Tomorrow is one of my two favorite holidays, the Fourth of July. The other one is Thanksgiving and they're my favorites because they have great meaning to me as both an American and as a Christian. I'd like take tomorrow's holiday and see if I can explain why it's a favorite and derive a spiritual lesson in so doing.
On the day of July 4th, 1776 a bell was rung in Philadelphia, Pa. announcing the ratification of our country's Declaration of Independence from England. Our independence was not actually obtained until seven hard, war-weary years later, but this was the day our forefathers united in belief and effort and declared that we would be free from tyranny and oppression. Certainly a day to celebrate.
Just for some additional information, the above scripture passage is in relation to the law being given by God to ancient Israel regarding the "Jubilee" year (the 50th) wherein all people living in the land were to be set free. Besides being written in Leviticus, the above words are inscribed around the base of the bell that was rung on July 4th, 1776.
Interestingly, it was just "a bell" on that occasion and it wasn't until 1830 that it became known as "The Liberty Bell." Another interesting thing about that is, the reason it got it's name: it was the symbol of the anti-slavery movement in America and they used it's likeness on all of their pamphlets and documents. I just threw that in for free.
Since I'm feeling rather magnanimous today, I'll even throw one more thing in for free. A couple of editorials back, I wrote about the song "America The Beautiful" and I just thought I'd let you know that it, appropriately I might add, was published on July 4th in 1895.
Okay, enough of the pre-ambling, let's get down to business. If you were going to unite all of the thoughts about America and the meaning of its founding documents I think you'd have to condense them into one word - "freedom/s." I believe that if you asked someone from another country to give one word that defines America, it would be the same word - "freedom."
When you really pause to think about it, aren't our rights and freedoms the greatest "earthly" blessing we have? I say that in order to ask this question: From where do we get our rights and freedoms? Our founding fathers knew the answer so let's go back to a reading of the Declaration of Independence and note these words.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
"Endowed by their Creator." It was not, and is not, the government that "endows" us with our rights and freedoms. It was, and is, God, the Creator. Here's what bothers me as I write this, a lot of people think that it's the other way around. That it's the government that gives us our rights. I say again, NOT SO! God gives us our rights and we, as free citizens, empower the government. Just an additional thought here: Do you think that this may have a bearing as to why there's a continual effort to remove God from all aspects of society? Just wondering......
Do any of you remember Judge Roy Moore? He became famous several years ago for refusing to stop praying and not removing the Ten Commandments from his courtroom. I won't go into details about him, but I will say he is one of my heroes for taking on the ACLU and the government in their combined efforts to separate God from our midst.
In an interview he was once asked this question: "What is going to happen to our country if we keep trying to separate God from our nation?" I'll summarize his response to this question. He said that "everything we are as a nation is based upon religion." That he sees the ills and crimes of our society as evidential and symptomatic of a lack of morality and standards, both of which come from the basic laws of God.
He went on to say that it is the teaching and the knowledge of an Almighty God that defines what wrong is and requires a punishment for it. When the basic laws of God are not taught to our children, they end up with neither esteem for themselves nor respect for others. (I say - AMEN!)
Let me just start wrapping up this lesson by providing you a few scriptural passages for you to consider. One that pops into my mind readily is found in Hosea 4:1. Look at what the prophet says to his nation: "Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land."
My thought on that verse: if we were to substitute "children of America" for "children of Israel" I don't think it's far off in time (if not already) that we will be in the same situation as Hosea's society.
The next passage that comes to mind is found in Luke 4:18 where Jesus, in referring to some words of Isaiah, tells us why the Son of God came to earth as the promised Messiah/Savior: "to preach the gospel..." (Bring the saving Word to man). The "gospel" is "the Truth" (Jn 17:17) and "the Truth shall set you free." (Jn 8:32).
Then notice His words in the rest of Luke 4:18: to "preach deliverance to the captives." Those who are in captivity to Satan, to sin. And then concludes the verse with: "to set at liberty them that are bruised." (The Greek word for "bruised" means "those oppressed or broken-down as if from a heavy load")
As I see it, the Word of God provides a pattern for the Declaration of Independence. By this I mean, when the Dec. Of Ind. says "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator" aren't we able to see this pattern in the Gospel? That everyone is equal to God? That we all have the same access to the "freedom" offered by God through the Gospel? I have no trouble correlating these two documents.
God's "document" though, has much better rewards in that they are not just "earthly" freedoms, they are "eternal" freedoms from the slavery, the captivity and the oppression of sin.
Finally, if one studies God's Word with a diligent attitude, then one will see that the benefits of following His Word "will be self-evident." We'll know where true freedom really exists.