Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
You may know that I love history, and it will come as no surprise that I got to thinking about the deeper meaning of Lincoln’s famous phrase in the Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven years ago.” He was speaking of the length of time between the founding of the United States as a nation and the Civil War. For those of you who haven’t looked it up, a score is twenty. So eighty-seven years had passed since the end of the Revolution.
In eighty years, a period of time equal to the lifespan of a man, much had happened in the US to make it a world power. More poignantly, the southern states, thanks to their many differences from the north, wanted to become their own nation and had begun fighting for this idea. The Civil War ended after five years of horrible fighting, and many Northerners at least breathed a sigh of relief that their nation was still intact. The point was still taken, though- much could change in eighty years, too much for comfort.
Here is the scary part. Eighty years after Lincoln’s famous little address, the US was embroiled in another conflict- this time the very war that boasts the most casualties in any war ever fought. World War II had struck only one more lifetime late. This time, the socialist nations had agreed to forget about God’s truth and destroy anyone, especially worshipers of the true God, who stood in the way.
Where did they, both the U.S. and the world, go wrong? Frankly, they went without God. Without fail through history, when someone goes in any direction without God, he always ends up in a deadly mess. First the North and South forgot that God said, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) Then the Third Reich- indeed, all the nations who ended up on the losing side- forgot that “Those who live by the sword shall die by it” (Matthew 23:52) and that “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” (Proverbs 10:12).
Eighty years is not a long time. Teens and tweens tend to think that the end of their life is ages away, if it will ever come, but their parents think differently. I’m challenging anybody who reads this (including myself as I write) to keep counting their eighty years and make choices according to what God says. We only have so much time; you may either waste it on wrong or invest it in right. Remember what can happen to anyone, even nominally “under God”, if they forget Him.
As one story goes, a gentlemen at a convention once assured Abraham Lincoln that the North would win the Civil War because God was “on our side.” Lincoln replied, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”