An Appeal to Heaven

An Appeal to Heaven

By Rick Barnhart
Volume 30 Midwinter 2015 Issue 1

There is only one way to save America— We must return to the faith of our fathers!


Just prior to the American Revolution, turmoil was boiling over in the colonies. The British army, the most powerful of its day, occupied Boston, and King George increasingly oppressed and taxed the fledgling states. The colonists had begun to organize their own government and lay the groundwork for separation from the British crown.

As the colonies formed their own identities, they created flags as symbols, to which the people would identify and rally. Everyone is familiar with the “Stars and Stripes” flag from the Revolution, but that was not the only flag or even the first flag to be used. There were several banners flown by the colonies as they sought their independence. One such flag was white with a green pine tree in the middle and bore the words “An Appeal to Heaven” across the top.

George Washington, in 1775, commissioned and personally funded a small number of ships, now known as Washington’s secret navy. Wash- ington chose this flag for his ships to sail under, as they were deployed against the mightiest navy of that time. The state of Massachusetts also adopted this flag for its navy, and it even flew in some battlefields and around the capital city of Philadelphia.


The symbol of an evergreen tree often appeared on earlier flags in New England. Eastern white pines were plentiful along the northeastern coast and were harvested for home construction and for masts on large sailing ships. The pine tree, as a symbol, was known as the “Liberty Tree” and also the “Tree of Peace.”

Appearing on a number of other flags from the colonial era, the symbol actually originated from the Iroquois Indi- ans. During a time of great conflict, six Indian tribes were brought together in a treaty to not fight against each other but rather be united against a common enemy. A peace ceremony was performed, where weapons were buried under an evergreen tree (Tree of Peace). This is where the term “bury the hatchet” came from. Tradition also said the tree was guarded by a great bald eagle that symbolically clutched six arrows, representing the six tribes. From this story, a bald eagle clutching thirteen arrows became a well-known Ameri- can symbol, appearing on some of our currency and coins.


We are well acquainted with some mottos from the Revolutionary War era, such as “Give me liberty or give me death,” “All men are created equal,” and “Don’t tread on me.” However, though not well-known today, the slogan “An Appeal to Heaven” was popular and widely used in its day. The phrase’s origin dates to John Locke (1632-1704) who published his “Second Treatise of Government,” say- ing in essence that if a people find themselves oppressed under tyranny, with no other recourse, then they have the natural right to appeal to heaven and rise up in arms against such tyranny. In his writings, Locke said, “The people have no other remedy in this, as in all other cases where they have no judge on earth, but to appeal to heaven....”

This philosophy’s influence was seen in Philadelphia on September 7, 1774, when Reverend Jacob Duché prayed the first recorded prayer of the Continental Congress. It said in part:

“O Lord our Heavenly Father... look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give... Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior. Amen.”

Even the Declaration of Independence includes a similar phrase that appeals to the Almighty. Today, forty-four state constitutions contain a form of this phrase— with an appeal to the Almighty.


Our nation’s godly foundation is well documented. Though forces in our society work to reinterpret this godly heritage, an examination of history shows it clearly. The popular assertion that most of our founders were Deists, not Christians, is often taught in schools and blindly accepted by many. Our current president went so far as to publically declare that America is not a Christian nation. On that point, he may be speaking for himself and some citizens, but I suspect a majority of Americans believe otherwise. Here are a few examples of our Christian heritage:

Many of our founding fathers, through their own writings, declared themselves to be Christians. These include some well-known names: John Adams, Samuel Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John Hancock, John Hart, Patrick Henry, and James Madison.

The Continental Congress made its first official act a call for prayer, setting aside May 17, 1776 as a national day of fasting, repentance, and prayer for the colonies. In this act, they specifically mentioned Jesus Christ.

The Continental Congress ordered the importation of 20,000 Bibles for distribution to the American troops. The Continental Congress authorized its endorsement to be printed on the front page of the Bible edition approved for the American people, to be used in our schools.

The Continental Congress passed a law stating, “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.” (Source: David Barton’s ministry, Wall Builders.)

Congress did not intend a government and society free of religion, but rather a government that is not biased toward a particular denomination or religion. Freedom of religion was never meant to be freedom from religion. The greatest issue of today is not so much a political tyranny but a spiritual one. Many influential leaders, prompted by dark spiritual powers, are trying to rewrite our history and systematically eliminate all references to God and faith in public culture.

Christianity is increasingly depicted as being bigoted and extreme. This is not what our founders envisioned or believed. Unfortunately, today’s churches are losing their rightful influence on society.


America elected our current president twice because of his promises for changes that are so desperately needed. Now, however, many of his promises have proven hollow, and Americans are largely disappointed because his new policies brought changes, but not the kind that were anticipated. America’s only hope is not who is in the White House but who is in God’s house. Our hope is only secure in Christ’s return to His rightful place in the church and in the nation.

In the beginning, the American colonies were over- shadowed by oppressive forces seeking to control them. Today, a spiritual darkness is moving across this nation that is trying to control, oppress, and enslave God’s people. It wants to extinguish the church’s flame as a light to this nation and the world. Our options are stark. We will be overcome by darkness, or we will rise up and overcome the darkness with the greatest weapon God has given the church— PRAYER. May God help us to wield this divine weapon with zeal, compassion and earnest expectation.

Isaiah 60:1-3 says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and His glory appears over you.”

When all other remedies fail, what recourse is left? It is again time for An Appeal to Heaven. We must raise the flag once again, not of patriotism, but of the Lord’s army. Like Esther, the church is placed in the middle of a desperate and dark situation. And we are being called “for such a time as this,” to rise up and intercede for the restoration of the church first, and then we shall see the healing of our country.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” A new prayer movement is rising in our country, calling upon the only One who can deliver us, asking God to awaken the church through repentance and a return to her first love (Rev. 2:4-5). America was birthed through a people’s cry, an appeal to heaven for divine intervention in impossible odds. Once again, God’s people are lifting their voices in both personal and corporate cries as another appeal to heaven, against all odds, for God to intervene and send another Great Awakening to America. Let us add our voices to this appeal to heaven and regularly set aside time to pray for the church’s awakening. Only then can this great nation be restored to its godly heritage.

Rick Barnhart is the youngest son of David and Mary Barnhart. Rick is employed by Sedgwick Insurance Company. He resides with his wife Sylvia in California. Both Rick and Sylvia are graduates of Concordia University in Irvine, CA, and both frequently contribute articles for this publication. They have six children; all have been or are being homeschooled.

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