Thomas had to prepare another sermon for another midweek service. He had the intimidation that came with having to do something at least once a week, and sometimes more than once weekly.
Every preacher will know what I’m talking about. Sometimes the hardest thing to discern is what God wants us to talk about.
There’s an old joke that says every preacher knows what it’s like to be sitting on the front row on Sunday morning, flipping through a songbook, trying to find a sermon.
First of all, that’s the wrong book to be flipping through. Although, I have gotten a sermon from a song sometimes.
But Thomas was working on the sermon and was able to go to the guide. The guide of course is the Scriptures. Like he had done many times in the past, Moses was going to guide Thomas. God called him to apply the scripture for the midweek service, not the (as we think of it) big Sunday service.
Thomas probably thought, “I just have to try to get through it.” So, he spoke on Deuteronomy chapter 1.
The Surprising Foundation for America
But what came as a result of this was the surprising foundation for the United States of America. Not only did he find something that would help him have the midweek sermon, but he also found something that would affect the United States of America.
As you read on, you’ll realize that Thomas was going to be instrumental in the establishment of a town. You’ll also see the significance of the scripture from Deuteronomy that he spoke on in that midweek service; not only in Moses’ time but also in Thomas’ time and our time. The fact is that this sermon that he came up with contained the surprising foundation for America.
So Thomas went into the book of Deuteronomy, the first chapter, and focused on verse 13.
The Significance in Moses’ Time
Before getting into the scripture, let me give you the back story.
Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, had asked what Moses did all day. He went on to observe the day-to-day work that Moses did. He would go to a tent, and the people would line up and, from morning to evening, bring him their problems and disputes that they had with their brethren. Moses spent all day judging those matters.
Jethro was able to tell Moses that what he was doing wasn’t good. He said Moses was going to wear himself out. (Exodus 18:13-18) I’ve heard people say, “I’d rather burn out than rust out.” But, either way, you’re out.
God will give you discernment in learning how to balance your life so you can continue to minister for another day.
That’s what Jethro advised Moses to do. He told Moses that he needed to get some help. That’s exactly what Moses did. (Exodus 18:19-26) He wasn’t able to bear all the complaints and problems, so he chose wise people to come and help. If the matter was more difficult, the people would be sent to Moses. He heeded the word of his father-in-law, and God allowed it to be good.
That’s what Moses was talking about beginning in verse 9 of Deuteronomy chapter 1.
In verse 10, Moses makes mention of the number of Israelites. Conservative estimates say that there were between 1.5 and 2 million people making the trek through the wilderness.
Although he doesn’t yet know it, Moses is coming to the end of his life. He may have felt it but didn’t know it. He knew that Joshua was going to be his successor, and wanted the situation to be good when he handed it over to him. In verses 11 and 12, Moses says, “May the LORD, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times more numerous and bless you, just as He has promised you! How can I myself bear your load and your burden and your strife?”
When Jethro first suggested that Moses get some help, Moses was able to choose the people on his own, because he knew them all. Now, the Nation had grown so large that he wasn’t able to make the decisions on his own. That’s why, in verse 13, he said, “Choose wise, discerning, and knowing men, among your tribes, and I will appoint them as leaders over you.”
This is something that has become the foundation for the United States. It has made us one of the greatest countries in the world. It has made us one of the happier countries in the world because we focus on freedom: The freedom of people being able to choose our own leaders.
So Moses told the Israelites to choose “wise, discerning, knowing men” and he would confirm them as leaders.
In verses 14-17a, Moses goes on to say, “You answered me, and said, ‘The thing which you have said is good for us to do. So I took the leaders of your tribes, wise and well-known men, and appointed them as leaders over you, leaders over thousands, and leaders over hundreds, and leaders over fifties, and leaders over tens, and officers among your tribes. I charged your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear the issues between your countrymen and judge righteously between every man and his fellow countryman, and the foreigner that is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment, but you shall hear the small as well as the great. You shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s.’”
This is how it works when you have a proper judge. He (or she) seeks the wisdom of God. We know that there are unjust judges because, in the New Testament, Jesus spoke of one. (Luke 18:1-8)
But here, Moses said how they are to be great. Verses 17-18 say, “’ You shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring it to me, and I will hear it. At that time, I commanded you all the things you should do.’”
Moses was going to wear himself out. His father-in-law told him he needed to divide up the responsibility and have the other leaders find capable men to take care of things. Then, it was getting too large for Moses to go himself and pick out men from the different tribes so he spoke to each of the tribes and said, “You get together, you choose people; honorable and noblemen, and then I will appoint them (so he still had final say) as leaders over you.”
What you see here in this passage of scripture is the basis of a phrase that’s used in the U.S. and not much anywhere else in the world. It’s called the consent of the governed.
In the United States, we have the privilege of being able to choose our leaders. We have the privilege of being able to elect representatives who are supposed to represent us and make good, righteous, Godly laws. That doesn’t always happen, but we can at least make an attempt.
We have the choice to allow people to stay in power or not.
Moses was setting up the system of government with instructions for judges. He did that to help himself and also to help Joshua, who would succeed him.
The Significance in Thomas’ Time
Let’s go back to Thomas. He is an actual person in American history. His name was Thomas Hooker. He was a preacher. In fact, he was deemed to be one of the best preachers of the 17th century.
Thomas’ background was: he was born in 1586 in England. He went to Cambridge University. Many early leaders of the United States went to Cambridge, came over to the US, and were preachers who formed the basis for the United States of America.
Some people want us to forget that. Some people want us to cancel that out of our minds. Some people want to shout about the separation of church and state. Well, the phrase separation of church and state is not in the Constitution.
In fact, the first amendment to the Constitution guarantees us freedom of religion. It gives us the freedom to exercise our religion. If someone were to say you could only meet together during church services, that is a violation of that right. That is not free exercise.
Perhaps I want to go visit a Christian friend at his home and have a Bible study. That’s free exercise. But if someone tells us we can’t do that, it’s not the free exercise of religion.
Thomas Hooker became a pastor. If you recall, the Church of England had pulled out of the Roman Catholic Church. Many preachers and Bible scholars saw that as an opportunity to return the church to the principles of God’s Word. It was called the Reformation during that time. They were trying to reform the Church of England.
Some of them thought it would take too long, so they began to form small congregations in different areas. It was like forming several small independent Baptist churches, or several Churches of God. There was no hierarchy dictating what they could and could not do. Those people were called Separatists, but they were part of the Puritans.
There was another group that decided to be patient and change the church from within. The ones who tried that often ran into trouble.
Both groups began to get pressure from the government. They didn’t want them to be out from under their control, so they had to flee.
In the case of Thomas Hooker, he fled to Holland. It’s said that he had to disguise himself in order to leave. But, he and his family, like many others, got on a ship and came to America.
They came to a place where they had the opportunity to worship God according to the dictates of their hearts. It was a blank slate, a new land. It was a time of opportunity to figure out new ways to do things and ways to govern fairly. Aren’t you glad?
Now, I may have fictionalized the part about Thomas having the consternation about the sermon, but it absolutely was a midweek service. It absolutely was based on Deuteronomy 1:13. That verse, again, says, “Choose wise, discerning, and knowing men, among your tribes, and I will appoint them as leaders over you.”
In 1633, Thomas became a pastor near Cambridge, Massachusetts. Three years later, he, his wife, and 100 men from their congregation went south to establish a town. You’ve probably heard of it: It’s called Hartford, Connecticut.
The midweek service was in 1638 and he found the passage of scripture. I don’t know if he had a manuscript of the sermon, but if he did, it did not survive the passage of time. There was a man who took notes and had 13 short paragraphs. It is said that he took notes in shorthand. The note taker was Henry Wolcott, Jr. He wrote out the key points of Thomas’ sermon.
The first one was, “The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God’s own allowance.”
The second one: “The privilege of election which belongs to the people must not be exercised according to their whims but according to the blessed will and law of God.”
Number three: “Those who have power to appoint officers and magistrates have it in their power also to set the bounds and limits of the power and places unto which they call them.”
Four: “Because the foundation of authority is laid firstly in the free consent of people.”
So, they decided they were going to establish the government of Hartford, Connecticut, and use the above principles in doing so.
Just a year later, in January 1639, they began setting up the constitution for Connecticut. These principles, “the consent of the governed:”, and the subsequent constitution paved the way for other colonies as they were establishing their constitutions.
Later, those same principles were the foundation for the establishment of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Today, Connecticut is known as “The Constitution State.”
That midweek service changed the course of history.
The Significance in Our Time
This is not only a piece of our history. It’s significant in our time as well.
We have the importance of free and fair elections. No one has to know how you vote. We still have secret ballots.
While some in power may overstep their authority, we do still have the consent of the governed.
During a mandated business shut down, one of the local restaurants where I like to go for coffee shut down for a brief period. The next time I checked, they had a sign on the door stating that they were going to remain open and gave the number of their attorney. I’m thankful that they chose to stand their ground against over-reaching governmental interference.
You may be thinking, “Aren’t Christians supposed to be good citizens? Aren’t we supposed to be obedient to authority?”
We are supposed to be obedient to legitimate authority over us. We do not have to be under the hands of tyrants or tyranny. I hope that we have the strength of character to stand. The Bible says, “…having done all to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13b)
We have the freedom to be able to disagree. We should have the freedom to be able to disagree and debate.
There is the force of medical things. It’s amazing to me that I can turn on the TV and see an advertisement for some drug. The commercial will begin to expound on all the benefits of the medication being advertised and that will go on for about 30 seconds. Then, all at once, a laundry list of possible side effects will begin playing.
Now we have a drug that is authorized for emergency use, and we ought to have the right to decide whether or not we want to take it. There are a plethora of problems with this drug that we’ve not been told about.
The CDC website says that people have been permanently disabled, over 150,000 hospitalizations, and over 5,000 miscarriages as a result of this new medication.
It all comes back to the consent of the governed.
We live in a free land, and a free country
I don’t know what the future will hold, but I’m concerned about what we allow to start happening.
A man was camping in the Arabian desert. After he got set up and started to relax, he heard a noise outside the tent. He looked and saw a camel loitering outside. He shooed the camel away, but soon it was back. He did this again and again but finally got tired of getting up. He allowed the animal to just put his head inside. He patted the camel’s nose, and before long, the whole camel was inside the tent.
To keep the camels out of the tent, it’s going to take people who have the courage to stand.
So, let’s stand for freedom. Let’s stand for the Constitution. It’s not a perfect document as it was written by imperfect men, but notice the foundations from scripture that were put into the early constitutions. Let’s be careful when our liberties are in danger.
Corrie Ten Boom had her liberties taken away and spent time in a concentration camp. She was freed as a result of a clerical error. Later on, she came face to face with one of her captors.
She had gone to church after church speaking about forgiveness. The man approached her and she recognized him and knew she had said that she had to forgive. He told her that he had been a guard where she was imprisoned. He said that God had forgiven him, and he asked if she could as well. Fighting her personal will, she reached out her hand to shake his, and she felt the forgiveness come.
I hope that we never get to the place where we would be taken captive. We have the consent of the governed. It’s been said that we’ve been given a republic, it’s up to us to keep it.
The fundamental ideas of Connecticut, inspired by the words of Deuteronomy 13:1, preached by Thomas Hooker, said in it’s opening preamble, “For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and upon the River of Connectecotte and the lands thereunto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess…”
The Most Important Consent
You and I may debate some topics, and we may not always agree, but there is one area where it’s important that the consent of the governed takes place: That is, that God loved us so much that He gave His Son so we could be forgiven of our sins. He gave His Son so that we could experience salvation.
When we accept that free gift of salvation, we accept Jesus as One who is the Lord and Ruler of the universe. He has the right to rule and reign in all our lives. When we become His child, we consent to be governed by Him.
The most important consent to being governed is to consent to be governed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you’ve never accepted Him as your Savior, I invite you to come to Christ today. As I’ve mentioned before, the gift is free. You can receive it by faith. When you do, you will become a new creature. Your life will be changed. The former things have passed away.
Some of the things you liked before, you won’t like anymore. Some of the things you didn’t like before you will begin to like. Some of your friends may not like the changes taking place in your life and you may lose some of them. It’s OK because the best friend you could have is Jesus.
The best decision you could make is to place yourself under His authority and allow your life to be governed by Him.
If you want to know how to accept that free gift, please use the contact information on this blog page to reach out to me. I would be thrilled to help you.