Dependence not Independence

“For what great nation is there, that hath a god so nigh unto them, as Jehovah our God is whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that hath statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law, which I set before this day?” Deuteronomy 4:7–8

July is the month of very important holidays in both Canada and the United States. Dominion Day, often popularly called “Canada Day” celebrated on July 1, commemorates the day (July 1, 1867) when the provinces of Canada were united in one government. Dominion Day is a time for patriotic parades, programs and national activities. It was on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress of the United States adopted the Declaration of Independence. The two hundreth birthday of the United States seems but yesterday. July is also the month for very similar national holidays in the Philippines, Argentina, the Netherlands, and Peru, etc.

Perhaps the celebrations in each country are remarkably similar! To be sure they are holidays marked with great festivities. I do not, however, ever recall that the 4th of July in the United States in my lifetime was observed as a day of national mourning. I remember fireworks but no weeping! Celebrations but no calls or presidential summons to reconsecration before the Lord of the nations! No one though will deny that whether we live in the United States or Canada, the Philippines or Argentina, etc., that this should be a time for both individual and national mourning. Mourning over national and international lawlessness, mounting immorality and creeping humanism. Irreligion, infidelity and indifference to the Word has almost totally replaced the faith of the founding fathers of this republic as a “nation under God.”

Centuries ago the Hebrews had reached the plains of Moab in their progress toward Canaan. The land east of the Jordan was conquered. All that remained was the crossing of the Jordan and the entering of the promised land. Only their leader of forty years was not to enter with them. Therefore, he used his farewell occasion to both rehearse their history and remind them again of God’s strong claim on their allegiance. In this text he reminds them that theirs was the special privilege of having God near unto them as their God.

Now we know that no nation is Canaan, that is “the promised land.” But of what nation in history—past or present, or future—is this declaration and I or question not true? “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it, as the Lord our God is near to us . . . ?” Israel’s God was a God ready at hand but ready to expose! Ready to judge! To all, Psalm 145:18 declares, “The Lord is near to ALL who call upon Him . . . .”

And that is still the “HINGE” of national greatness!! Listen: “. . . whenever we call upon Him.” More often than not the Throne of Grace is grossly neglected! Oh, that the spirit of celebration nationally in this month of July were a spirit of prayer instead of pride, of deep contrition instead of blind optimism. The late Dr. Walter A. Maier of Lutheran Hour fame once said: “A defenseless nation with prayer is better protected than a heavily armed nation without prayer.”

A further qualification in the text is so critically important. The little word “We.” Because the Bible teaches that only the people of God can pray acceptably, doesnt it? To quote the remainder of the 18th verse of Psalm 145: . . . to all who call upon Him in truth.” That is why “WE” must pray for our nation(s). If the righteous do not pray, who will?

Moses, further reminded the Israelites of their DEPENDENCE UPON GOD’S PROVISION, “And what great nation is there, that hath statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law which is set before you this day?” In this same chapter they were very solemnly warned in the second verse that absolutely nothing was to be added to or subtracted from God’s Moral Law. They were not to alter it or tamper with it!! The Law of Sinai was to be forever the cornerstone of their national life and honor.

Whether it be the United States “Declaration of Independence” or that of any other country, there is no law so “righteous” as God’s Law!! But can it be said that God’s Law is today the law of the country in which we live? In most nations, if not in all, the unqualified answer is unequivocally “NO”! We have squandered our ancient birthright! We continue to break not one but all of God’s commandments! We are by nature “prone to hate God and our neighbor. And the ONLY answer out of our national ills is to be found in Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.” Our wrongs cannot be righted without genuine contrition and thoroughgoing repentance.

And in verse one of this same chapter GOD’S PROMISE is appended: “. . . that you may live.” Far from existence we are summoned by our Creator to life in its God-ordained sequence and purpose. Life is promised to the obedient and death to the disobedient.

We may cross our heart and solemnly pledge allegiance to our country; but our first, our foremost and fullest, responsibility is to pledge renewed allegiance to our God, to His Presence, His Provision, and His Promise.

This country’s sin is ours, O God, Your judgment duly earned; For we have worshipped gods of gold and your commandments spurned; But now, O Lord, we seek your face, and in your mercy trust, Forgive our sin and heal our land, remember we are dust. (Mae Probst)