Known to God Only

Whenever I go to cemeteries to visit the graves of family members or to conduct funerals, I see graves of people I do not know. No doubt, the families and friends of those individuals gathered around those graves to mourn their passing. Those individuals are unknown to me but known to God and their families.


The scenario reminds me of visiting the Tomb of the Unknowns in the Arlington National Cemetery. When my daughter was in fifth grade, her class trip included Washington, D.C., and Arlington. We had the privilege of watching the soldiers guard the tomb, and then we were able to go into the barracks and visit with these elite guards of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard.” Let me give you a brief synopsis of the Tomb of the Unknowns from the Arlington National Cemetery website.[1]


In December 1920, New York Congressman and World War I veteran Hamilton Fish Jr. proposed legislation that provided for the interment of one unknown American soldier at a special tomb to be built in Arlington National Cemetery. The purpose of the legislation was “to bring home the body of an unknown American warrior who in himself represents no section, creed, or race in the late war and who typifies, moreover, the soul of America and the supreme sacrifice of her heroic dead.”


On November 11, 1921, the Unknown was placed on a horse-drawn caisson and carried in a procession through Washington, D.C., to the Arlington Cemetery. American leaders conducted a state funeral ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery’s new Memorial Amphitheater, and they interred the Unknown in the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” Nationwide, Americans observed two minutes of silence at the beginning of the ceremony. President Warren G. Harding officiated at the ceremony and placed the Medal of Honor on the casket.


 There are wreaths on the side panels (north and south) of the Tomb sarcophagus. On the front (east), three figures represent Peace, Victory, and Valor. The back (west) features the inscription: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” We added additional unknowns from the wars following WWI.


In March 1926, the Army assigned soldiers from nearby Fort Myer to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The guards were present only during daylight hours and discouraged visitors from climbing or stepping on the Tomb. In 1937, the guards began standing watch over the Unknown Soldier twenty-four hours per day, even during hurricanes!


We do not know whose remains occupy the Tombs of the Unknowns, and those soldiers’ identities are known only to God though officials have attempted to identify them. The site is much more than a tourist stop in DC; it is a monument to the sacrifice of Americans for our precious liberty! We can go even further; the Tomb holds the remains of someone whose parents rejoiced at the birth of a son. This unknown toddler grew up to serve his country and honor his heritage.


Undoubtedly, the parents of these “unknown soldiers” received and read telegrams that expressed concern for their sons as “Missing in Action.” The families prayed for the boys to be found and returned home. The families never received that news, yet the unknowns are home.

We mustn’t separate the person from the mystery. The occupants of the Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers were people just like us, regardless of the era. We give “honor to whom honor is due,” as Romans 13:7 tells us. We do not know the soldiers’ identities, but God does.


Jesus, the Son of God, was unknown to the people who crucified Him. They may have known His name and reputation, but they didn’t know Him. The Roman soldiers could not comprehend the love of a God who would die for their sins, and neither did the Jews who shouted for His death.


The Father knew the Son and endured the same kind of grief we feel at the death of a loved one. God knew the end from the beginning and knew He would raise His Son from the dead, then receive Him safely home.


The death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus are a picture for us. We, too, will die and be entombed in some way. When Jesus returns, the Bible says that He will open the graves, and he will raise us, too. Then we will ascend to be with God in the rooms He has prepared for us in His house. Listen to Jesus’ words in John 14:1-6 (NKJV):

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions [or dwellings]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.


The events of Jesus’ return don’t happen on our schedule but God’s. Having confidence in God’s word, we believe these events will occur. Even if we are unknown to the rest of the world, God knows His own and will raise us to eternal life one day. Therefore, to be known by Him, we must know Him and the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10).


Let’s Keep The Light of the Knowledge of God Burning!

[1] “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” Arlington National Cemetery,