The Saddest Fourth of July
By Pastor Dan Gibson The Covenant News ~ July 4, 2009
Today, the fourth day of July, 2009 is an important date for most Americans. It means a paid day off for many, and lots of parties, beer, hotdogs and fireworks. But few Americans can explain the significance of the day and even fewer know how our forefathers commemorated this day each year.
In short, the Fourth of July is the date that representatives of the colonies put their name to the Declaration of Independence. Each signer understood that King George would consider the signers guilty of Treason. Each of them knew that by putting their signature on that document they also offered their necks to the noose should their efforts fail. And, they also knew that without the aid of God, heir chances of resisting the most powerful king on Earth were very small.
Who were these men? Were they downtrodden starving serfs that were willing to risk their lives in order to feed their families? No, rather these men were aristocrats – men of position, property and wealth. They were men who simply responded to the call of duty, even at the risk of their lives. Rather than lawless rebels, they were representatives of the various colonies and gathered to speak for the interests and protection of those they represented. They were “lesser magistrates”, meaning that they had a duty to speak for and defend the people that God had put in their care. Normally, they would have maintained the respect due to the higher magistrate – in their case, King George. However, King George had abused his authority over a long period of time and had become a tyrant. For many years the representative of the colonists had sent formal protests against the abuse of their rights as English free men but the king would hear none of their complaints. Like Rehoboam in the Old Testament, King George rejected the counsel of the lesser magistrates (elders in the Old Testament). In 1 Kings 12 we read “But he rejected the counsel which the elders gave him.” and “So the King did not listen to the people” and he said, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!”
Most of the colonists were Christians and understood that they were bound before God to obey authorities, pray for them and pay them respect. But they also knew that God had said, “He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” (2 Sam. 23:3). And from their New Testaments they learned, “For he is God’s minister to you for (your) good”. (Rom. 13:4) The men who signed the Declaration of Independence were men who represented a people who were thankful for magistrates as those who were given to them by God to protect and serve. The Westminster Divines referred to kings as “nursing fathers” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 23). Unlike a large percentage of Americans today, they did not believe the government had authority to provide for their health care, bail out (and take control of) their businesses, take their guns or “redistribute” the earnings of persons who earned them to those who had not. Charity belonged to the church, the people and their local communities and we had fewer poor than we do today after billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars.
So we come to the Fourth of July, 2009. How should we celebrate this date in our history?
First, we should note that we have broken covenant and union with our forefathers beginning many decades ago. I don’t know when we started the tradition of fireworks, beer and cookouts on the Fourth of July but I do know that our forefathers did commemorate this date as we do. Our forefathers clearly understood that they did not defeat King George by force of arms. If you read their words you will see that nearly all of them gave their sovereign God credit for their victory and freedom from oppression. Starting with the first anniversary of the Fourth of July our fathers gave thanks to God and governors called for days of fasting. What a contrast you would see if you could go back in time and join those who made this day a day of prayer and thanksgiving to God!
Secondly, the typical American man is unworthy to celebrate the day since he lacks the courage of those men who signed the Declaration and those who took up arms to defend their homes and nation. We aren’t willing to be free any longer. Rather, we want the government to be our keeper and we use our votes to send thousands of new King Georges to state houses, Congress and the White House. The blood of patriots has been spilled in vain for a people who deserve neither liberty nor peace.
Thirdly, the way in which we celebrate the Fourth of July is all about boasting of our own strength. Think of the most prominent tradition at our celebrations – fireworks. All combat veterans clearly understand the meaning of the fireworks we spend millions of dollars to buy and then explode. The firecrackers represent the sound of small-arms fire while the exploding rockets represent the artillery fired in combat. What is the meaning of fireworks on the Fourth of July? They are simply a boast that we won our independence by our own power. Each explosion conveys the meaning that we were responsible for our freedom! I’m reminded of radical Islamic warriors firing and shaking their rifles above their heads in a primitive victory dance. Add a lot of beer and we have a yearly celebration that glorifies man and offers no gratitude to God or His hand in our liberty. Think about it: when is the last time you attended a Fourth of July celebration where people gathered in grateful humility to give thanks to the God who truly made us a free people?
This Fourth of July should be the saddest such holiday in our history. Both Congress and the President have ignored their oaths of office. The U.S. Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land and every office holder in America takes such an oath before entering his office. For instance, the President of the United States swears as follow: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. (emphasis mine)" However, If citizens had read the Constitution they would have realized that nearly every campaign promise Mr. Obama made was in violation of the Constitution he (later) swore to “preserve, protect and defend”.
There has never been a time that our liberties have eroded at such a rapid rate as since Mr. Obama took office. And Congress has passed new laws that contain over a thousand pages of print that they haven’t even read! And least we forget, they are just beginning to dismantle our Republic. In the works are the Cap and Trade bill (Already passed by the House) that will be the largest tax increase ever put on the American people. And, contrary to the President’s campaign promises, it will hurt the poor the most. Rich people don’t care if their electricity bills go up or gasoline doubles in price. But the typical American family will be devastated by increased prices on nearly every product they buy (if you raise the price of energy, you raise the price of everything that uses energy to make or transport).
Next in line is the government takeover of healthcare. Welcome comrades to the workers paradise. It has worked so well in the Soviet Union, Cuba and other socialist/communist countries that we thought we should give it a try.
I don’t know what you will do to “celebrate” this Fourth of July, but as for me; I plan to fast rather than feast and to wear black in mourning for our beloved country.
I am sixty-four years old and realize that most (if not all) of my life is behind me. But on this day I think of my posterity as did our founding fathers. Their sacrifice was not for themselves but for their children and grandchildren. If the church stays in its current state of self-serving, program-driven complacency our children will have none of the liberties that we have enjoyed. Furthermore, and more importantly, the evidence is plain that the Gospel itself will be more and more considered to be “intolerance” until it is suppressed in the land where it blossomed to its fullest extent.
Brethren, we need not be in the majority to restore our country. Only 14% of the colonists were in favor of resisting King George. What was needed in 1775 is what is needed in 2009 – men of conviction and courage. We need men who see God as sovereign and are willing to stand against seemingly insurmountable odds; trusting that if God is for us we will either prevail or add our blood to that of those martyrs who have come before us.
America will not be restored as “the city on a hill” for the world by patriots marching on Washington DC. Rather, we need to renew our efforts to declare the gospel to our fellow citizens. Not the Dispensational escapism gospel but the true Gospel that overcame all adversity in the early church and again during the Reformation. The countries where the true Gospel was preached experienced spiritual liberty which was soon followed by civil liberty as well. Switzerland, Holland, England, Scotland and other countries experienced spiritual reformation followed by civil liberty and prosperity. The next tier of countries that embraced the doctrine of grace and the sovereignty of God included America. The crying need our time is true churches that spread the true Gospel and then disciple members in their duty as church members, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and citizens.
Let us take this Fourth of July to recommit ourselves to declare the Gospel and to the building of true churches that will – like in 1775 – teach members to occupy until the Lord comes.