As the celebration of fireworks still rings in our ears, I wanted to share 2 scripture passages that were pivotal in establishing our great nation. Jeremiah 17:9 and Isaiah 33:22. Did you know that 51 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Congress that created the US Constitution were faithful Christians connected to denominations that are still recognizable today? They included Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Roman Catholics, and, of course, 2 Lutherans. These men knew their scripture and their faithfulness was certainly involved in the forming of their ideas and framing the structures of our government. These 2 verses of scripture are recognized in helping to frame their thoughts.
First, Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can understand it?” Not a pleasant verse—but it is a true one. The painful reality of our fallen nature is that, if given the chance, our heart will lead us astray. The lie the serpent told still clings to us— we want to be like God. At the risk of getting political for a moment—those who have power work to get more—or, at a minimum, to keep it. Term limits for congress would take a step towards our elected officials working for the people instead of working to get re-elected. The founders, at the very least, recognized the truth of our wicked hearts. In establishing our government, they saw their task to be both creating a just and organized government while also limiting the reach of our corruptible ways. These men certainly understood that they were flawed and, thusly, were far too easily susceptible to the wicked ways of their hearts. And ours. Jeremiah 17:9, while it may have not been the basis, it was certainly—at a minimum—a confirmation through scripture of what they were attempting to accomplish.
The painful truth of Jeremiah led to the beauty of Isaiah 33:22 that echoes the shape of what these founders created. “The Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our King. He will save us.” Do you see the three branches of government represented here? The Judicial, legislative, and executive—all playing their role and holding checks and balances over the other two. This separation was established to prevent the overreach and abuse of power. Now, there is clear evidence that this verse was not the sole motivation for dividing our government into 3 distinct branches. Baron Charles de Montesquieu —a French political theorist who pre-dated the founders—was a driving force in much of their thought process. Yet, it would be foolish to think that the echoes of scripture from Isaiah 33:22 of a similar truth to what Montesquieu thought did not hold significant influence. Today, many argue and push an agenda that this nation was created by men who stood beyond the boundaries of Christian faith. This is simply not true. And, there are clear indications that scripture echoed, and indeed was, the launchpad to the framing of our government.
The American experiment is 245 years old. Far from perfect—and we continue to face clear challenges currently and down the road. Our resolve has been tested in the past and it will continue to be tested in the future. Even still, no country has accomplished the things we have in as short a time as we have. Perhaps our path ahead through and over our challenges will be navigated best as we are reminded
of the foundation upon which our founding fathers stood. The truth of scripture and the power the word has to direct our lives is not just for us personally—but it is also a beacon for us collectively. As you continue to celebrate the freedoms of this great nation, fought and defended from our first days till now—may we also look to the rock, Jesus, upon which the pillars of our country are anchored.