Represented by Abidan Shah, PhD

REPRESENTATION by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Today being the 4th of July weekend, I want to step away from our regular series and preach a different kind of message. Hopefully, today’s message will help you understand, appreciate, preserve, and protect the foundation of these United States. According to an anecdotal account, a lady (Elizabeth Powell, wife of Samuel Powell, mayor of Philadelphia) asked Benjamin Franklin on the last day of the Constitutional Convention (September 18, 1787): “Well Doctor what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Benjamin Franklin (President of the Convention) replied: “A republic, if you can keep it.” I would like to add: “We better keep it. We have no other option.” For quite some time, there have been voices challenging the foundation of our nation and the validity of our constitution. Based on my research and understanding, our founding fathers were not naïve or outmoded. They were very wise in setting forth a system of government that is unlike any on earth and has ever been. In this message, in the limited time I have, I want to go back in time and see where they got this idea. Main Point: If we truly understand its biblical foundation and the work of the founding fathers, we will understand, appreciate, preserve, and protect it. We have to stand for our freedoms, recognize God’s providential hand in our history, and pray for revival in America.

Acts 21      1 Now it came to pass, that when we had departed from them and set sail, running a straight course we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 And finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail.

Context: Most of us read past the name Patara and do not think much of it. Patara was a very important city of Lycia, a region in Southwestern Anatolia, southern part of modern-day Turkey. On the map, it is just 10.5 miles from Xanthos on the coast. Not very far from Myra, just under 50 miles, the home of Santa Claus (St. Nicholas). Actually, St. Nicholas was born in Patara. The Lycians had their own language and culture that went back to Hittite times in the 2M BC. According to George Bean, “Locked away in their mountainous country, they had a fierce love of freedom and independence, and resisted strongly all attempts at outside domination; they were the last in Asia Minor to be incorporated as a province in the Roman Empire.” In time, even though they were ruled by different empires and kingdoms like the Persians, Greeks, Ptolemies, and Romans, they were fiercely independent. By the fourth century, they stopped speaking their language and took up Greek. Nonetheless, they did not lose their spirit of freedom. Some describe them as the Swiss – hardworking, prosperous, neutral, very independent, and loyal to their traditions. Principle: A major attribute of Americans is our spirit of freedom. I’ve been in this country over 30 years now and I’m shocked at how easily many are willing to give up their fundamental rights over the past few years!

Historians are not sure about the exact time, but about 200BC, they came up with a system of government we know as the Lycian Confederation/League. Federalism is a “design to unite a multitude of state-entities whose powers and prerogatives are safeguarded in the course of integration” (Hans Beck and Peter Funke). In other words, it is “Collective Action with Local Autonomy.” This is not easy to achieve. In fact, it requires lots of negotiations and compromises, lots of discussions and deliberations. According to some estimates, there were as many as 1000 poleis (city states) in the Archaic and Classical periods. Coming together promoted trade, made travel easier, and provided protection against pirates and even other kingdoms and empires. There were many leagues like the Aitolian League, the Thessalian League, the Peloponnesian League, etc., but the most advanced was the Lycian League.

In the Lycian League, there were 23 cities in their region. Each had a representative, but they had a “proportional representative government.” This means that the larger cities had 3 representatives, medium cities had 2, and the smaller had 1. The cities paid their fair share according to their votes. The council elected the judges and the magistrates of the town. They met in the various cities, but the chief one was Patara. They would meet in the Bouleuterion. They would discuss laws and taxes. The laws made were applicable to all the individuals of the various cities in the league. This system worked up until the 5-6th century AD.

Many of yall are probably wondering what this has to do with our Independence Day. When it came to the writing of our nation’s Constitution, where did the founding fathers turn? In a previous sermon titled “Great Nation,” I explained that the most quoted book was the Bible. According to Donald Lutz, as much as 1/3 of the quotes are from the Bible. As I mentioned in that sermon, “the ideas of a limited government, separation of powers, a system of checks and balances, rule of law, due process, representative government, civic virtue, and social order are all coming from the Book of Deuteronomy.” How about the rest?They were turning to Enlightenment writers, Whig writers, English Common Law, Classical writers, and others. In other words, they were turning to the works of Montesquieu (French judge and philosopher), William Blackstone (English jurist and professor), and John Locke. In turn, they were turning to the Classical writers like Strabo, Livy, Polybius, and Cicero for information on the Lycian League and similar federations. 

When it came the time to ratify our Nation’s Constitution, the questions before our founding fathers were twofold: How would the state representation look like? How can we create a system of checks and balances so that there won’t be any abuse of power? To begin with, the founding fathers had a monumental task before them. The Revolutionary War was over. It was time to revise the Articles of the Confederation (1777). They didn’t want to go back to the European system of either authoritarian government or monarchy. The world was watching to see what they would do. They wanted a “democratically elected constitutional republic.” From October 1787 to August 1788, series of 85 texts were published in New York newspapers. We know them today as the Federalist Papers. They were written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. Guess where they turned to next to the Bible? The Lycian League. They mentioned it 4 times in Federalist Papers 9, 16, and 45. Please turn your attention to the screens.

The Founding Fathers did not stop with the Lycian League, they also learned from the Romans. That’s why we have a Senate unlike the Greeks. Based on all this, the US Government has two houses (bicameral): the Senate and the House of Representatives Senate: 100, 2 for each 50 states; House of Representatives: 435, according to the population of each state. Also, they are elected and not hereditary. Unlike the Lycians, who had same ethnicity, we have peoples from all backgrounds who are willing to accept the American Way working together. That’s a miracle! Nothing like this has ever been attempted!

What is our responsibility?

1. Freedom – Stand for it.

Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

2. Providence – Believe in God’s hand in America

Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

3. Revival – Pray for it and reach people with the gospel.

2 Chronicles 7:14 “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Invitation: Do you understand the blessings of living in this nation? It is not perfect, but it is still built on a solid foundation of the Bible. Do you pray for our nation’s leaders? Are you praying for revival? Are you saved?

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