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“In God we trust”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. ” Jesus said to him, “....        Matthew 4: 5-7  [AD 30]


Famous words from a self-confident nation. “In God we trust.” Isn’t it intriguing that those who accomplish much by their own efforts often attribute it to “God”. This is not a dishonest statement. It is sincerely held.


Not only does America print “In God we trust” on every single dollar note but also it holds firmly to that position in all its global machinations – including drone killings of its “enemies” without trial and without appeal.


My father-in-law recalled that, during the German Occupation of Jersey, German soldiers placed their rifles at the back of the church he attended in St Helier and prayed with Jersey folk there. It is important to remind ourselves that both German and British soldiers were praying on the basis “In God we trust.”


Going back even further in Jersey history consider these two members of the de Carteret family.


Philippe de Carteret, MD, (1626-1672), was born in St Peter and completed his BA degree at Oxford University at age 16. At 19 he became a Doctor of Medicine at Leyden in the Netherlands. He supported the Parliamentarians as opposed to the Royalists, who followed the King. He loyally served Cromwell in Ireland and in 1659 was appointed Judge Advocate to the Army in England. “In God we (the Parliamentarians) trust.”


Sir Philippe de Carteret, (1584-1643), on the other hand, was a Royalist. He obtained his BA at Oxford at age 17. He became Seigneur of St Ouen’s and was highly influential in Island life. Having been knighted by King James in 1617, he later supported King Charles. That King appointed him both Bailiff and Lieutenant Governor of Jersey and he strengthened Elizabeth Castle for the Royalist cause. “In God we (the Royalists) trust.”

What then is the meaning of the incident recorded in bold above? What was going on when Jesus was tested a second time by the “devil” (Greek – diabolou – “the over turner”)? Jesus was being tested to say “In God I trust” and to fling himself off the perilous pinnacle of Jerusalem’s Temple. If he did that he would no longer be doing his Father’s will but his own will. Despite saying he trusted in God, he would be alienating himself from God.


The “over turner” had the Bible on his side. He brought forward two ancient Scriptures dated from around 1300 BC and preserved in the national archives of the Jews. Here was proof that God was on Jesus’ side – so Jesus could go right ahead and do whatever he wanted – because God would uphold him. “In God we trust.”


Isn’t it most intriguing to realise that this man, Jesus Christ, Son of God, had every possible reason to know – to truly know – that God His Father would save him from any fall. Why not jump? Why not? “In God we truly trust.” But he would not do it.


Jersey folk hate to admit it. But it’s true, isn’t it? “In God we truly trust.” We pray to Him before every States sitting and every Royal Court hearing. God has blessed us with a beautiful Island. God has greatly prospered us through the finance industry. God is on our side – he must be.


That talisman is enough to save me in all my deeds, in all my plans, in all my beliefs.... I shall jump. All will be well.


But Jesus’ answer to the accuser was very clear. Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ 


But we carry on. We put God to the test by personally ignoring Jesus and his terrible and unjust cross.  We personally ignore his resurrection. We go our way. “In God we trust”.  


We become over turners of God and alienate ourselves from Him.

‘God is not subject to all the changes in the policies of nations, to all the lying and dishonesty. He is entirely above it. He dwells in eternity. He looks down upon time and the world but is not part of it. ' (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Writer and Preacher, 1899-1981)
‘Today it is helpful to see God’s wrath as His willingness to allow his human creation to lie in the beds which they have made.' (R H Woods & P D Patton)
Richard Syvret

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