Independence Day Reflections

Independence Day Reflections

July 3, 2007

We have a lot to celebrate as citizens of a democratic republic of United States of America. That doesn't mean everything is perfect or that there aren't pinches on the journey.

In Sunday School this last week, I covered an introduction to Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. These books cover the bulk of Israel's history as a people living in the land promised to them by God. Their journey as a people was determined by their faithfulness to God and his instructions. God provided the power, the leadership, and the instructions to live as a pure people. Israel needed to walk in obedience, and that was where problems entered. Faithfulness to their God was not their strong suit. Deuteronomy teaches that if they were obedient, God would bless. If they were disobedient, God would curse or punish.

A downward spiral into disobedience, a spiral that gained speed over the years, led to the kingdom of Israel in the north receiving discipline at the hand of Assyria in 722-21 BCE and to the same treatment by the Babylonians for the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE. The Bible tells us that these outside forces became instruments of God's punishment and discipline on sinful Israel.

One person in the Sunday school class asked me if I thought there were amazing parallels between the history of Israel and our direction as a nation. It does seem we are on a downward spiral. Who might be our Assyria or Babylon if we do not change our direction?

Islam's rise and the agenda of the fundamentalist groups stand out. But the growth of China should also receive mention.

Let me suggest the best course: turning from our direction and embracing obedience to God's Word so that we do not receive God's negative attention. I cannot bring about the turning of the whole nation in repentance, but I can make sure I am living obediently and I am enjoining people in my spheres of life to do so also. If each of us does the same, we will make a difference in God's eyes.

Yesterday I learned that one of our second son's friends from the years of playing soccer died in Iraq, Staff Sergeant Special Forces Robb Rolfing. His parents are in the middle of grief. In fact, the whole community of Sioux Falls grieves the loss of one of us. It is a sad day.

What if the same happened on our own turf, with children and older people especially vulnerable, all because we would not repent and return to faithfulness to God? It is unimaginable, but it has happened in history to other nations. The Israelites never thought it would happen to them either.

Start with me, Lord! May I be your faithful servant!

How about you? Reflect on it, and in the meanwhile, enjoy your July 4th!