Summary: A nation that trusts in the Lord will be led and blessed by the Lord.
A Different Kind of Declaration
Jeremiah declared in Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters...”
Today is a special day for our nation. Exactly 234 years ago, today, the Continental Congress met in the city of Philadelphia and adopted the Declaration of Independence. When those quill pens scratched across that eloquently written document, it was, undoubtedly, one of the defining moments in the history of the world. With a few bold strokes, those 56 brave men cast off the chains of tyranny and made the bold proclamation that a fledgling young nation was ready and able to stand under its own power and authority. They declared, to all that would listen, that they represented a free and independent people.
That day marked the culmination of years of conflict and frustration. The decision to declare independence did not come easy, nor was it hasty. John Adams would later say that the real revolution took place in the hearts and minds of the people of America in the 15 years PRIOR to the first drops of patriotic blood being spilled at Lexington and Concord. The signing of the declaration itself didn’t come to pass until 442 days AFTER the first volleys of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord. When those brave men signed that powerful declaration, they did so with a conviction that was born through years of conflict.
Time and experience are relentless teachers and the preceding years had provided ample evidence that the only way that they would ever achieve the liberty and freedom that they longed for was to toss off the controlling hand of the throne of England. They learned the hard way that self-sufficiency and self-reliance was the only way to preserve the great dream that they had began to call America. So they took that final difficult and costly step and declared to the whole world that they were dependant on no foreign power. They took their future in their own hands and declared that they stood alone, independent of any one else. It was a Declaration of Independence. It was born of necessity. Independence was the only plausible course.
However, even as they declared their independence, our founding fathers acknowledged, on that momentous occasion, their utter dependence on God. That revolutionary document may have been a Declaration of Independence but it also declared, in its own words, “a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” Today our nation will celebrate a declaration of Independence, but I want to talk to you for just a few moments about a different kind of declaration. Just as surely as time and circumstances had taught the founding fathers of this nation that the only feasible course of action that could preserve their hopes and dreams was to put forth a declaration of independence, experience had also taught them that their only hope of any degree of success lay in their reliance on God. To a large degree the document that they signed was as much a Declaration of Dependence as it was a Declaration of Independence.
The wisest man that ever lived penned the words of Proverbs 3:5 admonishing us to “Trust in the LORD with all [our] heart; and [to] lean not [to our] own understanding.” But, in all of our ways to acknowledge God and he will make our paths straight. I come to this pulpit this morning with a simple purpose. I’m here to encourage each and every one of you to make a declaration of dependence. I want to encourage each of you to put your full trust in the Lord. It seems so easy, sometimes, to trust in what we know, what we can see and what we can understand. But the problem is that our understanding is never enough.
For all of our knowledge and all of our understanding, we can’t see things from heaven’s perspective. God’s ways, the prophet Isaiah reminds us, are far above our ways and His thoughts are so far beyond our thoughts that they are like the heavens that tower above the earth. God’s aspirations for our lives are beyond our comprehension. We can’t even begin to grasp the great plan that God is unfolding in us and through us. We aren’t capable of seeing the end from the beginning and knowing where this thing is headed. Instead we are charged simply to trust God. Instead we are reminded to place our dependence upon God.
David said, in his own poetic prose (Psalm 37:23), that the “steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” There is a wonderful sense of security in that truth. If I will trust Him, if I will depend upon Him, if I will let Him -- He will direct my paths and He order my steps! The Psalmist celebrates this truth by saying of the man that allows God to order his steps, “though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his own hand.” He provides further evidence of the security of depending on God when he says, in the next verse: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”