(By Rachel Joyce)
How much does your freedom mean to you? What is it worth?
As a little girl raised on the exciting stories of the American Revolution, I was grateful for the freedom fighters who had risked their lives for the liberty that I enjoyed.
Patrick Henry’s words, “As for me, give me liberty or give me death” stirred my heart. I wished I could have been there for the “Boston tea party” to witness the Sons of Liberty defying British tyranny and protesting “taxation without representation” by tossing the British tea into the harbor.
As I read about Paul Revere’s famous ride, I could almost hear the clattering of his horse’s hooves as he galloped to “spread the alarm” and warn the colonists that the British were coming. I had family who stood on the town green that day in Lexington when 77 militia men faced approximately 700 armed British soldiers. Fighting for freedom was costly, but the courage of these men showed that liberty was worth dying for.
This gratitude for our heritage was expressed by Lee Greenwood’s single, “God Bless the USA.” As a teen, I used to sing it at the top of my lungs as I mowed our lawn:
“And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me.”
For me, it wasn’t so much about pride, as it was about intense joy in belonging to brave and courageous people who were willing to risk all for what really mattered and a celebration of being able to live in freedom.
Our God delights in freedom. Psalm 105:43 recounts His joy in liberating His people from their bondage in Egypt: “So he brought his people out of Egypt with joy, his chosen ones with rejoicing.”
Charles Spurgeon explains, “Up from the wilderness he led them, rejoicing over them himself and making them rejoice too. They were his people, his chosen, and hence in them he rejoiced, and upon them he showered his favours, that they might rejoice in him as their God, and their portion” (Treasury of David).
God liberated His people so they could enjoy all He had for them. He delighted in them and wanted them to find their freedom and joy in Him. He wanted them to live freely enjoying His protection and love.
“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3:17).
God prioritized freedom so much that He instituted a year of freedom for His people. It was called the “Year of Jubilee.” Every 50 years, all God’s people were to truly celebrate freedom:
“Then on the Day of Atonement in the fiftieth year, blow the ram’s horn loud and long throughout the land. Set this year apart as holy, a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors and return to your own clan. This fiftieth year will be a jubilee for you.” (Leviticus 25:9-11).
Our God doesn’t just want freedom celebrated, He is essentially a freedom fighter Himself.
Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah, God’s “chosen one,” who would “free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons” (Isaiah 42:1, 7).
As it was with Jehovah of the Old Testament, so it was with Jesus of the New. Luke explains in Luke 4:16-21:
He went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: ‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.’ He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!
Jesus came to free the captives. He paid the ultimate price to give us the utmost privilege! Are you living in the freedom He offers?
Paul reminds us, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law” (Galatians 5:1).
Christ has truly set us free. We are free from the penalty of our sin, free to love, free to forgive, free to walk in grace and truth.
As Independence Day approaches, let’s focus on the incredible freedom we have in Christ. He has freed us from the grip of sin so that we can delight in Him even as He delights in us.
I pray it might be so in each of our lives today.