Summary: This weekend we are celebrating the birthday of our nation & the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It was an important decision for each one who placed his name upon it. As John Adams signed, he said, "Whether we live or die, sink or swim, succ
Text: Deuteronomy 8:1-20
Introduction: This weekend we are celebrating the birthday of our nation & the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It was an important decision for each one who placed his name upon it. As John Adams signed, he said, "Whether we live or die, sink or swim, succeed or fail, I stand behind this Declaration of Independence. And if God wills it, I am ready to die in order that this country might experience freedom."
It was that kind of patriotism which led men, armed with little more than hunting rifles and squirrel guns, to engage in battle with what was the most powerful nation in the world. Many of our ancestors paid a terrible price in the Revolutionary War, but finally they won the victory so that you & I might be citizens of this "land of the free & home of the brave."
However, what we often forget is that in declaring their independence from England, our ancestors made an equally strong declaration of dependence upon Almighty God.
I. Our ancestors declared their dependence upon God.
A. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence says: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
1. The closing words of the Declaration of Independence solemnly states: "With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, & our sacred Honor."
2. It is important that we recall this very basic declaration of their dependence, for in a time of prosperity & power & world leadership, the United States today is rapidly forgetting the God of our fathers, the God who gave this nation its birth & its greatness.
Illustration: I know that most of you who are older recognize the name of Patrick Henry. But I’m afraid that many of our school children do not. Patrick Henry was a famous statesman and orator of colonial Virginia. In 1764 he was elected to the House of Burgesses where he became a champion of the frontier people, supporting their rights against the arrogant exercise of power by the aristocracy. In 1774, he was a delegate to the First Continental Congress. In 1775, before the Virginia Provincial Convention, which was deeply divided between those who supported England & those who desired freedom, he uttered his most famous words, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" During the Revolutionary War, he became commander-in-chief of Virginia’s military forces, a member of the Second Continental Congress, helped draw up the first constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, & was largely responsible for drawing up the amendments to our Constitution known as the Bill of Rights. He became Virginia’s first governor. Patrick Henry was reelected 4 times. Then he retired from public life, but despite his strong objections, the people went ahead and reelected him Governor for the fifth time. Nevertheless, he meant what he said, so he refused to take the office. He was offered a seat in the U.S. Senate, & posts as ambassador to Spain and to France. President George Washington asked him to join his cabinet and become Secretary of State, and later wanted to appoint him the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, he refused all such honors and recognitions. Now why do I mention these things about Patrick Henry? It is because I want you to realize that he was an important and respected leader and patriot who feared and loved God Almighty in those days when our nation came into being. Now listen to these words from him. "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians - not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ." His Last Will & Testament was filed in the Brookneal County courthouse in Virginia. You read his Will and you will see that he bequeathed everything to his children, just as most people do. Nevertheless, the last paragraph in his Will is especially interesting. He wrote, "I have now given everything I own to my children. There is one more thing I wish I could give them & that is Christ. Because if they have everything I gave them and don’t have Christ, they have nothing."
B. We need to be reminded of the solemn warning that God gave to another nation, which was experiencing the thrill of independence after centuries of slavery in Egypt.
1. Although it was written over 3,000 years ago, this warning could very well apply to the United States today.
2. In our text, Moses tells the people, "For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land . . . where you shall eat food without scarcity. . . When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land, which He has given you. Beware. . .lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them. . . and your silver and your gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the Lord your God."