FREEDOM OF RELIGION - Month of June
By Judy NicholsJune 1, 2017
FREEDOM OF RELIGION
Our First Amendment right to freedom of religion is nearly always framed in the historical light of the religious persecution experienced by our founding fathers. While this is not inaccurate, I believe there is a deeper principle to be found in the story of the Exodus.
By way of background, the Israelites, a paltry extended family of about eighty persons, migrated to Egypt because of a famine. They remained in Egypt for four hundred years during which God prospered them and multiplied them to the point that Egypt’s rulers began to fear them. So they oppressed them and made them do forced labor. In due time, God called Moses to go to Egypt to secure their release so that He could fulfill His promise to give them their own land, one "flowing with milk and honey."
Moses, along with the elders of Israel, was to approach Egypt’s Pharaoh and explain that the God of the Israelites had met with them and wanted them to go three days’ journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to Him (Exod. 3:18). God told Moses in advance that Pharaoh would not let them go unless compelled by His mighty hand. This proved to be true. Moses went to Pharaoh ten times with the request, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me." Each time, when Pharaoh refused, God sent various plagues upon their land.
Framing the request in this way – "that they may serve Me" -- indicated to Israel that their freedom from slavery was tied to their covenant relationship with God. And it indicated to Pharaoh that the nature of that covenant relationship superceded any claim he had on Israel.
While it is apparent that America is not Israel and that God has not made any covenant with this nation, still I believe the principle holds true that religious freedom is a necessary prerequisite to all other freedoms. God is sovereign. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He establishes rulers and removes them (Dan. 2:21). Our relationship with Him supercedes our relationship to our civil government. Without our freedom of religion, we become slaves of the state.
For decades now there has been a concerted effort to remove God from the public discourse in America. From removing monuments of the Ten Commandments to persecuting individuals who dare to buck the cultural trend of political correctness, we see this happening. What we also can see, if we dare to look, is the erosion of our freedom, little by little. People are having to fight for their right to conduct their businesses according to their own firmly-held religious beliefs. Many are calling for curtailing the right to bear arms for self-defense. College campuses have become venues for bullying those who dare to disagree and for rioting to prevent an assembly of people to hear a speaker who dares to disagree. To say that these cultural trends are not connected to distancing ourselves from God is to believe a lie.
Pray for revival.
© Judy Nichols 2017