“There is no remembrance of the earlier things, and the later things as well, which will occur, There will be no remembrance of them among those who will come later still” (Eccl 1.11; NASB).
Fading memories rekindled…
How much do you remember of your past? What are the events of your past that stick in your mind? Are they good memories or bad? If you’re like most people then it is probably a little of both. You remember good times, but there are also times that were bad (might even have been horrible) that stick out like a sore thumb. Those memories of the past that have crept into your thoughts in the present that you’d very much like to forget. The sort of thing that gets you to shake your head, close your eyes, and say “No, no…not that!”
When you think about it our memories are quite amazing things. Different types of stimuli bring them to the forefront of our minds; sometimes at the most inconvenient moment possible. Smells, lights, sounds, the sensation of touch all of which are used to remind us of our past as our memories come simmering to the surface. For example, the smell of freshly cut grass on a hot humid summer morning brings to mind two-a-day practices for the upcoming football season from my youth. The song by the Four Seasons entitled December, 1963 playing on the radio brings back memories of me riding in the back of a pickup truck traveling through Clearfield, PA in the winter of 1994, with snow steadily falling on the well lit streets. I can still feel my hair blowing in the chilly wind at about 35 mph.
Dark days of history…
And then there was September 11th, 2001. The day that the Twin Towers fell. The day when the United States of America was attacked by terrorists under the leadership of a man later found out to be Osama Bin Laden. Commercial airliners were overtaken by Islamic terrorists in the air and were then diverted to crash into what many recognized as a marvel of America ingenuity.
I was in Ontario, Canada on that historic day. The air was cool and crisp. A bunch of family and friends (all outdoorsy dudes) had decided to go on a two week fishing trip in one of the most serene places in North America. We were having a blast slaying fish, until a couple Canadians from the RV park where we were staying hollered at us USA boys. The scene was gut wrenching. Bile could be felt in the back of my throat. Along with a slow boiling anger in the center of my chest.
I had grown up in an era where you were raised daily to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and the republic for which its stands. “Under God” was a phrase that had real meaning, at least in a traditional sense. Like many young men from that time (I was 22 years old then) I seriously thought about signing up for military service. It was the revelation that I was to be a dad in 8 months that put that notion to rest.
Two days before the twenty year anniversary of that day, September 9th, 2021, another terrorist event occurred. This time it was terrorism of a domestic source. This time it was not buildings that were attacked, and lives immediately lost. Oh no, not that. This time it was the ability to build lives, to provide for loved ones, which has been attacked.
A few weeks back I was reading on the Department of Homeland Security’s web-page of domestic terrorism. They cited possible resistance to certain medical restrictions (you know of what I speak) by extremists of an evangelical nature, as the source of trouble. I now know why. The federal government knew what was coming down the pike. I assumed it was coming since I’ve been paying attention to other sectors of our world. Nations that are being crippled by bureaucratic terrorists under the guise of medical health and public safety, were the signal fires to us here in the United States, but just like on September 11th, 2001 we ignored the warnings around us.
Why? How? Because we were then and are now consumed with our own lives. Selfishly driven, selfishly motivated, giving little care for anything other than our own creaturely comforts.
Historic day that shone…
But rather than beat on that drum, I wanted to speak on another September 11th from history. One that shows the concerns and convictions of the many who fought for the freedoms that we are currently allowing to be stripped from piece-by-piece. So different were the thoughts of those that have gone before us. So different were their priorities than the many that now share this soil.
Benjamin F. Morris writes,
“The breaking out of the Revolution cut off the supply of ‘books printed in London.’ The scarcity of Bibles also came soon to be felt. DR. PATRICK ALLISON, one of the chaplains to Congress, and other gentlemen, brought the subject before that body in memorial, in which they urged the printing of an edition of the Scriptures.
“On the 11th of September, 1777, the committee to whom the memorial was referred reported as follows—
“Thursday, September 11, 1777—The committee to whom the memorial of Dr. Allison and others was referred, report, That they have conferred fully with the printers, &c., in this city, and are of opinion that the proper types for printing the Bible are not to be had in this country, and that the paper cannot be procured, but with such difficulties, and subject to such casualties, as render any dependence on it altogether improper; that to import types for the purpose of setting up an entire edition of the Bible, and to strike off 30,000 copies, with paper, binding, &c., will cost £10,272, 10, which must be advanced by Congress, to be reimbursed by the sale of the books; that, in the opinion of the committee, considerable difficulties will attend the procuring the types and paper; that, afterwards, the risk of importing them will considerably enhance the cost, and that the calculations are subject to such uncertainty in the present state of affairs, that Congress cannot much rely on them; that the use of the Bible is so universal, and its importance so great, that your committee refer the above to the consideration of Congress, and if Congress shall not think it expedient to order the importation of types and paper, the committee recommend that Congress will order the Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 Bibles from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere, into the different ports of the States of the Union.
Whereupon it was moved, That the Committee of Commerce be directed to import 20,000 copies of the Bible.
On this motion New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, voted in the affirmative; New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, voted in the negative.
So it was resolved in the affirmative.”1
Meaning what? That during a time of war, when people were fighting to protect their homes and livelihood from tyranny, from despots that were trying to force submission on the citizens in this land from across the pond, their leaders primary concern was the spiritual well-being of the people here. It was understood that God’s Word provided not only the foundation of all of life, but gave beautiful meaning to concepts such as freedom for which they were fighting for. It is the Christian faith birthed from the precious Word of Christ—what we call our Holy Bibles—that sparked the ideals that formed this nation. The fact that we are now under threat from terrorists from within and without as seen in our past (twenty years ago: Sept. 11th, 2001; and just yesterday: Sept. 9th, 2021) ought to serve as a warning to remember our roots.
We were victorious at our nation’s founding not because we were the greatest in number or strength or military prowess, but because we had entrusted ourselves unto the Lord of Hosts. Tyrants who supposed that they were god-in-the-flesh failed because of this basic principle:
“Unless the Lord builds a house, they who build it labor in vain; unless the Lord guards a city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psa 127.1).
The Shining is not over…
In time, history will show that the present day that we face birthed tyrants destined to fail (Rom 19.17). For it was for this purpose that they entered this world…that the glory of Almighty God might shine through all the earth (Exod 19.15-16; 15.11-16). Do not grow weary in hope, for it is in the Lord Jesus Christ that all shall bow and through Him peace shall come; in history, not outside of it (Phil 2.9-11):
“For [Christ] must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is clear that this excludes the Father who put all things in subjection to Him [the Son]. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” (1Cor 15.25-28; cf. vv. 20-24).
If we remember what happened in the past because of God’s sovereign providence, then we have no need whatsoever to ever fear what tomorrow may hold. For all tomorrows are in our Father’s hand. Oh, that we would remember these truths and believe them!
1Benjamin F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Reprint 1864 (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press, 2021), 252-253. Emphasis Added, All Caps in original.