Have you had a chance to visit our nation’s capital? One year, our family went on a trip to Washington D.C. for a fourth of July celebration. The atmosphere was about as patriotic as you could have imagined, especially since it was the summer following 911.
Even though it was a hot and sticky day, we enjoyed seeing many of the city’s monuments. Overheated but mesmerized, we watched the Old Guard at Arlington Cemetery. The solitary piercing notes from the trumpet were somber and reverent as it played taps with the exchange of the soldiers.
But I missed something very significant about those memorials. There were Scripture verses on many of them. Actually, there were Scripture and Bible references all around the area. It wasn’t until I visited the Museum of the Bible years later that I learned the extent to which those Bible verses cover major monuments and buildings in the D.C. area.
On the Washington Monument, there are stones inscribed with verses such as Proverbs 22:6—”Train up an child in the way that he should go,” Proverbs 10:7—“The memory of the just is blessed,” along with the words and references to John 5:39, “Search the Scriptures.”
After climbing up the steps dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, the president who fought so hard against slavery, there are the words from Mathew 18:7, “Woe unto the world because of offenses! For it must needs be that offenses; but woe to that man by whom the offenses cometh” (KJV). The last half of Psalm 19:9 is there too: “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial has a quote that encircles the inside of its dome that reads, “I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the minds of man.” One of the four panels reads, “God who gave us life gave us liberty.”
The Rocks Cry Out
These stone proclaimers of gospel truth, located in the epicenter of the seat of our government, remind me of something Jesus told the self-righteous mockers of his day. As Jesus made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, some of his disciples shouted, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” The religious leaders told Jesus to sharply quiet his followers. In turn, Jesus said to them,
“‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out’” (Luke 19:40).
You cannot stop Jesus’s passionate followers from pointing to and speaking of him. Jesus is truth. And when the opposition tries to squelch believers, the stones just may just cry out on our behalf to bring glory to God.
As we laid our blankets on the mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial that Fourth of July evening, the sky began to darken, and we saw excellently choreographed fireworks. But even as the red, white, and blue pierced the night sky, I remembered the loud proclamation of the rocks and monuments below. They were crying out to the glory of the Lord.
Amidst the devaluing of God in our institutions and our government, I think the stones on the monuments in D.C. do cry out. Their cry might not be audible, but it continues to proclaim truth every day to those who pass by. I pray that those stones cause all citizens and foreigners to lean into and listen, to ponder the ultimate response to the ultimate freedom: giving glory to the one who deserves it.
“Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.” (Psalm 16:1; inscribed in the Prayer Room of the House of Representatives)