Rabbi’s Reflections – Wednesday, July 22, 2020


What is a national anthem?  Well, whatever it is, it’s unpopular among the “one world government” crowd.  It is a song that speaks to a national vision.  For Israel, the national anthem is “Hatikvah,” meaning “the hope.”  The tune was adapted from a Rumanian folk song.  The words were first written by Naftali Herz Imber in 1878, a Jewish poet from, Zolochiv, known as the city of poets, which is now part of Ukraine.  In 1882 he immigrated to then Ottoman ruled Palestine and read his poem to the first Jewish settlers in Rishon LeZion.  

The national anthem of the United States was also written by a lawyer and amature poet, Francis Scott Key in 1814 after witnessing the large flag (15 stars and stripes) over Ft. McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.  The words of the poem were set to a song written for a British men’s social club back in the late 1700’s.  It didn’t become the official national anthem of the United States until 1931, when Herbert Hoover signed the authorization from Congress.

There are four official stanzas, but only the first one is usually sung.  Today, I want to focus on the last of those 4 verses.

Rabbi Trail:  There was a fifth verse added at the start of the Civil War (1861) by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.  Part of those lyrics are, “By the millions unchained, who our birthright have gained, We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained!”  But this was not made an official part of the national anthem.  End RT.

Read the fourth verse:

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.

Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Quite a few profound statements in this last stanza.  There is always someone, group of someones, ideology, political movement, or country eager to remove our freedom.  Unless we are willing to defend freedom, it will be taken from us.  We must be willing to stand in the gap to keep tyranny from usurping our freedom.

Then there is the concept that our land has been “rescued” by heaven.  How did that happen?  It is as old as Genesis 12:3a My desire is to bless those who bless you.  The history of the United States is full of examples of religious freedom.  Pointedly, President Truman rightly discerned the value of standing with and supporting the reestablishment of ancient Israel as a home for modern Jews.  And most Presidents since have maintained that support. 

“Praise the power that hath made and preserved us….”  And two lines later, “In God we trust.”  (Rabbi’s note: I sat for a long time on these two lines pondering where to take this.  Finally, I decided on what follows.)  These are the words of our national anthem.  Our Constitution states… “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.…”  This is known as the “freedom of religion” clause.  But whatever happened to right understanding?  In an effort to interpret what it means to not “prohibit the free exercise” of religion, we are prohibiting everyone’s free exercise of religion.  The world really is upside-down.

Every time there is a national incident (such as a school shooting), we ask, where was God?  God’s truthful answer is, “You kicked me out of school in 1962.”  As a law enforcement chaplain, I have been trained to ask those who are victims, distressed or bereaved, if I may pray.  Then, before I pray, I let people know they may pray in any manner they like, while I lead the prayer in the manner of my preference.

Rabbi Trail:  I’ve never forgotten the question I was asked by Gerald McGinnis in my chaplain interview 20 years ago.  “Can you minister to people of all faiths without preference to your own faith?”  I answered him, “I’m a Jewish follower of Yeshua, Jesus.  Who better than I?”  End RT.

Secular humanism is the belief that we can develop a righteous society if we will just try harder.  Look around.  It ain’t happening.  We need God now, more than ever.  Let’s pray….

Week 30
Memory Verse: Psalm 51:17 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.

146   7/23     Monday:       Nehemiah 13

147   7/24     Tuesday:      Malachi 1
* 148 7/25     Wednesday: Malachi 2

149   7/26     Thursday:     Malachi 3 

150   7/27     Friday:      Malachi 4

Question of the day:  Malachi 2:10a Do we not all have one Father?

Answer: Actually, yes, we do all have one Father.  The point in the rest of the verse is that, since we all have one Father, then we are a band of brothers.  I use the term, “Play nice in the sandbox.”  God loves it when His children are nice to each other.  

Galatians 6:10 Therefore, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good toward all—especially those who belong to the household of faith.

We might feel good about ourselves in this regard.  After all, you and I love everybody, right?  Okay, let’s put that to the test.  Who would be on the list of people we would not like to sit with over a cup of coffee?  

Our history is not good.  There are many Christian denominations, and the number is growing.  The best number I found is around 200 major denominations.  There are many estimates in the 30-50k range, but that’s ridiculous.  Some congregations are a denomination unto themselves.  For that matter, some individuals are a denomination (or want to be).  

I keep coming back to the idea that we are all ambassadors for Messiah in every situation of life.  2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore ambassadors for Messiah, as though God were making His appeal through us. We beg you on behalf of Messiah, be reconciled to God.

Still, there is that commandment to love one another.  1 John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that the one who loves God should also love his brother.  Go figure.  Pray about it.  What is the Lord saying?