With the celebration of Independence Day for the United States of America approaching in a few days, my thoughts turn toward the flag that symbolizes our nation. Not only do I think about the flag itself, but more specifically I think about the Pledge of Allegiance that we as Americans declare to the flag representing our nation. I decided to research the history of this pledge in preparation for our celebration of Independence Day on the Fourth of July.
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
I learned online from Historic Documents that in 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. I like the specific reference to our nation. At this time it read:
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The last language change made to our pledge was on Flag Day 1954 when Congress added the words “under God.” The 31-word pledge we say today is written below:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
This last phrase added to our pledge has great significance for our nation. The two little words “under God” are powerful and offer a unique kind of protection for the USA! I discover that “banner” is a synonym for flag, and this reminds me of an Old Testament name for God, Jehovah-Nissi. This name is translated as “the Lord is our Banner.” In the account of Exodus 17:9-16, Moses held up God’s staff in his hand during the battle against the Amalekites, and as long as his hands and God’s staff were raised, Joshua and the Israelites won the war. In a sense, God was the flag that was raised during this battle. Like Moses lifting up his hands and relying upon God’s strength to win the battle against the Amalekites, the flag of our nation is lifted up during military battles. The flag of the United States of America represents a nation that is lifting up God. We are a nation under God. When we honor our flag, we are also lifting up the Lord who is the banner over our nation.
When studying each version of the pledge, I note that there is always reference to our being an indivisible nation offering liberty and justice for all. While highlighting each of these characteristics of the USA, I want to make a comparison between the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag and God’s purpose for our nation. Please allow me to take this liberty with words today.
We are an indivisible nation because of our unity. Oneness and unity are uniquely represented within our nation because we are one entity yet composed of 50 individual states. This verifies for me that our nation is patterned after the nature of our God. Our God is the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In John 10:30 Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” He affirms this fact by His words in John 4:30, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” I can hear Jesus praying the words of John 17:21 for all the states of America, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Let’s move on to the aspects of liberty and justice for all. These are qualities Jesus offers to us through scripture. In Luke 4:18 NKJV Jesus says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because he has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight for the blind, to set set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Regarding justice, I am reminded of “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!” found in Psalm 106:3 ESV. (my emphasis)
This year we celebrate the 240th year of our independence as the United States of America. We have continued to be a prosperous nation because we stand upon the foundation of our founding father and our Father God. We still pledge allegiance to our flag and God. This is why we are an indivisible nation with liberty and justice for all.