This is one of my favorite images of the flag. It was painted by Frederic Edwin Church at the beginning of the Civil War.
As our nation entered into a bloody and costly war, it resembled another ancient nation, Israel. These people also divided, one against the other, becoming enemies. Although these conflicts were set in different time periods, amidst different cultural situations, the divisions of these nations share a similar root. Both Israel and America had turned from God and His truth. They chose to worship other things: wealth and power. As a result, God was ignored by many, and the people were oppressed by their leaders.
However, during this difficult time, the remnant of faithful believers in both nations still held fast to their trust in God.
Israel’s psalmist records, “Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live.” (Ps. 43: 3-4)
For me, Church’s painting demonstrates a similar plea. America’s flag, the symbol of the fundamental values of this nation, equality and freedom, is created from the clouds and sky as a reminder to us that, even in the midst of division and destruction, the Author of Creation still guides us to uphold His truth.
Today, as we celebrate the birth of this great nation, let’s remember the true source of our freedom. May the red stripes be a symbol of Jesus’s blood, shed so that our sins could be washed white as snow. And may the stars in the field of blue, draw our attention toward the heavens to our Great Creator, God!