With the chilly winds of discord breezing across America, this seemed like a good time to repost this from April 2016. Let’s not forget, we are all loved, blessed, and needed.
The elite sniper unit headed up by a young Scottish Captain lay silently hidden beneath Pennsylvania’s fall foliage. These men in camouflage were protecting the passage of the newly arrived British soldiers traveling from their landing site at Chesapeake Bay to the Patriot capital in Philadelphia. American forces made their way along Brandywine Creek in September of 1777 completely unaware they were being carefully watched. Captain Patrick Ferguson motioned three of his men to strategic spots to begin picking off the unsuspecting officers. Then, with a sudden feeling of disgust about shooting someone unaware of their presence, he ordered them to stop.
Later, when recalling the incident Ferguson explained his actions, “I could have lodged half a dozen balls in or about him, before he was out of my reach, but it was not pleasant to fire at the back of an unoffending individual, who was acquitting himself very coolly of his duty—so I let him alone.”
At the time, Ferguson had no way of knowing that the man he allowed to live was General George Washington. Washington, who first refused to become America’s king because of his firm stance on freedom, was spared to later become her first Commander-in-Chief.
Nineteenth century American historian Lyman C. Draper shares some insight about that encounter: “This singular impulse of Ferguson illustrates, in a forcible manner, the over-ruling hand of Providence in directing the operation of a man’s mind when he himself is least of all aware of it.”
Perhaps, if we lay silently hidden within this story we might see the hand of Providence coil around Ferguson’s ear. We might hear the gentle whisper of the Spirit leading the captain to lay down his weapon. Some might question whether God had a hand in saving Washington that day, but what if it had been prophesied 150 years beforehand with unexplainable accuracy? Then, would scoffers refuse to doubt that God was in control?
150 years before the birth of the Persian king Cyrus, the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah foretold of Jerusalem being rebuilt and re-inhabited by those who would one day be taken prisoner by the Babylonians. Just listen to what the Lord told Isaiah about Cyrus before his grandfather was even a glimmer in his father’s eye:
“This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.” Isaiah 45:1-7, NIV (emphasis mine)
Though Cyrus did not follow God, he was used by Him to set the captives free. Everything God said would happen did indeed happen. Cyrus became Cyrus the Great, subduing many nations and ruling over the vast Persian Empire. He allowed the Jews, who had rebelled against God and been forced into captivity, to return to Jerusalem, rebuild their temple, and worship God in their own way. 2 Chronicles 37:22-23 confirms God’s 150-year-old prophecy. Notice to whom Cyrus gave credit for his success.
“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’”
Perhaps, rather than wringing our hands in despair over the condition of our country we should trust God instead. God allowed prophets to predict Cyrus by name, so rest assured His providential eyes see, even now, our next president’s name on the oval office desk. I’m confident He has the ability to place someone in power who will advance the cause of freedom – even if that person is not a Christian. God knows the plans He has for us – plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future. If we will call on Him and pray to Him, He will listen. When we trust His power, the light of His presence will shine in our darkness, and our faith will be renewed. Each of our lights shining together as one scatters all of Satan’s minions and sends them scurrying. In God we trust.
We have the choice to speak life or death over America. We must choose one or the other – there is no in-between. I wonder what would happen if Christians all over America refused to speak death over her, and treated her like they would want to be treated. She could use some encouragement in a world of scoffers. She’s still got a lot going for her. Turn off the news today, lift your head, and sniff the air – there’s a whiff of freedom still lingering there. Speak life over America, and pray for her. Criticism doesn’t seem to be working. She may be sick, but she’s still a pretty grand ol’ gal!
“In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.” Proverbs 21:1, NIV