It has been 248 years since 1776.  248 years since a group of men of unequalled brilliance started a great experiment in freedom and self-governance.  That experiment succeeded – against all odds.  Many of today’s so-called intellectuals can’t really figure out why it worked.  On this holiday of remembrance, allow me to suggest one reason – God.

Our founders, though they had no army and no navy, committed themselves to fighting against England, the most powerful nation on earth.  Common sense said the Americans had no chance of winning.  But, they were evaluating things by a different kind of common sense.  Thomas Paine is often portrayed as an atheist by today’s  revisionists because of some negative things he wrote about the Bible.  But in his famous paper about the sunshine soldiers and the winter soldiers, he pointed out that God made people to be free, and it would be preposterous to think that God would turn his back on people who were sticking up for liberty.  God would not support a King George who was denying people freedom.  Paine argued that it just made common sense that we would win.  So he urged the colonists to keep on, even in the dark days of the winter of ’76.

The Declaration of Independence was, in its way, a prayer.  God is referred to in it four times.  Jefferson had mentioned Him twice, and Congress insisted on adding two more.  They are all Old Testament names for God – Lawmaker, Creator, Providence, Judge.  They really believed in the old Hebrew kind of God – the One who judges the living and the dead, who knows what’s in our hearts, who lifts up nations and brings nations down.  That’s the God who was appealed to by the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.  They really believed that He would see their hearts, see their intentions, and see that they weren’t rebellious subjects against the king; but that it was the king who was rebelling against God.

On May 17, 1776, the Continental Congress declared a

National Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer.  One of the signers, John Witherspoon said, “While we give praise to God, the supreme disposer of all events, for His interposition on our behalf, let us guard against the dangerous error of trusting in, or boasting of, an arm of flesh…  If your cause is just, if your principles are pure, and if your conduct is prudent, you need not fear the multitude of opposing hosts.”

Read the last line of the Declaration.  “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our

Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”  That was a compact with each other and with God.  The men who had no chance of winning were saying, “We’ll do our best to live up to what God expects of us, and therefore He will bless this experiment of liberty.”  And He did.