July 4th has come and gone; soon the tents where fireworks were sold will be taken down and everyone will be thinking about labor day. But, today, when I saw this picture of New York City at night, I couldn't help think of the greatness of America one more time. We have endured much in this great land, from natural disasters like the great dust bowl of years gone by, to the stock market collapse of 1929 and the infamy of the attack on Pearl Harbor. More recently, there was the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 by Muslim terrorists. Despicable beyond words. However, there are two shining lights to help us remember; and these beacons are very appropriate. They are a memorial to the lives lost on that dreadful day and at the same time symbolize a spirit of hope, solidarity and resolute courage of the people of this great land to fight against whatever evil may rear its ugly head. These lights remind me of another memorial- one far away in both time and location. This passage from the book of 1st Samuel tells the end of the story...
1 Samuel, Chapter 7
1 The men of Kiriath Jearim came, and took Yahweh’s ark, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep Yahweh’s ark. 2 From the day that the ark stayed in Kiriath Jearim, the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after Yahweh. 3 Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you do return to Yahweh with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you, and direct your hearts to Yahweh, and serve him only; and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 Then the children of Israel removed the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and served Yahweh only. 5 Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray for you to Yahweh.” 6 They gathered together to Mizpah, and drew water, and poured it out before Yahweh, and fasted on that day, and said there, “We have sinned against Yahweh.” Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpah. 7 When the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. When the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 The children of Israel said to Samuel, “Don’t cease to cry to Yahweh our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.” 9 Samuel took a suckling lamb, and offered it for a whole burnt offering to Yahweh: and Samuel cried to Yahweh for Israel; and Yahweh answered him. 10 As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel; but Yahweh thundered with a great thunder on that day on the Philistines, and confused them; and they were struck down before Israel. 11 The men of Israel went out of Mizpah, and pursued the Philistines, and struck them, until they came under Beth Kar.
12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Yahweh helped us until now.”
The Philistines had defeated Israel at Ebenezer and killed Eli and his two sons and also taken the Ark of God as a prize of war. But God humbled the Philistines with plagues and they returned it with a peace offering. Later on, Samuel the prophet gathered Israel together at Mizpah and they listened to the word of God and put away their idols. Soon, the Philistines heard of this and went out to war against Israel again and God's chosen people were very afraid (7:8). God fought for Israel and in gratitude Samuel set up a stone memorial between Mizpah and Shen. Ebenezer was its name, for "Yahweh helped us until now." This stone reminded Israel of something; namely that God will help- if, we do what is right in HIS sight. Like that stone, the memorial at NYC should remind us that we are still a Christian nation (no matter what our current president may say) and that we should look in the same direction as those lights shine for our help. May God bless The United States Of America!!! But the question remains-Will America bless God???