The first three words of our Constitution make it clear who is supposed to be in charge: “We the people.” Our Republic only works when the citizens take an active and engaged role in civic life. As the ancient Israelites learned, the blessings of self-government only flow when the people are actively vigilant.
After begging for a king, the people of Israel saw their once peaceful and prosperous (because it was self-governing) nation 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 them back to Israel and Nehemiah was tasked with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
There were any number of enemies who wanted to thwart the return of the Jews, and so in the Book of 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. As a self-governing people, everyone was involved. And, as a result, the wall was rebuilt and the nation was on the path to restoration.
Too many of us 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.
If we are to emerge from this current crisis, it will be because we are praying for each other and our fellow countrymen. And also because each of us has done more than pray; we will have been faithfully and practically at work.
We as citizens must be actively engaged in the work of guarding liberty, and building the culture of self-governance.
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, stand at guard, and get to work!