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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Our Unchangeable English God

We are into late March, Easter is just a week away and Spring Equinox is already behind us. That is, here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are already longer than the nights, and therefore by this time we should be enjoying milder, if not warmer weather. Yet it has so far been a very cold month, compared with March last year, when temperatures hit a high of eighteen degrees Celsius. This year temperatures struggle to get past four degrees, way below average for this time of the year. A chilly blast from the North-East keeps the air bitingly cold, day in, day out while much of the country is under a layer of snow, disrupting communications and other public services as we all gasp in surprise at the unseasonal weather. After all, 2012 had an extremely wet summer which ruined many crops across the UK, pushing up the price for the weekly groceries. In a domino-effect, a large number of High Street retail businesses went into administration as consumers tighten their budget belts. The resulting fall in our Economy transferred our once bustling High Streets into near ghost towns, with a large number of outlets boarded up.

Then on top of this, the Media, both on television and in our newspapers, warn us that the Apocalypse is just around the corner for the UK, as the persistent cold weather has caused households right across the land to turn up their heating. Our gas supplies are running out, and our reliance on foreign imports are pushing up fuel prices, where those with lower incomes will be hit the hardest. This is the result of poor foresight by previous Governments in the last four or five decades to ensure that we have adequate storage to meet a long, harsh winter. Gas and even electricity rationing looks to be on the cards, unlike the rest of Europe and the United States where their politicians had far better foresight, and at present, a more adequate storage facilities.

The news of the threat of shortages in fuel storage came less than a week after England was thrashed by Wales in the final of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament. (For the record, the six nations were England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, France and Italy.) As for Football (i.e. Soccer) England had only won the World Cup once, in 1966, and since then the team had never lifted the trophy since, while Brazil had lifted it five times in the tournament's history while the much-maligned Italians lifted it four times. In the early 1980s a game between an English side (Liverpool) and an Italian team (Juventus) was aborted after a crowd of English fans ran amok and caused violence, street battles and wreckage of property in the host country, Belgium, if I recall. So severe was the disruption that the Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, ordered troops to be flown in to repatriate the troublemakers. Since then, or at least, up to recently, English football fans carried a bad reputation wherever an international match was staged. This goes to show how high patriotic emotions international sport can generate - exuberance and joy - or anger, frustration and tears. Sport plays a very big role in English life, a chance to show the world how patriotic and loyal to our country we can be. Despite our inability to win, at least we can take comfort that the organising of the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 were a flying success, despite predictions of a disaster levelled by the critics.

All this detailed above has got me thinking about our nation being "God's Country." Am I being silly or even prejudiced here? Rather, I know at least three Christians of my generation who heartily believe that England has a special place in God's heart, with one of them insisted that the British Empire's invasion into foreign soil was ordained and overseen by the Almighty. Two of these guys used to attend our church in Ascot, while the third attended a nearby parish church before moving to the West Country.

This is nothing new. The idea that England is God's country goes back generations. It is even believed that World War II was won by the Allies against Hitler's Nazi Party, which was the result of a day of national prayer undertaken by the entire nation, when it was thought that Hitler's armies was close to all-out victory, and Britain was about to be taken over by the Nazis.

But the idea of England being God's country goes back at least to the beginning of the nineteenth Century. One of England's most popular hymns is Jerusalem, originating from a poem written by William Blake, and printed in 1808. Then in 1916, during the Great War, Sir Hubert Parry put the poem to music, and created one of the nation's most famous hymns, still sung today at Women's Institutions, some sport events - particular Rugby League, the wedding of Prince William to Catherine in 2011, and other special occasions. These are the lyrics of the first verse:

And did those feet of ancient times
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God,
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

It seems ironic to read that Blake was not impressed with the Church of England, or any other organised religion during his lifetime, due to their repressive attitude towards sexual desires and other pleasures and in support of the Industrial Revolution. Rather, there is a speculation that Blake was a follower of Emanuel Swedenborg, an academic who had weird ideas that the Last Judgement towards all churches had already occurred in 1757, as a result of occult visions which he experienced, with the result that Swedenborg's followers founded the New Church, an offshoot from the Lutherian churches.

William Blake

The rather crazy idea that the young Jesus Christ arrived at Glastonbury with Joseph of Arimathea seems very appealing, even though they were both Jews. Certainly, to have Almighty God walk along England's green mountains and pleasant pastures makes this country unique and close enough to God's heart to support the Empire and to look down on foreigners with a degree of disdain.  However, not only that there is not a shred of evidence that Jesus had ever set foot on these isles, but the development of Darwinism brought in ideas that the English were racially superior to those of other nations, particularly over non-whites.

And such of my experience as a British-born Italian who lived in England all my life. As an adolescent in the 1960s I was called "Spaghetti Face" many times by my fellowmen, along with seeing National Front offensive messages addressed to blacks and Asians to "go home" along with other hostile responses. As for the three Christians who were also patriotic, throughout the early to mid nineties, two were in the church I still attend at Ascot, and I wondered just how often Jesus himself must have shook his head sadly as he watched divisions arise in his church. No matter how hard they tried to hide their feelings towards this Italian, I could instinctly feel the division. The atmosphere between us was tense. I was even teased, and I had this awful dread whenever England played Italy at any international friendly or qualifier. I knew full well that if England had won, then it would have been much wiser to stay at home on the following Sunday than to face a group of gloating smirks.

Around 1994 or 1995 these two ran a midweek youth club with the blessing of the church elders. When the club broke for the summer, a series of slides were shown to the whole congregation. One set of slides showed the youth group outside on a field, playing a version of It's A Knockout, which was an obstacle race where a number of tasks had to be completed to get to the finishing line. Nearby was a giant Union Jack flag, erected on a frame to make it clearly obvious. I was shocked, and I believe, so were the rest of the congregation. When these two appealed for support for the start of the Autumn term, none were offered. Eventually the club was dissolved and both left Ascot for other churches not long afterwards. If only these two had set out to glorify God instead of England! They might have had a much more positive outcome.

The idea that our God is the God of England is not only a lie, but it brought hostility even among church members, if my experience had anything to go by. With it came arrogance and a sense of national superiority. To add to this, our salvation cannot be certain if our God is the God of England.

Yet the Bible informs us that our God is the God of Israel. This is very assuring. It means that God never changes and if he makes a covenant of grace, it is set to stand for eternity. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit made a covenant within the Godhead itself concerning man's salvation, according to John 17. He also made a covenant of grace with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendants will always be God's people. God has provided witnesses to this covenant with Israel. First, a clue can be found in the name Israel itself. The proper name of this country is Erech Yisrael. The name Erech means "Land of." But Yisrael is actually an acronym of initials of three couples who were literally the founders of the nation of Israel. By unscrambling the code, we get this:


Elohim is the name of God himself, and is here seen in the midst of his people, rather than at the front or back. The other names are of men and women, with poor Leah, the least loved by her husband Yacob (renamed Israel) therefore becomes part of the name of God himself. Even in the name itself, God shows his special grace for the weak and the unloved, as well as having seven letters - seven being the number for God. Maybe it is interesting to add that the letters EL making the last two letters of the name Yisrael may indicate that God is the founder and finisher of the nation, just as Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. Just a hunch.

All six of these people were buried together in the Cave of Machpelah which Abraham bought with the field it was at from the Hittites soon after Sarah's death, according to the record of Genesis. By 6 BC, Herod the Great completed a fortress surrounding the entrance of the cave, and it stands intact to this day.

The fortress seem to me to be a kind of sentinel, as if reminding the rest of the world that this land on which it stands belongs to the Jews, the direct descendants of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Yacob (renamed Israel) and Leah. It had survived the destruction of the nation and its capital, Jerusalem, when the Romans launched an attack under General Titus in AD70. After the Temple was razed to the ground, the fortress at Hebron remains standing to this day, even if that portion of the world remains troubled by war and unrest for decades, even centuries. Our God is the God of Israel and he will always be. He is forever unchangeable.

If God was the God of Israel, then became the God of Rome, then of England because both Israel and Rome were unfaithful, then what is stopping the Lord from withdrawing our salvation whenever we become unfaithful or not live up to his requirements? Furthermore, there has been a wide departure of the nation as a whole from faith in God. Our academics, who the nation holds in high regard and reverential respect almost to the point of worship, keep on denying the existence and the power of God by constantly pushing Darwinism. The truth of the Bible, particularly Genesis, is now become something of a laughing stock and a fading book of myths. England now trust in science and in themselves and God is consigned to empty, archaic Gothic church buildings, lost in bygone days of medieval history.

No wonder we in the UK are facing adverse weather, the threat of fuel shortage, skyrocketing prices and a failing economy. Maybe, just maybe, if the English really believe that they are God's people and his particular nation, then this advice would be beneficial to the whole of the UK, not just England:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven,and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14.

National prayer of repentance could well lead to the solution to major problems our Government is unable to solve. And this includes repentance from national and ethical superiority.  


  1. Hi Frank,
    I have enjoyed reading this post and yes, the Bible is full of hidden codes, and it is a wonderful fact. The church is God's 'Israel' and we can see that what has happened and what is happening in the physical Israel is reflected in the Spiritual Israel also. We can not place God in a specific country and say that country is Christian, the whole world belongs to God. There has to be an individual relationship where all who come to Jesus become part of Spiritual Israel. We should always pray for our governments, and for all people to come to the knowledge of salvation through Jesus. God bless you.

  2. That's interesting that Brits and under the opinion that England is God's country because that's the exact thing Americans think! haha They believe she is a city on the hill, founded on godly principles. Frankly, the idea that America is some special part of God's plan is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Bible and as you've pointed out, it doesn't work out in practice. The Church is our hope and the kingdoms of this world will all perish one day.

  3. I agree Frank. Unfortunately we see the same attitude many times here in the USA. Every time it seems to be used as an excuse for ignoring what God has said, as if because "we are God's people," it doesn't matter what we do.

    God specifically warned Israel about the consequences of ignoring his commands, and he said they were his people.

    II Chronicles 7:14 is crucial if we are to see our nations straightened out, but it will require doing all of it, not just the praying.

  4. Excellent post Frank, and much food for thought. As a nation, we have abandoned God, even though there are many people who are still Christians. And it is certain during the Victorian era, the mid and late Victorian periods especially, that many English, indeed many British people felt that the British were a chosen people, blessed and gifted from God the biggest, wealthiest and most powerful empire the world had ever seen, at that point anyway. This of course fuelled arrogance, superiority, the notion that Brits had the right to conquer, subdue and grab the wealth that many parts of the world had in abundance. We are still living in the detritus of these outmoded and prejudiced ideas.

    Perhaps British Christians need to have a special day of prayer, or a special Christian week, where we pray for the betterment of the nation. Yes, some people might think it odd, but let them.

  5. Fascinating post, Frank! Israel is God's chosen nation, but praise Him that He offers salvation freely to whosoever will accept it. I believe England was especially blessed in the days of revival culminating in all the great English preachers & especially in missions. Then the U.S. became the nation most prominent in world missions, and she was greatly blessed. Now that the U.S. is defying God's Word and removing it from government and schools, I fear that He will lift His protective hand of blessing.
    May you have a blessed Easter!