This week we celebrate our Nation’s birthday. I read this week this brief summary describing Independence Day:
In 1775, people in New England began fighting the British for their independence. On July 2, 1776, the Congress secretly voted for independence from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4, 1776, the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved, and the document was published. The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was on July 8, 1776. Delegates began to sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776. In 1870, Independence Day was made an unpaid holiday for federal employees. In 1941, it became a paid holiday for them.
The first description of how Independence Day would be celebrated was in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” throughout the United States. However, the term “Independence Day” was not used until 1791.
Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both signers of the Declaration of Independence and presidents of the United States, died on July 4, 1826 – exactly 50 years after the adoption of the declaration. It is also important to note that Native Americans lived in the country and each tribe had its own nation and government prior to the European settlers.
In a sermon posted on SermonCentral .com. entitled “Redirecting A Nation,” the author began this way:
• We have celebrated our 232nd birthday as a nation. This is the greatest country on the earth and I do not know if there has been any better.
• We have been given a great nation, we are stewards of a nation in which others fought, sacrificed and died for.
• Our Founding Fathers sacrificed a great deal so that we could have this great nation.
• Men like Jefferson, Washington, Adams, among others paid a great price for our freedom. Throughout the years countless numbers of people have laid their lives on the line to fight for the freedoms we now enjoy.
• How are we taking care of the nation that was handed to us?
• Would the Founding Fathers be proud of what we are doing with the freedoms they fought and many died for over 232 years ago?
• What is it that has made this nation great? What is it that has allowed this country to be a bastion of freedom around the world for over 232 years? Why is it that people are flocking from all over the world to come live in a foreign land to start all over? What drove your ancestors to make the trek to this great nation?
• We have been given a great gift, the opportunity to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
• I do not have to quote the crime stats, the declining social indicators, and the declining moral climate of the nation. You can see it all around you.
• Did the Founding Fathers of our nation die for what we are living for today?
• I am not going to spend the time we have together bashing all the ills of the nation. As great as it is, we are not without problems. We each have a responsibility to be engaged in the process to make sure things get better…
I have to agree with the author’s comments. We know our nation is at a critical junction. Morally, Spiritually, and Politically, we are very divided and polarized. That much is evident.
But what is the answer. Way back in history God inspired the Psalmist David to write Psalm 33 of which we read a portion today. I would like to lift up verse 12 again: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.”
Let’s reflect on this statement this morning;
I. NATIONS ARE GOD ORDAINED ENTITIES FOR THE PURPOSE OF ORDER AND SECURITY.
a. In Paul’s sermon to the people of Athens recorded in Acts 17, in verses 24-28, He said, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hand, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth, and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”
b. In Romans 13:1-4 we read, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”
c. As we read from the beginning of the Bible, we see God bringing people into groups, forming communities and towns and nations. He led them to build walls around towns to keep out wild animals as well as their enemies. He had kings build up armies in order to protect their citizens and their borders from invaders. This was all God’s plan as He guided his creation to becoming a civilized world. And when unjust men seized power, God used civilized nations to overthrow the tyranny of those who refused to serve Him.
II. AS GOD ORDAINED ENTITIES, NATIONS HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO UPHOLD GOD’S LAW.
a. God’s word reminds us of the importance of following God’s Law. Remember the pagan king named Nebuchadnezzar ? Even though he was not a follower of God, he gained great power. In fact, we are told that he reached the level of believing he was a god. In Daniel 4: 29-32, after the prophet had interpreted the king’s dream warning him of what was going to happen to him, we read, “Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, ‘Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?’ Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, ‘This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.’”
b. In history, tyrants have come into power, but eventually they fall victim to their own rebellion against God.
c. When you read about the battles Israel and Judah fought against the foreign nations who did not worship God, we see that it was God who gave them victory.
i. In Psalm 91 we read of those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, ”He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, ‘The LORD is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. … (Psalm 91: 4-11).
ii. And in Psalm 46:6-7 says, “Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
d. From these verses we can discern that Nations and their leaders have a responsibility to honor God.. And when they fail to do so, they face devastating consequences.
III. THE CHURCH HAS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF INFLUENCING THE NATION FOR GOD.
a. In Ephesians 3: 7-12, Paul wrote, “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given to me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery,, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifest wisdom of God should be make known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
b. And in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus laid now the ethical principles of God’s kingdom, saying in Matthew 5; 13-16, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glory your father in heaven.”
c. Back in 1995 Robert Biner wrote a little book entitled, “Roaring Lambs: A Gentle Plan to Change Your World.” In it he gave suggestions as to how everyday Christians could and should influence society, For example, have you ever written a letter to the newspaper editor or participated in a peaceful protest over some unjust government decision? And do you support and speak up for political candidates that support godly principles?
d. And the truth is, if we fail to influence society for God, our society is doomed to destruction.
We recite our allegiance to the nations saying, “We are one nation, under God…” If that is true, then we had better make sure we are under the True and Living God. God’s Word solemnly states, “Blessed is the nation whose god is the Lord…”
In the turmoil we find ourselves in, We as Christians must step up to the plate and let our influence be felt. We must not allow our nation to be controlled by the god of this world—Satan, nor by the false gods of pagan religions.
In 2 Corinthians 3: 17 we read, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
So, here we are preparing to celebrate our freedom as Americans. We will enjoy our firework displays, our Barbeques, and our Ball Games as we exercise the freedoms that our Nation affords.
But our scriptures today remind us that as Christians we have an even greater responsibility. We must influence our society to honor and obey the True and Living God, who came to us as Christ Jesus and paid the ransom price for our freedom, purchasing our release from slavery to sin, setting us free to live as Servants of the Living God.
Yes, we are proud of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. But our real joy and freedom is found in the Cross of Christ that stood on Mount Calvary!