Yesterday, I dropped Janet off at the airport for a trip back to Williamsburg with her sisters. Every so often the girls enjoy getting together and that means I am on my own for several days. I decided to head downtown to the office of a client and on the way, I noticed that several American flags on the top of various office buildings were at half staff. Normally, I am aware of events that warrant lowering the flag, but yesterday I couldn’t figure out why the flags weren’t flying high.
I finally had time to head to the internet and figure out why I had noticed all those flags. That’s because yesterday, April 15th, the day we think of as income tax day, was the 150th anniversary of the death of President Abraham Lincoln. Apparently, President Obama, as a sign of honor and respect, had requested the lowering of all American flags. Governors of the various states followed suit and the nation remembered one of its greatest chief executive officers.
Now much has been written about the religious beliefs of Lincoln but little is really known for sure. There is no denying that Lincoln was raised in a religious home, but he himself never joined a church. While he was fond of quoting Scripture, we really don’t know if he believed in Jesus or whether he put more stock in things like the golden rule. He was not disparaging of any religion and seemed to know quite a bit about Christianity in particular.
Lincoln also had very specific beliefs on the role of government and that from a biblical perspective, people were to follow the laws of the land and were to be obedient to the establishment known as government. During the Civil War, many people appealed to Lincoln on the grounds of religion that their loved ones should be released as prisoners of war. While Lincoln occasionally honored those requests, it was usually with a warning that people who had fought against the Union were not honoring the biblical mandate to honor their governments.
In any event, there is no question that government was originally the idea of God. We are told in the early parts of the Bible that Moses had judges to assist him and there are biblical mandates that require obedience to governments. We are all familiar with the idea of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. But our verse for this evening is a different one. We are told, in Isaiah 9:6, about the coming of the Messiah, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants our obedience and wants us to respect and honor those who are in authority. My prayer is that you will take a moment to pray for our leaders and to thank God that we live in a land where we have the right to elect our leaders and have the freedom to worship as we see fit. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…