We remember those that are no longer present for what they have done to keep this nation alive. They gave their lives, so that others could live. Their loss was our gain (Mt.10: 39). The nation has honored them by providing cemeteries where her heroes can rest. Unfortunately, not all of our heroes rest in graves. Their remains are scattered over the globe. My birthplace and that of my father’s and grandfather’s, including the cemetery, the Russians turned into a military training ground. My grandfather was a Russian soldier in World War I and my father was a Polish soldier in World War II. We do not know where the Germans buried our great-grandfather and grandfather. My parents found a resting place in Canada. My wife does not know where the Russians buried her father. They were all heroes. They served and died so that we could live.
It is tragic when a person cannot rest in a place of his/her own. Jesus was put to rest in a stranger’s grave (Mat.27: 57-60). The Bible tells us that Abraham purchased the cave of Machpela from Ephron, the Hittite, in Canaan for 400 shekels of silver (Gen.23). It became his and Sarah’s resting place (Gen.25: 9). His son Isaac and his wife were buried there. His grandson Jacob’s body was brought back from Egypt (Gen.50: 13). Four hundred years later, Joseph’s bones were taken from Egypt and put to rest with his fathers in Machpela (Ex.13: 19). Joseph was not a soldier, but a man in whom the Spirit of God resided (Gen.41: 37). He saved his people from starving and that is why he was the only one of his eleven brothers that was laid to rest with his father. Joseph fathered Manasseh and Ephraim. After Salomon, ten tribes formed the Northern kingdom under the name of Ephraim (I Ki.12: 25).
This piece of history is especially memorable. The first historical fact is that Abraham bought his right to live in Canaan. He became a permanent resident. The second fact was that he did not bring God to Canaan, like some people believe. Melchizedeck, a Canaanite, already worshipped the God Most High (Gen.14: 17-20). Real monotheism, in Israel, did not take hold until Moses and he happened to live with Jethro, a priest of the Most High God in Midian (Ex.2: 11-25). Midian was a son of Abraham and Keturah a Canaanite (Gen.25: 1). The third fact, monotheism did not begin with Judah, as Muslims are taught. It began with Adam and had been revived by a list of individuals and Judah was not one of them. The forth fact, Judaism began with David, who was a descendant of the tribe of Judah. The twelve tribes were called Israel. The fifth fact, Ishmael was born first but not of a legal wife and for that reason he could not become the legal heir without his father’s approval. Isaac was the legal heir. Jacob, the younger brother of Esau, became the heir by swindle and that is a sixth fact. His descendants used religion to justify his claims. The children of Esau have played a damaging role in Israel’s memory. The Herods were such an example. The children of Ishmael would arise in the future and assault the children of Jacob. These are all facts that memory wants to dismiss, but history cannot.
Memory is plagued by the sins of the fathers. The children end up paying for their mistakes (Nu.14: 18). The Biblical assertion is evidenced by the many that have died to defend or justify what our ancestors have done. It is not just the good we can celebrate, but we must also morn for the sins they have committed. In building something for themselves and for their children, they have stepped on those they rejected and caused much pain. The Bible also asserts that such actions are against the Creator (Deut.5: 9). Man cannot atone for deliberate mortal sins (I Jn.5: 16). Individuals can repent and pay for their crimes with their lives so that their souls can be saved (I Cor.5: 5; Lk.23: 40-43). So can nations like Nineveh did (Jonah). That is why Christians remember Jesus, the Christ, for His redemptive death (II Tim.2: 8). Humanism that has abandoned God and His laws should remember what Moses told his people and history repeats itself (Deut.8: 17- 20). Not all memories are pleasant.
“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gave you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your fathers, as it is today. If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.” Will that be our requiem?