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Monday, July 30, 2007

A Monument to God

I don’t actually remember the year, but it was sometime between 1956 and 1958 when my family took a trip from our home in New England to Washington, DC, our nation’s Capitol. It must have been in the winter or early spring because I remember it being very cold.

One of the few things I remember about this trip was our visit to the Washington Monument. The obelisk-type structure, built in honor of our first president, was completed in 1885, standing 555 feet, 5-1/8 inch tall. I also remember walking up an endless amount of stairs before reaching an area where we could look out over the Capitol.

There has been much debate over the years as to how spiritual George Washington actually was. Many revisionist historians downplay his faith, often declaring that he was a deist. For informational and educational purposes, allow me to offer a definition of deism. It could be said that deism is a belief in God whereby God created everything, set it all in motion, and then went on vacation! In other words, God chose not to interfere with what he created.

This belief simply will not stick to a man of faith such as George Washington. Why? Because in deism there are no miracles. Washington was a living miracle. When he was engaged in the Indian Wars, one Indian chief instructed his warriors to aim their muskets at Colonel Washington. Each brave did so, firing at the future first president of the United States. When the battle was over and the colonial forces had won, Washington had numerous bullet holes in his cape. The chief then knew Washington was a powerful man and would accomplish great things.

Washington was also a man of prayer. He retired to his study each evening to read the Bible and pray. He rose before sunrise and stayed in his library until called to breakfast. Along with such notable men of the Revolution, such as Patrick Henry, John Jay, and Edmund Randolph, Washington prayed with them when word was received that the British had attacked Boston, thus setting off the Revolutionary War. Later at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, a famous painting depicts Washington kneeling in prayer imploring Almighty God to deliver his men from the ravages of a harsh winter, and allow them to defeat a superior enemy.

The point is: If God is not involved in the affairs of men, then prayer is a useless exercise.

Deism also does not recognize any religious holy book. Further, its position is to stand opposed to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

George Washington, upon being sworn in as our first president, took the oath of office on April 30, 1789 requesting that the Holy Bible be opened to Deuteronomy 28. This chapter from Holy Writ outlines what God will do if the Israelites follow him in obedience. Little wonder that Washington chose this passage, for the opening verses could not have been better suited for this new, fledgling nation, called, The United States of America.
“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.”
Here is a key statement from Washington that clarifies his beliefs: “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God and to obey his will.” When the cornerstone was laid for the monument, a Holy Bible was placed inside, along with a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.

Inside the monument are memorial plaques carved in stone presented by various U.S. states, organizations and countries. Here are some of the inscriptions: “Holiness to the Lord”; “Search the Scriptures”; “The memory of the just is blessed”; "May Heaven to this union continue its beneficence”; “In God We Trust”; and “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” And on it goes throughout the monument.

America can never deny her Godly heritage. We have been blessed by God. May we strive to live for God so that we might yet receive the blessings of God. George Washington believed this and lived it. Do you?

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