Coin of the Realm
There are several important things that occurred on this date in history – December 13th. Rarely do so many events coincide on the same day of the year. For example, I could have written about George Bush and how he was awarded the presidency on this date in 2000, 36 days after the election in which he ran against Al Gore. As you recall, the dispute was bitter over which candidate won the election, based on the Florida results, and President Bush had the dubious distinction of being the first “selected” rather than “elected” president of the US.
In 2003, another important event happened. Saddam Hussein was found in an underground hiding place near his hometown of Tikrit, Iraq. After years of human rights violations and other war atrocities, Hussein was finally brought to justice and eventually hanged. Of course, I could write for days on the spiritual warfare between good and evil; and that may have also made a good post.
But this week, I have been a little introspective and I could have ended up in some really deep theological place and I wanted something a little lighter for tonight. So here it is – on this date in 1978, the US government began stamping the first Susan B. Anthony coin dollars that were released from 1979 to 1981 and then again in 1999. None of the coins struck in 1981 were for standard circulation – they were minted for memorial proof sets – more than 750,000 of them, and it took the government more than 5 years to sell out.
Originally, the coin was to actually have 11 sides, a hendecagon, but vending machine owners successfully lobbied against that idea. Reconfiguring the machines to accept the new shaped coins would have been exceedingly expensive and so the “Susie’s” as they were affectionately called, were actually stamped round although it appears to be an optical illusion to the eye.
Of course, the round coins presented other problems. They were almost the same size as the quarter, and the edge was very similar to quarters, so confusion ran rampant. Sometimes, vending machines dispensed dollars instead of quarters for change and this further exacerbated the problem. Needless to say, the coin became one of the least successful launches in American history. It is generally thought that the coin will eventually be de-commissioned and reserved for collectors. One interesting note – the Anthony dollar was the first US coin that featured a real woman. However, years earlier, there had been what was referred to as the Peace dollar that had a likeness of Liberty, in the likeness of a woman.
The point of all this is that the American public is fickle about these things. Sometimes, a coin really becomes popular while under seemingly similar conditions, another coin fails to grab the public’s imagination. None of this was true in early Rome. That’s because the coins featured a picture of Caesar. Now Caesar was a title, not a proper name, so as the leaders of Rome changed, so did the picture on the coin.
One of the most famous stories in the Bible had to do with the coin of the realm in Rome. Jesus was asked, as was recounted in several of the Gospels, whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. He asked for a coin and then asked the crowd whose picture was on the coin. When it was evident that Caesar’s likeness was on the coin, Christ replied, in Mark 12:17, “And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.”
It’s a little know fact that God was the instigator of the creation of governments. We are even admonished to respect our government officials and according to Mark, to pay our taxes. My encouragement this evening is to let you know that God wants you to follow His mandates and be obedient to His commands. My prayer is that while you will undoubtedly render unto the US government what you owe, God is even more concerned that you will render under to Him your love, devotion, obedience and affection. So think about it. Because a relationship with Christ is an eternal thing. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…