REMEMBERING HISTORY - Week of November 6th
By Judy NicholsNovember 6, 2016
Of all the commands God gave to the Israelites, the one they seemed to obey the best was to remember. It’s repeated often in the Old Testament: Remember the Sabbath. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. Remember that the first born is consecrated because all the first born of Egypt died to release you. Remember how God has led you, protected you, provided for you. Remember, remember, remember!
This week I learned that they even remembered a specific command and fulfilled it a thousand years later! Shortly after leaving Egypt, the Amalekites attacked Israel. This was the battle where, whenever Moses held up his hands the Israelites prevailed, but when he let them down, the Amalekites prevailed. When Moses got tired, Aaron and Hur held his hands up until sunset, and the Israelites defeated the Amalekites. And God said He would be at war with the Amalekites from generation to generation. (See Ex. 17:8-16.)
Four hundred years later God commanded King Saul to attack and destroy the Amalekites because of what they did to Israel as they came out of Egypt. They were to kill all, even their animals, and take no plunder. Saul did attack, but he did not completely destroy. They captured King Agag and took the best of the animals. Because of Saul’s disobedience, God rejected him from being king. (See 1 Sam. 15.)
Fast forward five hundred more years to the story of Esther. The evil Haman is an Agagite, that is, a descendant of King Agag, and he plots the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai hears of it and tells Esther to intervene with the King. Risking her life, she does so, and the king authorizes the Jews to fight back when they are attacked, and plunder their enemies. The day comes; the Jews fight back and destroy their enemies. But they take no plunder. The author repeats it three times for emphasis.
Evidently the Israelites were so aware of their history that they knew they should not touch any of the plunder, because God had commanded it centuries before.
Is there a lesson we can learn from this? While I would never claim that America was founded at God’s command, or even that the founders’ specific purpose was to create a Christian nation, there are things from our national history that we would do well to remember at this election time.
First is that people came to this country to escape tyranny, both royal and religious. The founders’ emphasis on personal and religious freedom, as well as the principles of limited government and separation of powers was a result of the abuses of power they had experienced elsewhere. Today in America we see power being increasingly concentrated in the executive branch. Unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats are authorized to interpret laws as they see fit, implement far-reaching policies, and impose penalties upon citizens, organizations, and companies at will.
And second, we should remember that Jamestown and other early settlements were communal establishments. Everyone was to work for everyone’s good and everything was to be shared equally. These early settlements were abject failures. It wasn’t until people were allowed to own their own property and work for themselves that they began to have successful communities. It’s easy to see why our founding documents protected private property rights and why our capitalistic, free enterprise system was established.
I am not here to promote one candidate over another, but we clearly have two different views of government and American life in our country now. One view is that government is all important and should grow in size and power. Government should supervise more and more aspects of life. Under the guise of "helping," more and more people and businesses have become dependent on government funding, and thus subservient to government control. I see tyranny in our future if this is allowed to continue.
The other view is that people should be in charge of their own lives and fortunes, and government should be limited to only those functions given to it in the Constitution. Income redistribution will lead us down a path to what we have already experienced in our earliest days (not to mention that we have seen it fail wherever and whenever it has been practiced). When everything is "equal" for everyone, no one is prosperous; everyone is poor. Capitalism alone has lifted the standard of living of more people than any other system.
You have to hand it to the Jews. They remembered God’s declared judgment on the Amalekites for a thousand years. American history goes back a mere four hundred years. Surely we can and should remember that there are reasons why this country was founded and structured the way it was. We fail to do so at our own peril.
© J.H.Nichols 2012