The Glorious Twelfth

Here in N.Ireland, it’s The Twelfth (also called The Glorious Twelfth or Orangemen’s Day).

The Twelfth is a yearly Protestant celebration held on 12 July. Originating in Ireland during the 18th century, it celebrates the so-called Glorious Revolution (1688) and victory of Protestant king William of Orange over Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. So that makes this year’s celebration the 322nd anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

Today, members of the Orange Order and Protestant marching bands will hold large parades throughout N.Ireland and, to a lesser extent, in other parts of the world where Orange lodges have been set up. Streets have been decorated with British flags and bunting and the day is a public holiday in Northern Ireland. 

Most people around the world have heard of the disputes which arise each year over where parades are allowed to walk and where they are not allowed – unfortunately the Twelfth has become famous (or infamous) for this kind of thing over the years. But whether you participate in the celebration or not, it is clear that the original aim of the celebration was to give the people of N.Ireland the opportunity to look back and remember the Battle of the Boyne and celebrate its significance in their history.

The Bible is full of encouragements to look back and remember. In Deuteronomy 4, we read:

‘Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children (v.9).

‘Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you (v.23).

In his commentary on this chapter in his book ‘For the Love of God‘, Don Carson explains:

“As the covenant people of God make their second approach to the Promised Land, forty years after the Exodus itself, and with an entire generation gone, Moses urgently impresses upon the assembly the nature of the covenant, the greatness of the rescue that was now their heritage, the sorry history of rebellion, and above all the sheer majesty and glory of the God with whom they are linked in this spectacularly generous covenantal relationship….

“Always review and remember what God has done. God does not owe you this amazing salvation. Far from it: ‘Because he loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength’ (v.37).”

Whether or not you think the Twelfth is glorious, you can pause today and remember a much greater glory – ‘the sheer majesty and glory of the God with whom you are linked in a spectacularly generous covenantal relationship’. You can look back and remember all His goodness to you – the greatness of your need, the generosity of his rescue, the power of his love.

Take care….lest you forget.

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