Summary: In the middle of the desperate times, God is, as the Scriptures tell us, the “Lifter of the Heads” of the oppressed.
This year (2006) we Americans have been a nation for 230 years. The holiday we celebrate as Independence Day represents for Americans the end of our ties and bonds with a nation with which we once were identified, and the throwing off of oppressiveness in order to have this essential thing called FREEDOM. In 1776, we Americans were not under a bondage of chains, but one of oppressive laws, taxes and troops being quartered against our will. It would have been easy for those living in the British colonies we now call the United States to have sighed in despair and borne the burdens they were under. Yet something started as a glimmer of an idea…an impossible thought for colonists of the day, but still, something of a goal…an objective…to be their own nation…a FREE country, still governed by laws and regulations, funded by taxes, but ones the people put upon themselves.
To be sure, there were BIG obstacles to seeing it through. England had the biggest army and the most powerful navy on Earth at the time. Only a fool would consider challenging such a country and taking her ships and troops to war, but such was the situation to which our founding fathers pledged their lives and fortunes. It was not easy, and it cost many lives, but the fruits of their actions are still here today, not because of superior armaments or more clever military strategy, but because there was another force at work. In the middle of the desperate times, God was, as the Scriptures tell us, the “Lifter of the Heads” of the oppressed. Even in their quest for freedom, God was moving and guiding the events of the world so that people would be free of oppression and give glory to Him.
I. What do we mean by “lifting the head”?
A. The term, as used here, means that someone’s status in life has changed from one of disgrace or oppression to one of honor or glory.
B. Time and time again, the Scriptures bear witness to the fact that the oppression of His people is abhorrent to God.
C. Rather than letting tribulations continue, He will send relief to his people even in the worst of situations.
II. God cannot “Lift our Heads” if we are not brought low.
A. In our scripture, Jehoiachin had been removed from his throne and taken in chains to Babylon. According to what we read here, he was in a dirty stinking Babylonian prison for 37 years.
B. Jehoiachin, to all indications, would spend the rest of his life in this situation, but all indications here are that he had hope. It took a change of leadership on the throne, but clearly God had not forgotten about this son of David, and when he least expected it, Jehoiachin’s head was lifted up.
C. He was given a status far above the other conquered kings held prisoner there.
III. Even though we may desire liberation from the oppression that surrounds us, sometimes God allows us to go through that oppression and pain to understand his tender mercies.
A. The Israelites had to endure slavery in Egypt nearly 400 years before he brought them into their promised land.
B. The tribe of Judah was held in Babylonian captivity for 70 years before being allowed to return to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.
C. Though we declared independence in 1776, the American troops had to endure five years of war, cold, disease and starvation before they could enjoy the fruits of that independence.
IV. God asks us to be faithful to him, and if we will do that, He will neither forget nor neglect us.
A. God was with the Israelites in Egypt, and again in Babylon. He so established these people that today they have a nation on the soil that God gave them.
B. In a sense, many people came to the shores of America to have more freedom to worship God as He led them. This same God was with them through the trials of a revolutionary war, and it was He that established and protected them until they were truly free.
C. In our modern time, when so many people are trying to take away those very freedoms to worship, it will be our faith in God, or lack of it, which determines whether God will see us through.
As we celebrate our freedom and independence in this country, let us realize that it is not by our own hands that such freedom comes to us. Our founding fathers knew that there was something higher than them that controlled the destiny of the world, and though some of them were unsure of what that something was, almost to a man they acknowledged that allegiance to a higher power, or God, was something that was necessary in order to gain the freedom they sought. Even today, in the midst of our trials, God the Father is still the “Lifter of our Heads”. Through his son, Jesus Christ, we have access to the freedom we desire in this life, and a home in a place that will be far and above all of the kingdoms of this world, where our home will be eternally.