Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day in Perspective

Did you know that the holiday we call the Fourth of July, or Independence Day, is meant to be a day when Americans celebrate their freedom and blessings from the Lord? Discover how our forefathers viewed this special day.

Back in 1776, as the news spread about the Declaration of Independence, Americans everywhere were joyful and excited—cheering, waving, ringing church bells. John Adams, who would eventually become our second president, was so elated that he wrote his wife Abigail two letters that day. In the second letter, he spoke prophetically about that special day, which would come to be known as Independence Day.

He said this great day:

…will be the most memorable…in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.1

Still Standing Our nation is approaching its 233rd birthday, otherwise known as Independence Day, or the Fourth of July. Its lifespan has included not only a revolutionary war, but also a civil war and two world wars. Yet the United States has remained remarkably stable. The Constitution written by our Founding Fathers is still the foundation for our laws and governmental system.

No other nation has experienced such a long period of prosperity. In fact, since America has flourished under the Declaration of Independence, France has had fifteen different governments. Brazil has had seven since 1822. Poland, seven since 1921; Afghanistan, five since 1923; Russia, four since 1918; and the story is similar for other nations throughout Europe, Africa, South America and the rest of the world.2

America’s remarkable achievements are sometimes called “American Exceptionalism”—a term coined in 1831 by Alexis de Tocqueville, a well-known Frenchman who visited America and wrote the classic Democracy in America. In one passage he said, The position of Americans is quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one.3

America Must Remain Humble However, when we hear such praises about America, we must not let pride cause us to feel any sense of superiority. Psalm 75:6,7 reminds us that achievements are from the Lord and therefore, should be a cause for an appreciative humility. President John Adams once said, It must be felt that there is no national security but in the nation’s humble acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling providence.4

Thankfulness to the Lord was a frequently added practice to Independence Day celebrations of the past. When the godly people of our past would break bread together, they would first say grace and include some words of thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon the nation.

There was a time when a spirit of gratitude to God Almighty permeated America’s celebration of Independence Day. For example, on July 4, 1837, sixty-one years after the Declaration of Independence was first issued, John Quincy Adams delivered a speech where he noted that America’s two most popular holidays (Christmas and the Fourth of July) were inseparable. In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. It forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation. The Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission on earth [and] laid the cornerstone of human government on the first precepts of Christianity.5

Reflect and Give Thanks The birth of Christ is the primary reason that Christians celebrate Christmas. Let’s hope that Christians also remember the true spirit behind Independence Day—which is God-given liberty. There is nothing wrong with having cookouts, shooting off fireworks and having a good time. That’s what our forefathers did when they celebrated their independence. Let’s just remember to include God in our celebrating by giving Him the praise and glory.

We live in the greatest nation on earth. Our constitutional republic form of government still provides more freedom to its individual citizens than any other form of government on earth. Thankfully, we still have the freedom to worship the God of the Bible as our forefathers did, without fear of persecution. It is He who has blessed our nation and enabled us to send out the Gospel to the far corners of the earth. It is He who makes a nation great (see Job 12:23).

Whatever you plan to do this Fourth of July, please remember to take some time and reflect on the history of the holiday. And then let’s remember to thank Almighty God for our many blessings.

Learn more about the Christian heritage of Independence Day.

  1. Peter Marshal and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1977, p. 310.
  2. "Summer 2006," , accessed January 14, 2009.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.

This article was published in the June/July 2009 issue of Enjoying Everyday Life® magazine. Copied from Joyce Meyer Ministries website.

God bless America!

Peace and Joy,


2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

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