The Mandates of a Memorial
Intro: This weekend we are celebrating what we call “Memorial Day”. Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season. On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
We find the word “memorial” in the Bible 31 times.
Some instances in the Bible where we find the word “memorial” used.
- When the Israelites defeated the Amalekites in Exodus 17:14
- When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River in Joshua 4:7
- The woman with the alabaster box in Matthew 26:13
- The prayers and works of Cornelius in Acts 10
I. The Mandate to Acknowledge
The first and most important mandate of establishing a memorial is to acknowledge what has been done.
A memorial was never set up for nothing or no one.
A memorial being erected is evidence that something of significance has occurred.
Our founding fathers were huge proponents of memorials.
We have a large number of them scattered throughout our nation.
It is impossible to both establish a memorial and deny the deed or person being remembered.
We have a day set aside to honor those who died in the service of their country.
This day – Memorial Day – is established as a way for us to make sure that what they did is ACKNOWLEDGED.
People are prone to forget.
We as human beings struggle many times to remember.
Notice the emphasis placed on our propensity to forget:
- Deuteronomy 8:11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
- Psalms 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
The first time we find the word MEMORIAL in the Bible is in Exodus 3.
God was speaking to Moses at the burning bush and declaring that His name was I AM.
- Exodus 3:15 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.
God was teaching Moses what to say and the message to convey to the enslaved Israelite people.
The first time we find the word MEMORIAL used, it is God saying that HIS NAME; HIS VERY EXISTENCE in and of itself was a memorial to the people and to all generations.
Remember what I said earlier – It is impossible to both establish a memorial and deny the deed or person being remembered.
The purpose of the memorial in our text was to never forget what God did in Joshua 3.
II. The Mandate to Aspire
To simply recognize the sacrifice of others; to acknowledge their contribution is not enough.
They answered the call. They served. They fought. They confronted tyranny. They paid the ultimate sacrifice.
But now we must take up the banner and we must strive – we must aspire to be worthy of that sacrifice.
Notice what the children of Israel did in verses 11-14.
- The Bible says they passed over ARMED IN VERSE 13
- Verse 13 it says they PREPARED FOR WAR
- Verse 13 says they passed before the Lord unto BATTLE
The deeds; the sacrifices; the service of those that have gone before us has only got us to the point we are today.
If we want to go further; if we want to build on that; if we want to aspire to live up to their sacrifices, it’s up to us.
We must aspire to pick up the torch; we must put the sword in our hands; we must make their cause OUR CAUSE!
We can erect memorials all we want to, but if we don’t keep pushing for what they fought for, and died for, it’s in vain.
We must aspire to continue on.
We must aspire to do our part!
Notice what Joshua said in 3:9, 10
- 9 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the LORD your God.
- 10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.
Who did Joshua say would WITHOUT FAIL drive them out? THE LIVING GOD!!
So why then did they arm themselves? Why did they prepare for war? Why prepare unto battle?
Because we can’t just sit back and NOT DO OUR PART TO ASPIRE AND PROTECT THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS!!
Those soldiers lying up in Arlington, up Annapolis National Cemetery, Baltimore National Cemetery and in any of the 135 national cemeteries that the VA maintains in 39 states would ROLL OVER IN THEIR GRAVES to see the deterioration of our freedoms, our rights, our liberties that they so bravely fought and died for!!
The soldiers buried in France, Italy, Normandy, and hundreds of thousands of unmarked graves all over this globe would ROLL OVER IN THEIR GRAVES to see the apathy, the callousness, the complacency, the political correctness, liberal snowflakes, the insanity that has taken over this nation!
We must not allow them to have died in vain!
We must fight to preserve what they fought and died for!
Notice the words of Abraham Lincoln as he stood on the blood-soaked Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg Pennsylvania.
November 19, 1863
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
We as Christians cannot allow the grace of God that has been bestowed upon us to be in vain!!
We must continue – we must fight on – we must strive to further the work of God!
- 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
III. The Mandate to Announce – vs. 5-7; 21-24
One of the main reasons for building a memorial is to ANNOUNCE THE NEXT GENERATION what happened.
- Look at verse 22 – THEN YE SHALL LET YOUR CHILDREN KNOW
- Look at verse 24 – THAT ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH MIGHT KNOW
We memorialize the sacrifices of our armed forces this weekend.
We honor them and their service.
The MANDATE OF A MEMORIAL is to announce to the world, to our children and to each other what they did.
Our MANDATE as Christians is to announce to our children and to the world WHAT JESUS has done for them!
- We must announce it to our children.
- We must announce it to our community.
- We must announce it to our country.
- We must announce it to the world!!