Early America was a blessed wilderness. Those who dared carve an existence out of its coasts, forests, mountains and plains were destined to build a great nation. The carving was strenuous, dangerous and continuous, but over the generations, they began to bring forth on this continent a new nation.
They were Englishmen, but they still dreamed of a fresh civilization of religious and personal liberty—even if it meant separating from the British Empire.
To keep them under control, Great Britain deployed the most powerful military in the world to America’s shores: experienced, well organized, well disciplined, well equipped. The American army, by contrast, came straight off their farms, carrying their own personal weapons, wearing a hodgepodge of uniforms or just regular clothes, some without shoes. Counting them was tricky, mostly because many of them would leave abruptly when needs arose back home. Those who remained were unfamiliar to soldiering and undisciplined at taking orders. The British called them “the country people,” “rabble in arms,” “a preposterous parade.”
The Continental Congress charged George Washington with a big task: to turn this motley group into a military that could stand up against Britain. Because of deserters and disease, the effort came down to just a few thousand men.
In late 1775, the New England Chronicle published an article encouraging soldiers to re-enlist. It was signed, “A Freeman.” “Although your private concerns may call for your assistance at home, yet the voice of your country is still louder,” it said. “Never was a cause more important or glorious than that which you are engaged in; not only your wives, your children, and distant posterity, but humanity at large, the world of mankind, are interested in it; for if tyranny should prevail in this great country, we may expect liberty will expire throughout the world. Therefore, more human glory and happiness may depend upon your exertions than ever yet depended upon any of the sons of men. He that is a soldier in defense of such a cause needs no title; his post is a post of honor—and although not an emperor, yet he shall wear a crown, of glory—and blessed will be his memory!”
That is what those few thousand men were fighting for: the glorious cause. That is what the American Revolution became known as.
“The hour is fast approaching, on which the honor and success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding country depend,” General Washington wrote in 1776. “Remember, officers and soldiers, that you are free men, fighting for the blessings of liberty—that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.”
There was little chance this effort would succeed. For each man, there was an even smaller chance he would survive to see it if it did. These men lost their farms, lost their limbs, and lost their lives—not because they wanted lower taxes, but because they wanted something glorious to be born. They saw America as the best and last chance for mankind to create in a new land a new nation that could become a hopeful example to the rest of the world. That is the glorious cause for which these men were willing to suffer, to fight, and to die.
Most True Education subscribers are Americans, so this history is your history. Even many outside America are moved by the American Revolution because of its glorious ideal to create something greater for mankind.
But the greater reason these revolutionary soldiers should stir us is that we are revolutionary soldiers!
Those men, though lowly, knew they lived in historic times. They hoped that somehow they could bring about the birth of a new independent nation in this New World of North America. They hoped that, long after they were gone, somehow it could shine a light to lead other nations out of humanity’s dark history of misery. They hoped that some people in future generations of America and perhaps other nations could begin to experience better physical lives in their liberty, their religion, their aspirations and their resources. They believed America could be man’s best and last hope.
We too are lowly—but know we live in historic times. We know that God will cause a nation to be born in a day. We know that He will bring people around the world independence from the god of this world and liberty from oppression under sin! We know God’s Word will illuminate this dark world. We know God’s plan is to indeed use the descendants of Israel to set a godly example for other nations. We know that He will accomplish His plan to give people abundance, happiness, fulfillment, joy, purpose, understanding, hope and achievement of their incredible spiritual potential. We know that God’s government is man’s only hope!
This is our glorious cause!
God has commissioned you to become a revolutionary hero! Leading an army of lowly people, a force consisting largely of young people, God is asking for your help. He is asking you to choose to stay, to choose to endure, to choose to fight, to choose the cause!
Old and Young Needed
The cause of the American Revolution needed wholehearted commitment from every last patriot, both old and young. As one colonel wrote to a delegate of Congress: “I fear General Washington has too heavy a task, assisted mostly by beardless boys.”
“It was the first American army and an army of everyone, men of every shape and size and makeup, different colors, different nationalities, different ways of talking, and all degrees of physical condition,” David McCullough writes in his book 1776. “Many were missing teeth or fingers, pitted by smallpox or scarred by past wars or the all-too-common hazards of life and toil in the 18th century. Some were not even men, but smooth-faced boys of 15 or less.”
One of the oldest was 57-year-old Gen. Israel Putnam, whose men affectionately called him “Old Put.” They said he had faced death against the French and Indians, in shipwreck and versus a she-wolf, but had no fear. Men like Israel Putnam fought right alongside 30-year-olds, 20-year-olds, and Israel Trask, 10, who volunteered with his father, Lt. Jonathan Trask, and became a messenger and cook’s helper. They fought alongside John Becker, 12, who accompanied his father, dragging cannon behind oxen through the New York winter from Fort Ticonderoga toward Boston.
Washington, Putnam, Trask and Becker fought alongside John Greenwood. He was 16 years old in 1775 when he heard that fighting had started in Lexington and Concord. McCullough writes that he walked 150 miles through largely uninhabited wilderness toward Boston with almost nothing but the clothes on his back and his fife. Occasionally he would find a tavern, and he would play for the soldiers there. He finally walked all the way to the army encampments and enlisted. Soon after, he encountered some of the battle wounded, which terrified him into wishing he had never come. Then he saw a lone soldier coming down the road. “A Negro man, wounded in the back of his neck, passed me and, his collar being open … I saw the wound quite plainly and the blood running down his back. I asked him if it hurt him much, as he did not seem to mind it. He said no, that he was only to get a plaster put on it and meant to return. You cannot conceive what encouragement this immediately gave me. I began to feel brave and like a soldier from that moment, and fear never troubled me afterward during the whole war.”
You are young. You have less experience, maturity and strength now than you will have when you are older. But does that mean you can’t make a difference?
The youngest general in Washington’s army was Nathanael Greene. He was 33, an age that will come to you quicker than you think. “His commitment to the Glorious Cause of America, as it was called, was total,” McCullough writes. “And if his youth was obvious, the Glorious Cause was to a large degree a young man’s cause.” Though comparatively young, Greene became one of Washington’s most dependable officers.
Who else was part of this glorious “young man’s cause”? Washington himself was only 43. Continental Congress Member John Adams was 40. Continental Congress President John Hancock was 39. Drafter of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson was 32! “In such times many were being cast in roles seemingly beyond their experience or capacities” (ibid).
Does that sound familiar? God commissions people—young people—for duties seemingly beyond their experience or capacities: Abel, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Ruth, David, Mary and others, named and unnamed. God silences His enemies by giving strength to children and young people. He purposefully chooses the weak, the base and the foolish to confound the mighty, the elite and the wise. Read Psalm 8:2 and 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.
God Uses Youth
God’s glorious cause has always prominently used young people.
In the horrible time of the judges, God began to turn the nation around by choosing a prophet. Who was he? A youth named Samuel—likely around 13 years old (1 Samuel 3:1-4, 10, 19-20). God actually went on to use Samuel to establish His throne, the throne that will bring the world the justice and peace that revolutionaries have dreamed of for thousands of years.
When Samuel was old and God had just established the monarchy in King Saul, a powerful enemy army deployed against the much less experienced and poorly armed Israelites. The record in 1 Samuel 17 shows that all the soldiers were paralyzed with fear. From Saul down to the lowest soldier, not one believed in the cause strongly enough to stand up to the giant warrior who was challenging them. But then a youth arrived. His brothers thought he was too young. King Saul thought he was too young. Goliath definitely thought he was too young. But even as a youth, David had already developed unflinching loyalty to God’s cause. God could do more through his faith than the whole Israelite army could do!
David defeated Goliath and delivered the nation. Imagine God doing something like that through you, changing history through you!
The loyalty David developed as a youth went on to accomplish great things in Israel during his lifetime and long after. And God continued to use young people. Kings were often very young when they first acceded to David’s throne: Jehoash, Uzziah, Ahaz, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah. Two of Judah’s greatest kings for God’s cause were Hezekiah and Josiah. Josiah was crowned at age 8, after the assassination of the wicked king who was his father. This boy went on to obliterate idols and bring God’s cause roaring back! (2 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 34).
Whom did God draft in a less well-known time when Israel was weak and Syria was strong, even enslaving many Israelites? A slave girl! This little maid must have been taken from her home, ripped from her parents and siblings, forced to live in a foreign land against her will, and ordered to do whatever her master, the wife of a powerful general, wanted her to do. How easy to succumb to sadness and self-pity. But God records her in 2 Kings 5 for the world to know about. Why? Somehow, in some way, God’s cause was alive in her! Like Joseph, when she was taken captive, she made the most of it by keeping her relationship with God, developing right character, and doing her best to serve. She honored God’s prophet, Elisha. She believed in God’s power to heal through him, and she wanted her captors to know about the God of Israel! Her conduct demonstrated such character that not only did her master listen to her, but even that powerful general listened to her and was healed! This unnamed slave girl proved herself a credit to God!
Whom did God draft for the special operation of saving David’s throne by transporting it all the way from Judah through Babylon-held territory, Egypt, the Mediterranean Sea and Spain to Ireland? Jeremiah, probably a 17-year-old at the time God commissioned him. How would you respond if God told you, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). You would probably say, “Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child” (verse 6). And God would respond, “Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak” (verse 7). And did he ever!
Whom did God draft when the Jews were a subjugated people and many of them had been forcibly removed from their land? He looked at some young men who had applied themselves to study and learning and character growth: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah. He actually records in the Bible for all to know that when they were pressured to eat unclean meat, they refused. These were the young people who went on to face a den of lions and a fiery furnace for God’s cause!
Don’t underestimate yourself, and don’t underestimate the great things that day-to-day pressures and tests in your life are preparing you for!
Whom did God draft when Satan was advancing his cause against the subjugated Jews? He used a wicked man to convince the enormously powerful king of Persia to authorize destruction of the entire Jewish people. It was going to be a real-life horror movie where it was legal to murder whole families if you felt like it! This would be a tragedy not only for them but also for God’s ongoing cause. Whom did God draft? Esther: a young woman perhaps in her mid-teens. Through her uncle, God charged her to face a possible death penalty to try to convince the king. She did not want to do it, but she fasted and prayed and did it. God then used her to save her people!
When did God the Father begin working with Jesus Christ? He worked with Him from begettal, obviously, and Jesus was hard at work—physically and spiritually—as a boy. He was studying, thinking, learning, laboring, talking, listening, growing and fighting sin. Luke 2:40-52 give you the essential insight into His childhood. When He was 12, His family accidentally left Him behind in Jerusalem for several days. He was able to obtain needed meals and lodging, and He was busy at His work, which, as a pre-teen, was learning and growing. He was communicating not just with other children, but also with the highly educated leaders, asking and answering questions. He was acquiring godly knowledge in His study and in His life, and He was communicating it in His interactions. He was “about His Father’s business”!
You have heard most or all of this Bible history. You have heard about the American founders. Maybe you think of them as heroic—but distant. You think of them perhaps more like movie characters and their challenges like movie plots: The odds seem insurmountable, but they always win in the end. But that’s not the way it was. That’s not who they were. They were real, flesh-and-blood young people. They had weaknesses. They had fears. They had choices. They made mistakes. When they could have chosen something easier, they chose something hard. When they could have been weak, they were courageous. When they could have run away, they stopped themselves and forced themselves to believe in the cause and carry it out.
They were not fictional caricatures. They were a lot like you.
Maybe the people around you don’t expect much from you. Maybe you don’t expect much from yourself. Entertainers, commentators, advertisers, teachers, maybe even parents in some cases think that youth is for wasting time, goofing off, following whims, and chasing pleasures. The result, on a worldwide scale, is the equivalent of what someone feels after playing video games for hours: restlessness, purposelessness, unfulfillment, boredom, addiction, futility and waste.
You know that’s not right.
Youth is for learning, growing, fighting, achieving, joining up with something bigger, and advancing the cause!
Stop thinking like the world does about youth. Think like God! Expect what God expects! Look at God’s missions for young people. Look at what normal young people have done throughout history when they have dedicated themselves to a cause. Look at the Bible: A young person can travel, study, work, make binding agreements, own property, slay giants, receive enormous responsibilities, be commissioned as a prophet, be anointed as a king, risk his life, make a difference!
Your youth is not for relaxing, frittering, wasting, being entertained, doing whatever you feel like until your parents make you move out of the basement and get a job. That’s for this deceived, dark, sad world. God has the opposite expectations of you! Yes, you.
“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth,” He advises you in Ecclesiastes 11:9, “but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” In Proverbs 20:11, He tells you, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” What you do now matters. God doesn’t have one standard for teens and another for adults. In fact, the Bible doesn’t distinguish between childhood and adulthood. God wants you “putting away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).
Purge sinful things from your life to make yourself suitable for use in God’s army, whether as messenger, cook’s helper or rescuer of an entire people. Obey what God is telling you in 2 Timothy 2:21-22: Flee youthful lusts, and follow righteousness. Get to work at humbly yet enthusiastically participating in God’s Church, His Work and His cause!
God exhorted Timothy, a young minister, to do great things for God. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Look at what is packed into that verse. I had it pinned on my wall when I was young. Don’t let yourself or others limit you because of your youth. Don’t limit what God can accomplish through you! Don’t use society as your standard, comparing yourself to it. Compare yourself to God’s standard of perfection. He has a relationship with you, and He knows you can do amazing things with His help. And that depends, as this verse shows, on fighting sin: rejecting wrong emotions, worldly entertainment, friends who are bad influences, a relationship with a girlfriend or boyfriend. This verse exhorts you to grow into an example in righteousness, inspiring others to follow the way you speak and behave and believe and think (verse 15).
God is looking for young people who devote themselves to fighting sin, facing adversity, growing in His character, building better and better attitudes, working hard, studying His Word, training daily. He is looking for corporals, sergeants, lieutenants, captains, majors, colonels, generals who are responsible, trustworthy and effective. He is looking for young people who will wage the day-by-day and moment-by-moment battles of character.
Do not be like the many teenage and adult-age people in the world around you who still cling to childish things! Young people around you “mature” rapidly when it comes to darkness and evil. But their thinking and behavior remains like children. God tells you in 1 Corinthians 14:20 to be simple—childlike—regarding the sins of the world. Set your mind to be naive, intentionally inexperienced and willfully uninformed of the latest perversions, indulgences, rebellions and hatreds. But regarding the truth, develop and advance! When it comes to serving God, grow and mature! When it comes to building His Family and advancing His cause, be a force!
God has a lot of work, a lot of building, a lot of fighting to do. He needs every last one of us, old and young, weak and base, “country people” and lowly “rabble,” to devote ourselves to the glorious cause.
Give It Your All
Nathan Hale was captured by the British when he was 21 years old. Just before his execution, he said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” He believed in the American cause.
“Sometimes the Christian life really is about dying for a cause,” Mr. Flurry writes in The Last Hour. “It is always about giving your life—about being a living sacrifice—for this cause. But being martyred is merely the end of a physical life. What follows is eternal life.”
The American soldier put up his plow and put away his deck of cards. He put on his pack and shouldered his hunting musket. He stepped out into the unknown, for the cause. It’s time for you to put away the smartphone, to cancel the subscription, to break the habit. You and I have work to do, battles to wage, a war to win, for our Father’s glorious cause.
The American revolutionaries were fighting for a physical nation. We are fighting for an imperishable, incorruptible, royal spiritual nation!
Do not underestimate what God can do for His cause through you. His message to you is this: Be what I expect you to be. Do what I expect you to do. Even if no one else expects it of you. Even if you are alone in a hostile environment. Follow my direction. Advance through hardship. Fulfill your purpose. Fight for our cause!
Other interests and concerns will pull at you, Satan and this world will try to draw you away, other voices will call for you. Yet the voice of God and of your spiritual country is still louder. Never was a cause more important or glorious than that which you are engaged in. Not only your families, but humanity at large, the world of mankind, are interested in it. We cannot allow the darkness and tyranny of this satanic world to spread unchecked—it is we alone who have the light of God, and who carry the flame of freedom. God has entrusted in us the duty of carrying that flame through the darkness and into the dawn of a new day! More human glory and happiness may depend upon your exertions than ever yet depended upon any of the sons of men. He who is a soldier in defense of such a cause, needs no title; his post is a post of honor. He shall wear a crown of glory—and blessed will be his memory!