Squandering God’s Beneficence
Although they have allies and are numerous, they will be destroyed and pass away. Although I have afflicted you, Judah, I will afflict you no more. Now I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away (Nahum 1:12-13).
In July, 1755 as British General Braddock, along with young, twenty-three year old Colonel George Washington and a battalion of fourteen hundred British and American troops approached the Monongahela River at Fort Duquesne (present day Pittsburgh) a hidden small band of French and Kanawah Indians ambushed the unsuspecting Braddock and his men. They were cut to pieces and Braddock, all his officers except Washington, along with another seven hundred men were killed. It was more a massacre than a battle. The French and Indians lost only thirty men. Those witnessing the carnage were amazed at how Colonel Washington, though in the midst of the battle, came out unscathed. Washington later wrote to his brother, saying that the rumours of his death were unfounded, though he did find four bullets in his coat and had two horses shot out from beneath him. In referring to Washington’s deliverance, Samuel Davies, the eloquent and powerful Presbyterian preacher from Virginia, wrote at the time, ‘. . . Providence has hitherto preserved in so significant a manner for some important service to his country.’ Some fifteen years later, when George Washington was back in the area, surveying his expansive land holdings, the Kanawah Indians once again came on the scene. They had travelled several hundred miles to meet Washington. They came in peace, and the old chieftain, with all his dignity, sat down with Washington and told him that he, the chief, had told his men to make sure they shot the tall American, that he was the most vital one to kill, since he fought like they did. They aimed and fired their rifles repeatedly at him but could not kill him. The old chieftain then said, ‘A power mightier than we shielded him from harm.’ He then prophesied this, ‘The Great Spirit protects that man and guides his destinies – he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire.’1
Indeed, Providence, the almighty Triune God, did preserve George Washington’s life in a most remarkable manner and he did become, of course, the first great leader of our nation. Several months after taking office as our first President, Washington issued the following proclamation:
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.’
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the people of these states to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us, and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be the best.2
George Washington was profoundly conscious of and grateful for God’s beneficence toward him and this new nation. One cannot miss his God-centred desire to govern the United States with wisdom from above. Contrary to what many have said for many years, Washington was a sincere and fervent Christian. He was not a deist.3 God had repeatedly delivered Washington and our nation out of the Lion’s mouth. To whom much was given, much was required.
Likewise, God had shown mercy to the city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, by sending Jonah to preach the coming judgment on these people (Jonah 3:4). All the people repented. This mighty revival occurred around 750 B.C. However in another one hundred years or so Nineveh had returned to their pagan, violent, and tempestuous ways, threatening to overrun the people of God, the nation of Judah, the apple of God’s eye. God promised, therefore, to send judgment upon them and utterly to destroy them (Nahum 1:2-8). Yahweh promised to deliver his people by cutting off, utterly destroying the Assyrians. We know they were routed by the Babylonians in 612 B.C., some thirty to forty years after Nahum’s prophecy.
Nineveh had squandered God’s beneficence, and he consequently brought judgment. God has graciously blessed our nation from its founding until this very day. Are we not also guilty of squandering his beneficence? Have we not forgotten the stone from which we were hewn? Have we not ignored him, the author of every good and perfect gift? Have we not exchanged the truth of God for a lie, choosing to worship the creation (our money, our race, our culture, our ease, our intellect) rather than the Creator? Have we not besmirched the name of the King of Kings by suggesting his death was a mere example of sacrifice for us to emulate, denying the sufficiency and efficacy of it as the only means by which anyone can be reconciled to God? What folly! We must repent as a nation and church lest we be consumed and overrun like the Assyrians. Preachers must jettison their cowardice and preach the whole counsel of God. Washington obviously had no qualms about ‘promoting the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.’ Nor should we.
- From George Washington’s Sacred Fire, by Peter Lilleback, pages 160-165.
- From President George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, issued from the capital in New York City, October 3, 1789.
- Lilleback repeatedly proves this point in his book, George Washington’s Sacred Fire.
Rev. Allen M Baker is an evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Director of the Alabama Church Planting Network. His weekly devotional, ‘Forget None of His Benefits’, can be found here.
If you would like to respond to Pastor Baker, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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