Summary: sermon for July fourth
"Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land"
July 4, 2010
OPEN: Today on the 4th of July we are celebrating our nation's 234th birthday. 234 years ago the United States was born. A nation based on the ideals of liberty, responsibility, godliness, and the freedom to become what God intended us to become was a new and revolutionary idea. The celebration of our nation's birthday is really a celebration of freedom. We celebrate the precious gift of freedom we have because of the price others paid. You see, we must remember that freedom isn't free. Freedom is very expensive. It has cost some people everything, including their lives. Freedom isn't free, but it is infinitely valuable.
What are we really celebrating today?
Independence from tyranny.
Dependence upon God.
On July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, our Founding Fathers signed a document declaring our independence from the tyranny of those who would enslave the minds, the souls, the lives of men. But what many Americans don't realize is that with the same document, we not only declared our independence from Great Britain, we just as strongly declared our dependence upon Almighty God. The Declaration of Independence begins by proclaiming that this nation is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Do you remember how it ends? It ends with these words: "With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." The word reliance means dependence. The signers of the Declaration were staking everything on God watching over them and seeing them through in their struggle for freedom. This is a nation that was founded upon the notion that we must be free from tyranny and we must be dependant upon our God. Our nation's founding document declared independence from Great Britain; but with equal passion, dependence upon God. The spirit of 1776 was one of reverence and trust in God.
The title I chose for this message was a message that was well known during the revolutionary days.
Does anyone know where it comes from? It is actually an engraving that is on the Liberty Bell. After our Founding Fathers unanimously approved the Declaration of Independence on July 2, and it was signed on July 4, the first public reading of the Declaration took place on July 8, and it was celebrated by a band and the ringing of bells. And the very first bell they rang was in the belfry of the very hall where they approved the Declaration of Independence to summon the people to hear the reading of America's founding document. They rang that bell--we know it as the "Liberty Bell." Where did it get its name? The name comes from the Scripture that imprinted on the bell - Lev. 25:10 - which says: "Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof!" Proclaim liberty throughout the land. Let Freedom Ring!
Let me give you a brief history of the story of the Liberty Bell: In September of 1777, the republic was only a year old and its army, commanded by Gen. George Washington, faced a crisis. Washington was unable to keep the British out of the capital city of Philadelphia, having lost the Battle of Brandywine. The new nation was about to fall into enemy hands. The British believed that if they could occupy the capital, this "colonial rebellion" could be stopped. During a war, metal becomes scarce, so it was feared that the British might melt down the city's church bells and the bells of the State House, including the bell we now know as the Liberty Bell. So it was decided to remove the eleven bells from the city so they would not fall into enemy hands. The bells would eventually make their way to a distant village called Allentown, 50 miles to the north, for safekeeping while the British occupied Philadelphia. A train of 700 wagons was organized to carry the bell and other important items to a safe place. Carefully camouflaged by hay and manure, the Liberty Bell and other bells were transported with their guard of 200 cavalrymen, arriving in Bethlehem, PA on September 24, 1777. That night the bells were hauled to Allentown where they were hidden under the floorboards of old Zion's Reformed Church. There, they remained in safety until the following July. By the end of June, 1778, the British had evacuated Philadelphia and the Liberty Bell and the church bells were restored to their rightful places.