Sermon title:  THE FOUNDATIONS OF OUR NATION & OUR FAITH

Deuteronomy 4:1-9

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, July 4, 2021

 

 

When Almighty God set up the new nation of Israel

after freeing the Jews from slavery in Egypt,

he called for the foundation of their nation

to be remembered,

generation after generation.

 

There would be reminders

including their founding documents

that were to be read aloud from time to time,

and stone monuments

that they would see when passing by.

 

The chief founding document of the nation of Israel

was the Law of Moses

the set of 613 laws

that God gave them through Moses.

 

At Deuteronomy 4:5, Moses told the people,

5 See, I have taught you

decrees and laws

as the Lord my God commanded me.

And he went on,

6 Observe them carefully, for this will

show your wisdom and understanding

to the nations, who will hear about

all these decrees and say,

“Surely this great nation

is a wise and understanding people.”

 

Then in Verse 8,

8 And what other nation is so great

as to have such righteous

decrees and laws as this body of laws

I am setting before you today?

 

Yes, those laws that served as Israel’s founding documents

were given directly from God

and were more wonderful

than the laws of any other nation.

 

( By the way, does that remind you

of how people around the world

have viewed the United States of America

down through the centuries?

 

People of all nations have long desired

to come to America to enjoy our rights & freedoms. )

 

God commanded Israel that

 those laws from that founding document

were to be read aloud to all the people

from time to time,

to remind them of their nation’s foundation

and its guiding principles.

 

Deuteronomy 31 says,

11 you shall read this law before them

in their hearing.

12 Assemble the people

—men, women and children,

and the foreigners

residing in your towns—

so they can listen and learn

to fear the Lord your God

and follow carefully all the words

of this law.”

 

So, each generation of Israelites

would hear their nation’s founding documents

read aloud publicly,

to remind them.

 

And then, besides those founding documents,

the Israelites also had stone monuments

erected in public places

that would remind them of their history

so that history would continue to guide them.

 

In Deuteronomy Chapter 27,

Moses instructed the people that

they should erect a stone monument

with the words of the Law

written or engraved on them.

 

He said,

set up some large stones

and coat them with plaster.

3 Write on them all the words

of this law.

 

And there was also another stone monument

set up to remind the nation

how they miraculously entered the Promised Land.

 

The 4th Chapter of the Book of Joshua tells us

what happened after God dried up the Jordan River

so that the people could cross over

into the Promised Land.

 

It tells us that they erected a monument of stones

taken from the dry riverbed.

 

It says,

1 When the whole nation

had finished crossing the Jordan,

the Lord said to Joshua,

2 “Choose twelve men

from among the people,

one from each tribe,

3 and tell them

to take up twelve stones

from the middle of the Jordan”

 

And it tells the purpose of displaying these 12 stones.

It says,

“In the future,

when your children ask you,

‘What do these stones mean?’

7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan

was cut off before

the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

When it crossed the Jordan,

the waters of the Jordan were cut off.

These stones are to be a memorial

to the people of Israel forever.”

 

Later on, during the reign of King Solomon,

God also had them build a stone Temple in Jerusalem

that would stand as a reminder

that it was God who made them a nation.

 

So, the nation of Israel in the Old Testament

had these stone memorials—

these reminders of their history—

to guide them into the future.

 

The stone memorials would remind them

and their children after them

how important their history was.

 

Each future generation would see the stone memorials

and learn that history

to be guided by it into the future.

 

That history included,

not only the foundation of their nation,

but also the foundation of their faith,

because it was God who led them

into the Promised Land,

and who gave them Laws to live by.

 

But, as time went by, the leaders of Israel

stopped reading their founding documents

and began ignoring the Laws God gave them.

The stone Temple of Almighty God in Jerusalem

was abandoned and virtually boarded-up.

 

And, as a result of their unfaithfulness,

God sent them prophets to tell them

that their nation would be destroyed.

 

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Well, why have I recited all of this on the 4th of July?

 

It’s because there are important parallels

between Israel and our own great nation

that was founded

when the Declaration of Independence

was adopted on July 4th, 1776.

 

It was their faith in God,

and their desire to worship him according to the Bible

that led the Pilgrims to settle in Plymouth in 1620,

and that led the Puritans to Boston in 1630.

 

And thousands more followed them to this New World,

motivated by the desire to serve God freely,

according to their conscience and the Bible.

 

Similar to the case with Israel,

our founding documents make

that commitment to God very clear—in writing.

 

The Mayflower Compact that the Pilgrims signed

said specifically

that they were starting the Plymouth settlement

QUOTE for the Glory of God,

and Advancement of the Christian Faith.”

 

There was no mistake about it, what the purpose was.

 

It was for the “Advancement of the Christian faith”

that the Pilgrims came and settled in this land.

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Ten years after the Pilgrims landed,

the Puritans established the City of Boston

a few miles to the north

to begin the colony of Massachusetts.

 

And if you read the Constitution of Massachusetts

you’ll see it still contains the following provision,

although it has since been made obsolete

by various amendments:

Article III of the Massachusetts constitution says,

"... the legislature shall, from time to time,

authorize and require, the several towns,

... to make suitable provision, at their own expense,

for the institution of the public worship of God,

and for the support and maintenance

of public Protestant teachers of piety,

religion and morality..."

 

So, if a town in Massachusetts did not voluntarily

maintain a church,

the legislature was authorized to see to it.

 

Massachusetts taxed citizens to pay for the churches

--until 1833.

 

The Congregational Church was the

official state religion of Connecticut until 1818.

 

The Church of England was the official state church

of Virginia until 1786,

the official state church of Georgia until 1789

and of South Carolina until 1790.

 

The Congregational Church was the official state religion

of New Hampshire until 1790.

 

Although no longer enforced today,

the constitutions of eight states

prohibit atheists from holding public office.

 

Those states are Arkansas, Maryland,

Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania,

South Carolina, Tennessee, & Texas.

================

 

As for our central national government,

the Declaration of Independence records the first time

that our country was referred to

as the United States of America.

 

And that Declaration of Independence begins with

these famous words:

 

When in the Course of human events,

it becomes necessary for one people

to dissolve the political bands

which have connected them with another,

and to assume among

the powers of the earth,

the separate and equal station

to which the Laws of Nature

and of Nature's God entitle them,

a decent respect to

the opinions of mankind requires

that they should declare the causes

which impel them to the separation.

 

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.

 

So, this new country declared

that its independence

was based on the laws of God,

the God of the Bible.

 

And this new country declared

certain basic rightsfor all citizens

to be based on the laws of God,

the God of the Bible.

 

And in its concluding paragraph,

the Declaration of Independence says,

We, therefore, the Representatives

of the United States of America,

in General Congress, Assembled,

appealing to the Supreme Judge

of the world

for the rectitude of our intentions,

do, in the Name, and by Authority of

the good People of these Colonies,

solemnly publish and declare,

That these United Colonies are, and

of Right ought to be

Free and Independent States.

 

So, the Founding Fathers appealed to God,

the Supreme Judge of the world.”

 

And then the Declaration’s final sentence says,

And for the support

of this Declaration,

with a firm reliance on the protection

of divine Providence,

we mutually pledge to each other

our Lives, our Fortunes and

our sacred Honor.

 

So, again, they were relying on God

to provide protection,

the protection of divine Providence.”

 

So, they based this Declaration strongly

on the God of the Bible,

referring to Him repeatedly as “Nature’s God,”

 the “Creator,”

the Supreme Judge of the world,”

and relying on His “divine providence,”

 

In this way the Founding Fathers made it very clear

that this new nation was being founded

on the Bible.

 

By these references, they were including the Bible

among our founding documents.

 

The Bible was the ultimate

foundation of government for the United States.

 

The Bible was the basis for our laws and government.

 

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So, like ancient Israel, the United States of America, too,

has founding documents

that we should review from time to time

to remind us of who we are

and who we ought to be.

 

And, like Israel, our nation’s founding documents

are tied in with our faith in God.

 

Also, like ancient Israel, we today have stone monuments

that were set up to remind future generations

of what this nation stands for.

 

But the remembrance of our heritage

is being placed in jeopardy today

by people within our country who have become

enemies of what this nation stands for.

 

They reject the references to God

in our founding documents.

 

And they literally tear down the stone monuments

that reflect our nation’s heritage.

 

Protesters tore down statues last year,

and local governments bowed to pressure

and removed statues that had stood for generations.

 

Among the statues removed, or toppled

by protesters, last year

was a statue of Kit Carson in Denver

 

He was an early frontiersman, fur trapper,

wilderness guide & U.S. Army officer.

 

Also, a statue of the 1700's Evangelist & Gospel Preacher

George Whitefield in Philadelphia.

 

And statues of President Theodore Roosevelt

in Portland, Oregon   &New York City.

 

These were statues of Teddy Roosevelt on horseback

as a U.S. Army cavalry officer

before his presidency.

Also, a statue of our first President George Washington

in Portland, Oregon

 

And statues of President Abraham Lincoln

in Portland, Oregon & Washington, D.C.

 

And statues of President Thomas Jefferson in

Oregon,   Georgia & New York.

 

And all across the country, dozens of statues

of Christopher Columbus were toppled or vandalized,

including one in Boston where protestors cut off

the statue’s head.

 

The same forces of evil are attacking

our founding documents—the Constitution

and the Declaration of Independence.

 

But it’s easier to see and to measure

the physical destruction

of stone monuments to our nation’s past.

 

Yet, if we look closely, we can see

how the founding documents are being

pushed aside, amended and re-interpreted.

 

The portions of the Massachusetts constitution

that I quoted earlier, upholding Christian churches,

have since been rendered obsolete

and over-ridden by amendments.

 

And the United States Constitution

has been re-interpreted

by liberal justices on the Supreme Court

to mean something quite different

from what our founding fathers intended.

 

For example, six years ago the Supreme Court ruled

that the Constitution and its Amendments

require that men be allowed to marry men

and women to marry women—

something not in the text

and not intended by those who wrote the documents.

The Americans who wrote those founding documents

would be turning over in their graves

if they knew it would later be twisted

to justify gay marriage.

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And, as our nation’s founding documents

were based on the Bible,

it should also be mentioned

that there are those who are changing the Bible

to fit leftist “woke” ideology.

 

An extreme example is the so-called “Queen James Bible,”

which is advertised as “a gay Bible”

and which changes the passages of Scripture

that condemn homosexual conduct.

 

But more subtle changes are starting to be introduced

in some Bibles in mainstream use.

 

I often use the New International Version of the Bible,

but I’ve hung onto a couple of tattered copies

of the 1984 edition,

because the 2011 edition of the NIV

was changed to use “gender-inclusive”

or “gender-neutral” language.

 

According to scholars who analyzed it, the 2011 NIV

has changed the wording of thousands of verses,

replacing masculine terms with gender neutral ones.

 

According to one commentator, they replaced

gender-specific words

(e.g. man, woman, he, she, son, daughter)

with gender-neutral words

(e. g. person, they, child).

In many cases these replacements are made

even when the original language

clearly intends a specific gender."

 

So, if I use the NIV, I try to stick to the 1984 edition

before these politically-motivated changes were made.

 

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And we can each do our own small part

in holding onto our heritage—

both as a nation, and in our walk with God.

 

We can keep reading our Bibles,

become more familiar with our founding documents,

and hold onto the age-old basics of our faith.

 

But, if what happened to ancient Israel is any indication,

God will not keep putting up with

a world that has turned its back on him.

 

We continue to pray for his Kingdom to come

and for his will to be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.