July 2, 2017: 4th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we thank You for providing us with a government that allows us to worship You in spirit and in truth without fear of reprisals. We thank You for causing Your natural law to be written down in our nation’s founding documents and for it to be respected. This freedom of body is a reminder of the freedom of our souls that You purchased for us on the cross. May we never take any of it lightly. Amen


TEXT: I Sam. 7: 12: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us.'”

Dearly Beloved in Christ:

Human governments and human rule is never calm and orderly. The history of nations is marked by tumult and disorder with occasional moments of Godly blessing scattered along the passage of time. America is 241 years old this July. We’ve had many rough moments during that time and still are undergoing infighting and upheavals to this very day. But through it all, God’s Church has endured. It has always been so and always will be so. For unlike human alliances and institutions, God’s Church is founded upon the eternal truth that Jesus Christ came into this world to save souls by offering up His life for ours on a cross.

To gain perspective on our current situation and put it into focus, we need to know our antecedents. Individual liberties and respect for the rule of law vs. a leader’s whims stems from English history, specifically the year 1215 and the signing of the Magna Carta. In the years just prior to that date, England was in an uproar. The English were fighting the French on and off. The great King of England, Richard the Lionhearted, led a Crusade against the Arabs in Palestine and later was captured and held for ransom by the Austrians as he journeyed home. He eventually died after being ransomed. Meanwhile, his brother John became King and was truly awful. Finally, it got so bad that the English barons rebelled and forced John to agree to write down basic human rights and laws by which everyone was bound—including the King. This was the Magna Carta. After that it took another 80 or 90 years for it to be put into force and solidified into accepted law. The founders of America drew heavily on the concepts put forth in this Great Charter of Liberty when they wrote our Constitution. And the one truth this all teaches us is that: human documents are no better than the people in charge of carrying them out. All are sinners. Some just were and are more saintly than others. And that is why we put our trust in God and not in mere mortals.


The Philistines were of Greek lineage. They were sea warriors displaced by the Trojan wars. Eventually some of them settled along the coast of Palestine. And they almost continuously warred against the Israelites for 200 to 300 years! When God raised up a Godly leader who respected human rights and when the people humbled themselves before the Lord in repentance, God thwarted the Philistines and kept the nations safe. But when these people of God got lazy, adopted the attitude of their enemies, and failed to stand up for moral truth, God allowed the Philistines to gain the upper hand. This “see-saw” of political power played out then and it has done so in every generation thereafter. It is still doing so in Washington, D.C. in China, in Russia, in the Middle East, and all around the world. And although the Christian Church is persecuted in many of these locales, God’s people still go on because they know that this world is passing away but God’s kingdom is eternal.

Our lesson comes from the time when these heathen Philistines had robbed Israel of the Ark of the Covenant and had held it captive for 20 years!—A little longer than the modern 24 hour news cycle! Finally, the prophet Samuel said: “It’s time to trust in our Lord and give Him honor and glory by taking the ark back!” And this political statement was put into motion by the people turning from heathen gods and heathen ways, begging God’s forgiveness, and then putting their lives and their futures on the line. They assembled to oppose these Philistines and these enemies massed to attack them. Many Israelites lost their courage when they saw the huge opposition arrayed against them, but not Samuel. He offered up a lamb sacrifice to God and told the people to act their faith! Well, God caused a huge storm to engulf the army massed against them, they took the ark back, and now they were free! It is at this juncture that Samuel set up that Ebenezer stone to mark God’s victory! The name: Ebenezer, literally means: “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”


My fellow Americans, this should be the same motto, the living motto of America today.—Thus far has the Lord helped us! Western culture is under attack on all sides in academia today. But what these ideological enemies of America are really attacking is: Godly truth, moral law, and Biblical teachings. Why is it that from Western culture come the whole idea of individual rights and freedoms, respect for the common man, and the concept that no one is above the law? All those truths that we take for granted stem from the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that every single soul is important and valuable to God Almighty. After all, He sent His Son to die in place of each soul. It teaches that all stand before God with the exact same status: sinners who need His forgiveness. It teaches that no king or Roman emperor can flaunt God’s Laws and get away with it forever because: “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked.” And most of all, the Bible teaches that God’s grace in Christ extends to everyone and that humbleness before Him, rightness with Him, is what exalts a nation.

“Thus far the Lord has helped us.” Those words are echoed across the epochs of history. Our English forebears clung to them after the Magna Carta was first signed. Our founding fathers repeated them in their writings. Abe Lincoln penned their reflected truths in the Emancipation Proclamation. And so it must continue today, if, if, we wish to remain as a nation, as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Amen