A self-governing people must be eternally vigilant. The first three words of our Constitution make it clear who is supposed to be in charge: “We the people.” Without the citizens taking an active and engaged role in civic life, the notion of self-governance collapses.
After begging for king, the people of Israel saw their once prosperous (and self-governing) nation eventually collapse. When they recognized God as King and lived under His law, they prospered, but – just as they had been warned – the rule of man under a king didn’t work out so well.
After a period of exile, God called the Jews back to Israel and Nehemiah was tasked with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. (As a quick aside: yes, the building of walls to define and secure a nation-state from invaders and evil-doers was blessed and encouraged by God.)
There were any number of enemies who wanted to thwart the return of the Jews, and so in Nehemiah 4:9, we’re told that the people “prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.” Everyone prayed, everyone worked, everyone guarded the work. Everyone was responsible.
Too many of us today have forgotten that simple lesson. If this nation conceived in liberty will long endure, it will only be because we – the people – are wholly committed to being self-governing leaders actively engaged in the hard, exhausting work of practical governance, of praying for each other and countrymen, and of being actively prepared to defend our land. It is our duty, not someone else’s.
We must with joy accept the awesome responsibility of self-governance, so that we and our children can enjoy the fruits of Liberty. So let’s pray, stay at guard, and get to work!