A general reference in the record of Hebrews 11 is given of the many who gave their lives in service to the Lord. Inspiration tells of those tortured who refused to compromise, put to the test by mocking and scourging, were bound and imprisoned, those who were stoned, cut into pieces, some left destitute, afflicted, tormented, some who were left to wander with dens and caves as a home, who received persecution for serving God (Heb. 11:35-38). Of these God says, “of whom the world was not worthy.” All were remembered for their devotion to God. Notice: “these all having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.” It was their sacrifice that brought about “some better thing for us” (Heb. 11:40). All working together complete God’s plan to save, because it took the sacrifice of Jesus to save both them and us. Heroes of faith to be sure, they were those who counted it a worthy thing to suffer and die for the Lord’s cause. Forgotten? Not by the God of heaven, and should not be forgotten by us. While we may not know many of their names, their sacrifice gives great testimony to saving faith. So, God through His Holy Spirit created a memorial to these good people (Hebrews 11).
This time each year, we take time to remember those who gave their lives for us. Memorial Day is that day once a year, when we should take time to remember. Though we don’t know many of their names, their sacrifice for our liberty is greatly appreciated. War and sacrifice are clearly authorized by God (Romans 13). The government has the power of the sword, and as a minister of God is given authority to execute wrath upon evildoers (v. 4). It is true that war should be the final option just as withdrawal of fellowship is in the spiritual war. All options should be exhausted with every effort at peace (Matt. 5:9) before war is considered. Those who provide protection through righteous war are providing for their own (I Tim. 5:8).
Freedom, it has been observed, is not free. It comes at a very high price. Many today enjoy the benefits of those who sacrificed many years ago, and perhaps fail to truly appreciate the price paid. It can be taken for granted, and too often is. Many see Memorial Day as a day to sleep in, go to the lake, cook out and play, and it surely can be that day, because of hundreds of thousands who sacrificed their lives for freedom.
Let’s commit to have our eyes checked so that we may see the larger picture of those who have gone before and blessed our lives by their sacrifice. The greatest sacrifice ever given was Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the cruel cross of Calvary (John 3:16). Christians remember that sacrifice every first day of the week in the great memorial feast divine—the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26-28). When remembering that sacrifice, also remember those who gave all helping bring it about, and remember those who have given all for the freedom we enjoy to openly worship the living God.
-David Hill, President of Tennessee Bible College