Most Americans can give a short explanation on why we celebrate the Fourth of July or how the holiday came about. As children, we are taught this very important history lesson in school. Way back in the 18th century the United States was not considered the United States. In fact, what we now call states were actually called colonies. The United States was actually an extension of England, so people would travel from England aboard ships to settle in America.
When the colonies were first settled they were allowed to pretty much develop freely without hardly any interface from Britain, but things abruptly changed in 1763. Britain suddenly decided that they needed to take more control over the colonies, and that the colonies needed to return revenue to the mother country and to pay for the colonies defense, which was being provided by Britain. But the colonies did not agree with these new rules at all. They felt that since they were not represented in Parliament that they shouldn’t have to pay any kinds of taxes to the mother country, hence the saying “no taxation without representation”?. When Britain continued to tax, the colonies formed the First Continental Congress to persuade the British government to recognize their rights. When this didn’t work, war was declared – The American Revolution.
After the First Continental Congress failed to persuade Britain to recognize the colonies’ rights, and war was declared, things began to heat up. Many people decided that enough was enough and that any kind of taxation without representation was considered tyranny. People such as John Adams, Samuel Adams, and Ben Franklin, as well as a group called the Sons of Liberty decided that it was time to unite all of the colonies and to stand together against Britain. During the course of the American Revolution a second Continental Congress was formed. It is this group that adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. All thirteen colonies stood behind the Declaration of Independence and adopted in full on July 4, 1776.
This is where the Fourth of July holiday comes in. The Fourth of July is known as Independence Day because that is the day that the Second Continental Congress adopted the full and formal Declaration of Independence. Even though we had declared that we were independent, the American Revolution was still being fought, which meant that we were still not independent. Regardless of the ongoing war the following year, the people in Philadelphia still celebrated a muted Fourth of July. While celebrations on July 4th during the American Revolution were modest, after the war ended in 1783 the Fourth of July became a holiday in many places. The celebrations included speeches, military events, parades, and fireworks. To this day the Fourth of July is the most patriotic holiday celebrated in the United States.
And though we are now declared independent from England, it would take many years with more wars, protests, rallies, sit-ins, for American citizens to be declared free. But we are a long way still from every person to feel completely free. There are those in our country, whose motto is, “Home of the Free, Land of the Brave”, who are being made to feel inferior, less an American, due to their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or even sadly income levels.
During all of the political drama, in the past and now, I wonder how many of us seek guidance in God’s Word? Our Christian elders certainly knew something about independence and freedom. Here are just a few passages I found in the Bible, that should serve as a guide for those seeking freedom.
John 8:36 – “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Luke 4:18–19 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
John 8:31–32 – “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:36 – “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
Galatians 5:1 – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Galatians 5:13–14 – “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
James 1:25 – “But who so looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
1 Peter 2:15–16 – “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”
How many of us take certain freedoms for granted? I believe the most important freedom we should fight for is the freedom to worship the one true God. By always following His Word, trusting in a loving and faithful Lord, and extending this love to all whom we meet, freedom isn’t just a word on paper, but something we all can eventually know.
As an American, I have enjoyed many, many anniversary celebrations of my country’s declaration of independence. I pray that I, and you dearhearts, will always remember to thank God Almighty for the certain inalienable rights that He has given to us, especially the freedom and liberty that we have in these great United States of America.
Independence Day Prayer
We stand today as our forefathers have stood before You in times gone by,
Celebrating our history and revelling in all the great things that our country has achieved.
On this day we rejoice in the favor You have graciously given us.
We thank You for the blessings of liberty, for this generation and for the generations to come.
We thank You for our independence, peace and for all those who have bravely given their lives in the defence of freedom and justice.
We thank You that Your gracious and provident hand has given us so much.
Yet as a nation and people we have not always chosen the right way.
We ask You to forgive us for these times.
On this day we commit ourselves to wholeheartedly honoring and serving You.
With everything that we are, we lay our lives before You.
Make us a generous people,
A holy nation,
A people set aside to love You forever,
For the sake of the land of the brave and free,
And the peoples and nations of this world.
Today, we do not presume Your grace for our country.
Our land is in need of You,
Our people are in need of You,
Our industry and business is in need of You.
May we look only to You
This Independence Day, dependent on You.
Please come now by Your glorious Holy Spirit,
Breathe new life into the sinews of this nation.
May justice flow like rivers,
And righteousness like a never failing stream,
Until the whole of our country is covered with Your glory,
As the waters cover the sea.
We ask all this in the wonderful name of Jesus,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit.
One God, now and for all eternity.