(A TRIBUTE TO QUEEN ELIZABETH II)
Throughout history, including in Bible times, there has often been a drought of godly leadership, but amidst that drought, there are refreshing stories of those who go against the increasingly pagan culture to live out their faith and shine brightly in a dark world of depravity. We have had those like Noah and Enoch who “walked with God” (Gen. 5:24; 6:9) in a day in which “the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:3). We have great men like Abraham whom God called out of a pagan culture to establish a nation through which God’s revelation to mankind, as well as the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, would come. We have the amazing story of Joseph, the son of Jacob (and great grandson of Abraham), who continued to trust God no matter what his circumstances, acknowledging that even the evil treatment by his brothers was “meant for good” (Gen. 50:20). And, of course we have Daniel who lived out his faith in spite of the risks involved and ended up having a great influence on a whole empire.
The list goes on with people of courageous faith like the judges whom God raised up during times of great spiritual darkness when “everyone did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Also included in the list are a number of women like Ruth and Rahab and Esther and, of course, Mary, the mother of Jesus. The author of the book of Hebrews included a chapter where he lists many of these great men and women of faith who were the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Mt. 5:13,14).
Outside of biblical history, there have been countless others who have taken a stand for the faith and made a huge impact for Christ, folks like Martin Luther, William Tyndale, John Wycliffe, John and Charles Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Adoniram Judson, David Livingstone, Dwight L. Moody, George Whitfield, Billy Graham, et al.
I guess I would add another name to that list of spiritual giants who have “dared to be a Daniel” (or an Esther or a Rahab or a Joseph), and that is Queen Elizabeth II who recently celebrated 70 years of serving as the longest-reigning monarch in British history, and the second-longest reigning sovereign monarch in world history among those whose exact dates are known (only surpassed by France’s King Louis IV who reigned for 72 years, having taken the throne at age four!). Elizabeth was the first child born (April 21, 1926) to the Duke and Duchess of York (later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I). She married Philip Mountbatton, a former prince of Greece and Denmark in November of 1947. They had four children and had celebrated 73 years of marriage when Philip died in 2021.
When Elizabeth’s father, who ascended to the throne in 1936, died in February 1952, Elizabeth–then 25–became Queen, ruling over seven independent commonwealth countries: The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon, as well as Head of Commonwealth. It is, however, not her royalty or fame or longevity that is most impressive to me, but rather her continued faithfulness as a believer in Jesus Christ, and her dependence on Him. On the day that Queen Elizabeth II was crowned, she said, “Pray for me…that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promise I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”
In her annual Christmas message broadcast to the Commonwealth in 2000, she said: “To many of us, our beliefs are of foundational importance. For me, the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework by which I try to lead my life. I, like many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.”
I can’t help but wonder if her long reign is the result of God blessing her steadfast faith and humble heart of dependence on Him. I’m also reminded that the Gospel is for the great and the small. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). That included kings and queens and all those in positions of prestige and leadership, but it also included the lowly and the outcasts in society. “For God so loved the world…” (Jn. 3:16). We–no matter our status in life–were all included in His amazing sacrifice for sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3:23). “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all…and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (II Cor. 5:14,15). Therefore, “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Ro. 10:13). Whether we are royalty or lower class or anywhere in between, whether male or female, Jew or Gentile, bond or free, Jesus died for us. And through faith in Christ, we become part of “God’s Forever Family” (Gal. 3:28).
The Gospel is for the great and the small. The story of every Christian is a beautiful part of the great story God is creating in history…a story that’s all about Jesus! Each of us, like the great men and women of faith in history, and like Queen Elizabeth II, are called to be salt and light to a decaying and dark generation. Queen Elizabeth, despite all the challenges and disappointments and criticisms she has faced, has been letting her light shine for many decades, faithfully depending upon her Lord and Savior. Thanks, Queen Elizabeth, for your example. May your tribe increase!
How about you and me? How bright is our light shining? How “salty” are we? Our world desperately needs those who remain faithful no matter what others are doing.