Some will celebrate anniversaries. Others will celebrate the birth of a newborn baby. Others will wish a Happy Birthday to a son or daughter born on this date years ago. The United States and its people will celebrate, again, Independence Day. To be sure, each of these is a cause and call for remembrance.
Perhaps there is another remembrance that is fitting for this day. Long ago Moses spoke these words; “And you shall remember the Lord your God…” – Deuteronomy 8:18 NKJV. Perhaps this is something we should also never forget. Whether Moses is still considered a spokesman, forefather, or someone else of influence, the scriptures account for these words and this proclamation.
In United States history, another forefather issued a proclamation that called its people to remember, and in that remembrance, to do something. In March of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln stated these words in his “Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day”.
“…whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
These were uncertain and in many respects, sobering times in our nation’s history. I believe that we are now in uncertain and sobering times too. Please know that President Lincoln was not just making up the phrase underlined above. He was referencing scripture in Psalm 33:12. It is here that I would like to add some of the other verses of that same Psalm, from verse 10 to the end:
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance. The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works. No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You.
I call us not just to remember that this is Independence Day, a day special for some other reason, or to remember these words of proclamation from 152 years ago. Rather, I call us to do what the scripture incites us to do – and always; to Remember the Lord our God. In our celebrated but often misunderstood independence, let us never forget to continually run to Him in utter dependence – for (His) life, liberty, and justice for us.