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THE OBAMA CRISIS AND THE FOURTH TURNING

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, November 11, 2012

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).


In their book, The Fourth Turning (Broadway Books, 1997), sociologists Neil Strauss and William Howe said there have been three major “cycles” in American history. The first “cycle” began at the time of the Revolutionary War, when America first became a nation of its own. You could call it “the age of George Washington.” The second “cycle” began during the Civil War, when the north and south were reunited by Abraham Lincoln. You could call it “the age of Lincoln.” The third “cycle” started during the Great Depression. You could call it “the age of Roosevelt.” But Strauss and Howe, in 1997, predicted that this cycle would end in a crisis called the “fourth turning” in the first decade of the 21st century. They were right. The “fourth turning” is now here. You could call it “the age of Obama.”

I think it is significant that we now have two major movies playing in theaters across the land, Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” and Roger Michell’s “Hyde Park on Hudson” – with Bill Murray playing Franklin D. Roosevelt. These motion pictures seem to be a cultural expression, showing that Lincoln and Roosevelt were leaders during the crises that ushered in the second and third “cycles” in America. There can be little doubt now that Barack Obama will be seen for generations to come as the leader of the “fourth cycle” in our culture, which began with the economic crisis of 2008.

I was born at the beginning of the “third cycle,” in the third lifetime since the country began. One of my very early memories was of Roosevelt’s death on my fourth birthday, April 12, 1945. I have a dim memory of my grandmother wailing at the news of Roosevelt’s death. Like all the members of my working class family, she was an old-fashioned Democrat. I say “old-fashioned” for a reason – because the Democratic Party of my youth bore very little resemblance to the party of Obama.

All of the presidents from Roosevelt to Bush Junior were men who at least attempted to build a strong America. They often faltered, but their purpose was to make America a stronger and better place to live.

But in the “fourth turning” the purpose of President Obama is now to reduce America to a survival mode at best. Aaron DeHoog, in a November 9, 2012 Newsmax article said, “Dear Newsmax Reader, Barack Obama will be the president of the United States of America for another four years – however, his impact will be felt for years to come. Most Americans think this impact will be for the better...But it’s easy to see what billionaires believe, as they have already begun to unload their stock positions and prepare for economic calamity.”

Yes, “economic calamity.” We won’t begin to see how great that calamity will be for another year or so. But it will be a calamity that will make the Great Depression seem like the cartoon before the main movie. Most economists agree that the calamity will be so great that it will change our way of life forever – from being the leader of the world to a backwater third world status. This may well explain why America is not mentioned in Bible prophecy. Welcome to the “fourth turning” – the age of Obama.

As Christians we can already see how the “age of Obama” will affect us. Mr. Obama has made it very clear that he does not respect Biblical Christianity. He did not make even the slightest attempt to court the Evangelical vote. He, and the “mainstream” media characterized Evangelicals as a dangerous lunatic fringe. He and his party actually “booed” the name of God at the 2012 Democratic Convention. He portrayed Christians as enemies of women, saying that we were fostering a “war on women,” because we were against abortion on demand. He shoved an open endorsement of same-sex marriage in our faces. He portrayed all Christianity, Catholic and Protestant, as a reactionary movement attempting to hold back the brave new world that he offered us. I have said all this in the light of a surprising full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, paid for by Billy Graham, a few days before the election. In that ad, Dr. Graham said this,

      On November 6, the day before my 94th birthday, our nation will hold one of the most critical elections in my lifetime. We are at a crossroads and there are profound issues at stake. I strongly urge you to vote for candidates who support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman, protect the sanctity of life, and defend our religious freedoms. The Bible speaks clearly on these crucial issues. Please join me in praying for America, that we will turn our hearts back toward God.

Billy Graham,
Montreat, North Carolina.

Sadly, even Dr. Graham’s own state of North Carolina only endorsed Governor Romney by two percent above the vote for Mr. Obama. The vast majority of our people weren’t affected at all by what he said.

I know, it wasn’t a landslide for Obama. Not at all. Obama only won by a little more than two and a half percent according to Real Clear Politics. Only slightly more people voted for the President instead of Governor Romney. Still, this shows that a slight majority of our people do not support the values of the Bible. And nobody is going to remember how close the election was. All they will remember is the fact that the 2012 election clearly took us into the “fourth turning,” the age of Obama. Never again will America endorse Biblical Christianity. In his first inaugural address, Mr. Obama said, “America is not a Christian nation.” This election clearly showed that he was right. Dr. Graham said, “We are at a crossroads.” On November 6, 2012 America took the wrong road. Short of a miracle comparable to the parting of the Red Sea America will never turn back, as a nation, to the faith and the values of our forefathers.

Just before the Civil War the British historian Lord Macaulay gave this dismal prediction.

Your republic will be as fearfully plundered and laid waste by barbarians in the twentieth century as the Roman Empire was in the fifth; with this difference, that the Huns and Vandals who ravaged the Roman Empire came from without and your Huns and Vandals will have been engendered within your own country by your own institutions (The Letters of Thomas Babington Macaulay, Cambridge University Press, 1981; volume VI, January 1856-December 1859, p. 96).

Lord Macaulay was only off by 12 years. The “age of Obama” came just twelve years after the close of the twentieth century. And it was indeed accomplished by our own “Huns and Vandals...engendered within [our] own culture by our own institutions.” What Abraham Lincoln said in 1863 applies even more today,

We have forgotten the gracious hand that preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. We have become too proud to pray to the God that made us (Proclamation Appointing a National Day of Fasting and Prayer, March 30, 1863).

As I thought of Lincoln’s words, I searched in my mind for a passage of Scripture suited to this occasion. With a broken heart, and tears I could not hold back, I was reminded of the words of the prophet Isaiah. Please stand and turn in your Bibles to Isaiah, chapter one, beginning with verse 4,

“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:4-9).

You may be seated.

“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isaiah 1:4). “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9).

I was watching a panel discussion about the election the other night on television. During the program the woman chairing the discussion asked the panel, “Where were the Evangelicals?” Her question was never discussed. It wasn’t even mentioned by the panel. They went right past that question without bothering to say one sentence about the “born again” Christians. We seemed too small and unimportant for them to even mention us. As the prophet said, “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.”

Yes, we are a very small remnant. We need to face that fact in these evil days. We are no longer an important force in American life, nor will we ever be again. We need to face that fact. We need to prepare ourselves to exist as a small remnant, living in a hostile and pagan culture. Leonard Ravenhill spoke of this in one of his penetrating books. Ravenhill said,

      Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, when editing “Christianity Today” [in the early 1960s], posed the following question to over twenty leading Christian thinkers: “Sighting the final third of the Twentieth Century, what do you think it offers the church?” The answer of Dr. Elton Trueblood intrigued me, and here it is: “By the year 2000, Christians will be a conscious minority surrounded by an arrogant militant paganism.”

Ravenhill said he thought about that. He meditated on the statement, “By the year 2000, Christians will be a conscious minority surrounded by an arrogant militant paganism.” Then he said, “Further meditation led me to see that there has never been a time since the...birth of the Church that she has not been ‘a conscious minority surrounded by an arrogant militant paganism’.” Then Ravenhill said,

      Christianity was thrown to the lions as soon as it was born. It was projected into a world that was under a sophisticated totalitarian system...Like an infant child trying... to get out of the Grand Canyon, so the infant church seemed hopelessly walled in by a canyon of world power. To the left was the mighty monolith of the Jewish control of religion. To the right stood the Greeks with their sheer face of intellect and reason frowning on this new [religion]. Straddling the road ahead sprawled the mighty military octopus of the Roman Empire. Would any sane person dare to suggest that the believers of that day were not a conscious minority?
      Here is the glory of the Gospel! In a few years’ time a handful of socially uninfluential men, with empty pockets and empty hands, turned the world upside down for their Lord, Jesus Christ!... [And] the Salvation Army [as it once was] shook the world when they marched to the gates of hell singing William Booth’s battle song, “We want another Pentecost; Send the fire! Send the fire!” (Leonard Ravenhill, Sodom Had No Bible, Bethany House Publishers, 1971, pp. 13-15).

What about Communist China today? The Christians there are “a conscious minority surrounded by an arrogant militant paganism.” Right now there is another wave of persecution going on, attempting to destroy the “house church” movement there. Does that stop them? No, it does not! Seven hundred people every hour, night and day, turn to Christ in the People’s Republic of China! Those Chinese Christians seem to be saying with William Booth, “We want another Pentecost; Send the fire! Send the fire!”

What about the Christians in the Muslim world? They too are “a conscious minority surrounded by an arrogant militant paganism.” Does that stop them? No, it does not! Jerry Trousdale writes, “Thousands upon thousands of Muslims are moving from the enslavement of hopeless legalism...Why is this happening now? Why and how are entire mosques of Muslims becoming followers of Christ?” His answer – “Prayer is the greatest weapon that any [Christian] can wield, and God’s people are using it effectively around the world at this very minute. Prayer takes the spiritual battle out of the human realm and puts it into God’s hands, and not even the power of hell itself can stand against His mighty Spirit. It is prayer that has opened the doors of mosques, torn down the walls of bigotry, and broken the weapons of hatred. When God’s people kneel in prayer, God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven” (Jerry Trousdale, Miraculous Movements, Thomas Nelson, 2012, pp. 52, 53). Yes, all across the Muslim world, the Christians are shouting with William Booth, “We want another Pentecost; Send the fire! Send the fire!”

Next Saturday, let us spend the day in fasting and prayer for the lost to come into our church and be saved. Next Saturday night let us come here to baptize the new Christians. Let us pray. Let us fast. Let us bring lost souls into the church. Let us shout with General Booth, “We want another Pentecost; Send the fire! Send the fire!”

Old Obama can no more defeat the prayers of Christians than old Herod could defeat the Christ child, or old Nero could defeat Paul, or the old Communists in China can defeat the house churches, or the old Muslims can stop hundreds of thousands of their people from becoming followers of Christ! Let us pray, and let us shout with General Booth, “We want another Pentecost; Send the fire! Send the fire!”

We want the fire of the Holy Ghost to fuel our prayers. We want the kind of prayer Elijah had that brought rain down from God to water a sin-parched nation. We want the kind of prayer Paul had that shook the Roman Empire to its foundations. We want the kind of prayer that George Whitefield and John Wesley had, that drew thousands to Christ and stopped a whole nation from dying. We want the kind of prayer John Chrysostom spoke of in the fourth century, when he said,

Prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it hath bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt.

Oh God, give us the fire of the Holy Ghost to fuel our prayers! Oh God, send a fire into our souls that we may pray our lost relatives and friends into the Kingdom of Thy Son! “We want another Pentecost; Send the fire! Send the fire!” Help us, oh God, to pray our lost relatives and friends out of the jaws of Satan and into the arms of Christ! Amen.

Come up here on the platform and pray for God to use us to bring in the lost, so they can be saved by Jesus! Let us gather up here right now and pray for souls to be saved and added to our church (prayer). Mr. Song, please lead us in prayer in Chinese (prayer). Mr. Lee, please lead us in prayer in Spanish (prayer). Mr. Prudhomme, please lead us in prayer in English (prayer). “Teach Me to Pray.” Sing it!

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray;
   This is my heart-cry day unto day;
I long to know Thy will and Thy way;
   Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer,
   Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
   O give me power, power in prayer!
(“Teach Me to Pray” by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Isaiah 3:8-12.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Lord, Send Tongues of Fire” (by the Pastor).