Appeal to Heaven

Appeal To Heaven - Text OnlyThe Phrase – “Appeal to Heaven”

This phrase originates from the writings of John Locke an influential English Philosopher of the mid to late 1600s.   The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were thoroughly steeped in his work.

Locke wrote an extensive amount on “natural law” and stated clearly that our rights originate from God, not from government.   That government’s role is to protect those rights.   That when any human government deprives those rights, the people should appeal to that government.   When those appeals are exhausted they have a higher appeal, an “appeal to heaven”

“And where the body of the people or any single man, is deprived of their rights, or is under the exercise of a power without right, and have no appeal on earth, that they have liberty to appeal to heaven.

It is not well reported in today’s history books that these concepts and ideas find their fountainhead in the Bible of which Locke was a well versed student.. These ideals came to full fruition in the words and thoughts expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

The Founding Fathers had made repeated appeals to both King and Parliament for them to protect their God given rights.   The King and Parliament ignored those requests and in fact the King got even more oppressive through his agents and his policies.   This left the Colonists with no other appeal than to “Appeal to Heaven”.

The Pine TreeAppeal to Heaven Tree 2

Evergreens in the Bible

In the Bible, the Evergreen tree represents several things

Eternity – because evergreens maintain green leaves or needles, evergreen trees have symbolized “eternity”, as far back as Abraham.

Covenant – Abraham planted an evergreen tree as a sign of the covenant that God had made with him in Genesis 21:33

“Memorials or monuments were extremely important in Abraham’s day, used to remind people and nations of significant events. When Abraham planted the evergreen tree, he was establishing a witness or memorial to his covenant relationship with the everlasting God.” ~ Dutch Sheets


Evergreens and the Iroquois

During the founding period of our country, evergreen trees carried a great deal of significance to the Iroquois people.

iroqquis chief“At a significant time in their history, a great leader united five native tribes (a sixth joined later) establishing a confederacy among them.   According to the Iroquois Constitution, their covenant began with the planting of the ‘Tree of Peace’.” Their peace treaty and everlasting covenant was then sealed by the symbolic act of burying weapons underneath a great evergreen tree.   Some historians believe that covenantal ceremony is where we get the phrase, ‘bury the hatchet’.” – Dutch Sheets

Benjamin Franklin had taken a particular interest in the Iroquois Confederacy as a way to spur the American colonies toward unifying.

 “It would be a strange thing if [these] Six Nations…. Should be capable of forming a scheme for such an union, and be able to execute it in such a manner as that it has subsisted ages and appears indissoluble; and yet that a like union should be impracticable for ten or a dozen English colonies, to whom it is more necessary and must be more advantageous, and who cannot be supposed to want an equal understanding of their interests” ~ Benjamin Franklin

It was felt that the influence of this example was of such significance, that in 1988 the US Senate passed a resolution; “To acknowledge the contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations to the development of the United States Constitution.”


The First Flag of the United ColoniesAppeal to Heaven Flag - CCT-300dpi

How did this all get tied together in the first flag of the United Colonies.

The Battle of Lexington and Concord had taken place on April 19, 1775.   This was called the “shot heard round the world” and was considered the start of the American War for Independence.

The American colonies were in an untenable position facing off against the greatest military super-power on the planet at that time.   There was no possible way to survive, let alone win unless they relied on the justice of their cause and they “Appealed to Heaven”.

George Washington commissioned several ships that the colonies at least have some level of defense.   The flag to be flown from these ships would be “Appeal to Heaven” flag.

The design of the flag came from General Washington's secretary, Colonel Joseph Reed. In a letter dated October 20, 1775 Colonel Reed suggested a "...flag with a white ground and a tree in the middle, the motto AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN" be used for the ships Washington commissioned


Abraham Lincoln’s Appeal to Heaven

In the condition that our nation is in today, we desperately need to “Appeal to Heaven”.   Abraham Lincoln lived in desperate times, here is national proclamation he made that we as a nation would seek after God.   To read it today quickens your heart because it seems to describe the state of affairs today as well.

Appointing a Day of National Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer

March 30, 1863

25 Abraham Lincoln - Christian Civics Training - Biblical Civics“Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord;

And, insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness……

All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace.”

May we humbly reflect on these words again today and pray for the healing of our nation.