What inspired this post? I saw this article in The Washington Times.
The U.S. Army War College, which molds future field generals, has begun discussing whether it should remove its portraits of Confederate generals — including those of Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
Nestled in rural Pennsylvania on the 500-acre Carlisle Barracks, the war college is conducting an inventory of all its paintings and photographs with an eye for rehanging them in historical themes to tell a particular Army story.
During the inventory, an unidentified official — not the commandant, Maj. Gen. Anthony A. Cucolo III — asked the administration why the college honors two generals who fought against the United States, college spokeswoman Carol Kerr said.
“I do know at least one person has questioned why we would honor individuals who were enemies of the United States Army,” Ms. Kerr said. “There will be a dialogue when we develop the idea of what do we want the hallway to represent.” (continued here)
Is it proper for us to honor Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson? In an America now fading from our nation’s memory (and history), men knew that they should honor God above all. Thus, when we honor one of our fellow human beings, we should do so because that person honors God.
Consider how God wants us to honor Him. What example did Jesus set before us?
Philippians 2:5-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus set before us an example of absolute obedience and humility. Unlike Jesus, we cannot die upon a cross for the sake of mankind. Nonetheless, we can strive to be obedient to the commandments of God. Such is how Abraham learned to pleased God.
Genesis 22:2-12 Good News Translation (GNT)
2 “Take your son,” God said, “your only son, Isaac, whom you love so much, and go to the land of Moriah. There on a mountain that I will show you, offer him as a sacrifice to me.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham cut some wood for the sacrifice, loaded his donkey, and took Isaac and two servants with him. They started out for the place that God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham saw the place in the distance. 5 Then he said to the servants, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there and worship, and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham made Isaac carry the wood for the sacrifice, and he himself carried a knife and live coals for starting the fire. As they walked along together, 7 Isaac spoke up, “Father!”
He answered, “Yes, my son?”
Isaac asked, “I see that you have the coals and the wood, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide one.” And the two of them walked on together.
9 When they came to the place which God had told him about, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. He tied up his son and placed him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he picked up the knife to kill him. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!”
He answered, “Yes, here I am.”
12 “Don’t hurt the boy or do anything to him,” he said. “Now I know that you honor and obey God, because you have not kept back your only son from him.” (from here)
Abraham honored God by obeying Him, and now we honor Abraham because Abraham obeyed God.
Exactly how did Abraham’s commitment to sacrifice Isaac honor God? Some translations do not make that entirely clear. So let us consider other translations of verse twelve.
Most translations speak of “fearing God.” Since fear usually leads to obedience, that’s why proverbs (Proverbs 15:33) says fear is the beginning of wisdom.
Genesis 22:12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
Another translation includes the word revere.
Genesis 22:12 Amplified Bible (AMP)
12 And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your son, your only son.
Still another notes the fearlessness required to obey God. As Romans 8:31 observes, God wants us to have faith that if He is for us, who can be against us?
Genesis 22:12 The Message (MSG)
12 “Don’t lay a hand on that boy! Don’t touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn’t hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me.”
Such faith leads to trust.
Genesis 22:12 New Century Version (NCV)
12 The angel said, “Don’t kill your son or hurt him in any way. Now I can see that you trust God and that you have not kept your son, your only son, from me.”
So were Lee and Jackson honorable men. Did their lives show they strove to honor our Creator? It seems they did.
Before Lee chose to serve in the Army of the South, President Abraham Lincoln offered Lee command of a Union Army. Both leaders in the North and the South trusted and respected Lee. Moreover, it appears that Lee was a sincere Christian (see THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER OF ROBERT E. LEE), and he behaved as one. As noted in The Washington Times‘ article, after the war Lee advocated reconciliation with the North.
Similarly Jackson was a devout Christian (see “STONEWALL” JACKSON: CHRISTIAN SOLDIER).
Often misunderstood are Jackson’s feelings about slavery. He owned two slaves, both of whom had asked him to purchase them after the deaths of their masters. Anna Morrison brought three slaves to the marriage. Jackson viewed human bondage with typical simplicity. God had established slavery for reasons man could not and should not challenge. A good Christian had the twin responsibilities of treating slaves with paternal affection and introducing them to the promises of God as found in holy scripture. Toward that end, Jackson taught a Sunday afternoon Bible class for all slaves and freedmen in Lexington. (from here)
In hindsight, we can condemn Lee and Jackson for fighting for the preservation of slavery, but that oversimplifies the issue. Slavery is an old plague. In every time and place occupied by men, slavery has existed in some form. Even today here in the United States, while we puff ourselves up as being against slavery, we allow many among us to exploit the labor of illegal immigrants, and all of us find some way to justify to ourselves the absurdly inexpensive goods we buy from overseas. Even though Lee and Jackson may have fought on the “wrong side,” they did not do so for personal gain. They fought out of loyalty to the South, and they fought honorably. With such conduct, they have earned honor and respect.
- U.S. Army War College mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, ‘Stonewall’ Jackson (aconservativeedge.wordpress.com)
- Army seeks removal of Lee, ‘Stonewall’ Jackson honors (wnd.com)
- Bible Study Genesis 22: Abraham tested (alexdekkers.wordpress.com)
- U.S. Army seeks removal of General Robert E. Lee, ‘Stonewall’ Jackson from history (dancingczars.wordpress.com)
- The Blessing of Obedience (tricklesoftruth.wordpress.com)
- It’s Christmastime. Some people want more, and More, and MORE (wsforchrist.com)
- Does God Tell Parents to Kill Their Children (A Look at the Sacrifice of Isaac)? (christianworldviewpress.com)