July 4: A call to prayer for America

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

The War had entered the third year. 8,000 had died in battle in the Revolutionary War. But this War killed far more. September 17, 1862 saw 22,000 men die in one day. 214,938 lives would be lost in combat – even more would die of disease. One in four soldiers who went to war – would never return home. It was getting difficult to recruit soldiers in the North. A draft act was passed. Riots broke out in parts of New York City. The President was still grieving the death of his 11 year old son, just one year earlier. Senator James Harlan called for the President to declare a day for national prayer and humiliation before God. On March 30th, Abraham Lincoln issued the following:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own 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, insomuch 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.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

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.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

April 19: The Allegory of Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

An allegory is a a story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning. It is noteworthy that this President would achieve his greatest triumph on Palm Sunday (when Lee surrendered to Grant, ending the War), only to be quickly followed by his assassination on Good Friday.

Today is the 154th Good Friday “since the assassination of the youthful skeptic who became the most religious of all Presidents and who strove like no other to know and do the will of God.” (WI Family Council).

That skeptic, Abraham Lincoln, was in the Oval Office before Phineas Gurley was able to lead him to the Lord after the death of his second son, Willie. (Marvin Olasky)

In our post-Christian nation, many may not be interested in the message of Good Friday and Easter. But perhaps the interesting parallels of the Civil War may help you point your skeptic friends to the Savior.

Abraham Lincoln saw the Civil War as a form of atonement for the nation’s sins. He knew that sin must be atoned for with a blood sacrifice.

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.”

Second Inaugural Address, March 4th 1865

This would be a substitutionary atoning sacrifice – people not directly involved in the sin would die – similar to that of 1 Chronicles 21.

So how can man receive the benefits of atonement? Lincoln shows the key to national, and personal healing as he called the nation to prayer, with a prayer that we can still pray today!

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own 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.

March 30th, 1863 Fasting Proclamation

Genuine repentance and dependence upon God – another way of saying what Jesus said as He began His ministry:

And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Mark 1:15

Let’s pray today that our loved ones will repent and believe as well!

Let us pray also that our nation may return to the LORD God!