Happy Independence Day!
The Declaration of Independence was written mostly by Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers and the second president of the United States. A while back, in my post called “In God We Trust,” I wrote of the foundation of faith that is the cornerstone of this nation. I also talked about how far from that heritage it has fallen, ending with a prayer that we would one day return to being a nation that trusts in God.
The Declaration of Independence mentions God four times. The first reference to God is “[T]he Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…” This reference to God’s laws of nature and God’s laws for his people in Scripture. “The Laws of Nature” refer to things such as the laws of physics, Newton’s Laws, the laws of gravity etc. The second part, “…and of Nature’s God…” refers to the moral and spiritual laws given by God, such as the Ten Commandments, the Sacrificial laws, the Ceremonial laws etc. Their point, I believe, was that the Laws of Nature’s God should be just as important, binding, unchanging, and unending as those of Nature itself.
The second reference, “[A]ll men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable (cannot be taken away) Rights…” This statement can be seen in no other way than to refer to the Creator God spoken of in Genesis. These Unalienable Rights are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. The first is the right to life: God, as our Creator, is the One who gave us life. God, as our sustainer, is the only One who can truly keep us alive; and as such, is the only One with the true right and power to take it away. No man made himself or anyone else, so we have no right to take the life of himself or anyone else. Second, Liberty: the right granted to act as one sees fit, without fear of restraint or control, unless by the laws of nature which is a state of liberty not license. Lastly, the pursuit of happiness. According to William Blackstone our happiness is directly linked to God’s laws, and we can only be truly happy obeying Him. The Constitution was written, not to deny these rights, but to secure them and ensure they were and are unalienable. Since God created us, He gave us these Rights, and only He can take them away.
Third, “[A]ppealing to the Supreme Judge of the World, for the rectitude of our intentions…” referring to the God of the Bible who will reign Supreme as a Holy and Righteous Judge of the good and evil in this world. Rewarding the righteous with promised eternal life with Him in Heaven; and the evil with promised eternal damnation in hell with Satan. Jefferson is calling on God to Judge his life and guide his paths, to life eternal.
Lastly, “[W]ith a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence…” This last reference envelopes several attributes of God; His Omniscience, Omnipresence, Sovereign control, great power, love for His people and many, many more. The LORD is our Protector, defender and sustainer. Without Him we are nothing, with Him we are everything.
These four references in the birth certificate of our great nation, serve as a firm, constant and poetic reminder of where we began and why we began this way. Jefferson, I am sure, hoped this nation would stay that way, but sadly, it did not. My prayer is that it will return there once again.