Friday, January 20th, was quite a day. The drama and excitement, the parade, the celebration, the pomp, formalities, tradition and pageantry, as well as the dinners and gala balls: it was quite a spectacle. But what was most important on inauguration day? A mere 30 seconds, those critically important moments when Donald Trump took his oath of office to become the 45th President of these United States.
Nothing else was more important on that momentous day. Those 35 words spoken by Donald Trump are the only thing that was required on that day. And it took about all of 30 seconds.
Our Constitution requires the President and all elected and appointed representatives, judges, and other officials of the Federal government to take an oath. Only the President’s oath is actually spelled out in the Constitution.
Why did our Founders require an oath? To hold each person in office to the highest level of accountability, not to the people (I’m not sure that our President fully understands this, as he spoke of his oath in terms of loyalty to the people): the oath is not to the people but to God, and the perspective is that of judgment day, when God will evaluate our performance regarding that oath. Our founders knew, given fallen human nature, the tendency of anyone who is granted power will tend to abuse that power unless they are held in check. Knowing that it is not possible for We the People to constantly monitor and check every action of one who represents us, they required by oath that the office holder place themselves before God, who sees all and knows all. He can discern every action, thought, word, and even motivation. Consider what God’s Word tells us about the oath.
Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?”
One of our founders, Noah Webster, understood that words may be perverted and twisted over time. So he wrote the very first American dictionary to give to future generations a clear understanding of what these words in our founding documents actually mean. Websters 1828 “OATH, n.
“A solemn affirmation or declaration, made with an appeal to God for the truth of what is affirmed.
The appeal to God in an oath, implies that the person imprecates His vengeance and renounces His favor if the declaration is false, or if the declaration is a promise, the person invokes the vengeance of God if he should fail to fulfill it. A false oath is called perjury.”
So an oath is a dangerous thing. If one takes an oath but then violates that oath, by that very oath, they have instructed God to bring His curses down upon their sorry heads.
This is why the hand of the oath taker is placed on the Bible, implied by that action is “May the curses contained in this book fall upon me if I fail to fulfill this oath I am now taking.” President Trump swore his oath with his hand on two Bibles, one was the “bible he was given by his mother when he graduated from Sunday Church Primary School at First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, New York, in 1955,” and the other one used by many Presidents in the past.
- US Con Art II Sec 1 states, “Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Our founders recognized the great value of oaths and that the Republic they were designing would never succeed if all the people did not consider oath taking a very serious business.
- Washington’s Farewell Address (once read by every school child and considered to be the most important political statement in the whole history of our country) states plainly, “Let it be simply asked where is the security for prosperity, for reputation for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in the Courts of Justice?” Washington knew that once people began disregarding the true meaning of an oath as a solemn vow before Almighty God for which He will hold each oath taker fully accountable the Republic would be lost.
- In 1 Timothy 2:1-2 we are instructed, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
- We should pray for President Trump that he will fulfill the oath he has made, otherwise he is bringing harm upon himself. And knowing the condition of Washington, D.C., I believe it will be extremely difficult for him to keep the oath which he has made.
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