This is a devotion from Dare 2 Share (www.dare2share.org). I thought it was very appropriate to post this today!
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
To most people, it's just a bunch of scribbled lines on an old piece of parchment under a glass case in a museum. That's why the majority of Americans have never stopped and pondered what actually happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Sad - because they are the brave souls who paved the way for the United States of America to become the great nation it is today.
Just for the record, these men didn't get to enjoy the freedoms we do. Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr, noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
This 4th of July we get together with family and friends, and enjoy the time off from work. But I would suggest taking a few moments to reflect and thank God for the astonishing sacrifices that were made so that we could enjoy freedom. As well, take some time to reflect on the One who made the ultimate sacrifice to acquire for us freedom from sin and death. Jesus was the ultimate revolutionary who bought our freedom from a life of chasing ridiculous things like money, fame, and power. The gospel is our declaration of independence, and we should have the same attitude as the men who signed the Declaration of Independence:
"For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
Let this holiday remind you that we have been set free from a life of slavery to Satan, now we can proclaim the message of true spiritual independence to our friends and family. Dedicate yourself to being a patriot for God, then watch the spiritual fireworks begin!