Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Today, we are celebrating our independence. On July 4, 1776 the Congress of the thirteen united States of America signed the Declaration of Independence. In it they proclaimed, "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."

Recently, I visited Philadelphia during the middle of the night with a friend. We parked our car and walked around Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed. I walked around the building where Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington walked. In this building, fifty-six brave men mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to uphold the ideals of liberty. They risked their lives to bring our country freedom from tyranny.

Right across the street from Independence Hall is a small building where the Liberty Bell is displayed for tourists. Back when the bell was forged, it was tradition to inscribe a verse from the Bible on every bell. What verse do you suppose the foundry chose to engrave around the edge of this bell when they cast it? It was as if the foundry knew that this bell would ring for freedom because they wrote, 'Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land to all the inhabitants thereof."

This quote is straight from Leviticus 25:10. This verse was supposed to be yelled at the time of the year of Jubilee! Once every fifty years, every slave was set free and everyone had their debts canceled. 

Another famous day of Liberty occurred when Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation on January 1, 1863. With a single stroke of his pen, he freed thousands of slaves. Those who were held captive were suddenly set free. The chains fell and black Americans were able to take their rightful place in society as free men.

Yet both of these significant events pale in comparison with a day two thousand years ago. On that day, Jesus made it possible for every person on earth to be free! Thomas Jefferson once said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots…" Our spiritual tree of liberty was watered once and for all with the blood of Christ.

Independence was the main reason Jesus came to earth. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,To preach the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19). 

Jesus came to preach deliverance to the captives, to set at liberty them that are bruised, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord's favor. When is the acceptable year of the Lord's favor? Why, the year of Jubilee, of course.

Jesus' purpose for coming to earth was to bring Liberty and Independence!