Tag Archives: Memorial Day

Memorial

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And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:15)

In the United States, we set aside (consecrate, sanctify, make holy) Memorial Day to commemorate those who paid the ultimate price in the defense and preservation of our freedom. As is common with all “holy” days, the significance of the day wanes after one or two generations lost in habitual and meaningless traditions and mechanical ceremony. True, one will find gatherings here and there in honor of our fallen heroes, but the crowds are usually small and composed mostly of those whose loved ones are entombed beneath the sacred ground. But for the majority of Americans today, Memorial Day is just another excuse for a three-day weekend.

Few veterans of the Second World War survive today, and many veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars are quickly fading away. Our children scarcely remember Desert Storm, nor can they explain the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One may debate the legitimacy of our involvement in the wars since World War II, but the blood spilt and the lives sacrificed in those conflicts remain precious to their Creator and to us. They died, rightly or wrongly, for their country and for our freedom, and it is fitting that we sanctify a day for their memorial.

As our nation rapidly declines in the whirling vortex of moral decay (I can almost hear the sucking sound!), holy days lose their virtue and give way to debauchery. Just this week I read in the online Washington Times that a small display of crosses set up especially for this occasion was taken down after one person found the crosses offensive and complained.[1] Ultimately, things like this result from the nation’s rejection of and enmity with God.

It is interesting that the first time the word “memorial” appears in the Bible, it is in the context of God revealing Himself to Moses. God confronted Moses through the burning bush and commissioned him to liberate His people from Egyptian bondage. After a series of excuses as to why he was not up to the task, “Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:13-14, emphasis mine). The name, יehâyâh (I AM), means “to exist.” God was proclaiming Himself to be the “Self-existing One,” the One Who Is, the eternal One. God specified, “this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (v. 15, emphasis mine).

“All generations” means ALL generations. That includes our generation, and our nation, but our nation – our generation – has rejected God. All that God opposes, our nation has embraced and even promoted. Therefore what used to be precious is now held in contempt. What used to be contemptible is now admired. What was shameful now is something for which to be proud. What was kept in secret is now flaunted. Therefore God says:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (Isaiah 5:20-25, emphasis mine)

Having forgotten our Memorial – the I AM – nothing is sacred, and Memorial Day simply becomes just another three-day weekend because those who gave their lives for “one nation under God” died for something that is now forgotten, or held in contempt. Yet God always has His remnant. He still has those “who have not bowed the knee to Baal” (1 Kings 19:18; Romans 11:4), and He does not forget His own. For those who remain, Memorial Day retains its sanctity as we remember those who selflessly offered up all that they could give that we might live free, if only for a little while longer. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The God who spoke those words gave His life that we might live. He also promised, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).

So, if my musings seem a little cynical (I am not), it is because I cannot obscure the putrid decay I plainly see taking place in our nation. Yet, the same gives me hope because I know what the future holds, and I know the One who holds the future. Jesus is coming back bringing the tree of life “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). Men seek the Utopian state, but that will only come when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords reigns supreme upon the earth. That hope turns my cynicism into confidence for what my Memorial has in store. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Notes:


[1]  The Washington Times online: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/24/memorial-day-crosses-for-fallen-soldiers-removed-a/ (accessed 05/25/2016).

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A Memorial

Near Arlington House, in what was once part of its famous rose garden, stands a monument dedicated to the unknown soldiers who died in the Civil War. This monument was the first memorial at Arlington to be dedicated to soldiers who had died in battle, and who later could not be identified.

Near Arlington House, in what was once part of its famous rose garden, stands a monument dedicated to the unknown soldiers who died in the Civil War. This monument was the first memorial at Arlington to be dedicated to soldiers who had died in battle, and who later could not be identified.

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. (Exodus 12:14)

Throughout Scripture God gave the children of Israel memorials as memory aids in keeping alive in their conscience His miraculous provision for them. His very name was to be a memorial. “I AM THAT I AM … this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (Exodus 3:14-15, emphasis added). The celebration of the Passover reminded them of God’s deliverance from their bondage in Egypt. “And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt” (Exodus 13:9, emphasis added).

The written Word is a memorial. Not long after leaving Egypt, the Israelites faced their first adversary. Amalek, king of the Amalekites, came out in opposition to their progress in the land. The Israelites fought and won against the enemy, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” (Exodus 17:14, emphasis added). Without the written Word, all “remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” would have been forgotten.

Monuments can also serve as memorials. When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River – on dry ground – to take possession of the Promised Land, God instructed that the head of each of the twelve tribes should pick up a stone as they crossed the Jordan to be assembled on the other side. The purpose was so “That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever” (Joshua 4:6-7, emphasis added).

The problem with memorials is that we become so familiar with them that they can be taken for granted. If not accompanied with the instruction and the history behind it, the memorial becomes just another day of festivities, just another book on a bookshelf, or just another pile of rocks. We celebrate Memorial Day this weekend. For many, it is just another three-day weekend suitable for a short getaway, or time spent with family and friends cooking steaks on a grill and just taking it easy without even a thought to the significance of the day.

This weekend is a memorial to all the men and women who have spilt their life’s blood on the battlefield defending this nation’s right to exist and to enjoy the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that come to us from God alone. This is the time when we honor those who have fought and who have died to preserve the American way of life. This way of life is in danger of slipping through our fingers. One of the main reasons for this is that we have forgotten the meaning of our memorials. God help each one of us when that is finally gone.

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