By Rich Hennessy and Dale Ebel
Every school kid is familiar with the Fourth of July and The Declaration of Independence (at least I hope so). Most adults have heard such phrases as: “When in the course of human events”, “We hold these truths to be self-evident”, and “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Founding Father Elias Boudinot saw a correlation between the account in Exodus 13 and the American experience. In a famous speech in 1798 Boudinot expounded on the significant parallels between Israel and the approval of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th.
“The deliverance of the children of Israel from a state of bondage to an unreasonable tyrant was perpetuated by the Paschal (Passover) Lamb; and enjoining it on their posterity as an annual festival forever, with a “remember this day in which ye came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 13:3)…Let us then, my friends and fellow citizens, unite all our endeavors this day to remember with reverential gratitude to our Supreme Benefactor all the wonderful things He has done for us in our miraculous deliverance from a second Egypt—another house of bondage.”
The Fourth of July is an annual day of celebration and remembrance like that in Exodus 13 – one of many American practices with biblical precedents.
Both the Declaration (1776) and the Constitution (1787), reflect biblical principles of government. The Declaration contains ideas such as man is created in the Divine image, all men are equal, man is superior to the state, and the state exists for man. Christian ideas in the Constitution include the reign of law, trial by jury of peers under law, Creator-endowed rights (not government granted), Christian self-government, religious freedom, and private property rights.
Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration, listed 27 reasons for our separation from England. Most of you probably have never read them as written by Jefferson. Listed below are the reasons for our freedom as delineated by Thomas Jefferson:
1. He (The King of England) has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
2. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
3. He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
4. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them in compliance with his measures.
5. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
6. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
7. He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
8. He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
9. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
10. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
11. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
12. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the civil power.
13. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation.
14. For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.
15. For protecting them, by a mock trial from punishment for the murders, which they should commit on the inhabitants of these States.
16. For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world.
17. For imposing Taxes on us without our consent.
18. For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury.
19. For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences.
20. For abolishing the free system of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies.
21. For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our governments.
22. For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
23. He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.
24. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
25. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of civilized nation.
26. He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
27. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.