Beacon of Freedom

By: Jim O'Brien 

Hi Friend,

To say that Washington D.C. is the capitol of the United States does not adequately credit the universal influence of such a great city. For over two hundred years it has been a beacon of freedom to huddled masses around the world suffering under the tyranny of despotism.

Many of my ancestors migrated here in search of liberty represented by documents now enshrined behind bulletproof glass cases in official government buildings in Washington. A few years ago, returning from the Feast of Tabernacles, Donna and I stopped at J.W. Marriott in downtown D.C. for a few days. Almost as an aside we stopped at the National Archives to see first hand, three of the most important documents man has ever written.

Those documents housed side by side in one case are the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It was almost breathtaking to gaze down at the handwritten inked parchment penned hundreds of years ago that dramatically impacted the world we live in. If these documents did not exist the lives of all of us reading this would be far worse.

Each of the three contains a fascinating history which ought to be required reading for every student in American schools. The Magna Carta enumerated such basic principles as due process, trial by jury, habeas corpus and no taxation without representation. These concepts were central to English law and became the foundation for American freedoms.

The American Revolution was fought, not to separate from England, but to secure freedoms guaranteed to all English citizens.

It is not widely known that the copy of the Magna Carta housed in the National Archives is privately owned. David M. Rubenstein purchased it at auction and put it, in his words, "on long-term loan to the National Archives as a gift to the country and as modest repayment of my debt to this country for my good fortune in being an American." Such a statement of gratitude is evidence of a great man.

All of that said, these three documents pale into insignificance when compared to the greatest statement of freedom in the history of man-the Ten Commandments. There is no other political document that has supported man's desire for freedom more than the words written by God on two tablets of stone. It is the ultimate social contract-how we should conduct our lives with our fellow man.

And of those ten rules, the command to keep the Sabbath may be the most significant law to make man free. For the first time since creation man was commanded to NOT work one day of each week. What other government has, either before or since, made such a law? What other god ever provided a day of freedom?

Not only man, but also beasts of burden enjoyed this day of rest. If that wasn't enough the environment was protected by a Sabbatical year in which land could rest every seventh year. The Sabbath command perfectly combines love of man, animals and the environment into one law.

Coming on the heals of slavery to Egyptian tyranny the Sabbath command represented a dramatic change in the conditions under which man had suffered. Unlike slaves, free people can choose NOT to work. So God commanded that the Israelites worship Him on the Sabbath because He had set them free.

If there is one law that could be singled out to benefit American families it is to keep the Sabbath! The Israelites of Moses' day were enslaved to cruel taskmasters until God intervened to remove the shackles. Today, Americans enslave themselves to work seven days a week. By doing so we sacrifice time with family, friends and God.

Now more than any other time it is important to be free. The best place to start is to remember the Sabbath, the beacon of freedom!

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati

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