One Nation Under God
Old Testament Reading- Isaiah 44:3
New Testament Reading- 2 Corinthians 3:17
By Henry J. Rafferty CLP -July 4, 2021, Independence Day
In last week’s sermon I expressed my belief that God has everything to do with the creation
of the United States of America. From the troubles that began in the European nations and the churches that were affiliated with them, to the voyages that carried the faithful across the Atlantic to the wild shores of the new world. Our scripture reading last week from Acts 17 tells us, “From one man God made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” God has used the nations over earth’s history to direct and accomplish His will for salvation. He did not stop after the creation of the nation of Israel, all nations have played a part in His plan. I am not saying that God directs the actions of nations when they do terrible things, but that He can turn even terrible human decisions into divine help. We cannot always see it or understand it, but our ways are not God’s ways, and it is impossible to fathom all that God does.
Take the Roman Empire for example. The Roman Empire was the largest nation that ever existed during the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth. The Jews hated Rome and wanted to overthrow them, at least to remove them from their land. Many believed that the Messiah would do just that. God’s king would ride in on his white horse and throw the Romans out and restore Israel to its former glory. We know that is not what happened, in fact, quite the opposite. Jesus had much more to say about the Jewish ruling class than He ever did the Romans. He was even known to have healed a family member of a Roman military leader who asked for His help. Not quite the Messiah the Jews had envisioned, but the exact one that God planned. Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and in seventy AD the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, which has not been restored to this very day. The Romans were a bitter enemy of the Christian people at first, persecuting them every chance they could get. Throwing them in with wild beasts in the Colosseum, archers firing arrows at them, crucifixion, beheading, you name it-Christians were killed in any manner possible by the Romans. But in time, God used
the Romans, the most powerful and influential nation in the world to fulfill part of His plan. Over three hundred years after Christ was killed and resurrected the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great was baptized and became a Christian. He played a large role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan which declared tolerance of Christianity in the Roman Empire. He summoned the First Council of Nicaea, which produced the Nicene Creed and by AD 380 Christianity was made the state religion of the Empire. After all the horrors inflicted on Christianity over hundreds of years, the gospel of God changed the hearts of the Roman nation to eventually embrace Christ and by their great influence spread Christianity to much of the known world.
Unfortunately, human beings are plagued by sin and after many more hundreds of years Christianity was suffering again in Europe, but this time from within. Our ancestors then decided to find a new place to live by their faith. A place where they were free from the powers that be to live their lives and to worship how their faith guided them. In this new land, things would be different, they would be better, the only problem is their problems found a way to follow them. Sin has no boundaries and where people can be found, sin is never far away. Much of the problems they experienced in the old world, never left because they were still dependent on the same ruling bodies to help them. These ‘Americans,’ as they liked to call themselves were becoming more and more tired and aggravated by the demands of the King. After the French and Indian War, the British crown needed to recoup massive debt. They did this by taxation of the American Colonists on many things from all paper products to tea. This led to riots and the Americans became a disgruntled society that was tired of the British. On July 4th, 1776, the congress of the thirteen original British colonies of the new world declared their independence from England by writing these words, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” With these words the world was changed forever, and the United States of America would take its place in the history of the nations of this earth.
“'In God We Trust,' it is printed on our money to remind us of Who is at the heart of our success as a nation."
Our forefathers, through prayer and in trust to Almighty God were able to construct a new nation. A nation that could be a light to other nations. A nation that could shine with the light of Christ for others to see. The Psalmist wrote, “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.”
“'In God We Trust,' it is printed on our money to remind us of Who is at the heart of our success as a nation." Today we celebrate the birth of this nation, and we give thanks to Almighty God for His blessings not only in creating this nation and giving us this wonderful land, but for sustaining it as well.
God has been there every step of the way, from the declaration of independence to the Battle of Yorktown. From the battlefields of Bull Run and Gettysburg where many died to make the words of the Declaration of Independence true by giving freedom to a whole race of people that were treated like animals just because of the color of their skin. We trusted in God as He protected us through the First and Second World Wars, bringing us out of a terrible economic depression and establishing our nation as one of the greatest in the world. He continued to protect us through several wars fighting against communism and against terrorism. He gave us the ability to use our free and safe society to achieve wondrous inventions of many of the world’s greatest things, telephones, light bulbs, automobiles, computers, airplanes, and microwave ovens. God has done all this and yet He is still with each and every one of us when we feel alone, when we are going through cancer treatments, when we lose a loved one, and when we lose our job, that’s the kind of God we serve.
"...we learn from God that real love does not mean control; it means compassion even when we feel something is wrong," ~ Pastor Henry Rafferty
“One nation under God,” is part of our pledge of allegiance and maybe we don’t think a lot about it because we have said it so many times, but it is a very important part, in fact, the most important part of the whole pledge. It means that we, as a people are one and that we are under God. We have pledged our faith and our trust in God and believe me when I tell you He has placed His trust in us as well. I believe, with all my heart, through scripture I have studied, through lives that I have encountered, and through the feelings that I get when in prayer that God has created this nation for a purpose, much loftier than our inventions and our wars. God has created in us a nation that is free to believe or not to believe, to follow any faith or have no faith at all. We enjoy many freedoms in this country and sometimes these freedoms can lead us astray from God, but we learn from God that real love does not mean control; it means compassion even when we feel something is wrong. We may have many problems in this country, but we also have a lot that is right. With God all things are possible, this nation has proved it time and time again. I believe that God created this nation as a light to the world. He has given us great influence throughout the world, and we have become role models, whether we know it or not. Let us be good role models then for God’s sake. Let
us be a light for Christ in dark places, let us never forget that God is at the center of all that this great nation has achieved. Let us remain “Under God” and let us always remember that
“In God We trust.” From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam,
God bless America, my home sweet home. Happy Birthday America and Thanks to Almighty God for its creation and for His continuing support. Amen.