Summary: What would God say specifically to America this 4th of July? He has already spoken to this nation in Pro. 14:34. "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."
Introduction: Most of us place a high value on "personal" messages. Form letters and mass mailings are the norm in our day, so it is very refreshing to receive a "personal" note from a person or organization. Some have made a concerted effort to make their mailings seem to be "one-of-a-kind." Today it is difficult to tell what is personal correspondence and what is "mass mailing." Sometimes it may seem the same with scripture. While many preachers apply passages written for Israel to America, our text IS to America! In fact, it is a blanket statement to ANY nation! What would God say to America, if He spoke audibly to us this Fourth of July holiday? I believe He would remind us of this verse. Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. These truths still hold true for any nation today. History is littered with the echoes of failed nations. Nineveh, the Egyptian Dynasty, Greece, the Roman Empire.... Today, the United States is a proof text for this verse! Let us see how as we divide the thoughts into four sections.
I. The Righteousness of a Nation "Righteousness..."
The first word of our verse is "righteousness." It is a word seldom uttered outside of conservative churches today. You don’t hear our politicians speak about righteousness. You don’t hear the news media say anything about it. There are at least three implications of the word, righteousness.
1. It Implies Sovereignty. If there is such a thing as righteousness, then Someone sovereign must determine what it is. Humankind has a varied idea of righteousness. We could never in a million years agree on what is righteous and what is unrighteous. God, however, is an authority on righteousness. Psalm 71:19 "Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!" Psalm 98:2 "The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen."
2. It Implies a Standard. Society today does not want a standard; they will not even acknowledge that one exists. This is the main reason that the Word of God has been attacked and ridiculed by unbelievers. Psalm 119:40 "Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness." Psalm 119:142 "Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth." At the founding of our nation, the Bible was held in high esteem. There are both direct and indirect quotations in the correspondence of the founding fathers.
3. It Implies a Straightness. It is one thing to admit that there is a standard, it is quite another to make that standard your own. The word in our text intimates a persona righteousness, a personal morality. The Judeo-Christian ethic has guiding our nation rom its founding up until the generation in which we live. Our forefathers chose the righteousness of the Bible as it’s guiding light. (See Deut. 4:5)
II. The Reward of a Nation "...exalteth a nation..."
Who can doubt that America has been exalted among the nations? Some Americans, like Nebuchadnezzer in the book of Daniel, take the credit for such exaltation. The mentality is that we somehow deserve the greatness and power of our past. That is a sad mistake to make. America has been exalted because of it’s citizens goodness and personal holiness! America has been exalted because of the churches that have carried out the great commission both at home and abroad! It is because of past obedience and humility that we now enjoy a preeminent place on the world scene. Let us examine theword "exalteth" a little more closely to determine just what God means in this mostglorious promise: "Righteousness exalteth a nation...!"
1. The Exalted Nation is Set-Apart. One of the meanings of the word "exalt" is "to be lifted up, to be made high." (Wilson’s Word Studies, pg. 151) The Bible teaches us that GodHimself is exalted, the scripture is exalted, and Israel is exalted above the nations. But in this verse we find a promise that the righteous nation also will be lifted up and made high Ps 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." Ps 37:34 "Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it." Surely there is no nation in the history of the world which has been lifted up and exalted more than America! The United States has dominated history throughout the 20th century.
2. The Exalted Nation is Safe.Another sub-meaning of the word "exalt" is "to raise high as an inaccessible fortress, out of the reach of danger." Psalm 32:7 "Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance." Ps 119:114 "Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word." Many nations have been destroyed by their enemies or by God Himself through natural disasters. Plagues, pestilence, war, and unbelief have destroyed many countries. But America celebrates her 225th birthday this July 4th. What a testament to God’s protection and preservation!