Every seven years the fourth of July falls on God's seventh-day Sabbath. God's gift of rest in His salvation on that day coincides with His gift of liberty to the nation of America in 1776. Rare is the worship service where I touch a secular holiday. But it seems timely this sabbath to highlight how special is God's gift of liberty to this nation, as Americans are presently under siege by those who do not love liberty.
I recently warned against participation in secular politics. But that does not mean we should be oblivious while the nation is dismantled via riots, murder, violence, and the pulling down of statues of imperfect men who used the energies of their lives attempting to shape a new nation clawing its way toward liberty. Some are engaged in an attempt to wipe out the past in Taliban-style fits of unthinking mayhem and public demonstration of epic stupidity.
We have been the recipients of God's gift of liberty. But generations have passed. Our ancestors who shed blood to create our liberty rest in the ground. Most of us inherited our freedom; we never paid for it personally. We do not understand its preciousness.
Liberty should be a precious idea for Christians. It was Christ Himself who began His ministry proclaiming it. Luke 4:18-19:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has annointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord's favor.
Jesus is our Example. His kind of ministry is our kind of ministry. He came not to encourage the lawless but to free the captives. He did not come to engage in rebellion to take over a nation, but to free men in their hearts and open the door to an entirely different kingdom. Many feel oppressed today. There is a kind of race to the bottom, a determination to win the victimhood olympics, to identify oneself as being more the victim than the next person, because, apparently, the person who has the most victim points "wins." But that is not what Jesus was about.
Jesus came to those who might be willing to receive Him. If Jesus had wanted, He could have incited the mob to overthrow the Romans. How speedily He would have raised His army! How popular He would have been throwing down the Roman banners and symbols of that hated occupying force. He did nothing remotely like that. He told the most military of His followers to put their swords back into their sheaths.
Jesus understood what we do not. Namely, that no substantive positive change is available to us through the secular political game. Let me explain this.
The Backdrop of All our Lives
Most of the media you consume is owned by one of six megamedia corporations. These are National Amusements, Disney, TimeWarner, Comcast, Newscorp (Rupert Murdoch), and Sony, which have values of 43B, 88B, 60B, 148B, 56B, 36B, or a total of 430B.
When it comes to the internet, the most visited site in the world is Youtube, with monthly traffic of 1.6T hits. Wikipedia gets a trillion a month. Number 4 is facebook, at half a trillion per month. Youtube and Google are owned by Alphabet Corporation, which had annual revenue last year of 162B.
Rolled into this mix is Big Pharma, another long story of crime and scandal. In his 802 page Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America (2019), Gerald Posner notes that "The top ten drug companies in the Fortune 500 had more combined profits than the other 490 companies" (p. 450). Almost all these drugs are controlled by a small number of corporations. Merck, Squibb, Pfizer, Lilly, Abbot, Upjohn, and Parke-Davis top this list.
The nightly news some Americans still watch is substantially sponsored by big pharma. CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS are sponsored by Pfizer. ABC and MSNBC is sponsored by Merck. Bayer sponsors NBC and CBS. Rupert Murdock who owns Fox News is deeply invested in GlaxoSmithKline. GlaxoSmithKline also sponsors ABC, NBC, and CBS. Lilly sponsors NBC. Squibb sponsors CBS. And so on.
How much negative news about vaccines do you think you will hear from those sources? Which corporations do you think are developing the 170 covid vaccinations presenty being developed? There is a great deal of money involved. How much balanced coverage of Swine flu, or covid, or SARS do you think you will hear from them? There might even be good news about these vaccines; but the presence of megadollars doesn't necessarily point to that; there is a smell of monopoly.
Many of us have had an expectation that no one could really be so greedy that they would abuse trust and tell us lies just to acquire money from us. It seems to me that we were wrong. I think they are taking advantage of trust and making profits hand over fist from a captive population.
Or maybe you always thought we could trust the government to protect us. But we are seeing today in many municipalities that that was also our being too trusting. Some major cities are actually defunding police.
Then there is censorship. Here in Michigan there was a Facebook group of more than 380,000 people who shared concern about some of the steps that unilaterally had been taken by the governor. Boom. Facebook deleted the group. Facebook is not on your side. Facebook has its own side.
What is my point? Just that there is very little independent thinking when a small handful of corporations literally control almost everything that is said about everything that affects you. We think our opinions are our own, but almost every idea we articulate was previously expressed to us to begin with. Many of what we think of as our personal opinions were first fed to us via big corporations or government, because they wanted us to think about things in certain ways.
There are two classic novels about awful futures. One is George Orwell's 1984, where the government spies on everyone, even controlling the language with groupthink. The other, is Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Neil Postman compares the two volumes:
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. . . In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that our fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us (Excerpt from Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, (1985).
Today we live a toxic blend of Orwell and Huxley. Surveillance of our every phone call, every web search, every website we visit, on the one hand; and the mass drugging of the society with pleasure on the other. In the lockdown the population was further trained to sate itself on Netflix. Churches were closed but liquor stores, marijuana stores and state-run lottery tickets were open and available. The government told us to stand on circles six feet apart, and we did and we do. I'm not saying that health-compromised persons should not take precautions; I'm pointing out that adults have taken precautions when needed long before there was a CDC, WHO, or AMA.
This is not the stuff of liberty; it is the stuff of puberty. Many are burning the clock of their lives on the fast fuse of empty, unsatisfying titillations which cannot satisfy.
The big internet companies are notorious for censoring news and views that contradict their preferred narratives. Most of these corporations are controlled out of Silicon Valley and they don't hesitate to throw anyone off their platform. Your credential doesn't save you. It has nothing to do with facts or truth, and everything to do with a toxic brew of ideas. They want profits. They want control of ideas. They want population control. It's not about freedom. They have no belief in human dignity. You are cows to be milked, resources for their game; nothing more.
I have found that when a group of zealots is trying to erase opposing ideas and ideals from the discussion, their own ideals are weak and don’t hold up to scrutiny. If your ideology is so transparently correct, then why the need to engage in all this slight of hand with the audience, all this scrubbing of the internet?
America was not founded as a democracy; we are a republic. A democracy is tyranny by the majority; power is centralized into the hands of whoever can get half of the voters to take their side. A republic is different; individual rights are protected completely apart from what a majority happens to believe at any moment in time. That even includes the right to free speech. Can you imagine?
America is rapidly becoming a nation of weak women and weaker men. Why? Because forces are hard at work termiting the place. Liberty has become scarce--in the land of liberty. And do you know what? It is as Christianity has become scarce that liberty has become scarce. People who do not believe in God must have a vastly lower sense of human value and potential. They do not have the stories of human creation and potential, of slaves set free by God; of men and women living in the power of God and transcending selfishness through God working in them by consent.
Without God in the mix, you are left with humans as merely the most intelligent animals on the block and fodder for experimentation. And if there is no God, then what is the highest power available? Someone is elevated to despot of the hour, and a fallen human being makes all the decisions about what happens to other human beings. Then you get the Maos, the Stalins, Lenins, and Hitlers. America is not immune to the idea of dictation from above. Liberty must be guarded or it dies.
God's Prescription for a Righteous Nation
Christianity has been slipping away from the mental horizon of Americans. It is being replaced with the consumption of push-button pleasure. Many today doubt even the existence of God. They have even been led to think there is no right and no wrong. In effect, they have little clarity about whether there even is real morality.
In Leviticus 26:3-13, the conditions for Jesus to bless a group of people are outlined:
If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land. You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you. For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you. You shall eat the old harvest, and clear out the old because of the new. I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright.
There is work to be done planting, nurturing and harvesting food. Adam and Eve were assigned similar work in the garden, to "tend and keep it" (Genesis 2:15). That was before sin entered. Could it be that our internet-linked, viewscreen mediated, sedentary, push-button world, actually prepares us for bondage and slavery, while an active life of productive work and respecting human dignity prepares us for liberty? Proverbs 14:34 says "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."
Biblical Justice Directives
God helps us appreciate the gift of liberty He has given this nation. but if we are going to talk about liberty, we almost have to say something about the latest buzzword too, "social justice." How can this be a nation of liberty when it is also supposedly deeply immersed in injustice? "Social justice" is a term meaning different things to different people. In 2020 it seems to mean whatever are the trending ideas of the day. It stands for replacing Christian values with secular and humanistic ones, and exalting the new equality-diversity religion with all its intersectional and LGBT pieces. It calls for many alleged wrongs to be righted now in this world. It is a zero-sum, Robin Hood-type game to level the playing field of this life so that everyone has the full benefit of materialism and pleasure.
The Bible sustains justice, but differently. Look how it points us forward.
The beatitudes are like a Christian Constitution. Jesus teaches care for the needy, meekness, righteousness seeking, mercy, the seeking of purity of heart, being peacemakers, and sustaining faith under persecution (Matthew 5:3-12).
We are to pray for leaders (1 Timothy 2:2). Notice here, we are to ask god to intervene so that believers can live a quiet and peaceful life. In effect, it is sustained prayer that those who are national leaders and persons exercising a degree of power do not do anything too crazy.
(More recently, we must not have been praying this prayer as earnestly as we should have!)
We are to live godly lives (2 Peter 3:11).
We are to treat others with kindness and dignity.
We are to teach and exemplify healthy lifestyle.
We are to live the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of man.
As much as possible we are to practice non-violent self-protection and the protection of our families (Psalm 82:3; Exodus 22:2-3).
We are to lend our influence to morality and order but not to relativism and totalitarianism. God gives no endorsement to calling darkness light and light darkness (Isaiah 5:20). God does not give a blank check endorsement to kings and presidents. I don't believe God favored Hitler or Lenin or Mao or the practice of the Atlantic slave trade or Truman's bombing of Japanese school children or US Government radiological experimentation on American citizens (like Operation Green Run which intentionally exposed thousands of Americans to radioactive releases.) No person or nation ever gets a blank check to do evil to others.
The Ten commandments outline our duties:
- Toward God
- Toward self
- Toward Family
- Toward others.
If we are to be a nation of liberty, we need to know what right and wrong is, and what liberty is. Liberty is not the elimination of responsibility, but living responsibly.
When we do that, then people will ask, "And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you today?" (Deuteronomy 4:8).
Sadly, this has been flipped backwards today, so that people think our duty is to the government first. That's wrong. If you have to have an order, then the true order is to God first, then to self, then to one's family, then to others.
So when we are told to forsake worship on God's holy day and to worship Him on the sunday, then we must prioritize obeying God first and say no to the law of the state. That will be true justice. The same goes for our family. If the state should require our children to attend school on Sabbath, we should disobey the state because God's law is higher, and support this stand for our children rather than the state, because God has made us, not the state, their caretakers. It does not take a village; it takes a family. It takes a church.
God gave a special gift of liberty to America. He gave it to us with a purpose. America was most like Jesus when it respected personal rights to liberty, rights to use the free will He gave us to make our own choices about obeying God. But America does not remain lamblike. Revelation 13 warns us of a gross shift, from Christlike to Satanlike. It is the starkest imaginable shift.
And that fits with the other Bible pictures we have of the endtime. In the book of Esther a death decree goes out to kill all of God's people because Mordecai refused to bow down to a haughty government official. In Daniel 3 three Hebrews refuse to bow down to a golden image. It is either breaking the Ten Commandments or obeying them. Then, in Daniel six Daniel is thrown into the lion's den for praying to an unapproved God. In all three cases the faithful exercise personal liberty and prevail.
How, think you, felt those who bowed at the decrees concerning these few who stood out from the crowd for their God to exercise personal liberty? They were hated, vilified, name-called, and attacked. But God honored their faithfulness. As Shushan was for Mordecai and Esther, as the plain of Dura was for Daniel's three friends, and as the city of Babylon was for Daniel, so America will be for us. We will do the right and just thing and keep faithful in worshiping God while the majority round us are bowing down to an unjust law of the state.
But how? If we are training for dictatorship now, how can we be training for freedom and liberty then?
Back to Jesus, friends. His mission was outlined for us in Luke 4:18-19. He was sent and we are sent to bring the good news, His gospel. The blind can see, the captives can be made free. Those enslaved to pleasure and endless entertainment can become sons and daughters of Jesus. Any old dictator will do for a democracy; but America is intended as a republic. That means informed people, exercising freedom of conscience.
Christians need to love God's gift of liberty, and be persons who exercise that liberty. Today, the muscles of liberty have atrophied. America is flabby. You and I should be faithful to Jesus individually and do our part to bring Jesus' good news to others.
Many have been a curse to America. But help us at least to be right. And may God bless America.
Fremont MI SDA 2020-07-04
Muskegon MI SDA 2020-07-04