A Time to Remember
A TIME TO REMEMBER
Memorial Day, by definition, is a day that is set aside to remember.
According to the dictionary a memorial is:
- Something that keeps remembrance alive – a monument, ceremony, or speech.
Memorial Day in the U.S. is a day that is set aside each year on the last Monday in May to remember those who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and eventually became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, going to a parade, or holding family gatherings. Unofficially up north, it marks the beginning of the summer tourist season and just about the end of the school year (so the kids can get summer jobs for the influx of people coming up!).
The Civil War ended in the spring of 1865 and claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history, requiring the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. By the late 1860s, Americans in numerous towns and cities began holding springtime tributes to these countless fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.
In 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day – in 1866 on May 5th Waterloo hosted what would become an annual event where businesses would close, and the residents would decorate the graves of the soldiers with flowers and flags. Originally this was called Decoration Day and only set aside for the Civil War fallen soldiers. However, after World War 1, World War 2, the Vietnam War, Korean War, and other conflicts it would come to be known as Memorial Day and encompass all fallen U.S. military, regardless of which war they served in.
Interestingly, it was always celebrated on May 30th, the day General John A. Logan selected for the first nationally recognized Decoration Day back in 1868, regardless of what day of the week that fell on, until the federal government declared in 1968 that it would be celebrated on a Monday to ensure all federal employees would receive a 3-day weekend (which went into effect in 1971 when it became known as Memorial Day)!
So, do you enjoy the freedoms and the rights you now possess? Regardless of whatever rights and freedoms you think you deserve; you only can exercise those rights and freedoms that the nation you live in allows you to have! (REPEAT) The government, or ruling party, makes up the rights and freedoms its citizens are allowed to have and uses the military, police force, and court system to enforce any deviations or violations of those rights. The military is primarily used against any foreign interests, while the police and court systems are used primarily for domestic interests.
Freedom of speech is something other people fought and died for, for you and me to have. Some of them fought to be free from a tyrannical government, some even drafted a constitution ensuring that free speech was allowed along with safeguards to defend it, and others died defending that right. Even now we have a powerful military presence in place, a police force, and court systems to ensure that those rights we do have we can keep on enjoying (because of somebody else’s sacrifice, both then and now).
On a side note, it is interesting to me that many radical liberal movements today who seem to be interested in defunding the military and the police, painting men as toxic and oppressive, are dependent on those very men and institutions to ensure their rights while they make their demands using their free speech! It is because of the strength and aggression of men that determines the enforcement that protects those rights and freedoms. If you take away that enforcement then you are guaranteed of nothing, except chaos! You can make whatever laws you want and protest until you are blue in the face, but if you can’t enforce those decisions (or make others enforce them for you), then you will not have much if any success in trying to live how you want (especially if anyone with any power and strength over you does not agree with you!).
Many countries give us examples of cruel ruling powers that have control over the enforcing agencies and then what that effect is on the people. Often revolutions occur, and it is not a “peaceful let’s sit down and have a discussion” type of revolt…or “let’s protest by picketing and shouting our demands” in front of our government buildings, where nothing bad happens to those who are rioting. If we’ve learned anything from the 20th century it’s that it was the bloodiest in human history, a struggle for power through military engagements. Might doesn’t necessarily make right, but it does enforce what those who have the might believe is right.
God gave us government and the role of government is to enforce and protect the rights of its citizens. God is who we ultimately get our rights from, but because of our individual sin nature and the sin nature of all humanity, we will never have a “fair shake” at things. I would say that the American government is about as close as we have come in all of history to realizing the freedoms and rights God has given to humans, although it is still corrupt and falls far short of a theocracy, which is more and more obvious every day! Even so, many people have fought and died for those freedoms and that is something we should not take lightly or for granted.
God recognizes the fact that some of us might we willing to die for the benefit of others:
(Read the green verses first)
Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1John 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
(Now read all the verses to give the context)
The foreshadowing of Jesus is seen all throughout the Old Testament in different “memorial” services:
In Leviticus 23:1–2, the Lord told Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: These are my appointed times, the times of the LORD that you will proclaim as sacred assemblies” (CSB). “Appointed times” or memorials, were the holy days, feasts, and festivals that God required the people of Israel to set aside as holy to the Lord and to observe faithfully throughout the year (just like we do with various holidays). The appointed times corresponded with the Jewish calendar and were tied to lunar and solar cycles.
The Lord called these solemn observances “my appointed times,” indicating that the focus of the gatherings would be on Him. They included the weekly Sabbath and the monthly new moon festival. The annual spring festivals were the Lord’s Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of First Fruits, and the Feast of Weeks, which was called Pentecost in the New Testament. The annual fall festivals consisted of the Feast of Trumpets or New Year’s Day, the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, and the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths.
The Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3) was an important religious celebration for the Hebrews because it was observed every week as a sign of Israel’s covenant relationship with God (Exodus 31:12–17). On the Sabbath, the Israelites were forbidden to do any work at all, whether plowing or reaping (Exodus 34:21), baking or food preparation (Exodus 16:23), lighting a fire (Exodus 35:3), or gathering wood (Numbers 15:32–36). Sabbath comes from a Hebrew word that means “to rest, to cease from labor.” The Sabbath remembered God’s rest on the seventh day following the six days of creation (Exodus 20:11) as well as God’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15).
The new moon observance marked the first day of every new month. During the new moon festivals, several different sacrifices were offered (Numbers 28:11–15), trumpets were blown (Numbers 10:10), all labor and trade were suspended (Nehemiah 10:31), and feasts were enjoyed (1 Samuel 20:5).
The appointed time of The Passover (Leviticus 23:4–5) was at the beginning of the bright season of the year when the moon was full in the first month of spring. The name Passover originates from the Hebrew term pesach, meaning “to leave or spare by passing over.” This great festival commemorated Israel’s salvation and deliverance from Egypt. Along with the Feast of Weeks and Tabernacles, it was one of three annual pilgrimage festivals (Deuteronomy 16:16) in which all Jewish males were required to travel to Jerusalem to worship.
The seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6–8) immediately followed Passover and was always celebrated as an extension of the Passover feast. During this week, the Israelites ate only unleavened bread to commemorate Israel’s hurried departure from Egypt. On the second day, Israel incorporated the Feast of First fruits (Leviticus 23:9–14) when the priest presented the first sheaves of grain from the spring harvest as an offering to the Lord. The Jews could not partake of their crops until the first fruits had been given. This act symbolized that the first and the best of everything belongs to God and that Israel would put the Lord first in every part of life. It was also an expression of thanksgiving for God’s gift of the harvest and for supplying their daily bread.
The next appointed time on the Jewish calendar was the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 15—22; Deuteronomy 16:9–10), which fell in late spring, on the fiftieth day (or a full seven weeks) after the Feast of First fruits. In the New Testament, this commemoration is called “Pentecost” (Acts 2:1), from the Greek word meaning “fifty.” As one of the harvest feasts, the Feast of Weeks involved offering the first loaves of bread made from the wheat harvest to the Lord. On this day, the Israelites also read from the book of Ruth and the Psalms.
The Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23–25; Numbers 29:1–6) or Rosh Hashanah (New Year’s Day), which was observed in the fall, marked the start of a new agricultural and civil year in Israel. This appointed time was announced with the blast of trumpets, commencing ten days of solemn dedication and repentance before the Lord.
The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26–32; Numbers 29:7–11) or Yom Kippur was the highest and holiest day of the Lord’s appointed times, falling ten days after the Feast of Trumpets. This day called for solemn fasting, deep repentance, and sacrifice. Only on this day, once a year, could the high priest enter the holy of holies in the tabernacle or temple and make an atoning blood sacrifice for the sins of all the people of Israel. As a complete Sabbath, no work was done on the Day of Atonement.
Five days later, Israel celebrated its most joyous appointed time of the year with the fall harvest festival (Sukkot), also known as the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33–36, 40, 42–43; Numbers 29:12–40) or Feast of Booths. During this week-long celebration, the Jewish people built small, makeshift shelters where they lived and ate their meals as a reminder of God’s provision and care during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness when they lived and worshiped in temporary tents.
The Lord’s appointed times were celebrations of God’s divine protection and provision. Each one recognized different aspects of God’s work of salvation in the lives of His people. Ultimately, these holy days, feasts, and festivals found their fulfillment in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Together, these observances prophetically convey the message of the cross, the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and the glorious promise of His second coming. As we gain a richer, fuller understanding of the Lord’s appointed times, we are rewarded with a completer and more unified picture of God’s plan of salvation as presented throughout all of Scripture.
Besides those appointed times which are memorials there are numerous places in Scripture with other memorials. When I was a much younger man (almost 30 years ago!) on my way up to a Canadian fly-in fishing trip, I saw on the Canadian roadsides a number of rock piles, just stacked up in the middle of nowhere! We were lucky to see a gas station every 200 miles or so, but every ten miles or so were little rock monuments. Why they were there I had no idea, but rock monuments are something that are found in Scripture and they do have meaning! Rocks signify stability, strength, permanence, dependability, and steadfastness.
Jacob’s Dream (ladder)
Genesis 28:10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran.
Genesis 28:11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep.
Genesis 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!
Genesis 28:13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.
Genesis 28:14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 28:15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Genesis 28:16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”
Genesis 28:17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
Genesis 28:18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.
Genesis 28:19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.
Genesis 28:20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear,
Genesis 28:21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God,
Genesis 28:22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
Twelve Memorial Stones from the Jordan
Joshua 4:1 When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua,
Joshua 4:2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man,
Joshua 4:3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’”
Joshua 4:4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe.
Joshua 4:5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel,
Joshua 4:6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’
Joshua 4:7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
Joshua 4:8 And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the LORD told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down there.
Joshua 4:9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day.
Ebenezer scrooge or stone?
1Samuel 7:7 Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
1Samuel 7:8 And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.”
1Samuel 7:9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. And Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him.
1Samuel 7:10 As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the LORD thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel.
1Samuel 7:11 And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car.
1Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.”
God gave the Israelites water from a rock in the Exodus, those who build their house on a rock will stand, Jesus will build His church on the rock of Peter’s confession, Jesus is called the chief cornerstone who the builders reject, He is a stumbling stone and a rock of offense, and He is called a “tried stone, a precious cornerstone, and a sure foundation”. All of the uses and symbolism of rocks are tied to memorials and pictures of Christ – not to be used as idols, but just as something to remind us, much like some of the things we do today to remind us of what Christ has done.
1Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,
1Corinthians 11:24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
1Corinthians 11:25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
1Corinthians 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
We could literally be here all day reading and studying all of the different times when God did something and a memorial was attached to it, including songs that were sung in memorial of an event (the song of Moses, the song of the Lamb).
My Great God by Greta Zwaan 2002
God, I see your tender love in all the things around me.
I feel your comfort when I’m down and know that you surround me.
With blessings that I cannot count, with grace beyond all measure.
With mercy that I don’t deserve, with things that bring me pleasure.
Would I be brazen Lord to ask why I deserve attention?
Do I have merits of my own, a virtue you could mention?
I feel indebted to your love, so privileged, so accepted.
I want to show my gratitude and somehow feel respected.
But I am but a puny man, a selfish sinful spirit.
And you are oh so holy God, such grace no man can merit.
You make the clouds your chariot, you walk upon the mountains.
You speak and all the earth is stilled, fierce storms become still fountains.
Oh God instill in me a faith that spans my every hour.
And let me know how great you are, reveal your holy power.
May I be used in some small way to teach your grace and glory.
Help me to show the world your love, to spread salvation’s story!
That poem is a memorial to the life of every believer. You see God’s love, His presence, His grace, His mercy, His kindness, His gentleness, His goodness, His comfort and so much more for someone who deserves none of it! How easily do we take all of that for granted? How often do our prayers turn to whining or complaining and begging for things? Do we take the time to remember all that God is doing in our lives?
For a Christian today is the sabbath, the day of rest, but also of remembrance of the resurrection. 52 reminders a year of Christ’s conquering of death which validate all of His promises to come. 12 reminders a year of Christ’s death and sacrifice on the cross for our sins through the taking of communion. 365.25 reminders a year of God’s grace and mercy made new each and every day. 1 reminder a year of the birth of our savior. 31,557,600 seconds in a year to remember what God has done for you, what He is doing in and through you now, and what He will do for you in all of eternity!
Remember those who fought and died for your rights and your current way of life. Think about the sacrifices they were willing to make for what they believed in. Honor them and give them the respect that is due. Do not take what you have for granted and if those freedoms are being taken away there is a saying that goes something like this “all you have to do for evil to win is nothing”, and this part of a speech by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1967 – “Freedom is a fragile thing and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by way of inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. And those in world history who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”
But, most of all, remember Christ who died for your soul to give you eternal life. Think about His sacrifice that He was willing to make on your behalf – the full cup of the wrath of the
Father poured out into His sinless Son! Honor God and give Him the respect that is due to Him. Do not take what God has given you for granted and waste it on yourself. Do not be afraid of what man can do to you, but rather fear God who can destroy both body and soul in hell! Stand up for the truth, because for lies to spread and be believed they need the truth to be silent. Love rejoices in the truth! Love shares the truth! God is love and He is the truth! Delight in God and in His love and in the truth. Let God’s love be a daily memorial in your life!