[notice]ChristianView Network Director Philip Rosenthal compares President Barak Obama’s Bin Laden victory speech with the speech made by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 after the American Civil War[/notice]
On Monday, President Barak Obama announced to the world that the US military had found and killed Osama Bin Laden. In celebrating this victory he concluded “And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war… I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden…
“I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information… And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action… Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation… After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
“…But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.
“Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
So, from Obama’s perspective, the death of Bin Laden after a 10 year hunt proves the invincibility of America. Let us compare this with the attitude of Abraham Lincoln after his victory in the American Civil war – a war that ended slavery in which one million Americans lost their lives – a much greater toll than the ‘War against terror’.
On April 30, 1863, Lincoln called a national day of repentance for the sins of America. His edict read “And whereas, it is the duty of nations as as well as of men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
“And, in so much as we know that, by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven.
“We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. 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! It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness…
“All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.”
So, after a great victory after much greater suffering, Lincoln unlike Obama was not crediting himself, his military or the greatness of America. He was not even focused on the victory at all. He saw the American civil war as God’s judgement on America’s national sins – slavery and arrogance in particular. The issue was not North versus South, but America versus God.
The purpose of the national repentance was to obtain God’s blessing and avoid further catastrophe. Rather than crediting the wealth of America to their invincible national will, as does Obama, Lincoln saw prosperity as the gift of God, but also as a danger of creating arrogance – leading to God’s judgement. On the positive side, Obama does acknowledge America as ‘under God’, but is manner of doing so is rather like the current South African constitution which fails to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over South Africa, but wants his blessing on it.
Obama’s arrogant language is chillingly similar to what the Bible says about the attitude of those who built the tower of Babel. “Genesis 11:4 — Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” … 6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.”
Was Lincoln a particularly devoted religious Christian? Not actually. But he shared a general Biblical Christian worldview and that impacted his politics. Until about a hundred years ago, just about all Christians believed in the sovereignty of God over nations. What Lincoln said was accepted truth. But today those who live as if this was true are a minority.
We must acknowledge and commend the bravery of the soldiers who found Bin Laden and be grateful to all who fight terrorism. Nevertheless, we must also remember that God is sovereignly in control of everything including our enemies and including terrorists and Bin Laden. To win the war against terror, we need God’s help. We need as communities and nations to examine ourselves corporately to see how we might have offended God, which may get in the way of his helping us. We should remember when about 10 years ago Cape Town was subject to a series of Islamic terrorist attacks. (Actually they terrorised other Muslims more than they terrorised anyone else in an effort to intimidate to get support). Cape Town Christians held a day of prayer in which a meeting of 50 000 people prayed for an end to the terrorism. Shortly afterward, the police managed to break the terrorist network and the attacks stopped. The police did a good job, but wouldn’t have succeeded without God’s help.
If America wants God’s continued help in the war on terror, they need to follow Lincoln’s attitude of humble reverence to God and not the boasting of Obama.