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Why Freedom Is Worth Dying For

by Bob Russell

Most Americans don’t really appreciate freedom simply because we’ve never been without it. We can’t envision our country being conquered by a foreign power and living under the oppression of a ruthless adversary. We can’t imagine our government officials becoming heartless tyrants. So, we’re willing to temporarily sacrifice a few “minor” freedoms in exchange for promised security. We prefer the comfort of Big Brother’s safeguards and naively trust the government to provide for and protect us.

     Since the Bible warns, ”The wicked will be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17 KJV), let’s think seriously for a moment about what it would be like if America were no longer “the land of the free.”  Then, hopefully, we’ll place a higher value on liberty and be more determined to preserve it.

     We need only look to present-day China to see what can happen under a godless tyranny. Christianity Today reports that beginning March 1st, Communist China will ban all citizens from discussing Jesus and the Bible on the Internet without government approval, even as it commits genocide against Muslim Uyghurs. Author and journalist Joel Rosenberg wrote, “The communist government in Beijing has become one of the most anti-Christian, anti-Muslim regimes on the planet.”

     An even more graphic example of what happens when liberty is squandered is the Biblical nation of Israel. The Israelites grew accustomed to the freedom they enjoyed in the Promised Land.  God was good and the land, “flowing with milk and honey,” was prosperous and free. They were instructed to “…proclaim liberty throughout the land” (Leviticus 25:10).

     But the Israelites cavalierly turned from the one true God and exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Soon their carnal appetites for pleasure and immorality consumed them, and spiritual disciplines were abandoned. Over time, God withdrew His hedge of protection and allowed the ruthless Babylonians to overtake and oppress them.

     After the Babylonian hordes conquered Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah documented the horrendous results. The fourth and fifth chapters of the book of Lamentations record some of the painful consequences the people of Judah eventually suffered when they forfeited their freedom.

Little children cried for lack of water and food.
“Because of thirst, the infant’s tongue sticks to the roof of its mouth; the children beg for bread, but no one gives it to them” (Lamentations 4:4).

Wealthy citizens became destitute.
“Those who once ate delicacies are destitute in the streets. Those brought up in royal purple now lie on ash heaps” (Lamentations 4:5).

Former national leaders were held in contempt. 
“’Go away! You are unclean!’ people cry to them. ’Away! Away! Don’t touch us!’ When they flee and wander about, people among the nations say, ‘They can stay here no longer’” (Lamentations 4:15).

Former religious leaders were ridiculed.
“The Lord himself has scattered them; he no longer watches over them. The priests are shown no honor, the elders no favor” (Lamentations 4:16).

Former allies abandoned them.
“Moreover, our eyes failed, looking in vain for help; from our towers, we watched for a nation that could not save us.” (Lamentations 4:17).

Violent thugs terrorized the streets.
“People stalked us at every step, so we could not walk in our streets” (Lamentations 4:18a).

The bare necessities were expensive.
“We must buy the water we drink; our wood can be had only at a price” (Lamentations 5:4).

Their ruthless conquerors harassed them constantly.
“Those who pursue us are at our heels; we are weary and find no rest” (Lamentations 5:5).

Their wives and daughters were taken captive and abused.
“Women have been violated in Zion, and virgins in the towns of Judah” (Lamentations 5:11).

Their sons were tortured and enslaved.
“Young men toil at the millstones; boys stagger under loads of wood”  (Lamentations 5:13).

Music and joy vanished.
“The elders are gone from the city gate; the young men have stopped their music. Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning” (Lamentations 5:14-15).

A spirit of despair permeated the nation.
“Because of this, our hearts are faint, because of these things our eyes grow dim…” (Lamentations 5:17).

The land was ravaged, and their landmarks destroyed.
“Mount Zion…lies desolate, with jackals prowling over it.” (Lamentations 5:18).

The people finally repented and cried to God for help.
“Restore us to yourself, LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure” (Lamentations 5:21-22).

     The Lord heard their cry, and after 70 years of enslavement and humiliation, a remnant survived to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple. But life in Judea was never quite the same.

     It’s disastrous when people lose their freedom to power-hungry tyrants. Power almost always corrupts, and “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” When leaders gain authority over people, it almost always destroys their character and fills them with destructive pride. They lose their sense of reason and will do almost anything to retain and/or expand their control.

     That’s why Patrick Henry declared, “Give me liberty or give me death!”  That’s why our forefathers braved the high seas on tiny vessels and sacrificed their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to achieve freedom. That’s why thousands of military heroes have fallen on battlefields to preserve it.

     That’s why we need to repent of our sins now and turn to God for help. That’s why we need to stand strong against freedom’s enemies — both foreign and domestic. That’s why we need to “…proclaim liberty throughout the land” (Leviticus 25:10) and sing with conviction, “Let freedom ring!”  Because, in the end, freedom trumps security. And freedom is worth dying for.  Jesus did. And He said, “…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).


      Bob Russell is Retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.




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Philippians 4:13