On November 19,1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech that came to be known as the Gettysburg Address. He spoke for only a few minutes, yet his words have gone down in history.
Lincoln was not the main speaker of the day. Edward Everett, a famous lecturer and orator, spoke for two hours prior to Lincoln’s speech. This was not uncommon given the gravity of the situation—the official dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg. In fact, most people were less than impressed by Lincoln’s extremely brief remarks. Everett was one of the few who recognized the significance of his words, praising Lincoln for the “eloquent simplicity and appropriateness” of his speech.
Contrary to popular belief, Lincoln took time and effort to put his remarks together. His speech was more than just a tribute to those who died. He made a very deliberate connection between the principles of equality as stated in the Declaration of Independence and the ongoing Civil War. His words clearly stated that the aspirations of a then young nation must constantly be guarded and diligently preserved.
Scripture also speaks of aspirations, the hopes and desires of many generations. The Bible is a history of the struggle to uphold God’s Holy principles in the face of adversity, persecution and our own sinful nature. It’s the story of a people seeking a path to salvation, and God fulfilling His promise in the person of Jesus Christ.
As present-day Christians our aspiration is to continue the legacy of those who protected and preserved God’s Word for our generation. For Lutheran Bible Translators that means sharing translated Scripture with those who do not have access to it in a language they can understand. Just as our freedoms and status as a nation should never be taken for granted, neither should we assume that the privilege of reading and hearing the Word of God is available to everyone. We honor our heritage, looking beyond our own lifetime so that one day all can enjoy the freedom represented by faith in Jesus Christ.
Lincoln was disappointed in the reaction to his speech. He assumed it would be forgotten. Instead, it’s listed among the top 35 speeches in western history. The Bible is arguably the most read book in all of recorded history. It takes a lot longer to read the Bible than it does to read the Gettysburg Address. It’s worth the read. Click here to learn more about how you can help bring God’s Word to people who are still waiting for Scripture in their languages.