Let Freedom Ring 6/27/99

Leviticus 27:17-19

Jesus Christ said, “… you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

He said this in the context of His disciples of all ages knowing and abiding in His Word. Spiritual and political freedom aren’t always arm locked twins. Spiritual freedom can exist regardless of externals. However, those who enjoy it are best suited to create and cultivate social, political, and moral freedom.

Etched on the rim of our nations revered Liberty Bell are the words of our text: “Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety” (Lev. 25:19).

What a marvelous promise and provision. Globally few nations have ever enjoyed the bounty of the land and freedom from oppression as we. Yet, every civilization is only one generation away from losing such heritage. Let’s not be that generation.

As we rejoice in the promise of our text we must look at the preceding verse to find the reason for such.

“So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety.” (Leviticus 25:18)

These are the conditions for the blessings. How are we doing?

II CHRONICLES 7:14 is an amplification of the text: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Recently Lady Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Great Britain spoke in our community. Among the many wise statements she made was this: “For freedom to prevail there must be the honorable and just application of the law.” Her thesis was that freedom is only possible when bordered by protective law and order. Our founding fathers knew this and designed for us a government of law and order.

In our rush for freedom we have broken many of God’s laws and distorted the laws of our predecessors which were based on our Constitution. Our Constitution was emphatically based on Biblical principles. When we violate the laws of God we do not break them, we break ourselves.

Dr. Kyle Yates had two beloved grandchildren who had their tonsils removed at the same time. The loving grandparents gave them a gift of two goldfish. Like creative children they named them in light of their own experience. What else? Tonsils and Adenoids.

When the children went home they took Tonsils and Adenoids with them. A few days later one of the children was looking out the front window when the grandparents came for a visit. He shouted to his brother the good news they were there. One of them picked up the bowl with the two fish and went racing through the house to show their prize pets. And he ran down the sidewalk he tripped. See it in slow motion. The bowl floats through the air with the child reaching for it as water begins to spill. Dramatically it crashes onto the sidewalk and shards of glass scatter as water splashes. There on the hot pavement are Tonsils and Adenoids flopping around. Good news! They are free at last. They are free…. free, free to die.

Individuals and societies that break God’s laws are free, free to die.

God’s Word appeals for His people to humble themselves. In light of our public disgrace, our virus of violence, lewd and vulgar entertainment God’s people should find it easy to humble themselves.

Humility does not preclude convictions and courage. The men who signed the Declaration of Independence were humble but brave men. They had the courage of their convictions.

Humility does not imply having an offend no body, tolerate everything, and stand for nothing attitude. It might mean having to face those who shout at you “bigot,” or “radical,” or “reactionary.”

Our word patriotism comes from the Latin root “pater,” which means “father.” Our country is our fatherland. We call those who forged the foundations of our country our Founding Fathers.

As America was being birthed there walked among the Founding Fathers a mousy little wisp of a man. He was about 5’6″ and weighted around 100 pounds. His weak voice didn’t have the resonance of Patrick Henry, nor the dynamism of Ben Franklin. He was brainy and bookish enough to graduate from Princeton in two years. He lacked social skills, never participated in sports, nor distinguished himself in any way. Eleven of the twelve boys in his graduating class had a part in the exercise, he didn’t.

Being shy around girls he didn’t fall in love and become engaged until 31. The engagement lasted six weeks and the girl broke it off. This increased his feeling of inferiority and he didn’t marry until 43.

It wouldn’t appear that such a person could achieve. However, I have only noted his weaknesses. He had two primary strengths his great mind and humble spirit.

At the age of 36 he represented Virginia at the Constitution Convention in Philadelphia. Here he stood with the greats: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, George Mason, and Alexander Hamilton. They physically towered over him. Him being, that mousy little James Madison.

Later when the Virginia Legislature met to ratify the proposed Constitution the big guns opposed ratification. The silver-tongued orator Patrick Henry who had roused the colonies earlier with his “give me liberty or give me death” address thundered against ratification of the Constitution.

The clerk of the Convention wrote, “Mr. Madison responded, but his voice was so low that he could hardly be heard.” Then Henry would roar again. The clerk wrote, “Mr. Madison brought out some facts, but his voice was very weak.”

Who prevailed? That’s right the mousy little weak voiced James Madison. Virginia ratified and James Madison became known as the “Father of our Constitution.”

Later he served for eight years as Secretary of State under President Thomas Jefferson. When he succeeded Jefferson as president, Jefferson said of him he was a man of “pure and spotless virtue.”

In 1821 as President he issued a proclamation which called upon the people to do what God has called on us to do, “humble themselves and pray.” In that proclamation he appealed for people to “acknowledge their transgressions which might provoke Divine displeasure.”

One of the primary prayers that needs to be offered over and over is a prayer of repentance and confession. Confession is an apology to God that results in happiness. He deserves an apology. It is His law we have broken, His love we have spurned, His purpose we have subverted.

The portion of Scripture on our Liberty Bell states, “the land will yield its fruit…” It speaks of dwelling in the land in “safety.” II Chronicles 7:14 speaks of God healing the land of His repentant people.

Safety is lacking in the land because people having violated God’s standards have little regard for others.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Warren E. Burger stated, “America is being reduced to the status of an impotent society, whose capability of maintaining elementary security on the streets, in the schools, and for the homes of our people is in doubt.”

We love to sing of the “Sweet Land of Liberty.” We need to revive the concept that only “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

If the Spirit of the Lord isn’t in control liberty becomes licence. A person without the controlling dynamic of the Holy Spirit may be uninhibited but liberty is lost.

Jefferson’s voice cracks like a whip across the face of disrespect and disobedience in these words inscribed in the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.:
“Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are a gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, That this justice cannot sleep forever.”

Our culture has lost its sense of awe and awareness of the blessings of God inherent in His will. A German theologian, Martin Buber, wrote a book, the thesis of which is the “I – it” relation. He stated we have things we love and speak of loving “it.” Things are loved.

He then broadened his thought to include an “I – thou” relationship. This speaks of interpersonal relationships. We are to love “thous” not “its.” Having dehumanized human life from the moment of conception we have degenerative regard for it at any stage. Considering people as “its” violence has erupted. In this sea of violence there needs to be islands of love, harbors of concern and the people of God must provide them.

If God’s people, His remnant, regardless of how few will do as He has commanded they can still be the salt, the preservative of our society. God has saved America more than once and can do it again. A classic example involved General George Washington. On the west end of Long Island in the area now known as Brookline, General Washington’s army of 8,000 was trapped by the 32,000 man army of the British General Howe. Cut off by the mile wide East River the final blow to the emerging union was poised. Unexplainably, General Howe, poised and ready to strike, delayed anticipating the final assault at the next dawn.

All around the people in their homes and churches prayed. Repentant hearts and saintly souls called upon the Lord.

In his diary Major Ben Tolmedge described what happened. In small boats and on rafts the army of Washington rushed to attempt a withdrawal during the night. It soon became apparent the night would not be long enough to effect the withdrawal. Then a weather phenomenon uncharacteristic of that season occurred. During the night a “Peculiar fog rose from the ground and river and settled over both camps until the last boat containing General Washington evacuated.”

God let the people dwell in the land in safety. No less a miracle is needed today.

Facial expressions are a dead give away of ones thoughts. This reality is employed to appeal to us to seek to understand God’s will.

God’s will is no more clearly revealed than in His written word, the Bible.

Of it Andrew Jackson said, “That Book, Sirs, is the rock upon which our Republic rests.”

Daniel Webster noted, “If we go on abiding by the truths taught in the Bible we will go on prospering, but if we do not, catastrophe may suddenly overwhelm us.”

It is not that we do not know God’s will it is that many have chosen to disregard it.

Not only is our nation in general failing to seek God’s face there is a concerted effort to exclude His face from every public place under the misunderstanding of the term “separation of church and state.” Ten Baptists got the principle included in the Bill of Rights. Now it appears 10,000,000 Baptists and their allies can’t keep it there. The principle was fostered to prevent there from being favoritism paid to any one denomination as was being done in England and Europe at the time.

Evidence of how far we have come is seen in that Thomas Jefferson, as chairman of the school board in Washington D.C., led the body to purchase Bibles for distribution in the public schools. They established the chaplaincy and authorized prayer in the Congress.

James Madison had no intention to exclude God from the public forum. He was a primary figure in writing the First Amendment with the intent to insure religious freedom.

History records that Madison was to run for public office against a Baptist preacher, John Leland. Surveys indicated Leland would win 5 to 1. However, he didn’t want to run. The two met under a tree on the corner of what is now Madison and Leland Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. There Leland educated Madison on separation of church and state. He assured Madison he would not oppose him in the election if Madison would include the principle of separation of church and state in the Bill of Rights. Leland didn’t run, Madison was elected, and the Bill of Rights was written. The purpose was not to expel God from government and society, but simply to insure no one denomination would be given preference over any other.

We must return to the God of our fathers and seek His face.

Living without God’s plan in our lives is like sewing without thread. It is like writing our name in water.

It is God’s plan that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance. That is His will. Have you ever aligned your will with His at this point of conjunction?