I took off some time to watch the inauguration of Donald John Trump. The peaceful transition of power. It was quite a sight to behold. I could not help but think as I was watching the inauguration and all of the festivities of what happened March 4, 1865. This was the second inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln. Those words forever etched in the annals of history. “With high hope for the future,” but “no prediction in regard to it” that is the future said Abraham Lincoln, “is ventured.”
Lincoln went on to say,
The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
I was thinking that Abraham Lincoln died precisely forty-one days after he penned those words and then spoke them at the inauguration. My mind flashed back to the prophet Isaiah:
All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever….
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?….
Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust….
Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing….
He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff
(Isaiah 40:6-8, 12, 15, 17, 23-24 NIV).
Interestingly enough, when you think about the proclamation that Lincoln made for a national day of fasting and prayer. I loved what he said:
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.
I bring all that up because when we see the pomp and the power sometimes we think we can rely on the arm of flesh, but ultimately, we are totally and completely reliant on the arm of the Lord.
Blog adapted from the January 21, 2017 Bible Answer Man broadcast.