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Memorial Days

Last Sabbath was Armed Forces Day, a day to honor our military services. This coming Thursday is Memorial day, originally called Decoration Day, a day for showing our gratitude by remembering the sacrifice of our veterans and all those who died for this country, but particularly those who died in battle. May 30th has been the traditional Memorial Day. It is traditionally a day of parades patriotic speeches and flags. But since the National Holidays Act of 1971, it is observed on the last Monday in May, regardless of the date, in order to give everyone a three day weekend. It is still observed with parades and speeches and flags, but now, most people seem more aware of the pleasures of a three day weekend than of honoring our war dead. In fact, in a recent Gallup poll, only about 28% of Americans know the meaning of Memorial Day. Most now know it only as a three day weekend.

Last June 6th marked the sixty-ninth anniversary of D-Day. D-Day was the name given to the first day of the assault on Hitler's fortress Europe along the Normandy Coast of France by American, British, and Canadian forces during World War II. It is a kind of memorial day too for the estimated 1500 to 4900 troops who were killed that first day. The exact date some died is unknown but the huge American military graveyards at Normandy give mute testimony to the sacrifices paid by the American and British military in that monumental military operation.

Where did Memorial Day come from? How did it become a national holiday? Where does God come into all this - or does He? David addressed God's part in wars in the book of Psalms. Let's read about it:

Psa 33:13-19 (NKJV) The LORD [YHVH] looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. {14} From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; {15} He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works. {16} No king <is> saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. {17} A horse <is> a vain hope for safety; Neither shall it deliver <any> by its great strength. {18} Behold, the eye of the LORD [YHVH] <is> on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, {19} To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine.

Today I want to discuss some thoughts on the meaning of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day was first founded on May 30, 1868 to honor the war dead of the American civil war. It was observed by both sides, north and south, of that war. It was first observed at Arlington Cemetery by the placing of flowers on the graves of the war dead of both Union and Confederate soldiers. That practice continues but now includes the placing of small American flags at the graves of each fallen veteran. On each Memorial Day, the President or his designee places a wreath of flowers at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery.

Memorial Day is an opportunity for Americans to say "Thank You" to our brave defenders of freedom and their families, especially the children they have left behind. In declaring a day of memorial to those who had died in service to our country, General John Logan, then Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed on May 5, 1868:

"....let us in this solemn preserve renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude - the soldier's widow and orphan."

Various cities and towns have Memorial Day parades by Veterans Organizations, patriotic citizens, and schools. Until about 1960 respect and appreciation toward veterans was demonstrated by virtually all Americans. But since the 1960s Americans have shown a declining interest in veterans and the positive side of American history, particularly American military history. However, with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and with the news media and liberal politicians emphasizing the losses in this war, public interest has grown somewhat. Why this decline in patriotism? Why do more and more cities discontinue their Memorial Day observances? Why do more and more citizens look at our national holidays as just another day off work, another day to watch the ball game, the Indianapolis 500, go to the beach or participate in some other form of recreation? Why are so few flags displayed by the public on this day?

I want to review the course of U.S. military history. We could start as far back as Columbus, a man who pictured himself as fulfilling a great purpose of God. But this sermon does have a time limit and I would like to talk about events in the lifetime of you listeners, so I'm going to limit it to events after about 1930.

World War II was destined to affect more nations, damage more property, cost more money, and kill more people than any past war. Some estimate total military and civilian deaths to have been about fifty-five million - fifty-five million people.

In the 1920s and 1930s serious economic depression stalked the world. In an effort to solve the depression, nations installed strong leaders who promised corrective measures at any cost. The cost in Germany and Italy was dictatorial, nationalistic government. Japan already had a militaristic government carried over from her conquests in Manchuria and China. Britain's Winston Churchill described Hitler's rise to power thus:

"Into that void strode a maniac of ferocious genius, the expression of the most virulent hatred that has ever corroded the human breast ... Corporal Hitler."

Of all the people on earth, Hitler believed the Jews were the worst (although Slavics came close) - and should be exterminated from this planet. On January 30th, 1933, Hitler was named chancellor of Germany. Dr. Joseph Goebbels was named Minister of Propaganda. "Like a servant of God," Goebbels wrote in his diary, "Hitler fulfills the task which was given to him and he does justice in its brightest and best sense to his historical mission." In his newspaper, Der Angriff, he wrote: "What diligence and knowledge and school learning cannot solve, God announces through the mouths of those whom He has chosen. Genius in all fields of human endeavor means - to have been called. When Hitler speaks all resistance breaks down before the magical effect of his words." It was true that when Hitler spoke, many Germans became transfixed under his almost hypnotic spell.

By 1936, Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland to see how Britain and France would react to it. Britain and France were preoccupied with Mussolini's aggression in Ethiopia. France's 100 divisions could have destroyed Hitler's feeble forces but France did nothing. This should be a lesson for critics of intervention to remove dangerous dictators.

Hitler's next act was to take over Austria through intimidation. This added 7 million to the Third Reich and put it in a very good strategic position in central Europe.

Hitler's next goal was to take over half of Czechoslovakia. His excuse was that he wished to liberate the three and a quarter million Germans who lived in Sudetenland. Czechoslovakia began mobilizing for war. Hitler feared that England and France might side with Czechoslovakia and begin a general war. The Czechs' defiance put Hitler into a rage. "How dare they accuse Germany of being about to commit aggression." The French and British, however, wanted peace at any price. They sent Edouard Daladier and Nevill Chamberlain to meet the German dictator and offer a deal - they would allow Hitler to take half of Czechoslovakia. Hitler's response? "I have fallen from Heaven." Sound familiar? Hitler, of course, took all of Czechoslovakia.

But France and Britain and Russia were at last alerted. To remove the threat of Russia, Hitler secretly offered her half of Poland. The offer was too good to ignore. Russia and Germany signed a nonaggression pact on August 23rd, 1939. Hitler was troubled by reports England and France might go to war if he attacked Poland. On the 26th, the following was reported:

"Hitler suddenly got up and, becoming very excited and nervous, walked up and down saying, as though to himself, that Germany was irresistible. Suddenly he stopped in the middle of the room and stood staring. His voice was blurred and his behavior that of a completely abnormal person. 'If there should be war, then I shall build U-boats, build U-boats, U-boats, U-boats.'"

Five days later Germany attacked Poland. Hitler's orders to his troops: "Close your eyes to pity. Act brutally!" Germany's armored vehicles made quick work of Poland's horse cavalry. Britain and France declared war on Germany the same day, September 1st. On the 17th, Russia attacked Poland from the east.

Germany invaded Denmark, Norway, and The Netherlands next. By May 14th, 1940, they had taken Belgium and were attacking France. It took them six days to cross France and reach the channel. 400,000 British, French and Belgian troops were surrounded on the coast at Dunkirk. At this point in history, Hitler issued one of his strangest orders: "Dunkirk is to be left to the Luftwaffe (the German Air Force)." Then another strange incident occurred - a suffocating fog closed in. The English channel became calm. Every civilian boat in the area was ordered to Dunkirk. Over 340,000 were evacuated from May 26th until June 4th. This evacuation has been named the "Miracle of Dunkirk". In Churchill's words, "a Guiding Hand interfered to make sure the Allied forces were not annihilated at Dunkirk."

On June 14th, one month after being invaded, France surrendered to Germany. Britain was then all alone but didn't have long to wait for its turn. On July 10th, Germany began bombing British airfields, aircraft factories and radar stations. From July until September 7th, Germany continued this attack. Then on September 7th, Germany switched targets to British cities. This change came just in the nick of time because the British Fighter Command had been severely damaged and could not continue much longer. The British felt they could sacrifice cities if they could remain in control of their skies. Germany needed to destroy the British Royal Air Force because it alone could destroy the planned German sea invasion. By October 12th, Hitler realized he could not destroy the Royal Air Force and cancelled the sea invasion until the following spring. He later postponed the invasion again until he could destroy Russia. Another interference from the Guiding Hand.

The British needed military supplies from the U.S. in a desperate way so the U.S. sent its convoys to Britain under U.S. military escort. Many of these convoys were decimated by German submarines. The American military service which suffered the biggest percentage of deaths during World War II was the Merchant Marine. In May 1941, the Germans sent their biggest and newest battleship, the Bismarck, into the Atlantic to attack Allied shipping. The British navy pulled out all the stops to find and sink her. But the Bismarck was in such a hurry to slip into the Atlantic that she failed to top off her fuel tanks in Norway and so, by the time the British caught up with her, she had to return to France for more fuel. Nearly the entire British Atlantic fleet was after her. The British had to attack her by air because the Bismarck's guns had longer range than the British. About 400 miles off France, one British plane managed to hit the Bismarck's rudder with a torpedo. With nearly the entire Atlantic fleet chasing her, the Bismarck's fate was doomed. Regarding the Bismarck, the British commander-in-Chief, Admiral Sir John Tovey commented:

One is very diffident [shy] about these things, but for a long time I have been a great believer in prayer. In the last few weeks I have prayed as I have never prayed before in my life. If anyone had said that we could meet the Bismarck, that great ship with her main armament of 9 inch and 15 inch guns unimpaired, and come out of the action without loss of a single British life, no one would have believed him. It is incredible. It can only be attributed to one thing. I firmly believe that the result of this action was due to Divine Guidance and Intervention.

Hitler had hoped to knock Russia out of the war before America joined her European Allies. But Japan spoiled that hope when she attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Now the industrially mighty U.S. would immediately gear up for all-out war production. At that time America was self-sufficient and did not depend upon other countries for oil or steel or electronics or shipbuilding or very much of anything. America's industrial strength was unsurpassed in the world. The words "Made in USA", found on nearly everything, indicated quality. America's president, President Roosevelt, and Britain's Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, were the two great leaders the free world needed at that time.

One of Germany's major goals was the middle east oil fields. To capture them Field Marshall Rommel, one of the most brilliant of all World War II generals, was about to attack Alexandria, Egypt, and thereby control traffic through the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal was critical for the movement of men and material to and from India. In mid-August 1942, Lt. Gen. Bernard Montgomery was put in charge of the British Eighth Army in Egypt. What kind of a man was "Monty"? He was known as the "Spartan General". He neither smoked nor drank, and he didn't swear. He rose at 6 AM and went to bed at 9 PM. He had a fanatical belief in physical fitness. Monty's recipe for physical and spiritual fitness was that each man should run a long course before breakfast (regardless of the weather) and he read the Bible daily. At the Battle of El Alamein, the British Eighth Army decisively defeated Rommel and sent the Germans fleeing westward.

The invasion of Italy followed but the largest military operation in Europe was the Allied landing at Normandy. The Germans knew it was coming. They had fortified the entire Atlantic coast from Norway to Spain by an Atlantic wall. Rommel had warned Hitler that the first 24 hours of the landing would be critical for both the Allies and the Germans. The Allies had to be stopped on the beaches. They could not be allowed to penetrate inland. The Atlantic Wall at Normandy was penetrated in less than one day. General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, would later describe the 175,000 troop massive military build-up as "a mighty engine of righteous destruction."

The landing on June 6th, 1944 was inserted in a lull of an Atlantic storm that had been plaguing the French coast. As a result of the storm many top German generals were away from their commands, believing that the weather would prevent a landing. Rommel himself was visiting his wife in Germany whose birthday turned out to be on June 6th. Operation Overlord achieved a complete surprise. A few hours after the landing, President Roosevelt included the following in a statement to the American public:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set out upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization and to set free a suffering humanity.....

King George VI told the peoples of Britain:

Four years ago our nation and Empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall. Tested as never before in our history, in God's providence we survived that test; the spirit of the people, resolute, dedicated, burned like a bright flame, lit surely from those Unseen Fires which nothing can quench.
Now once more a supreme test has to be faced. This time the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause....
That we may be worthily matched with this new summons of destiny, I desire solemnly to call my people to prayer and dedication.
We are not unmindful of our own shortcomings, past and present. We shall ask not that God may do our will, but that we may be enabled to do the will of God; and we dare to believe that God has used our nation and Empire as an instrument for fulfilling His high purpose.

Germany surrendered less than a year later.

Let me now turn to the war in the Pacific. As I mentioned earlier, Japan attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. More than half of America's Pacific fleet was destroyed or severely damaged in the surprise attack. 347 of the 394 planes on Oahu were destroyed. 2403 lives were lost and another 1178 were injured. Japan followed up the attack with invasions of the Philippines, Guam, and Wake Islands. Singapore and the Philippines were soon occupied by the Japanese.

But there soon came good news too. On June 4th, 1942, the Japanese attempt to occupy Midway Island, at the western end of the 1000 mile long Hawaiian Island group, was thwarted. Japan lost four aircraft carriers in the attempt. That action left Japan short of aircraft carriers and, even more important, the loss of their air crews.

In August 1942, the U.S. landed forces on Guadalcanal to stem the expansion of Japanese forces toward Australia. Japanese control of the air field on Guadalcanal would threaten the sea link and communications between the U.S. and Australia. Thereafter began the island hopping campaign toward Japan's home islands. As the U.S. captured island after island, its ability to begin bombing Japan's factories and cities increased. American submarines decimated Japanese merchant ships bringing raw materials to Japan for their war effort.

In October of 1943 General MacArthur returned to the Philippines. As soon as the landing was made, the Japanese navy made an all-out attempt to destroy the landing. They sent nearly every ship they had to the landing area. Following their losses from the initial battle, they decoyed the main body of the U.S. Third Fleet north and away from the landings. Only a small invasion-supporting naval Task Unit was left to protect the landings. Another Japanese battle fleet then approached nearly within gun range of the beaches, but then, for some unknown reason, they turned and ran. When the battle ended, Japan had lost four carriers, three battleships, nine destroyers, and ten cruisers. America's Admiral Sprague later summed up that decisive Leyte Gulf battle as follows:

"The failure of the enemy main body and encircling light forces to completely wipe out all vessels of this Task Unit can be attributed to our successful smoke screen, our torpedo counterattack, continuous harassment of the enemy by bomb, torpedo and strafing air attacks, timely maneuvers, and the definite partiality of Almighty God."

Prime Minister Churchill had made a similar statement in 1942 when he said:

I have a feeling sometimes that some Guiding Hand has interfered. I have a feeling that we have a Guardian because we have a great Cause, and we shall have that Guardian so long as we serve that Cause faithfully. And what a Cause it is.

Shortly after the Japanese surrender aboard the battleship Missouri, General MacArthur made the following historic broadcast to the American nation:

"Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. The skies no longer rain death - the seas bear only commerce - men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world is quietly at peace. The holy mission has been completed. And in reporting this to you, the people, I speak for the thousands of silent lips forever stilled among the jungles and the beaches and in the deep waters of the Pacific which marked the way. I speak for the unnamed brave millions homeward bound to take up the challenge of that future which they did so much to salvage from the brink of disaster.
As I look back on the long, tortuous trail from those grim days of Bataan and Corregidor, when an entire world lived in fear, when democracy was on the defensive everywhere, when modern civilization trembled in the balance, I thank a merciful God that He has given us the faith, the courage and the power from which to mold victory. We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.
A new era is upon us. Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. The destructiveness of war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concept of war.
Men since the beginning of time have sought peace. Various methods through the ages have attempted to devise an international process to prevent or settle disputes between nations. From the very start, workable methods were found insofar as individual citizens were concerned, but the mechanics of an instrumentality of larger international scope have never been successful.
Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.
We stand in Tokyo today reminiscent of our countryman, Commander Perry, ninety-two years ago. His purpose was to bring to Japan an era of enlightenment and progress, by lifting the veil of isolation to the friendship, trade, and commerce of the world. But alas the knowledge thereby gained of Western science was forged into an instrument of oppression and human enslavement.
Freedom of expression, freedom of action, even freedom of thought were denied through appeal to superstition, and through the application of force. We are committed by the Potsdam Declaration of principles to see that the Japanese people are liberated from this condition of slavery. It is my purpose to implement this commitment just as rapidly as the armed forces are demobilized and other essential steps taken to neutralize the war potential.
The energy of the Japanese race, if properly directed, will enable expansion vertically rather than horizontally. If the talents of the race are turned into constructive channels, the country can lift itself from its present deplorable state into a position of dignity.
To the Pacific basin has come the vista of a new emancipated world. Today, freedom is on the offensive, democracy is on the march. Today, in Asia as well as in Europe, unshackled peoples are tasting the full sweetness of liberty, the relief from fear.
In the Philippines, America has evolved a model for the new free world of Asia. In the Philippines, America has demonstrated that peoples of the East and peoples of the West may walk side by side in mutual respect and with mutual benefit. The history of our sovereignty there has now the full confidence of the East.
And so, my fellow countrymen, today I report to you that your sons and daughters have served you well and faithfully with the calm, deliberate, determined fighting spirit of the American soldier and sailor, based upon a tradition of historical truth as against the fanaticism of an enemy supported only by mythological fiction. Their spiritual strength and power had brought us through to victory. They are homeward bound - take care of them."

Following World War II came other wars. Korea and Vietnam were the major ones. The Korean war ended in a stalemate. The Vietnam war in defeat. But the loss of these wars was not the direct result of defeat of the American fighting man. They were the result of indecision by America's leaders. "Once war is forced upon us," said General MacArthur, "there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end. War's very object is victory - not prolonged indecision. In war, indeed, there can be no substitute for victory." But, alas, it was General MacArthur's all-out victory approach to the Korean War which caused him to be relieved of his command in the Pacific. General MacArthur and General Lee were probably the best generals America has ever had but both ended their careers having their principles criticized and just fading away without being able to teach the reasons for their successes to others.

Indecision with no victory has been the hallmark of the U.S. military policy since World War II. Korea was followed by the Cuban missile crises where we left the Cuban freedom fighters on the beach to die after promising them air cover. Then we made an agreement with Russia not to ever invade Cuba if they would just take out their missiles.

The Vietnam war actually started in 1950 while the U.S. was involved in Korea. Here again, MacArthur's admonition that there is no substitute for victory was ignored by President Johnson and his military advisors. It is my belief that President Truman, President Kennedy and President Johnson lacked the faith to face Russia nose to nose and so backed down to a no-win position. The protracted Vietnam war, however, resulted in public resentment against the government and the individual GI. Distrust of government is still with us. MacArthur said that one would have to be insane to become involved in a land war in Asia, but even if it were unavoidable, and it wasn't, our political leaders should have pursued victory, not indecision and compromise and ultimate defeat - the first war the U.S. ever lost. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Arthur Goldberg stated in February 1967: "We are not engaged in a 'holy war' against Communism." The next month he added: "We're ready for unconditional negotiations!" These leaders, lacking faith in God, sold out our fighting men.

General Curtis LeMay, who led the bombing of Japan and later headed the Strategic Air Command, said:

"The popular philosophy that we can, by cautious and timid military tactics, keep the war from escalating into a larger conflict is the ultimate in military blindness. The only way to win a war is to escalate it in one way or another above what the enemy can take. If we feel that we can't win without unacceptable risk, we have no business fighting in the first place ... Thus, whenever we commit our young men to mortal combat, we should be equally prepared to commit our leaders, our cities, our families and civilians - our own or the enemy's. Modern war is that serious, and we should not forget it."

One bright spot in this dark story of indecision without victory occurred in 1975 off the coast of Cambodia. The Communists in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were looking for excuses to further humiliate the U.S. giant. On May 12, the Cambodians fired on the container ship Mayaguez, boarded her and forced it into the port of Sihanoukville. President Ford called this seizure "an act of piracy." Diplomatic initiatives produced no results. President Ford ordered the Marines to retake the ship and crew. Punitive air strikes were carried out on military targets and an oil depot while Marines captured a strategic island. The Cambodians released the ship and crew with the statement, "our weak country cannot have a confrontation with the U.S.." What did the rescue operation accomplish other than the recovery of the ship and its 39 man crew? An editorial entitled "The Eagle Still Has Claws" in the Toronto Star gives us the answer: "The free-world alliance will be greatly reassured and heartened that its leading power ... still has the will and capacity to act decisively against unprovoked aggression."

The Gulf War involving Kuwait may be the latest evidence of the policy of indecision without victory. Yes, we destroyed the invading armies of Iraq, but our military and civilian leaders in Washington chose not to pursue complete victory by conquering Iraq. Each time we choose indecision over victory, we only postpone the inevitable. Like Hitler's unchallenged invasion of the Rhineland in 1936, when the U.S. is too busy to police these unfinished wars, the enemy will conclude his treachery.

We are still awaiting the results of our current occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. This time we have been forced into what is essentially a religious war. What will be the outcome? You can read of some possibilities in our sermon "Where Are We in God's Master Plan."

But we have other problem areas in the world today. One of our previous governments allowed some of our nuclear weapon technology to be released to our enemies. We have released our strategic and commercial choke-point, the Panama Canal, to Red Chinese control, an avowed enemy. We have been invaded by over twelve million Mexican and other illegal immigrants, many of which want the entire southwest US either returned to Mexico or used to form a new country called Aztlan (the mythical place of origin of the Aztec peoples). This movement, called by many The Mexican Intifada (Arabic word for uprising), is a perfect parallel to the demands made by the so-called Palestinians for the God-given land of Israel. In fact, some claim Mexican Indians descended from Hittites (Refer to Deu 7:1 and Josh 1:1-4). Joel 3:2 and Amos 9:15 show God's displeasure with countries which give away His covenant land and refuse to let Israelites live on their land. Let's look at these scriptures.

(Joel 3:2 NKJV) I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land.
(Amos 9:15 NKJV) I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them," Says the LORD your God.

After Great Britain gave to the Arabs (i.e. Jordan) most of the land which the League of Nations had set aside for Jews, and later refused to let Jewish refugees trying to escape from Hitler's genocide in Europe to come to Israel, Britain lost her empire, the biggest empire the world has ever known.

The U.S. government has applied much pressure on Israel to give up the Sinai, Gaza, Samaria, and Judea. It seems as though every time the US pressures Israel to give up more covenant land, the US experiences disaster, measure for measure. For instance, one week after Gaza was evacuated by Israel with the loss of 1200 Jewish homes, green houses, synagogues, and businesses, hurricane Katrina arrived on the US gulf coast and destroyed 200,000 US homes.

During President Carter's brief four years in office, a very significant chain of measure for measure events occurred. Soon after taking office in 1977 he began discussions with Israel on a peace treaty with Egypt which included the transfer of the strategic Sinai peninsula to Egypt. At about the same time, 1977-78, he offered to release the Panama Canal in order to improve US relations with Latin America. On March 26, 1979 he was present as Israel formally gave the Sinai peninsula to Egypt. Was the loss of the Panama Canal (without a shot being fired) the penalty the US suffered for its efforts to give away Israeli land?

Well, there were more penalties to come. On November 4, 1979 the US Embassy and its employees in Teheran was seized by Iranian radicals. On April 24, 1980 Carter authorized an American military rescue effort but would not allow a force sufficient to do the task. The rescue effort failed. President Carter graduated from the Naval Academy but he sure didn't follow the advice of the great military leaders of his day, some of whom we just discussed. Instead, in my opinion, he demonstrated cowardice, lack of wisdom, and appeasement.

The failed rescue effort, the loss of the strategic Panama Canal, the continued imprisonment of US Embassy employees all contributed to Carter's failure to be reelected in 1980. But there's still more: Panama then contracted Red China to manage this vital strategic passage with its former US bases, thereby putting all American cites within missile range. Doesn't look like US relations with Latin America, especially Venezuela, improved either, does it?

Is the threatened loss of the U.S. southwest a potential punishment? Could it be the potential punishment for US demands that Israel evacuate Samaria, Judea, and part of Jerusalem, all historically Israeli covenant land? We seem to be under the curse of Deut 28:52 instead of the blessings of Gen 22:17. Let's read these two verses.

Deut 28:52 (NKJV) "They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the LORD your God has given you.

God is warning a sinning Israelite nation which He had previously blessed thru Abraham:

Gen 22:16-17 [NKJV] . . . . ."By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son; 17 "blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.

North Korea threatens South Korea, Guam, and Japan; and exports nuclear weapon technology to middle east terrorists. Chinese generals now threaten Los Angeles and China can threaten U.S. cities from former U.S. bases in Panama. Our military has been reduced in bases, manpower, and maybe even supplies. Huge pressures are being applied to our citizens to give up personal guns which could be used for self defense. Individual freedoms and privacy are under constant threat by our government, even to an attempt to monitor our bank accounts and reportedly telephone calls and computer data without court order. We seem to be well along on the path to national captivity. The only thing we seem to lack is the national awareness of how close we are to disaster. Most citizens are blinded to our dangers by apathy and an unrelenting obsession for more pleasure and wealth, encouraged by radical teachings by university instructors.

What happened after World War II to change our government's attitude of successful warfare and respect for individual freedoms to one of compromise instead of victory and shame for our military power? We were reading from Deut 28. Let's turn to verse 15 of Deut 28 to find out.

15 "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:

As you read through the remainder of Deut 28, you will see why and in what ways this country is having the problems it is having. The last verses of Deut 28 describe the final days if we as a nation do not repent and turn around and respect God's laws instead of rejecting public mention of Him, His Biblical instructions, and those who follow them. The news media is full of examples of government and personal rejections of our Creator's instuctions.

But there is more to the decline of the U.S. than its national sins. God determines the course of nations. God determines their life and destiny, yes, even of the U.S. and yes, even of the present day country of Israel. How often have you asked yourself, "Why has God blessed the little country of Israel when most of its people are secular, reject Jesus (Yeshua) as their Messiah, and do not even obey God's commandments? Most seem proud that they are Jews but leave God almost completely out of their lives." The answer is that God is working out His purpose. Perhaps we can get a glimmer of understanding of this from Romans 9:6. I am going to read this from the Jewish New Testament.

Romans 9:6-8 (JNT) But the present condition of Israel does not mean that the Word of God has failed. For not everyone from Israel is truly part of Israel; {7} indeed, not all of the descendants are seed of Abraham; rather , "What is to be called your 'seed' will be in Yitzchak (Isaac)." {8} In other words, it is not the physical children who are children of God, but the children the promise refers to who are considered seed.

Verses 11 and 12 goes on to say, "so that God's plan might remain a matter of His sovereign choice, not dependent on what they did, but on God, who does the calling."

Romans 11 compares the calling of Jews and Gentiles. I suggest you read this chapter to see how God is calling both Gentile and Jew. Verse 1 tells us if God has rejected the Jews.

(Rom 11:1-2 NKJV) I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. {2} God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. . . .

The children of God are from those people whom God has called. These verses are discussing who the children of God really are, but I think they also show us very clearly that God determines the destiny of all nations and peoples. I believe that the rise and decline of the U.S. is all part of God's plan for these end days. God is sifting out His people regardless of what country they are living in. In Christ's prayer before His crucifixion, which is the real Lord's Prayer, He described the difference between God's chosen people and the rest of the world. Let's read it.

(John 17:6-26 NKJV) "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. {7} "Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. {8} "For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. {9} "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. {10} "And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. {11} "Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. {12} "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. {13} "But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. {14} "I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. {15} "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. {16} "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. {17} "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. {18} "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. {19} "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. {20} "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; {21} "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. {22} "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: {23} "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. {24} "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. {25} "O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. {26} "And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

Brethren, there is a difference between those who God is calling and the rest of the world. In these end times, is it not logical that when a nation rejects our Creator by preventing His Word from being read in schools and public libraries, by prohibiting prayer at sports events, by courts ordering His word out of Halls of Justice, by countries forcing the give-away of God's covenant land to enemies of Israel, by government leaders equating Allah with the true God and celebrating Islamic religious holidays even in the White House, by congressional persecution of strong Christian leaders, by public statements that we have accomplished our successes only by our own talents, by a nation which legalizes abortion and is attempting to legalize same-sex marriages, by a nation whose morals have gone into a cesspool, that our Creator might select and protect his own people out of that God-rejecting nation and let that nation suffer the results of its sins, even though, like ancient Israel, it began as a God-fearing nation?

Deut 12 tells us not to accept the ways of pagan nations.

(Deu 12:29-30 NKJV) "When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, {30} "take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.'

But then, followers of main stream Christianity tend to reject the laws and statutes of the Old Testament. So, the President and many of his advisors may be influenced by just such a false doctrine.

Revelation 18 is generally accepted as a condemnation of a fallen church, but does verse 4 also refer to God's people who live in a fallen national society?

(Rev 18:1-5 NKJV) After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. {2} And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! {3} "For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury." {4} And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. {5} "For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

A plague, from G4141; is a stroke; by implication. a wound; figuratively a calamity: What plagues? Will God's plagues hit America too? Does Zech 14 give us some answers?

(Zec 14:1-3 NKJV) Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. {2} For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity [exile], But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off [uprooted] from the city. {3} Then the LORD will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle.

Yes, America is included in "all the nations." In President Bush's meetings with the leader of the so-called Palestinians, he announced that Jerusalem must be shared with the Palestinians. President Obama seems to have the same plan. And if Israel continues to refuse to relinquish Jerusalem, what then? We have just read the answer. Only divine protection can protect His people from the divine wrath the LORD will have for the countries in which His people reside.

Now, what can we learn from all the disappointing post-World War II military events? In each event we find a common thread: Since World War II the government and certain boot-licking military leaders have shown a tendency of indecisiveness, lack of faith and hypocrisy (e.g., we are in a war against terrorists and the countries that harbor them, except for the Palestinians and the Syrians; we condemn the destruction of the Koran but the Saudis can destroy the Bible; we claim to be the author of the Road Map Agreement but it actually came from Saudi Arabia). All too many Presidents and other influential leaders of the U.S., since the end of World War II, have had a reputation of profanity, temper, deceitfulness, immorality, and indifference to God's laws. Some are just foolish. Some, self-righteously try to include pagan philosophies in their Judeo-Christian values. But typically, when moral, principled Presidents were in office, military position and respect improved because the Eternal blessed this land in the process of rewarding those leaders. During other presidencies, military position and respect declined. A fear of God, i.e., a fear of breaking God's laws - moral reverence, generates faith and decisiveness because leaders know God is behind them. Those who do not care if they please God have to depend on their own judgment and God is often not behind them. Let's read a few scriptures which support what we've just said.

(Prov 9:10 NKJV) "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

The word "fear" is Strong's number 3374 and means moral reverence. Having a knowledge of the Holy One implies having a knowledge of God's plan for nations and individuals as described in the Bible.

(Psa 19:9 NKJV) The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

Good National Leaders must understand and accept the Biblical judgments in both Testaments.

What does all this have to do with Memorial Days? Through it all, through right government decisions and wrong government decisions, the serviceman, who has to risk his life and limb, has continually been willing to do so in patriotic support of his country. It is to the devotion and sacrifice of the servicemen of all U.S. wars that Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day and D-Day are dedicated.

In conclusion, as we observe Memorial Day and the anniversary of D-Day on June 6th, offer up a prayer of thanks to our Creator for His miracles and His support in our military affairs in the past which have assured us the freedoms we enjoy today. And pray for the families of those who have lost sons, fathers, husbands, brothers, grandsons in the present conflict, or seen them seriously injured.

As the public evaluates politicians with Presidential or other high office aspirations, it must judge them not by their looks, their race, their promises of more public money from the publically funded government feeding trough, or their eloquence, but by their character , their integrity, their principles, by their respect and appreciation for God, by their knowledge of His Word, His laws, His promises, and His miracles which have protected and stood by this nation so well in the past. Their honesty is compulsory.

As recent Presidential elections demonstrated, those people who were biblically or religiously oriented, as determined by those who attend church at least once a week, constituted the majority of the votes for the more-conservative candidates. The majority of those who seldom or never attended church favored the more-liberal candidates - liberality being defined as the setting of one's own standards of conduct. This is an indication that this nation is fragmenting into a religious versus a secular society, a pro-God verses anti-God society; a God-fearing versus a Godless society, right in line with Biblical prophesy of the end times. Prophesies such as 2 Tim 3:1-5 and Mat 24:9-13 suggest that the secular will become an increasing threat to personal security and national stability in the last days. We are seeing this phenomena in both the US and Israel. Before we close, let's look at these two explicit scriptures:

(2 Tim 3:1-5 NKJV) But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: {2} For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, {3} unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, {4} traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, {5} having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
(Mat 24:9-13 NKJV) "Then they will deliver you [God's chosen people] up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. {10} "And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. {11} "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. {12} "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. {13} "But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

To survive, this nation must return to the full meaning of its motto In God We Trust in order for us to expect that God will Bless America. We must defeat the current trend toward rejecting Biblical standards and the worship of God. We must heed the words of David, which we read at the beginning of this sermon, "The eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him....", those who fear to disobey him; not on our strength or our wealth, but on our trust in and respect for our God. If we remain dedicated to God and His ways, we shall be saved; not from persecution by an evil world, but saved from eternal death.

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
25 May 2013
Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

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