For Independence Day // 2 Chronicles 7:14

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NLT)

Happy Independence Day! This is a day I absolutely love as we celebrate the birth of our nation. It is by no means a perfect union as it’s taken too long for some to experience the promise set forth by the founders. With all the imperfections we experience, it is important to know that the founders drew heavily from Judeo-Christian teaching to establish the bedrock of national liberty. It would take many years and cost many lives to get where things should have been in the first place, but no other nation has taken such steps and wrestled so profoundly with its mistakes.

Covenants were major touchpoints in our nations’ battles to earn and preserve liberty. General Washington and President Lincoln both made covenants to God when things were at their bleakest. They both committed their efforts and energies to the Lord in exchange for God’s deliverance. For Washington, the covenant he made was to devote his leadership to consecrate America, and the American people, like Israel and the Israelites in order to promote God’s Word, will, and way. Part of this was relinquishing power at the conclusion of his second term which stunned King George. For Lincoln, it was that he would free those enslaved in honor of Nature and Nature’s God because of the truths held as self-evident that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Lincoln gave his life for that belief and is widely held as the greatest of the American presidents. Many believe it was those covenants that forged our history. Hopefully we are still striving for freedom, but I fear we no longer know or agree what that means.

You might have heard results from a recent Gallup survey that American’s belief in God is at an all-time low. Gallup also released survey results that indicated Americans are the least proud of this country since they first started tracking that question. There are some subsets of our population that draw this down the farthest, but it gives some statistical evidence for what many people feel in their soul. I contend the two results are connected.

We as a people have lost our moral tether to God and God’s eternal truth, exchanging it for individual preference and immediate gratification. This was a concern amongst the founders themselves. John Adams wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” James Madison wrote that our “Constitution requires sufficient virtue among men for self-government, otherwise, nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.” This points to a unique irony in that unrestrained freedom leads to vice which requires despotism to keep it in check. I think that is the inertia that is spinning up the authoritative ascendency in our current culture. I am not so naïve to think this is unique to our time, because the struggle is essentially as old as time…after all, it precipitated Satan’s expulsion from heaven.

The passage I chose for today comes from 2 Chronicles 7:14. It would be easy for us to read this and completely mistake the context. God was not speaking to the USA, but His chosen people in the Promised Land bound by Old Covenant. We are a different people living in a different time under the New Covenant — salvation is made available to all through the forgiveness of sins thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still, I think the truth of this verse, contextualized with the meaning of covenant, reveals something powerful that can help us experience this Independence Day anew. Those who are known as God’s sons and daughters in Christ have the responsibility to humble themselves and realize we have a place and purpose in this world…to show others that God is real, loves us, and has a plan for our lives. We must acknowledge our own bent toward sinfulness and covenant to live a disciplined life; otherwise, our perceived liberty turns into licentiousness. God then hears our confessions, forgives our sins, and deploys us to help others do the same. Together, in the name of Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, God enables us to do the necessary work to help heal our land.

I would like to call you to a time of prayer this Independence Day. Before — or after — the cookouts, fireworks, gatherings with family and friends, give thanks to God for making it possible to be part of His forever family. Acknowledge your sinfulness, confess your need for Jesus’ forgiveness, and make a covenant prayer with the Lord to live your life for Him. He promises to hear you and use you as part of His plan to transform our world. May it be by His love, forgiveness, and mercy.

Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” (Galatians 5:1, NLT)