Joshua 4:6-7 “That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?  Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off:  and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel forever.”

Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

Though it is often overshadowed by its proximity on the calendar to Independence Day, the Battle of Gettysburg is one of the most pivotal events in our nation’s history.  During the first few days of July in 1863, Union and Confederate forces faced one another in a bloody battle whose outcome likely determined the fate of the American Union.  Several months later, Abraham Lincoln memorialized that battle with the following words that we know as the Gettysburg Address:


“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”


President Lincoln used the motivational tool of past successful sacrifices to motivate those in the present.  He recognized that if the nation were to endure through its perilous struggles, then its people needed to harness the memory of past victories.  The passages in Hebrews and Joshua do the same.

Now like them, it is up to the living to be dedicated to the unfinished work of the past, so nobly advanced by our Christian forefathers.  The task ahead of us is great, and we must resolve that the sacrificial efforts of previous generations of Christian citizens would not be in vain.  We must dedicate ourselves to a new birth of freedom in this nation so that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.