Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. (Exodus 1:8)
Here we have an example of a man, a national leader, who did not know, and therefore did not appreciate, the influence of Godly people in his nation’s past. Joseph had faithfully followed the God of Israel and was used by God to save the nation of Egypt from famine, yet all the good done by Joseph had been forgotten. Pharaoh did not know what Joseph had done for his country, and instead he opposed the God of Israel.
Are we not much like that today? We are a nation that has largely forgotten how God blessed our nation and caused it to prosper, and rather than seek the truth of our Godly heritage, we instead opposed the God of our history.
In addressing the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin said in part:
In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.
To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.
In President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation appointing a national fast day, Lincoln wrote:
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.
Washington and Lincoln were not alone in recognizing the hand of God and realizing our need to acknowledge Him and depend upon Him, but are our schoolchildren taught this anymore? No, but rather, a generation has risen that does not know Joseph—they do not know that many of the great men and women in our nation’s history trusted in the God of the Bible and knew that we must continue to do so in order to remain a great nation. Now, we often have many wicked and/or ignorant leaders and educators who do not want our children to be taught these truths. Like Pharaoh, not only do they not know the God our history, but they oppose Him and do not want the truth to be taught in our schools or mentioned in any public forum.