Sermon delivered November 12, 2005 by Dr. Jack Blanco

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

The Tomb

(RealAudio Version Available)

DR. Jack Blanco is a member of the Bible Department of Southern University.

Yesterday as you know was Veteran's Day (November 11)and we had a little celebration there at the Veteran's Park. And as I stood there and looked around that Veteran's Park, and thought of the sacrifices that have been made for this country over the years, I thought of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Do you know how many steps a guard takes during his walk across the tomb, and why? He takes twenty-one steps. Why? Well, it aludes to the twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given to any military or foreign dignitary. And, how long does he hesitate after his about-face to begin the walk back? He hesitates twenty-one seconds for the same reason. And does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder every time, and if noit, why not. The answer is; no. He carries the rifle one the shoulder away from the tomb because the unknown soldier is dead and he doesn't need a rifle.

And the other requirements of the guard as he serves for two years, their living quarters are below the tomb. And a guard cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty. They cannot drink alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. Are you hearing me? They cannot use foul language for the rest of their lives. They cannot disgrace the uniform. In the uniform there are no wrinkles, fold or lint on the uniform. And when they dress, they dress in front of a full-length mirror.

After two years of service they are given a wreath pin that is to be worn on their lapel that they served as guard of the tomb.If the guard disobeys any of these rules I just read, he has to return the pin. Also, the first six months of duty they are not allowed to watch television, but they are to spend their entire time studying the lives of those in the Arlington Cemetery, and why.

Their creed: My dedication to this sacred duty is total and whole-hearted. In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter. With dignity and perseverance I uphold my standard. It is he who commands the respect that I protect, his bravery that made us so proud, and this unknown soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.

And when a hurricane hit Washington DC, and the winds overturned vehicles, and turned debris into projectiles, the measured step continued. And when the commander gave them the option to suspend their duty, they responded, "No way, Sir."

Should we dishonor our country? What should be the answer? What would be your answer? "No way, sir." I want to give you a bigger picture. Of course Jesus said in Matthew 22:22, Then He said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." In 1 Peter 2:17 Show proper respect to everyone: love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

You see, sometimes we forget because of the picture we have of the great controversy in the last days. Sometimes we overlook certain things. And you know some of these statements from the pen of E.G. White. The annals of human history in the growth of nations, and the rise and fall of empires, sometimes they appear as dependant on the will and powers of men. Of power and ambition and politics, but behind, above and through all the play and counterplay of human interest power and passions, the agency of the all-powerful One, the all-merciful One silently, patiently is working out the councils of His own will. Every nation that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy its place on earth that it might be seen whether it would fulfill the purpose of the Holy One or not.

And so this nation rose, as you know, from an uninhabited land, so to speak, rose from the vacancy of this country, growing into an empire. In Revelation 13, only one nation fits that description: unmistakably the United States, a govenmet established on civil and religeous liberty.

The Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." When in the hisory of nations did you see a nation begin on these principals and with this declaration? I challenge you to find one.

And then the constitution: "Congrtess shall make no law respercting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

The inspired pen of Ellen G. White says "The United States is a land that has been under the special shield of the Omnipotent One." God has done great things for this country. I want you to notice this last statement very carefully because sometimes we forget this and we jump to the last days. Listen carefully.

"Is it in vain that the declaration of eternal truth has been given to this nation to be carried to all the nations of the world?" Sometimes I tell my students, "Sometimes we read too fast in this information age. We don't really absorb the thought that's there. "Is it in vain that the declaration of eternal truth has been given to this nation to be carried to all the nations of the world?" God has an eternal purpose for this country.

Wherever the United States goes there is liberty and freedom. And it is no small coincidence that in the late 1700s You have the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution saying that all men are created equal and are endowed by our Creator with certain inaleinable rights to life and liberty.

And then you have about fifty years later, 1840s, you have the first angel's message. What is the first angel's message? Revelation 14:6.7 "Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water." Worship the Creator. The United States is the basis, served as the basis for the proclamation of the first asngel's message.

Why do you suppose that the headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is in this country? Do you think other nations of the world would listen if this country were the size of Portugal? God had a purpose for this empty land, silently, patiently, carrying out the counsels of His own will. And yet every nation, as I said, that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy its place that it might be seen whether it would fulfill the purpose of the Holy One.

And so we respect and honor the United States. Do we dishonor our country? No way, sir. Do we respect our country? Yes, sir. Not only because it's our country, but because of the mission assigned to it by God. Of course with every country has its choice. And things will change as time goes on, but for now, we honor our country and give it the respect that it deserves. Honor the king and render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's.

Do we dishonor our troops? No way, sir. We respect and honor our troops. Wherever they go the bring liberty and freedom. And all you have to do is go in your mind to World War II and the years after. What other country has put enemy countries on their feet after the war was over? Look at Germany. And look at Japan. And look at South Korea. And look at Viet Nam. And whether you agree or disagree with the war in Iraq, we respect and honor our troops because wherever they go they spread liberty and freedom. I spent years in labor camps during Woreld War II in Germany and cvame out weighing eighty pounds. I see those cross on Normandy Beach. When I came back on that troop transport and pulled inot New York harbor, and I saw that 'Lady' standing there with her torch of freedom held high, I had chills from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I was ready to get out and kiss the ground, "Home Free!" No one knoiws what the freedom is until they don't have it.

We respect and honor our troops, no matter what the decisions of the politicians. Whether we agree or disagree, but wherever the United States troops go, they spread liberty and freedom. We need to look at the larger picture.

Do we dishonor our Savior and Lord. Obviously not. No way, sir. We don't. We honor the greatest soldier of all.

When Joshua was ready to go and take Jericho, he went out to pray in the field. All of a sudden there he saw this huge soldier with a drawn sword. And he cautiosly went up to him and asked him, "Sir, are you for us or against us?" The soldier said, "I am the captain of Lord's army. I am for you." And Jericho fell. And when Jesus Christ came and read the Scripture in the synagogue and the book of Isaiah was given to Him. Jesus said, "The Spirit of God is upon Me to proclaim liberty to the captives, to set them free and procl;aim liberty. What was the cost of this liberty? The cost was His own death on calvary. Calvary is the greatest symbol of freedom ever held high. Freedom of choice. God could have programmed us. God could have destroyed us and created another world. And He could have made us into a machines of obedience. For many reaso the cross is there for many reasons. One reason is that it is a symbol, a statement that God's kingdom and the whole universe and cosmos is built on the freedom of choice.

But, you know what? This is not the unknown soldier. This is the known soldier. He's not dead, He's alive. As the hymn says, "Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o'er His foes. He arose the victor of the dark domain, and now lives forever with His saints to reign. What a contrast! An empty tomb. Not an unknown soldier.

Would we ever dishonor our Savior and Lord? The answer is, "No way, sir." And all the rules that I read about the guards for the tomb of the unknown soldier, those same principles apply to you and me today. How do we honor? Borthers and sisters, we are the honor guards. WE honor and respect our country, our troops, but most of all, our Lord. And the way we live, and dress, and eat, and drink we all do for the glory of God. To God be the glory, great things He hath done.

Hymn of Praise: #230,  All Glory Laud and Honor
Scripture:  Responsive Reading #817
Hymn of Response: #341,  To God Be the Glory

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