Celebrating the 4th: One Nation Under God
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12).
We celebrate Independence Day on the Fourth of July every year, representing the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted and the birth of the United States as an independent nation. The Continental Congress declared our independence on July 2, 1776, but since Congress agreed on the amended text of the Declaration (in Philadelphia) on July 4, 1776, that became the celebrated day. The Declaration was later signed on August 2, 1776. It wasn’t until 1870 that Congress made the Fourth of July an official holiday.
The theology interwoven into our country’s founding has been so shrouded and lost through the years that if the original documents of the Declaration of Independence were unveiled today, “separation of church and state” advocates would see it as a violation of the First Amendment’s clause prohibiting the governmental establishment of religion. Our Declaration made four separate references to God:
• “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…” states that the God of nature is the Giver of moral law. He is the moral authority.
• “Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” means our rights come from God Himself, as He is the One who created us.
• “The Supreme Judge of the world…” acknowledges God as the Highest Judge over all humanity and the Giver of moral law.
• “…and for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…” defers to God for our protection.
When writing the Declaration, the Founders took the teachings of Christ and intertwined those principles into our civil government. John Adams said, “The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.” The signers made many references to God in their writings in the days following the Continental Congress, further validating their Christian beliefs:
• John Adams wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail, dated July 3, 1776, with a prediction of how history would remember, “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty.”
• Samuel Adams wrote to a friend on July 9th, wishing the Declaration had been issued earlier: “If it had been done nine months ago, we might have been justified in the sight of God.”
• General George Washington, in New York City on July 9, ordered the Declaration and a General Order to be read aloud to the troops to boost their morale regarding the war they were fighting. He said, “The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavor to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier, defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country…. knowing that now, the peace and safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms.”
• On August 1st (the day before the signing), Samuel Adams delivered his famous “American Independence” speech on the steps of the State House in Philadelphia: “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and, from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come. We must now prepare to defeat the mightiest army in the world, and only by God’s help can we be victorious.”
From 1776 to 1784, during the American Revolution, the Congress of the United States issued sixteen separate proclamations, calling on Americans to humble themselves by fasting, praying, and giving thanks to God. They asked citizens to seek the Lord, stop working, and gather in churches to hear the Congressional proclamations from the pastors behind the pulpit. They sought the Lord’s guidance during this transition and uncertainty in American history.
Let us not forget the determination and resolve of our Founders! As we enjoy fireworks and BBQ this 4th of July, may we also reflect on the meaning and purpose of this most important day in our history—and the sacrifices made that keep us free. This country we hold dear started with God and the rights HE gave us. We have been passed the torch to spread His truth and light and preserve this country. We cannot let it go out but keep His flame of freedom burning bright for generations to come!
Prayer: Father God in Heaven, we praise You for giving the Founders of this country the faith and courage to come to this land of immense opportunity— for guiding and strengthening them during that critical time. As we, too, are faced with national and global uncertainty, help us lean into You for renewed vision and strength as we navigate the crises around us. Remind us to pray, fast, and seek You for wisdom. We choose to put on Your armor, according to Ephesians 6, as Your army of Christian men and women, taking a stand for You. Protect us in spiritual warfare against things the enemy intends for our destruction and the demise of our families. Make us battle-ready, Lord— We choose You and fight for You! We know You are fighting for us! In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray, Amen!
Final Thought: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
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