Summary: Will those who come after us find us faithful? We gain courage and resolution by remembering the lives and sacrifices of those who came before us. We must remember the fallen, resolve to be found faithful, and reflect on the finisher of our faith.
WILL THEY FIND US FAITHFUL?
Hebrews 11:1-12:4 (Bible quotes are from NKJV)
As I was preparing the sermon for this Memorial Day weekend service, I decided to do a little research regarding this particular holiday. Let’s take a quick Memorial Day quiz to see how much you know about this holiday.
Question #1 – Memorial Day is a day for...
A) Picnics & BBQ!
B) NASCAR racing!
C) Remembering and honoring the brave men and women who gave their lives serving our country.
You’re right, the answer is “C”. Maybe that was a little too easy. Let’s try another one.
Question #2 – First known as “Decoration Day”, Memorial Day originated after which war to commemorate fallen soldiers?
A) American Revolutionary War
B) American Civil War
C) World War I
That was a little more tricky. The correct answer is “B”, it originated after the American Civil War between the Union and the Confederacy.
OK, let’s do one last question.
Question #3 – How should the American flag be properly displayed on Memorial Day?
A) At HALF mast all day
B) At HALF mast until noon, then at FULL mast the rest of the day
C) At FULL mast all day
The correct answer is “B”.
The answer to that last question surprised me. When I asked around, it seems like most people I asked also had no idea that the flag was only flown at half-staff until noon. So I did a little more research to try and figure out why this protocol is used on Memorial Day. Here’s the best explanation that I could find:
"The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all." [source Wikipedia... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day]
We gain courage and resolution by remembering the lives and sacrifices of those who came before us...on whose shoulders we now stand. Memorial Day is a time of remembrance...a time to reflect upon those who paid the price for our freedom with their lives. The Bible has many instances where we are called to remember...through feasts, festivals, temples, altars, standing stones, the taking of communion, even rainbows. In each case, God wants us to remember the past, learn from it, and resolve to live our lives for Him. This is the case in our text today in the book of Hebrews.
Please turn in your Bibles to Hebrews chapter 11. We’re going to read starting in verse 39 and continue through chapter 12 verse 4...
“39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”
I. REMEMBER THE FALLEN
The authorship of Hebrews is a mystery to us today, but Hebrews was a letter or sermon that was directed toward Jewish Christians facing increasing persecution for their faith. They were beginning to doubt that Jesus truly was the Messiah, and are considering the thought of returning back to the comforts of the formality and structure of Judaism. Jesus hasn’t yet returned as the victorious king they’re expecting, and their freedom from the old Mosaic Law made possible through Jesus Christ is definitely outside their comfort zone. Put severe persecution on top of it all, and you have some Christians who are about ready to throw in the towel.
To address this growing unrest, the author focuses most of Hebrews on explaining Jesus’ sacrificial work and the supremacy of Christ over the old law. At the end of chapter 10, believers are exhorted to not cast off their confidence in Christ and to not return to their old ways. He then launches into chapter 11 with what’s been called the “hall of faith” or the “faith chapter”, urging us all to remember those who came before us...to remember their faith, their obedience, their perseverance...to Remember the Fallen.