Two hundred thirty-six years ago today our nation declared its independence from the tyranny that had become the British Crown and Parliament. No longer would the colonists subject themselves to the enslavement of a despotic government unrighteous in all its governance. For too long the American colonists’ future was shrouded in darkness and yet the flame of liberty burned within their souls. This fire was stoked by a desire for economic independence and a religion that taught liberty as a central theme.
And not only was liberty a religious theme, it was a civic right bought for us by the price of Jesus’ blood. The Prophet Isaiah proclaimed:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:2-7)
Our model for righteous and good government, which secures our civil liberties, is the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah further wrote:
“It shall come to pass in that day that his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.” (Isaiah 10:27)
God’s people have often been enslaved, many times from their own sinfulness or at least slothfulness. But a people who cry out to God, who repent of their rebellious ways and put their hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, are eventually free of bondage:
“Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever, Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.” (Psalm 146:5-7)
Our Founding Fathers believed they owed their liberty to God Almighty and they owed it to that same God and their country to secure the blessings of liberty, at the cost of death if necessary. From Patrick Henry’s famous speech, read carefully his words:
“For my own part I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery…It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country…Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Freedom comes at no expectation of personal responsibility. In a true democracy, everyone is free to do as he or she pleases. The citizen is given “power to determine action without restraint,” as freedom is defined in the Random House Dictionary.
However liberty, as understood by our Founders, was bound by individual responsibility and righteousness. And liberty comes because Christ reigns in our nation. While the Declaration of Independence was being signed, Samuel Adams declared:
“We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.
Only righteous men do righteous deeds. And yet we send unrighteous men and women to all levels of government and shake our heads in disbelief when they pass unrighteous laws, and we call them depraved. It is WE the People who are depraved. And we continually make this same mistakes over and over again because we trust in ourselves and lean on our own understanding. This may seem pragmatic and prudent, but it’s the opposite of what King Solomon told us to do:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Would to God we as a people would turn back to God for trust and wisdom. Were we to do so, our strength as a nation would return.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers
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