Principle Truth: if you want to know the purpose of a thing, examine its origin. For example, the Bible begins with “In the beginning God created…” (Gen1:1).
The word “Genesis” means beginnings. The reason God placed the book of Genesis first is so that humanity might understand not only that He created all things but also that He gifted His creation with unique purpose.
Therefore, one way to know the purpose of America is to examine its origin. Over the past several weeks I have shared several things about the life of George Washington. Looking at our first President can help us understand God’s call upon both Washington and America.
The First Inauguration of a U.S. President happened in New York City which was the nation’s capital at the time. Everything was planned. Nothing was left to chance. However, as the inaugural parade proceeded toward Federal Hall, one official remembered that a Bible for administering the oath of office was missing. The contribution of the Bible to this ceremony was not merely a simple oversight but was literally a New York law*. In other words, no Bible, no ceremony! Well, needless to say, the Parade Marshall hurried back to obtain a Bible!
Thousands were in attendance to witness this historic event taking place on the balcony of Federal Hall. The Bible was laid upon a beautiful crimson cloth. Robert Livingston, the Chancellor of New York, who was one of the five men chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence**, administered the swearing in ceremony. The Bible was opened randomly and fell to Genesis 49. George Washington placed his left hand upon the Bible, and took the oath raising his right hand. After the conclusion, he bent down and kissed the Bible.
Immediately, Washington and the other officials proceeded from Federal Hall to the Senate chamber where he delivered the first ever Inaugural speech. Before delivering the speech, he opened in prayer:
“My fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the
universe, Who presides in the councils of nations, and Whose
Providential aids can supply human defect, that his benedictions
(blessing) may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the
people of the United States a government instituted by themselves
for these essential purposes.” (April 30, 1789)
During the speech he declared:
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the
have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems
to have been distinguished b some token of Providential
agency(Divine power). (April 30, 1789)
At the end of the speech, he prayed a second time:
“humble supplication that…His divine blessing may be equally
conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations,
and the wise measures on which the success
of this government must depend.” (April 30, 1789).
After the prayer had concluded the Inaugural speech, President Washington and the entire U.S. Congress walked over to St Paul Chapel for a “Divine Service”! In other words, the entire group of government officials went to church to hear a message preached from the Word of God!!!! Remember, that every event of the Inauguration including this had been previously approved by the United States Senate.
FYI, there were seven “Christian” activities in America’s first Inauguration:
1.the use of the Bible3*
2.solemnifying the oath4*
3.Two Prayers offered by the President Washington
4.Christian Words from Washington’s Inaugural address
5.Other People who offered Christian words during the ceremony
This was the ceremony that ‘officially6* began the nation of America! From the very beginning, our founding fathers established “God First” as the governing moral principle of the United States by incorporating the Word of God into its official activities, ceremonies, documents, and laws, etc. It is for this reason…God has blessed this nation!!!
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for
his own inheritance. -Ps33:12
*James Parker, Conductor Generalis; Or the Office, Duty and Authority of the Justices of the Peace (New York: John Patterson, 1788), pg 302-304. “Of oaths in general”
**Declaration of Independence ‘Committee of Five’- On June 11, 1776, Congress appointed John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut.
3*I’m sorry to report to all the ‘religious liberty’ and ‘diversity’ advocates, but there was no Koran(Islam), nor Veda (Hinduism), nor Sutras (Buddhism), nor Granth Sahib (Sikhism)!
4*Although we do not know if Washington used the term “So help me God”, what we do know is that certain states had requirements to use “So help me God!”. For example, Virginia, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Georgia etc. (The American Story. David Barton, pg242)
5*The American Story. David Barton, pg242
6* Unofficially America began in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence…another Christian document! However, our continued existence after 1776 was solely contingent upon winning the War for Independence.
"To change a habit, make a conscious decision, then act out the new behavior." - Maxwell Maltz