Summary: A Fourth of July Message calling upon our congregation's to proclaim freedom for the captives.
One of the most, iconic symbols of our national heritage —the Liberty Bell —hangs magnificently in the city of brotherly love. You know, the Liberty Bell is a national treasure that cannot be valued based upon its alloy and weight. Instead, the value of the Liberty Bell resides in the countless millions that have looked upon it as a symbol of enduring freedom — a freedom which still rings today. Allow me to tease you with a bit of liberty-bell history.
In 1751, the Pennsylvania Assembly ordered a bell from a London foundry to commemorate the commonwealth’s fiftieth anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges: Pennsylvania's original Constitution. Penn wrote of the liberties afforded by a people who trust, solemnly profess, and worship — in his words — the “Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith and Worship; and in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World."
In August 1752, the bell arrived from Britain’s shores. However, its rim cracked upon the clapper’s first strike. So, two local foundry men, Pass and Stow, offered to recast the bell. Their first attempt did not fare well: the bell sounded horribly, and still it cracked again — despite their attempts to make the bell stronger. They refused to give up; and as such, the men recast the bell for a third time. Above their names, this declaration from Leviticus 25:10 is inscribed: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."
While the bell did not shine magnificently or ring with a beautiful song, the bell served its purpose. As another pastor wrote, “[The bell] was never perfect, but that wasn’t the point. It became the physical manifestation of its message [declaring freedom for all.] Even with the crack, it proclaims liberty in perfect fashion.”
On this Fourth of July weekend, I thought it would be fitting to look at how God is fashioning us to be his liberty bell. Let’s begin by opening our bibles to Leviticus 25:8–10. READ LEVITICUS 25:8–10.
Per God’s decree, the Year of Jubilee was to be instituted every fifty years. The Jubilee was a year of emancipation and restoration for all Hebrews who— for whatever reason — became indentured servants to another. God’s intent was for all people to be equal. His law stated that no one was to take advantage of another; instead, his people were to love God and one another.
Jesus re affirmed the Father’s declaration. He said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you…. You are my friends if you do what I command…. I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last…. This is my command: Love each other. (Jn 15:12–17).
But you know, we don’t always love one another very well. Thousands of years of never-ending oppression has continued; and that’s way the jubilee is so important.
Now, this word, “Jubilee” —Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “a year of celebration.” In the Greek Old Testament, the term is a combination of two words, meaning, a day for the blowing of trumpets, shouting, and the sounding of an alarm in order to grant to the land’s inhabitants freedom from their captors and the return of their land.
You know, the Liberty bell served like a trumpet (of sorts) in order to call the residents of Philadelphia to come and hear of their emancipation from England and King George. On July 8, 1776 the Liberty Bell was rung, summoning Pennsylvanians to hear the first, public reading of the Declaration of Independence. The Colonies believed the Creator equally endowed them as he had King George.
Yet, King George believed he was equal to none, and that it was within hid divine right to due as he pleased. Nay, said the Founders. They tried for years to reason with the king, but he wouldn’t listen. So, with a shout across the Atlantic, they drafted the Declaration of Independence and fervently rang the bells of liberty.
It was there way of effectively declaring, “This is our year of Jubilee. In God, we are all freeman. To you King George we proclaim God alone is King, and only by Him are we endowed with certain unalienable rights, among these being Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
THE BELL WAS SOUNDED
This ringing of the Liberty Bell, along with its inscription, resonates with the trumpet and shouts told within other Old Testament writings. The book of 1 Chronicles, chapter 15, tells the story of the time when Israel brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. V.28 says, “So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.”