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What a Nation Should Never Forget


The Fourth of July is a wonderful weekend of celebration of the goodness of God in national life. It is also an important reminder for us to cherish the freedom that God has given to us and to thank him for it. And, as I've thought about the significance of the Fourth of July, my mind has been drawn very much to Hebrews 9:1-14, and particularly to one verse, which is Hebrews 9:4. Almost anywhere you go in the world, if someone sees the stars and the stripes they will say That's America. Or if you show someone a picture of the Statue of Liberty they will stay That's America. These are national symbols that are recognized almost anywhere in the world. They speak of things that are valued, things that hold a whole nation together.

As far as I'm aware, ancient Israel did not have a flag or a statue. But they did have some very powerful national symbols. And none of these was greater than the Ark of the Covenant, which was kept at the very center of the life of the nation. If you know the story of the Old Testament then you know that Israel, the people of God, had become slaves in Egypt. They longed for liberty. They cried to God under their oppression, and God raised Moses up to become their deliverer. Through a miracle, they were led across the Red Sea, and later the whole community, the nation, was camped at the bottom of the mountain called Sinai.

There, God spoke to Moses and instructed him as to how the people were to live, how national life was to be ordered, and how the people were to worship. And over the period of about a year this disorganized rabble was united into a powerful nation. God himself was to be at the very center of national life. And, the presence of God at the center of the nation, was symbolized ...

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Colin Smith is pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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God told the Israelites to place three objects in the Ark that would become visual representations of the life of the nation.

I. The first item in the Ark was the gold jar of manna.

II. The second item in the Ark was Aaron's rod that bloomed.

III. The third item in the Ark was the stone, the tablets of the covenant.


On this great day, the church wants to understand, and communicate to the nation, the significance of the bread, the stick, and the stone.