History, Liberty, Freedom, Hope
Matthew Lesson #126
July 3, 2016
“Father, as we come together in prayer, we focus upon our nation. This weekend we celebrate its 240th birthday, going back to the approval of the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776.
It has been Your blessing that has prospered this nation. It has been the constant positive volition down through the last two centuries that has provided a foundation of thought, that has enabled us to take that which You have provided potentially for those on this continent and to develop it in the remarkable ways, in ways that have been exceptional throughout the history of the world.
Much of the wealth that has been produced has been used to propagate Your Word, to send missionaries throughout the world, to build churches, to print Bibles and theological materials, to build Bible colleges and seminaries and training schools. And much of that wealth has been used to expand the Gospel.
Father, these days are waning. We know, we recognize as we look around us that a massive shift occurred in the last hundred years, and the foundation is shifting. The people no longer wish to build upon that which was laid, and they wish for another foundation. And the result is a cultural malaise, a spiritual poverty, a moral bankruptcy. Father, we recognize that this impacts each of us in personal ways, as well as in ways involved in our professional lives and in our family lives.
Father, we recognize as believers in Jesus Christ that the only hope that we have, the ultimate hope, is a turning back to You. And that will only come as a result of people who respond to the Gospel. But how can they hear unless someone is preaching and proclaiming the Gospel?
Therein lies our responsibility: To continue to be faithful witnesses, to continue to proclaim the truth of Your Word, to be a light shining on a hill—that we might be used by You to proclaim the truth of Your Word. By Your grace there will be those who will turn, who will change. Only on that basis can we ever see anything like what has happened in the past.
That is not a pipe dream. We understand that this has happened before, and it will happen again. We pray that we might see it in our lives.
Father, we recognize that for this nation to be blessed when they are going so quickly down the path of self-destruction and arrogance, the path of fulfilling every sinful, selfish desire, it is not in Your plan to bless such rebellion.
Father, we pray that we might be faithful, that we might be still focused upon You and filled with the Holy Spirit that only You can provide as we witness the things that are going on around us.
But Father, we pray that there will be a turning, that in this election year, even though it appears that the candidates do not fill us with great enthusiasm, nevertheless, we know that You can work even through those who are unbelievers, even through those who are rebellious, to change their hearts, to change their thinking, and to use them to bring glory to Yourself.
Father we pray that there will be an eternal and spiritual transformation in this nation, for only on that basis can we ever hope to have real prosperity again.
And Father we pray that we might be part of that process—that we may have the privilege and the honor to be part of Your plan and to witness You work in such a way in this nation and in this world. But no matter what the focus in the future may be, we pray that we might be steadfast, we might be faithful, and we might be filled with hope as we focus upon the ultimate goal of glorifying You.
We pray this is Christ’s name. Amen.”
Today is Sunday July 3, 2016, and tomorrow we will celebrate the 240th anniversary of our nation’s birthday.
Actually, the Declaration of Independence was originally approved on July 2nd, and the next two days, July 3rd and 4th, were spent debating some of the wording and some changes. The final form was approved on July 4th.
Interesting enough, John Adams, who was one of the signers and on the main committee, never did think we should celebrate on July 4th. He thought we should celebrate on July 2nd.
It wasn’t signed for another month, on the 2nd of August, and even then there were five who did not sign it. There were two that never did sign it. There was one who recanted, but only because he was captured by the British and put into jail and tortured and starved and beaten, and only after several months did he recant. He was released, and when he got back to his home state of New Jersey, he retook his oath of loyalty to the state of New Jersey.
Celebrating Independence Day on July 4th is a significant thing that we do. It is important. It is a reminder to us of why this nation was founded, who the people were who founded this nation, and what their vision was; for only in understanding that vision, only understanding their framework can we understand what it means to be an American.
We’ve lost that concept in recent decades. We focus more on the melting pot and secondary ideas than on the declining ideas and values and standards that are embodied in our founding documents.
Belief in those values is what made America great. Belief in those values is what made America the beacon of light to the world. It is the implementation of those values, based on biblical Judeo-Christian beliefs, that made this a place for people to escape enslavement, poverty, oppression, and tyranny.
Without this foundation of Judeo-Christian ethics and values and the core spiritual realities that are embodied in the Bible, there cannot be a place of refuge, because without that foundation, there is no real understanding of freedom and liberty.
So it is vital for us to reflect upon our foundation year in and year out. We need to know how it is that we came to be a people, a unique people, a unique nation among the nations of the world; and to be reminded that it was ultimately God’s providential grace that raised up this nation.
Only when we understand the past can we begin to understand where we need to go and what we need to do, as we reflect upon our future. If God grants us a future, it will only be if we return to the roots of our foundation.
Now the idea of celebrating certain days in remembrance of past events goes back to the early days of the human race. As Christians, when we look at the Bible, we see that there are numerous days that are set aside by God for the purpose of remembrance.
We think of things when certain key events happen in the history of Israel where God had them erect a cairn of stones or a monument or something that would be a reminder so that subsequent generations would come along and would have teaching opportunities to teach that horrid, horrible, horrible subject to the next generation called history, and bore generation after generation with the tales of the past.
But see, history is the most important thing that we can study. History is the foundation for everything else. If you’re studying engineering, you have to understand the history of the technology and the mathematics and everything that brought us from the past to the present. If you’re studying literature, you have to understand the history of literature. If you’re studying law, you have to understand the history of law. Things just didn’t pop up today. If you’re studying economics, you have to understand the history of economics.
History, in my opinion, is the glue that holds everything together. And once we get away from history and get away from understanding history, everything will fall apart.
And this is exactly what has happened in our culture in the last hundred or so years, as the progressives (the revisionists) have sought to denigrate history, change history, rewrite history. It changes the culture, and it changes the people.
Today we have a generation of people who are relatively ignorant of our history, and they have no idea even why we celebrate. And they think we celebrate the 4th of July. We do not celebrate the 4th of July. We celebrate Independence Day which took place on the 4th of July. But the 4th of July is just a date like any other day.
When we look at the Bible, it’s interesting that the first command to remember something occurs in Exodus 13 in connection with the birthday of the nation of Israel. In this, we see the importance of history in the Bible.
Exodus 13:3, “Moses said to the people: ‘Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.’ ”
This is related to Passover, Pesach. Passover is the Independence Day of Israel, as they came out from the tyranny and slavery in Egypt. There are a lot of interesting parallels that we can draw between the observance of Passover and Pesach in the history of Israel and the way in which we observe Independence Day.
But the important thing is it is a reminder every year. As they observe this, what happens around the Seder table? They rehearse what happened. They go through the story. They ask questions. They engage the children, so that they learn what God did in their past and how the existence of their nation was unique and distinct in that they were God’s special chosen people with whom God entered into a special covenant, and there never has been before and there never will be again a nation like Israel.
It is in the telling of that story year after year that God designed a way to strengthen that foundation. But when they got away from it, when it became just something that was rote, when it became something that no longer was connected to the spiritual realities of understanding the reality of God, and instead of worshipping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they instead turned to idols.
When they turned away from an understanding of God’s grace in bestowing His favor upon them, they then entered into a slavery to their sin nature, which ultimately resulted in slavery to oppressing powers.
So by the time they got to the first century, when Passover week came along leading up to Passover, most people would observe it, but they didn’t understand why. Most of them had lost that understanding of the true spiritual reality—much like in this nation today.
So the Bible emphasizes the importance of remembrance. This is the importance of history.
This quote caught my attention some years ago. It’s built off of an original quote from Winston Churchill. The original quote was “a nation that forgets its past destroys its future.”
It’s been expanded to include past, present, and future:
“A nation that forgets its history, impoverishes the present, and destroys its future.”
That’s an important principle. When we don’t know history, when we don’t know why we do what we do or where things came from, then we can’t appreciate what’s going on today. A nation that doesn’t appreciate it’s past will destroy its future.
Winston Churchill also said, “Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft!”
Now what he meant by “statecraft” is what we talk about today in terms of politics and law, and what makes a nation work, what makes a nation prosperous, and what destroys a nation. All of that comes from studying history.
Sir Edmund Burke, who was a British politician of the time of the American War for Independence, and who was a political philosopher and member of the House of Commons wrote, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
And we see this happen again and again and again.
One problem for many of us is that we have an understanding of where America has been in its past. We have an appreciation for some of the more prosperous times. We have an appreciation for times when this nation flourished both in terms of its economic powers as well as its military power.
We remember a time when there were genuine spiritual revivals in this nation. And when if you made the statement, “This is what the Bible says,” it carried weight, it carried authority, and it was respected because that was what the Bible said. And you didn’t need to say anything else.
We remember a time when there was a greater economic stability. We remember a time when there was greater prosperity. We remember a time when the government valued the nuclear family, so that if you were parents with two children, you hardly paid any taxes.
And because of the prosperity of the nation, only one parent had to work. The lifestyle, the economic lifestyle of a family with one breadwinner in the late fifties and early sixties could only be matched by the late seventies with two working adults who were working 60 – 70 hours a week each. And by then they were also paying a much more burdensome tax rate.
The government made an enemy out of the family, which is the very core that sustains a culture. It fragmented the family and fragmented the culture. The fragmentation of the culture was one result.
There are lots of things that we can look at in the world today. We can watch the news each night and get up with it each morning. Somebody recently said, “I started reading my Bible every morning instead of reading the Drudge Report and Breitbart and looking at the news, and life was so much better!”
We get up each morning, and we focus on what is happening in our culture. Those of us who have perspective, wisdom, and understanding see where it’s going, and we see how horrible it is.
Our culture has turned into a cesspool. And unless there is something that changes, it’s only going to get worse.
A current editorial by former congressman Tom Tancredo from Colorado, raises this question:
“Why do we continue to celebrate Independence Day when we no longer cherish independence?” Maybe that thought has occurred to some of you. It has certainly occurred to me.
As I’ve thought about our nation and our past, and see the direction we’re going, it is sometimes hard for me to think and be very patriotic because I cannot support the policies of this present government. But we have to stop and reflect on a much broader scale than just what’s going on today.
Congressman Tancredo raises some of the issues we’re all familiar with. He says, “Our schools no longer teach our children the meaning of the Declaration of Independence. Our elected officials no longer protect our sovereignty. Our courts do not recognize or even comprehend God-given unalienable rights for which the patriots of 1776 pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Our professors, priests, and futurists are so enamored of global citizenship they see individual rights as an anachronism. Multiculturalism is not an idea to be debated, it’s the new orthodoxy to be obeyed or else.”
We can add to his questions other observations. Our political leadership has become corrupt. On the one hand we have a political family that has sold out to the highest bidder. One presidential candidate is for the first time being investigated for federal criminal actions. Her honesty is ranked lower by most people than almost any candidate in history. Many believe she committed treason in her failures as Secretary of State to act to protect our embassy in Benghazi in Libya.
Her opponent has his own set of moral and character flaws. He is crude and crass. He jumps off without thinking about things and speaks without thinking. He has many odd and unusual ideas, and many people react to him.
We have congressional leaders so addicted to their personal power and the wealth they have accumulated serving our nation that with few exceptions, they can no longer be trusted to serve the people, only their own self interests.
I read a question about the Clintons the other day. How can two people who’ve dedicated their lives to serve the country be worth 200 million dollars? How can that happen?
A local congressman, whose name I won’t mention, has tripled his net worth in his last three terms in Congress. He didn’t have much to begin with. Now he’s wealthy and worth over a million dollars. How does that happen?
It is a corruption that is eating away and destroying this nation. Our political and bureaucratic leaders seek to radically transform the cultural, moral, and spiritual foundations of the nations; and to a large degree, over the last hundred years, the progressives have been very successful.
We have very few conservatives or believers in the history of this nation or the exceptionalism of the United States teaching in any college or university in this country. As a result, our young people are being brainwashed with progressivism and a totally false view of reality when we send them off to college.
One of the first things that is attacked if they have a faith in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, is that faith. They are singled out, they are belittled, they are ridiculed, and they are disrespected for being Christians. So in order to save some self-respect, they give up what they have been taught by their parents.
We often ask the question, “What can we do? Is this irreversible?”
If we put our focus on the tempest and the waves of history and circumstances like Peter did when he was walking on the water, then we’re going to sink just like he did. But there is hope. There is always hope.
In the last twenty years or so, it’s been popular to do these “man-on-the-street” interviews. Somebody goes out with a microphone—I’ve thought about doing this here—go out and just start asking questions like “Why are we celebrating Independence Day? What are we independent from?”
I saw one the other day, the guy said, “Well, I got a divorce twenty years ago. That was my Independence Day.” Others talk about independence from parents or they just get to do whatever they want to do, and they think of celebrating the 4th of July as just an opportunity to go and eat hot dogs, have a party, not go to work, and watch fireworks.
When you watch these interviews, it makes the United States look like a nation of ignorant fools. But we know that there are many people who are still educated, who understand the issues, and understand history. And they are working hard. They’re working behind the scenes. They’re working in front of the cameras to try to change things and to make a difference.
It’s sad that the first category is composed of people who vote. It’s amazing that some of them even know how to work the machines.
But when we focus on the garbage of our modern self-indulgent, morally bankrupt and politically corrupt nation, where we’re speeding down a highway to political slavery and putting ourselves under tyranny again, it’s easy to get depressed.
But we have to remember that our hope is in God. Our hope is in His providential grace, and that nations rise and nations fall according to His will and according to His plan.
There’s a verse in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that is often quoted out of context, where God says to Solomon, “If My people who are called by My name repent, then I will bless them.” That has to do with Israel.
The best passage is in Jeremiah 18:7–8. God is speaking. He says:
“The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against who I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.”
So there’s always hope. But that hope is based on turning to God. God further said in verse 9:
“The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.”
The issue is a nation’s, a culture’s orientation to God. We were blessed in the founding of this country because we had a man, a leader who understood the providence of God and the grace of God. He saw some pretty dark days in those early days of the Revolutionary War.
This nation has seen many dark days. There were times in the early years of WWII when it was not certain that the Allies would win. There were times in the late 20s and especially the 30s in the time of the Great Depression when people did not think that they would ever regain prosperity in this nation. People were unemployed, people lacked food, and they lacked clothing.
I remember my grandparents. My grandfather had one suit for many, many years. That was it. He wore it to church on Sunday. All of their clothes would fit into a wardrobe that was no more than two feet wide. Look at what we have today. We have so much more.
There were dark days during WWI. There was a terrible time of the War Between the States when it wasn’t sure this nation would be united or not. There were times, many times, between the 1790s and up until our present time, when this country went into a deep spiritual and moral decline.
Christian leaders in this nation in the late 1790s were extremely discouraged with the morality of the colonies. Then we had the Great Awakening, which started in New England in places like Yale and Harvard, and other universities. It started among college students there.
In the South it started in the churches. In the West, which was Tennessee at that time, it started in various country revivals. That had bad points to it, but also some good points to it.
During the time of the American War for Independence, not all of the colonists supported the cause of independence. In fact, I read this last week that there were times when they estimate that fewer than 3% of the colonists actively supported the cause for independence.
But they were tenacious, and they were vocal, and they did not give up. They were passionate about their cause because they believed in the righteousness and the justice of the cause. Many of them, if not most of them, were motivated by deeply imbedded Judeo-Christian values.
One of those who kept people’s focus on the future was George Washington. He told his men, “We should never despair; our situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times.”
Never give up.
On July 3rd 241 years ago (July 3, 1775), George Washington was given command of the newly formed Continental Army. The Continental Congress had selected him to organize the farmers and local militia to develop an army that would be capable of defeating the world’s greatest military power.
One of the first orders to his men and to his officers was this, “every officer and man will endeavor so as to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”
“To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
Notice how he is calling the people to live to the highest moral, ethical standard—not to reduce everything to the lowest common denominator, not affirming everybody’s sinful inclinations. He recognized that Christian character and duty would be at the core of the survival of the nation.
Washington said, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
One thing that we have lost in our secular education is the realization of what the Founding Fathers stood for. Founding Fathers—now that’s considered a sexist statement; has been for twenty years. You’re only supposed to call them Founders. But they were male! They were the fathers of our nation! We should be proud of that. It doesn’t matter what color they were. It doesn’t matter what gender they were.
What matters is their ideas and their values. What they gave us was a nation that provided freedom, liberty, prosperity; a nation that became the greatest nation in the history of the world, and one of the greatest exporters of biblical Christianity throughout the world—a place where everybody wanted to come, and no one wanted to flee.
But it was grounded in a spiritual reality.
That reality didn’t begin in the 1700s. It was rooted in the Puritan political thought that was developed in the 1600s in England. That in turn had a tradition going back in British common law, going back to the Magna Carta, and even before that to the “dooms” of Alfred the Great—that’s the Saxon word for “laws.”
Some people may think that laws are dooms, but the dooms of Alfred the Great were built upon the Old Testament. That’s part of the foundation of British common law. In fact, Alfred the Great knew Greek, and he knew Hebrew. He translated the Psalms into the vernacular of the British language at that time.
So that’s the foundation. It is a Judeo-Christian foundation. Without that foundation there cannot, and will not, be a future.
This was recognized by other leaders. Samuel Adams is often thought of by the 60s generation as just a revolutionary and since the 90s as somebody who brewed beer. But he was referred to in his generation as the “Father of the American Revolution.” He was a member of the Sons of Liberty; he was instrumental in the Boston Tea Party. After the establishment of the United States, he served as the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts and governor of Massachusetts.
In his will he wrote, “I recommend my soul to that Almighty Being who gave it, and my body I commit to the dust, relying upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.” That is a very clear Christian testimony.
Regarding the 4th of July, he said, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient”—not the king across the ocean, but the Sovereign God of Heaven—“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.”
Regarding the people, he said, “It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”
We are what appears to many, a small congregation. But there are hundreds if not thousands of small congregations like this, and we can all be part of this and set brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.
They did not have many in number in 1776, but they were passionate, and they were involved, and they made a difference.
Sam’s cousin John Adams is more well-known because he was later vice-president and president of the United States.
He said, “The safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God.”
See, we have a saying around here that God controls history, and that we are to trust in God and not in men. But some people take that to mean that we don’t do anything; we just fold our hands and maybe we pray.
But that’s not how it was understood at the time of the American Revolution. They trusted in God, but they kept their powder dry and sharpened their swords. They got involved, but they understood that what they did would not have lasting impact apart from God, and their ultimate trust was in God.
He said we “depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgement of this truth is an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him”
Without that the culture will implode.
He said about the Declaration [of Independence] that it “laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.”
When we read the Declaration of Independence, we read about the Creator. It’s grounded in a Creator-creature distinction. It’s grounded in biblical truth. That’s why it’s being attacked by the progressives. They don’t like the Constitution, and they don’t like the Declaration because they recognize both are grounded in biblical Christianity.
John Adams also said, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. Now I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
It’s common today to find people challenged and skeptical about the role of Christianity in the founding of the nation. You will always also find many who said, “No, no, no, it was ...” You may also find Christians who say “it was all influenced by rationalism of the day. It was influenced by the Enlightenment. Christianity had very little to do with it.”
Well, back in the 1980s, there was a study done by Dr. Donald Lutz at the University of Houston. He’s a political science professor there. It was a ten-year project in which they analyzed over 15,000 political documents from 1760–1805. They looked at 3,154 citations.
The purpose of the project was to determine “what did they quote the most?” What writings influenced the Founding Fathers the most? Where did they get their ideas?
What they discovered was that the most often quoted source for political ideas was the Bible, mostly the Old Testament. Over 1/3 of all direct quotes came from the Bible. So much for this so-called separation of church and state!
The next most quoted source that was quoted a fourth as frequently as the Bible was from John Locke.
Now John Locke was a great political philosopher. He was raised in a Puritan home, and a lot of the quotes that came from John Locke were paraphrases that came from biblical verses. So even though he’s the second most frequently quoted author, his ideas came from the Bible as well.
And fourth, another 60% of all referenced quotes came from authors whose original source goes back to the Bible.
So the #1 influence on the thinking of the Founding Fathers—these documents that they studied, their diaries, their personal ledgers, their speeches, all of these different things—the primary source is the Judeo-Christian heritage of the Bible. Most of what they quoted came from the Old Testament: Leviticus, Deuteronomy, some of the prophets.
At the time of the War for Independence, the vast majority of those living in the United States were Christian. What they looked to for guidance on law, government, and politics was the Old Testament.
This is why we must affirm that the institutions and government of the United States of America is firmly grounded on a Judeo-Christian worldview and that it was designed to function on that basis, and not on a secular basis.
This is why John Adams said that it could only be sustained by a moral, Christian people. You take that out of the equation, and it will collapse.
So there is hope. And there’s an action plan: We need to pray. The most important thing that we can focus on is prayer. This is 1 Timothy 2:1–2.
Paul says, “Therefore, I exhort first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”
Let me suggest that when the government is out of control—and it is–then we can no longer act and go as if everything is nice and hunky-dory. We can’t be consumed with the day-to-day events of our lives and our families and enjoy our work, because if we don’t get involved now, then we will come under tyranny very, very soon.
It is now that we have to act. We have to remember to keep our priorities straight. We trust in God; we don’t trust in man.
Jeremiah 17:5 says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.”
We don’t trust in man. We don’t trust in political parties. We trust in God, but we still work. You can pray all day long that God will provide for your retirement, but you also need to be putting money aside for your retirement. There’s the work that God does and the responsibilities that we have.
Psalm 118:8–9, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”
Our confidence is in the Lord.
Third, we need to witness. We need to evangelize those around us. We need to grow spiritually ourselves, so we’re strong in the faith, and we need to challenge others to do so. We cannot be complacent. We need to be passionate about our faith, and we need to be lighting fires in the minds of men for freedom.
Fourth, we need to get involved in the political process from the precinct level all the way up. We need to know who our precinct leaders are; we need to know who our state representatives and senators are; we need to know who our federal representatives and senators are; we need to call them, we need to let our voice be heard.
I have talked to so many who say so very, very few, they may get five or six calls on one issue. So if our whole congregation called in on one issue, that could sway the whole vote! Very few people actually talk to their congressional representatives!
So we need to get involved in the political process, and that does not contradict the second point. Getting involved politically is not political activism in a negative way. That’s not marching in the streets and causing riots and burning things down. It is part of our civic responsibility as citizens in the United States.
We need to educate ourselves on the issues, so that we can talk with people about these issues.
I was at dinner last night. One of the first things that came up was global warming. One of the individuals at dinner was a liberal and had just gotten back from a cruise to the area of Norway and Iceland and spent 10 days with an editor of Science Magazine, and had just imbibed at the fountain of liberal, man-made global warming.
I had to sit there and talk through things and begin what would be a long-term conversation, but that’s what we need to do. We need to be engaged in this way.
Point six, we need to teach our children and our grandchildren and anybody who will listen about the past and about what made America great.
Israel’s Independence Day occurred originally on the 14th of Nisan in 1447 BC. The U.S. Independence Day occurred on July 4, 1776. Both are grounded in the gracious provision of God’s providential interference in history. Both are celebrated annually to remember what God did, to remember the circumstances of the founding.
But negatively, although there are some among the Jews and some among the Americans that still remember and believe in the founding spiritual principles, most do not. Most in both nations have forgotten the real source of their freedom and their liberty.
In the U.S. today, we’ve made an idol out of our emotional fetishes and our sinful proclivities, giving everybody the freedom to sin as much as they want.
Israel rejected God and in Matthew 21–24, Jesus indicts the nation, passes judgment, and announces the sentence.
In the United States, the signs of judgment are all around us; yet we’re still here. God still has a plan for us. He’s not finished yet.
We still have the freedom to proclaim the gospel. We have the freedom to send out missionaries. We still support Israel and the Jewish people. There’s still hope. We have to focus upon that.
Jeremiah 18:6 and following states that if a nation believes in God and follows Him, then God will relent of judgment. But if they do not, then God will bring the judgment. That’s the focal point—that hope is always there for us.
Let me just close with a couple of verses that remind us of the importance of hope. We can all get down and discouraged over what is happening around us for any reason, personal circumstances, whatever.
The same thing happened to the Psalmist. Twice, once in Psalm 42 and once in Psalm 43, the Psalmist says “Why are You cast down, O my soul?”
Ever struggle with depression, being down, not being too excited? “Why are you cast down my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?” What’s the solution? Go get a prescription? NO—hope in God! Put your focus on God Who’s in control.
It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are of the day. It doesn’t matter what those waves are that are coming up around Peter when he’s walking on the water. Get your eyes off of the circumstances, whatever they are; health, finances, whatever. Put your focus on God. He’s in control, He loves us. He’s going to provide for us no matter what happens in those external circumstances.
“Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”
Because when we’re down, it’s on our face. He’s going to lift us up and the joy of the Lord will be visible just in our attitude.
Psalm 43:5, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”
Twice the Holy Spirit had this recorded.
Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in His word I do hope.”
That’s the focal point, because His Word is His thinking. We focus on the Lord. That’s our hope.
Psalm 146:5, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” It’s grounded in the promise of God. That’s why we have to be occupied with the Scripture and focused upon Him.
Then the passage that is the ultimate hope passage in the Bible. This is Lamentations 3:20 and following. The situation here is Jeremiah has lost everything. Jerusalem is in smoldering embers, and the temple has been destroyed. Most of his generation has been slaughtered by the Babylonians, and they’re buried in the Valley of Hinnom. Others escaped to Egypt and took him with them. Others were taken as captives to Babylon, and he remembers this. We all have those memories, those sorrows, those griefs.
He says, “My soul still remembers and sinks within me.”
We all have those circumstances, but if we dwell on that focus, therein lies the path of self-destruction and Jeremiah says it is—“through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.”
We are still alive. God still has a plan for our life.
Even if this country collapses, and we go under tyranny, God has a plan for our life. That’s what happened with Jeremiah, with those survivors of the Babylonian invasion.
They’re taken off, and we have the great stories of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And we have the stories of Jeremiah and others who still lived to serve the Lord in captivity.
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”
He says, “The Lord is my portion.”
Having thought through this rationale, he says, “Therefore, I hope in Him!”
Get your eyes off the circumstances, focus on responsibility, love the Lord, hope in Him.
Then he says again, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
So the focus is hope.
When we think it through biblically, it doesn’t matter what the Democrats are doing, and it doesn’t matter what the Republicans are doing. It doesn’t matter what the idiots in California are doing or the idiots in Austin are doing.
What matters is that God is in control, and we’re here to serve Him.
Our hope is built on Him and that’s it!
With our head bowed and eyes closed.
“Father, we’re thankful we have lived in a nation that prized freedom and liberty. And we live on the edges of the residuals of that generation, and we’re thankful for them. We’re thankful for the lessons that they exemplified for us, and remind us that it is only on the basis of Your Word that we can have real freedom and experience genuine liberty.
Father, we pray for this nation. We pray for our leaders. We pray that you would raise up men and women who understand the truth and can proclaim it, can clarify it, and can lead this nation in the direction it needs to go in order to get out of the malaise, the collapse, the garbage pile that it’s in.
Father, we pray that we might be clear in our lives to present the gospel to those around us, that we might understand that we are here to be a witness for You and that the other details are secondary and tertiary. We are here to witness to Your grace, to Your glory, and to Your provision, and the fact that You sustain us no matter what the circumstances may be. We know that we need to be a light to those around us and a source of hope to those who are in our periphery because we point to You as the source of hope.
Now Father, we pray for any who might read this today, who’ve never trusted in Christ as Savior, that they would have a clear understanding that there is only one way of salvation, and that is to trust in Jesus as Savior, as Messiah, the One who died for our sins—that we’re saved only because we possess His righteousness and are justified, and not by anything that we do. Not by our works of righteousness.
Father, we pray that you would make the gospel clear to them, and that they would respond in faith alone in Christ alone. And for the rest of us, we pray that we might be encouraged and strengthened to not let the details and the things of this world discourage us as we see the collapse of our pagan culture, but that we might recognize that it just gives us opportunities to proclaim the truth of Your Word.
We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”