Sermon title: THE FOUNDATIONS OF OUR NATION & OUR FAITH
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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
(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.
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.