Privileged to live in a nation where freedom is a reality, the citizens of the United States celebrate another year of their independence. In comparison to many other nations, America is considered but a youth. However, divinely blessed because she was founded on laws and principles compatible with Scripture, she has prospered and has been a haven for others seeking God-given liberty. To gain freedom and retain it, the people of America have sacrificed their lives on the battlefields of this world and even on the homeland. Both secular and Biblical history reminds us that freedom comes through military victory.
Moses’ understood that principle and challenged the Exodus generation with these words … “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: "Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory" (Deut 20:1-4 NIV). Each generation thereafter had to secure the peace so they too could enjoy the blessings of prosperity and freedom.
David, Israel’s greatest king wrote … “He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great” (Ps 18:34-35 NIV). Because of David’s military exploits in securing the borders of Israel, Solomon’s reign would be marked with peace and great prosperity. Centuries later, Israel’s future would be challenged again and Nehemiah called the Jews to arms. “Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Neh 4:13-14 NIV).
These defenders of freedom were not warmongers; just ordinary citizens who were willing to preserve the blessings of liberty. They understood God’s promise of blessing as a result of military victory. With the psalmist they would say … “Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion, for he strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat” (Ps 147:12-14 NIV). In America, the independence gained by one generation had to be secured by the next. England wanted her colony back and as Francis Stafford Smith viewed the British attack on his nation he wrote… “O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand between their loved homes and the war’s desolation! Blest with victory and peace, may this heaven rescued land praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation.”
A half century later Katherine Lee Bates would pen her hymn of thanksgiving for God’s blessing of freedom upon America. “O beautiful for pilgrim feet, whose stern impassioned stress a thoroughfare for freedom beat across the wilderness! America! America! God mend thine every flaw; confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in Law. O Beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life! America! America! May God Thy gold refine till all success be nobleness and every gain divine”. May we value the blessings of liberty and ever remember “In God is Our Trust.”