincoln’s Prayer Proclamation was strategic but came after a Great Prayer Awakening that began in 1857 that was characterized by passionate prayer, day and night, in churches, halls, homes, and public auditoriums throughout the nation.
Yes, the decision is ours. What will we do? Will we renew the American covenant? It begins with God’s people taking seriously their role in the health of a nation as expressed in II Chronicles 7:14.
If My people who are called by My Name
Will 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 heal their land.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's latest book, 1726: The Year that Defined America, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. He is also the founder of the "1726 Project" whose purpose is to educate concerning the nation's birth out of a great, spiritual awakening and to call American Christians to pray for another such Awakening.

9/19/2021

SAVING OUR "SACRED HERITAGE"

America's founders were far from perfect, but they established a nation on Judeo/Christian principles that they believed would serve as a moral compass to guide the nation through any difficulty or crisis she might encounter.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this and writing from the Birmingham city jail, where he had been incarcerated, he acknowledged the nation’s “sacred heritage” and declared it to be a basis for his confidence that his fight for racial equality would succeed. He wrote,

We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham, and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America . . . We will win our freedom because the SACRED HERITAGE of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

Dr. King was very aware of America’s flawed and sinful history, but he also saw that there was something sacred, holy, and of God in her founding. In this same letter he speaks with pride and respect of the Pilgrims, Thomas Jefferson, the ‘majestic” Declaration of Independence, and Abraham Lincoln.

Belief in America’s Sacred Origins was Common.

Dr. King was not the first to believe that God had a hand in the birth of this nation. This was, in fact, a common belief from the time the first European immigrants came to this land seeking individual and religious liberty.

This belief was expressed in the numerous days of prayer and fasting proclaimed by the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War. And after the British surrendered to the colonial forces on October 19, 1781, George Washington appointed Chaplain Israel Evans to deliver a thanksgiving sermon to the troops.

Joined by thousands of civilians, Rev. Evans exhorted the massive crowd before him to give thanks to God and he compared their victory over the British to God’s deliverance of His Old Testament people. In poetic verse he declared,

To Him who led in ancient days, 
the Hebrew tribes, your anthems raise. 
The God who spoke from Sinai’s hill,
protects His chosen people still. 
Not in ourselves success we owe,
by help divine we crushed the foe.
With thankful hearts his goodness own,
and bow before Jehovah's throne.
(Hyatt, 1726: The Year thatDefined America119).

Concerning America’s birth, Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, declared that he, “as much believed the hand of God was employed in this work as that God had divided the Red Sea to give a passage to the children of Israel.”

James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution, declared that it was impossible for any reasonable and pious person to not see in its formulation, “a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently extended to our relief in critical stages of the Revolution” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 127).

In a speech delivered at a Spirit of America rally in Atlanta, Georgia on January 26, 1984, President Ronald Reagan declared,

I've always believed that this blessed land was set apart in a special way, that some divine plan placed this great continent here between the oceans to be found by people from every corner of the Earth who had a special love for freedom and the courage to uproot themselves, leave homeland and friends, to come to a strange land. And coming here they created something new in all the history of mankind -- a land where man is not beholden to government, government is beholden to man.

This Generation Has Rejected this “Sacred Heritage”

Dr. King considered the opposition to his demands, and the ensuing turmoil it induced, to be signs that America had fallen away from her founding principles. She had lost sight of her “sacred heritage” and he called for a return to that founding vision of faith and freedom.

Each generation of Americans must, in fact, be taught of our country’s “sacred heritage,” for as Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and it's never more than one generation away from extinction.”

Each new generation likes to think that wisdom and virtue has begun with it and that former generations were inferior in virtue and understanding. This is the case in America today and was the case in Israel during the time of Jeremiah the prophet. In Jeremiah 6:16, the prophet declared to King Josiah and all the people,

Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.

Just as Israel had strayed from the good way that had produced peace and prosperity, America has strayed from the way that made her the freest and most prosperous nation in history. She has departed from the founding principles that brought about the end of slavery, passed Civil Rights legislation, defeated Nazism, and brought down the evil Soviet empire.

The Biblical moral compass put in place by the founders has been trashed and in its place a secularist/Marxist ideology is being propagated in our schools, in colleges, in Hollywood, and in Washington, D.C. Now we are seeing the fruit of this departure as the nation unravels within, and without on the world stage.

The Way Forward from Here

All, however, is not lost! We can take back our land, but the church must arise. We must recover that “sacred heritage” of which Dr. King and America’s founders spoke. 

Our challenge is that this “sacred heritage” is being demonized by those who want to transform America into a godless/Marxist state. They want to destroy this heritage because, as Karl Marx said, “People without a heritage are easily persuaded.”

We must, therefore, redouble our efforts to teach this generation about America’s “sacred heritage.” Understanding our “sacred heritage,” along with Biblical promises such as II Chronicles 7:14, will provide the solid foundation needed to pray succesfully for another Great Awakening to roll across our land like a mighty tsunami wave.

A good place to start learning about this “sacred heritage” is my book, 1726: The Year that Defined America, available from Amazon and my website at www.eddiehyatt.com.


Dr. Eddie Hyatt is a Bible teacher and church historian with a passion to see America experience another national, spiritual awakening that will turn the nation back to God and restore the founding principles of faith and freedom. His books are available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com


9/12/2021

WHY THE CHURCH MUST AVOID FORGING POLIITCAL ALLIANCES


As followers of Christ, we must openly support those political candidates whose values and policies reflect our own. However, history shows that when the Church forges cozy ties and alliances with civil authorities or a political party, she loses her purity and the ability to be a bold, prophetic witness to the nation and those in power. 


When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, he expressed confidence that the Church would not oppose him because pastors of the State Church received their salaries and other benefits from the state. Except for a few brave voices like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Albert Niemoller, Hitler was right. The silence of a politicized German Church allowed him to carry out his evil schemes (Hyatt, To Comply or Not Comply, 32-36).

 

Jesus Showed Us the Way

There were many political and religious parties in first century Israel, but Jesus forged no ties with any of them. How could he? His heavenly mission was not of this world. The kingdom He preached transcended all their petty and partisan politics.

When arrested and interrogated by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, Jesus made it clear that he had no interest in Caesar’s crown or Herod’s throne. Those kingdoms were of a lower, inferior realm. His kingdom transcended them all. When Pilate asked him about being called “the king of the Jews,” Jesus replied,

My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here (John 18:36).

We too must guard against becoming identified with a political party and its machinery. We must always be free to speak truth to those in positions of political power. We must also remember that Jesus did not entrust us with a political plan or strategy for overthrowing Caesar or winning the next election. His kingdom begins in the heart and works its way outward from there.

He, therefore, entrusted us with a Message that has the inherent power to change hearts and thereby change families, communities, and nations. I am not ashamed of the gospel, Paul said, for it is the power of God unto salvation . . . (Romans 1:16).

We must, therefore, be faithful to the Message the Lord has entrusted to us. We must guard against modifying the Message to accommodate cultural and faddish trends, for a compromised message becomes a message without power. Paul warned of this in I Corinthians 1:17 where he said,

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power (NIV).

The Distraction of Worldly Power

The vision of political and worldly power for the Church is a distraction, not a calling. The Church has experienced political power in history, and it was a disaster. With the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 312 and the merger of the Church with the Empire, the Church enjoyed imperial wealth and power.

Constantine took money from the Roman treasury and built magnificent cathedrals for the Christians. He also began paying the salaries of the bishops and pastors and putting the power of the state at their disposal to enforce doctrines and practices. However, many of her bishops proved to be as cruel and oppressive as any Muslim ayatollah or pagan emperor. We are still experiencing the negative ramifications of that period of worldly power in the Church (Hyatt, To Comply or Not Comply, 55).

In such an arrangement the Church becomes beholden to the political authority and her prophetic voice is muffled or completely silenced. Dependent on the state for her existence, the Church becomes feckless and spiritually dead. A. J. Gordon, Baptist pastor and founder of Gordon College in Boston, wrote,

It is not altogether strange that when the Church forgot her citizenship in heaven and began to establish herself in luxury and splendor on earth, she should cease to exhibit the supernatural gifts of heaven (Hyatt, 2000 Yearsof Charismatic Christianity, 53).

America’s Founders Wanted a Free Church With No Political Ties

This is why the Puritans in early America would not allow ministers of the Gospel to hold political office. It was not to keep their influence out of politics; it was to keep the ministry pure and the ministers free to speak prophetically to the civil authorities.

This is the reason that America’s founders, whose thinking was influenced by Puritan thought, instituted the First Amendment that reads, “Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion or hindering the free exercise thereof.” This was not to keep the Church out of politics, but to keep politics out of the Church.

They wanted a Church in America with a clear prophetic voice that would speak truth to power. This was made clear by James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution, who wrote,

We are teaching the world a great truth, that governments do better without kings and nobles than with them. The merit is doubled by the other lesson: that Religion flourishes in greater purity without, than with the aid of government (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 148).

Indeed, if we are to be a prophetic voice to the nation, we cannot forge cozy ties and make ourselves beholden to any political party. Like the Old Testament prophets, and Jesus Himself, we must be free to speak the mind and heart of God to all those in positions of influence and power.

Whose Side Are We On?

Jesus did not align with any political or religious party because He had not come to take sides, but to take over. It, therefore, has never been a question of whose side He is on, but a question of who is on His side? That is why the basic confession of early Christianity was not “Jesus is Savior” or “Jesus is Healer,” but “Jesus is Lord!”

President Abraham Lincoln understood this. During the Civil War, when a northern minister expressed his hope that, “the Lord is on our side,” Lincoln replied,

I am not at all concerned about that . . . but it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side (Hyatt, The Great Prayer Awakening of 1857-58, 39).

It is the same today. Our commission is not to assure any politician or political party that God is on their side, but to be a prophetic voice, declaring the Lordship of Jesus, and continually challenging those of every political persuasion with the question, “Are you on the Lord’s side?”

Dr. Eddie Hyatt is a Bible teacher, revivalist, and church historian. This article was derived from his latest book, To Comply or Not Comply, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.

9/09/2021

AMERICA'S FOUNDING DOCUMENTS DECLARED "HARMFUL" BY OUR OWN GOVERNMENT

In a stunning capitulation to the Marxist crusade to transform America, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has determined that America's founding documents may be "harmful or difficult" for some users.  

They have, therefore, posted a “Harmful Language Alert” above their online catalog, which includes the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and other documents related to our founding.

With statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson being toppled, the 1619 narrative being taught in public schools, and now this official warning of potential “harm” in reading America’s founding documents, it is obvious that the Leftist agenda to demonize and destroy America’s heritage is at full throttle.

Marxists know that if they have any hope of transforming America into a socialist state, they must destroy America’s past. George Orwell said, “Whoever controls the past, controls the future.”

Karl Marx himself said, “People without a heritage are easily persuaded,” and Marxists in America have pulled out all the stops to destroy what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called America’s “sacred heritage.”

King was very aware of America’s flawed history, but he was also aware that there was something sacred and special about America’s founding and her founding documents. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, he declared "I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream." He also called on America, not to dispense with her founding documents, but to live up to them.

Indeed, Dr. King considered these words of the Declaration of Independence, which he often quoted, to be a standard toward which all should strive.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This outrageous act of the NARA is another wake-up call to all freedom-loving Americans to let your voices be heard. It is no time for silence. Here are 3 suggestions:    

Begin now to join thousands of others in praying for another Great Awakening to roll across this land like a mighty tsunami wave.

Familiarize yourself with America’s true history that is rooted in faith and freedom. I have written several books on this topic that can be helpful including, 1726:The Year that Defined America, Abolitionist Founding Fathers, and Pilgrims and Patriots.

Don't be silenced. Boldly speak the truth in love.

Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an ordained minister, historian, and revivalist with a passion to see authentic spiritual awakening in this generation. His latest book, To Comply or Not Comply, offers a Biblical defense for Christians not complying with the governing authorities.  Visit his website @ www.eddiehyatt.com.