The Presidents Code – The Lyndon B. Johnson Presidency
Lyndon Johnson’s name is pointing to Israel going into the land of Israel and conquering the nations thereof. As Vice President, his name was speaking specifically of the first lands that Israel obtained from Sihon king of the Amorites and Og king of Bashan (Numbers 21:21-35). As President, his name is referring to the days of Moses delivering what would become the book of Deuteronomy to the people.
Lyndon comes from an surname which means ‘lime tree hill’ in Old English. The linden or lime tree is a picture of the vine of Israel (Isaiah 6:13), the Holy Seed from whence comes victory over the devil.
Isaiah 6:13 But yet a tenth shall be in it, and it shall return and be consumed like the terebinth and like the oak that in being felled yet has its stump (the holy seed is its stump).
The ‘terebinth’ seen here in Isaiah 6:13 is a teil tree which is a linden or lime tree. The word in Hebrew is אלה ‘elah’ which comes from the root אל ‘el’ which is usually translated as God. Here is a beautiful picture of the Holy Seed, the BRANCH being God Himself (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
Lincoln traces back to a Brythonic word ‘lindo’ meaning a lake or pool which has the same meaning as the English word ‘linden’ speaking of a tree by rivers of water.
The tree by the rivers of water is a picture of the tree of life (Psalm 1:2-3; Revelation 22:2-3). The tree of life is pointing to the Messiah, the Seed of the woman who was promised to come through the lineage of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). The linden tree seen in Isaiah 6:13 is speaking of the remnant of Israel, the olive tree who are in the image and likeness of Christ (Galatians 3:16-28).
Here we see Israel entering into Canaan as a foreshadowing of the ultimate victory promised in the beginning where the Seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). This promise was passed down through the millennia and inherited by Abraham and his descendants.
Baines has three possible origins. The first is from the Gaelic word ‘ban’ meaning fair or white. The second is from the Old English ‘ban’ meaning a bone. The third is from the Old French ‘bain’ meaning a bath. These meanings are speaking of Israel, the bride of the Lord, ‘bone of His bone’ (Genesis 2:23; Isaiah 54:5) who is ‘fair or white’ meaning righteous (Numbers 23:21) and ‘cleansed’ by the baptism of faith through the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-2) and circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 10:16).
Johnson means son of John, meaning the children the camp of Yah. Here we see a reference to the second generation of Israel in the wilderness who would be given victory over the nations of Canaan (Numbers 14:23-24; 26:63-65).
The Presidency of Lyndon Johnson was defined by his desire to create a ‘Great Society’ and the Vietnam War. The Great Society was based upon the idea of distributing the wealth of the nation to the poor and needy, education and equal rights. LBJ passed more legislation than any other President as a result of this Great Society concept. However, the Great Society that he desired to see come to pass never came to fruition due to America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
Here in Johnson’s Presidency a parable of the children of Israel is seen. They are promised the land of Canaan, a ‘Great Society’ of prosperity where laws are given to take care of the poor and needy (Deuteronomy 14:29; 15:4-8; 16:11-14; 24:19-21; Leviticus 19:9-10, 32-34; 23:22). It was to be a land of wisdom based upon education in the law of God (Deuteronomy 4;6; 6:7; 11:19; 31:12-13), a land of equal rights (Exodus 12:49; Numbers 15:15-16, 29; Leviticus 19:33-34; 24:22). However, due to rebellion and mixing amongst the people of the land, they never fully experienced the blessings of the land and end up being cast out into exile (Deuteronomy 4:26; 8:19-20; 28:58-68; 29:25-28).
Like Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson’s Inaugural address set the tone for his presidency and made numerous connections to the Biblical narrative of which his Presidency points to.
LBJ began his Inaugural Address declaring that the United States is one people, a unity which points back to Israel in the wilderness, receiving the law at Mt. Sinai.
“My fellow countrymen, on this occasion, the oath I have taken before you and before God is not mine alone, but ours together. We are one nation and one people. Our fate as a nation and our future as a people rest not upon one citizen, but upon all citizens. This is the majesty and the meaning of this moment.”
Johnson looked back to the beginning of America’s origins which points back to the beginning of creation and the Garden of Eden, a land where man dwelt in close relationship with God walking with Him (Genesis 3:8). This is the relationship of which the Lord sought to re-establish, at least in part, when Israel dwelt in the land of Canaan (Leviticus 26:12).
“They came here — the exile and the stranger, brave but frightened — to find a place where a man could be his own man. They made a covenant with this land. Conceived in justice, written in liberty, bound in union, it was meant one day to inspire the hopes of all mankind; and it binds us still. If we keep its terms, we shall flourish.”
Johnson refers to the covenant with this land, linking back to the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their seed would inherit the land of promise (Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 15:7; 17:8; 26:4; 28:13; Exodus 32:13; Deuteronomy 9:5).
“If we keep its terms, we shall flourish.” This of course did not happen. Israel rebelled and was cast out of the promised land. The Vietnam War which was LBJ’s downfall is a picture of this rebellion via the mixing that Israel partook of. This unequal yoke led to Israel’s exile out of the land, just as Adam was exiled out of the Garden, no longer to walk in close relationship with the Lord (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
In his inaugural, Johnson proceeded to speak of the three aspects of America’s ‘covenant’ with the land. Justice, liberty and union.
“First, justice was the promise that all who made the journey would share in the fruits of the land.
In a land of great wealth, families must not live in hopeless poverty. In a land rich in harvest, children just must not go hungry. In a land of healing miracles, neighbors must not suffer and die unattended. In a great land of learning and scholars, young people must be taught to read and write.”
Johnson’s concept of a Great Society corresponds with the promised land, a land full of abundance, a land flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 8:7-9). A land of miracles where the prophets and Christ Himself walked. A land of learning of the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:5-8; 6:1; Romans 2:17-24).
“Liberty was the second article of our covenant. It was self-government. It was our Bill of Rights.”
Johnson’s reference to the Bill of Rights links to the Ten Commandments. It is no surprise that the Bill of Rights consists of Ten Amendments. This points to Deuteronomy 5 where Moses speaks to the people reminding them of how the Lord spoke to them at Mt. Sinai giving them these aforementioned Ten Commandments. References to Deuteronomy are a theme of LBJ’s Presidency as his days are a picture of the days of Moses delivering what comes to be known as the book of Deuteronomy, the ‘second law,’ to Israel.
“The third article was union. To those who were small and few against the wilderness, the success of liberty demanded the strength of union. Two centuries of change have made this true again.”
“Under this covenant of justice, liberty, and union we have become a nation — prosperous, great, and mighty. And we have kept our freedom. But we have no promise from God that our greatness will endure. We have been allowed by Him to seek greatness with the sweat of our hands and the strength of our spirit. I do not believe that the Great Society is the ordered, changeless, and sterile battalion of the ants. It is the excitement of becoming — always becoming, trying, probing, falling, resting, and trying again — but always trying and always gaining.”
This is what is seen in the history of Israel. Victory and prosperity followed by rebellion and persecution followed by victory again after repentance. This cycle continued throughout ancient Israel’s history (Psalm 106:34-46).
“In each generation, with toil and tears, we have had to earn our heritage again.
If we fail now, we shall have forgotten in abundance what we learned in hardship: that democracy rests on faith, that freedom asks more than it gives, and that the judgment of God is harshest on those who are most favored.
If we succeed, it will not be because of what we have, but it will be because of what we are; not because of what we own, but, rather because of what we believe.”
Here we see a connection to Deuteronomy 8 where Moses reminds Israel of their deliverance from Egypt and how the Lord led them through the wilderness. Moses warns them not to forget the Lord when He brings them to the land and makes them prosperous.
“To these trusted public servants and to my family and those close friends of mine who have followed me down a long, winding road, and to all the people of this Union and the world, I will repeat today what I said on that sorrowful day in November 1963: ‘I will lead and I will do the best I can.’
But you must look within your own hearts to the old promises and to the old dream. They will lead you best of all.”
The old promises and the old dream is speaking of the days of the Founders, the Declaration of Independence and the dream of a land where man could dwell in Liberty. Biblically, these things are pointing back to the covenant between God and Israel, their deliverance from Egypt and the receiving of the law (Deuteronomy 32:7; Jeremiah 6:16-17; 18:15; Psalm 44:1; 77:5; Isaiah 63:11).
“For myself, I ask only, in the words of an ancient leader: ‘Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?’”
Here, LBJ quotes the words of Solomon when he became king in his father’s stead (2 Chronicles 1:10). Solomon was the king of Israel during a time of peace and prosperity (1 Kings 4:25) but due to the love of heathen woman, his kingdom was divided (1 Kings 11:1-12). He committed that which Moses warned Israel about in the plains of Moab (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). Solomon reigned over a ‘Great Society’ but lost it all because of his mixture with the heathen, just as LBJ sought to establish a Great Society in America but lost it because of the war in Vietnam.
On a deeper level, this is also pointing to Moses and the days of the writing of Deuteronomy. Moses knew his days were coming to an end and asked the Lord to establish a man which will ‘go out and come in before His people’ (Numbers 27:15-18). At the end of his life, Moses spoke to the people of this leader who would go in and out before them and give them victory over the nations of Canaan by the strength of God (Deuteronomy 31:1-9). Moses then delivered the law to the Levites who were to store it up in the Tabernacle (Deuteronomy 31:9). Here we see the promise of inheriting the ‘Great Society’ of Canaan, and the delivering of the law which corresponds to the Civil Rights Acts which were passed during LBJ’s term in office.
However, Moses is warned that Israel will go astray and gives him a song to deliver to the people (Deuteronomy 31:16-30). This corresponds to the downfall of LBJ due to the Vietnam War. Accordingly, the 60s saw a vast assortment of protest songs which daily reminded the people of America of the anti-war movement.
Lyndon Johnson envisioned an America where the poor and weak would be taken care of. A land where all men would be treated equally, where every mouth would be fed and mind educated. His vision was dubbed the ‘Great Society’ based upon a speech he gave in 1964.
“And with your courage and with your compassion and your desire, we will build the Great Society. It is a Society where no child will go unfed, and no youngster will go unschooled.”
As a result of this desire for a Great Society, Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency saw more laws passed than any administration in history. Laws were passed in regards to civil rights, poverty, education, healthcare, the arts, public broadcasting, cultural centers, transportation and the environment.
This abundance of laws being passed in relation to the Great Society is a strong link to Deuteronomy where Moses ‘re-delivers’ the law to Israel, focusing specifically on their implementation in the promised land (Deuteronomy 4:5, 14, 40; 5:31; 6:1-3; 12:1, 11-14).
The Great Society was LBJ’s vision of an America where the poor and needy would be taken care of, where every person would receive an education and be given equal rights. The lofty ideas of which LBJ proposed in the Great Society would make this country a veritable paradise. This is an interesting connection as the law of Moses was designed to bring about the same effect in the land of Canaan. Scripture makes numerous inferences that the land of Israel, specifically Jerusalem, was to be a type of the Garden of Eden, His holy mountain (Psalm 48:1-2; Isaiah 27:13; 57:13; 66:20; Ezekiel 20:40; Daniel 9:16, 20; Joel 2:1; 3:17; Zephaniah 3:11), a habitation of justice and holiness (Jeremiah 31:23), the city of truth (Zechariah 8:3), the city of God (Psalm 48:8).
The righteousness of which the land of Israel was to personify, was designed to glorify the name of the Lord (Psalm 76:1). This declaring of the name of the Lord is seen in taking care of the poor and destitute.
Psalm 102:17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.
Psalm 102:18 This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.
Psalm 102:19 For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth;
Psalm 102:20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;
Psalm 102:21 To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem;
Psalm 22:22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
Psalm 22:23 Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
Psalm 22:24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
Psalm 22:25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
Psalm 22:26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
Louise Leyden, a newspaper journalist for the Miami News, associated Johnson’s idea with this very concept.
“One of the best ways to improve society is to practice the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. No society can be truly great without them. The most peaceful society existing in the world today is based upon them.”
The world started out with a ‘great society’ in the Garden of Eden but it was not long before disobedience shattered the peaceful paradise and man was driven from the garden.
“A return to the spiritual and moral values, our nation’s first love, will go far toward bringing about the ‘Great Society,’ the aim of the new administration.”
Lyndon Johnson, as Kennedy before him, supported the Civil Rights movement. Johnson said he was going to be the President that finished what Lincoln began. Lincoln‘s Presidency was a picture of the days of the Patriarch Abraham who received the promise of the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:7; 15:18; 17:7-8; 18:18) and inherited the law of the Lord (Genesis 18:18-19; 26:5).
On the plains of Moab, Moses reminded Israel that the Lord would fulfill, at least in part, His promise to Abraham during their days.
Deuteronomy 1:8 Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.
Deuteronomy 1:9 And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone:
Deuteronomy 1:10 The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.
Deuteronomy 1:11 (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)
“From our Jewish and Christian heritage, we draw the image of the God of all mankind, who will judge his children not by their prayers and by their pretensions, but by their mercy to the poor and their understanding of the weak. We cannot cancel that strain and then claim to speak as a Christian society.”
Here, LBJ is associating this the idea of all men being created equal, in the image of God, with Matthew 25 where the Messiah says that inasmuch as we care for the poor and weak, we are doing it to Him (Matthew 25:31-46).
“I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.
I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.”
Matthew 25:35 For I hungered, and you gave Me food to eat; I thirsted, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in;
Matthew 25:36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.
Matthew 25:37 Then the righteous will answer, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You; or thirsting, and gave You drink?
Matthew 25:38 And when did we see You a stranger, and took You in; or naked, and clothed You?
Matthew 25:39 And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You?
Matthew 25:40 And answering, the King will say to them, Truly I say to you, In so far as you did it to one of these, the least of My brothers, you did it to Me.
Interestingly, the word stranger mentioned in Matthew 25:34 in Hebrew is נכר ‘nakar’ which is the origin of the English word ‘negroe’ which comes from the Latin word ‘niger’ meaning black. This is yet another connection to the Civil Rights movement.
The Vietnam War was a part of the Cold War which, in the ‘code,’ represented the conflict between Israel and the Canaanite nations. The Vietnam War depicted the wars with these Canaanite nations where Israel failed to completely destroy them as commanded by God. This war ended during the Presidency of Richard Nixon whose Presidency depicted the days of Joshua where Israel subdued the nations of Canaan but did not defeat them outright (Joshua 15:63; 16:10; 17:12-16; 23:13-13; Judges 1:19-21, 27-35). The same can be said of Vietnam where the war ended without a clear cut victory.
The Vietnam War represented the mixture of Israel with Canaan and the lack of success in complete annihilation of their people as the Lord commanded. This led to a mixture of the true faith of God and the corruption of the Mystery religions (Psalm 106:36-39). This prevented the Word of God from being fully implemented in the land and thus, the Great Society of which Israel was supposed to live in was never seen (Deuteronomy 28-29).
The meaning of the word Vietnam is speaking of those who dwell in southern China. This connects to the Hebrew word נגב ‘negev’ which is speaking of southern Israel/Canaan. It is here that the spies entered the land (Numbers 13:17) and brought back an evil report (Numbers 13:32) displaying their lack of faith in the Most High. The inability of the United States to gain a clear cut victory in the Vietnam War gave the Communist nations the ability to keep power in the world. So too, it was the lack of faith that Israel had throughout their days that the Lord left the Canaanites in their land to be thorns in their sides (Numbers 33:55; Joshua 23:13; Judges 2:3).
The North Vietnamese were led by a revolutionary named Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh literally means ‘he who enlightens.’ This points to the Lord and has fascinating connections to the theme of Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency of the Great Society and war in Vietnam. In Psalm 28, David proclaimed that God is ‘He who enlightens.’ He saves the afflicted which links to the Great Society and gives victory in battle, a link to the Vietnam War.
Psalm 18:28 For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.
Psalm 18:27 For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.
Psalm 18:28 For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.
The remainder of David’s song to God in Psalm 18 is speaking of warfare and victory which only comes from the Lord. Verses 24-26 of Psalm 18 are important to note as they declare that the Almighty will deal with man according to his righteousness or lack thereof. America entered into the Vietnam War fully during LBJ’s administration through the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, named after the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin which never really happened. LBJ lied to the American people about an attack on the USS Maddox, declaring it to be unprovoked and deliberate when there was no proof that anything even happened. Johnson acted in a froward manner so he received ‘frowardness’ from the Lord as a result (Psalm 18:26).
‘We Shall Overcome’ was a protest song which became the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s. The song was based upon Galatians 6:9 which says:
Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Martin Luther King used this phrase, ‘we shall overcome,’ numerous times in his sermons. For instance, he used it in his last sermon which was delivered on the eve of his assassination in 1968. He spoke of being put into a paddy wagon at Selma, Alabama singing ‘We shall overcome.’ It was at Selma that ‘Bloody Sunday’ occurred, of which Lyndon Johnson referred to in his speech to Congress on the Voting Rights Act which will be spoken of later. MLK’s last words refer to Moses’ last days (Deuteronomy 32:49; 34:1-4), of which this time period in history refers to:
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
In 1965, Martin Luther King based a sermon on the concept of ‘we shall overcome.’
“We shall overcome. We shall overcome. Deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome. And I believe it because somehow the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We shall overcome because Carlyle is right; ‘no lie can live forever.’ We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right; ‘truth crushed to earth will rise again.’ We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right:
‘Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne.
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the then unknown
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above his own.’
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to speed up the day. And in the words of prophecy, every valley shall be exalted. And every mountain and hill shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain and the crooked places straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. This will be a great day. This will be a marvelous hour. And at that moment — figuratively speaking in biblical words — the morning stars will sing together and the sons of God will shout for joy.”
‘Every valley being exalted and every hill and mountain being made low’ is referring to Isaiah chapter 40 in which the prophet speaks of the one who ‘cries in the wilderness.’ This is referring to John the Baptist, whose message was that race is irrelevant and all that matters is one’s faith in the Most High (Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8). It was John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the way for the Messiah, the Glory of the Lord who would be revealed (Psalm 98:1-2). These days are depicted in the Presidency of Barack Obama, the first black President. This is a Presidency that would never have come about without the works of those in the Civil Rights movement. On the night that Obama was elected, in Chicago’s Grant Park a large banner was held up before all which proclaimed ‘We Have Overcome.’
In 2009, during Martin Luther King day a banner was held up at the Capitol with the same declaration. This connection between the days of the Civil Rights Movement and the Presidency of Barack Obama is discussed in more detail in the article on Barack Obama. It is mentioned here as the Obama Presidency is a picture of the coming of the Messiah, the time of which the Glory of the Lord is revealed.
Lyndon Johnson used this phrase ‘we shall overcome’ in his speech to a joint session of Congress on the Voting Rights Act which outlawed discrimination against blacks in regards to voting. The passing of this act was said to be the ‘crowning achievement’ of the Johnson administration. It was considered the most important of the civil-rights legislation passed in the 60’s.
“I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of Democracy. I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause.
At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There, long suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Many of them were brutally assaulted. One good man – a man of God – was killed.
There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith in our Democracy in what is happening here tonight. For the cries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people have summoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government – the government of the greatest nation on earth. Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country – to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man. In our time we have come to live with the moments of great crises. Our lives have been marked with debate about great issues, issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and depression.
But rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. For, with a country as with a person, ‘what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’
There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.
And we are met here tonight as Americans – not as Democrats or Republicans; we’re met here as Americans to solve that problem. This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose.
The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, North and South: ‘All men are created equal.’ ‘Government by consent of the governed.’ ‘Give me liberty or give me death.’ And those are not just clever words, and those are not just empty theories. In their name Americans have fought and died for two centuries and tonight around the world they stand there as guardians of our liberty risking their lives. Those words are promised to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. This dignity cannot be found in a man’s possessions. It cannot be found in his power or in his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It says that he shall share in freedom. He shall choose his leaders, educate his children, provide for his family according to his ability and his merits as a human being.
What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it’s not just Negroes, but really it’s all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.
And we shall overcome.
It was more than 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln – a great President of another party – signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.
A century has passed – more than 100 years – since equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise, and the promise is unkept. The time of justice has now come, and I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come, and when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American.”
In the ‘code,’ Abraham Lincoln‘s days as President represent the days of the Patriarch Abraham and the promise he was given of the land of Canaan. It was not until the days of the second generation of Israel in the wilderness that this promise came to fruition. So too, the promise of freedom given in the Emancipation Proclamation was not realized until the days of the Civil Rights Movement in LBJ’s Presidency.
In 1972, LBJ gave his last public speech in Austin, Texas which was about Civil Rights. His final words were ‘we shall overcome.’
In the beginning chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses recounts the trials which Israel overcame in the wilderness by the Hand of the Lord. He reminds them of the victories they obtained over Sihon and Og and gives them confidence that they can overcome the giants of the land. Israel is the definition of those who overcome. In Hebrew, the name Israel means ‘one who rules with God,’ the one who prevails or overcomes (Genesis 32:28; John 16:33; 1 John 4:4; 5:3-5; Revelation 12:11). The Greek word for overcomer is νικάω ‘nikao’ which is the from whence the name Nixon comes. It is no surprise then that the Lord would set up a man named Nixon to follow LBJ as President.
Lyndon Johnson’s and Richard Nixon’s time as President was considered a time of political ‘realignment.’ The 1964 and 1968 elections revolved around the Civil Rights issue as opposed to previous elections which were based upon the candidate’s view of the New Deal. The New Deal pointed to the time period of Israel in Egypt and the dominating issue of the time of famine which led to slavery. The Civil Rights movement points to the law which was given at Mt. Sinai that was to be fully implemented in the land of Canaan. Here we see in this ‘realignment’ a transition in the Biblical narrative from Israel’s exile in Egypt and the wilderness to their going into the land of Canaan.