There is a parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that tells the story of two men. The first built his house on a pile of sand, and it was destroyed as soon as the storm hit. But the second is known as the wise man, for when “…the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house…it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”
We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand. We must build our house upon a rock. We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity – a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.
He goes on to share different pillars that the foundation is built upon (you build a foundation on pillars?), and then concludes this speech by saying.
There is no doubt that times are still tough. By no means are we out of the woods just yet. But from where we stand, for the very first time, we are beginning to see glimmers of hope. And beyond that, way off in the distance, we can see a vision of an America’s future that is far different than our troubled economic past. It’s an America teeming with new industry and commerce; humming with new energy and discoveries that light the world once more. A place where anyone from anywhere with a good idea or the will to work can live the dream they’ve heard so much about.
It is that house upon the rock. Proud, sturdy, and unwavering in the face of the greatest storm. We will not finish it in one year or even many, but if we use this moment to lay that new foundation; if we come together and begin the hard work of rebuilding; if we persist and persevere against the disappointments and setbacks that will surely lie ahead, then I have no doubt that this house will stand and the dream of our founders will live on in our time.
This isn’t the first time that President Obama has misused scripture, and he isn’t the only President to do so (Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” from Matthew 5:14 for instance). This also isn’t a problem with just Presidents as I’ve seen many do this, especially with the Sermon on the Mount. For those of you who are not familiar with the passage that President Obama referenced here it is.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it,” (Matthew 7:24-27, ESV).
Several problems with President Obama’s usage of this passage. The first thing what is the solid foundation? Jesus. Who are the ones who are wise? Those who “hears the words of mine and does them.” What are the words that he is speaking – in the immediate context Matthew 5-7, in general God’s word. Do we lay the foundation? No, it’s there, it’s Jesus. He is the one who will bring us through the storms in life if we place our faith and trust in Him for salvation on the basis of His death and resurrection. It has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the economy.
I suppose that since we are just a “nation of citizens” it’s appropriate, in his mind, to place man in the role that belongs to Christ in this text. We are not the object of faith in this text, Jesus is.
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