Appeal to Heaven Flag

With only four weeks before ENCOUNTER, I was reminded of a story David Franklin, AM for Bartow Baptist Association, shared with me about one of the first flags of our nation. I would like to challenge all our churches to set aside Sunday, September 11, 2016, as a day of prayer for our nation, our community, and the lost. This is the day before ENCOUNTER begins, and I cannot think of a better time to make an appeal to heaven.

Here is the story:

An Appeal to Heaven Flag

"The little known story that follows in these few paragraphs tells about the creation of our nation’s first flag during crisis, the one before Betsy Ross sewed the Stars and Bars in 1776, and the one that was used throughout the Revolution by many companies. This first flag that symbolized the American dream is simply known as the Appeal to Heaven flag. 

"The American colonies found themselves in turmoil in the summer of 1775. Shots had been fired. King George declared the colonies in rebellion. War had come. In response, the Continental Congress unanimously appointed George Washington as General over the colonial forces on July 3, 1775. He humbly accepted the daunting task to wage war against the most powerful nation on earth at the time. That summer, he quickly concluded that naval vessels must be commissioned to intercept British shipping. Shortly afterward six schooner entered service, most likely funded from Washington’s own pocket. This became known as 'Washington’s Secret Navy'. The ships needed a flag to fly under, but none existed at the time. After careful consideration, Washington chose to boldly affix the words Appeal to Heaven on a white background, and sewed a large green pine tree in the center, thus creating the Appeal to Heaven flag. 

"The words Appeal to Heaven were influenced by John Locke, the leading political philosopher of the era. In his work, Second Treatise of Government, he argued that once a people had exhausted every possible means of redress in conflict with a sovereign, they were then permitted to appeal to heaven for the rectitude of their cause.

"This belief can be seen in our Declaration of Independence by the phrase 'appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions'. In other words, so convinced were they of the rightness of their cause, they cried to God to intervene on their behalf. 

"The Appeal to Heaven flag, also known as 'Washington’s Cruiser Flag', flew on the six schooners as they were launched. Just a few months after their first voyage, the British Brigantine, named the 'Nancy', was captured by one of our schooners, the 'Lee'. On board were muskets, flint, gun powder and other supplies in abundance, enough to last for a year. Not only was this the greatest capture of the entire Revolution, it also inspired all the founding fathers, and the birth of the United States Navy as we know it today.

"In 1776, the state of Massachusetts adopted this flag for its own Navy. The Massachusetts Navy sailed 25 ships during the war to defend the coast from the British and was eventually absorbed into the United States Navy. In addition to the schooners, the flag was also known to be on floating batteries, river banks, in towns, battlefields like Bunker Hill, and even in places of most importance like our nation’s capital in Philadelphia. It is reported that Washington carried this flag into every battle he fought in. 

"The Pine Tree, also known as the Tree of Peace, had long been a symbol of importance to the colonies. Some one thousand years before, in a very troubling and conflicted time among six Iroquois Indian tribes, a peace maker brought the six tribes together for peace. It was under one of these giant pine trees that a peace treaty was brokered and they buried their war hatchets. The phrase 'bury the hatchet' comes from this. Legend has it that a powerful bald eagle clutching six arrows in its claws perched atop the tree to guard it. Does that sound familiar? The American eagle on our seal has thirteen arrows in its claws. 

"The story stands as an inspiration for all future generations, but especially for American Christians, to come together in unity, burying the hatchet, and to Appeal to Heaven for help. Shall we not, like our forefathers of old, unite around this one purpose? Shall we not lay aside the issues that divide us? Shall we not bury the hatchet of racial, denominational, and generational differences and unite, remembering the very words of Jesus, 'No city or house divided against itself will stand.'? 

"May we not take great courage from the hope authorized in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that if we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways, then He will hear from Heaven, forgive our sins and heal the land?"

Let us make our appeal to heaven on behalf of our nation, our community, and the lost people all around us. May God have mercy and bring healing and salvation.