(This series is taken from “What Gives America?” an essay by Benaiah Fredericks, a new contributor to tpog.com team.)
With the English Puritan’s early 17th century decision to leave home and kin and sail to the New World, we have an example of the faith first seen in Abram (Abraham). The Lord appeared to his servant while he lived in Ur of the Chaldees (also Mesopotamia, Acts 7:2). God told Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1b NIV)
Through Abraham’s obedience–and the Pilgrim’s as well–all the nations of the world have indeed been blessed (Genesis 12:3b). By connecting America’s history with its Biblical origins, we discover how the faith of a small group of religious dissenters paints a real-life picture of Abraham’s faith.
What made Abraham special? Consider his bloodlines. He was a 10th generation direct descendant of Noah (Genesis 11:10-26). Noah and his offspring entered into a covenant with God (Genesis 9:7-9). Then, later, more promises came to Noah’s descendants, not just to Abraham. In Genesis, God spoke to son Isaac also promising him offspring like the stars of the heavens (26:4) and then grandson Jacob (32:12). God was not done. Through Jacob, a promise was made to Abraham’s great-great-grandson Ephraim and his offspring. Of Joseph’s two sons, Jacob blessed Ephraim, saying, “…and his descendants will become a group of nations.” (Genesis 48:19)
Despite Ephraim’s history of idolatry and disobedience, God made it known that he would not break his promise.
How can I give you up Ephraim? How can I hand you over Israel?… My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim. For I am God, and not man–the Holy One among you. They will follow the LORD; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. (Hosea 11:8-10)
Words must be studied or we risk missing the spiritual and physical link between Ephraim’s children and America’s Puritan heritage. First, as we saw with Noah to Abraham to Ephraim and beyond, God follows bloodlines. His promises to the children are irrevocable.
God is not man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)
God’s word is trustworthy. His covenant never included all of earth’s inhabitants, but we know it does include Ephraim.
Knowledge of the kingdoms of Ephraim (Israel) and Judah is crucial. For the Israelites carried off in the 722 B.C. Assyrian captivity and scattering (Diaspora), God’s heart is displayed in the affectionate “Ephraim.”
Recall God’s promise: Ephraim’s descendants would become a group of nations (Genesis 48:19). Was this ever fulfilled? It is likely, but the complete fulfillment is still to come.”
How do we recognize Ephraim’s offspring? Because of the Diaspora, geography and ethnicity are unreliable indicators. Ephraim’s genealogies dating back to the Patriarchs are lost. What we have is the Bible and, among the nations, we have evidences of faith like Abraham (Genesis 15:6).
No intended disrespect, but the Christian or spiritual founding and settling of America began with Europeans. Note The Mayflower Compact, “The First Landing Cross” (see Part 1) and an entry in Christopher Columbus’ journal. (“No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His Holy Service.” —- Christopher Columbus)
The spiritual connection was not exclusively European. Other children of Ephraim arrived–some in chains–from each inhabited continent and island nation. They still come.
God swore and will not change his mind. He would not carry out his fierce anger, nor turn and devastate Ephraim (Hosea 11:8). Instead, they (the people of Ephraim) will follow the Lord, meaning their offspring will obey Him like Abraham did.
Next, we will consider the promise “…his children will come trembling from the west.” Has “from the west” been fulfilled? Are God’s children in the West, Ephraim and Judah, due for a repeat of a major Biblical negative event?