Time to Fight - Man as Defender
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven … a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. - Ecclesiastes 3:1,8 ESV
One of my favorite stories from the American War for Independence is about the time when a patriot pastor named John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg preached from this Scripture. Muhlenberg was the son of the founder of the Lutheran church in America and followed in his father’s footsteps into the ministry after a rebellious youth. He became pastor of an English-speaking Episcopal church and some small German-speaking Lutheran churches in and around the frontier town of Woodstock, Virginia, during the 1770s. Muhlenberg was friends with George Washington and Patrick Henry, alongside whom he served as a delegate in Virginia’s House of Burgesses. He was present in the pews of St. John’s Church in Richmond on March 23, 1775, when Patrick Henry declared: “Give me liberty or give me death!”
With battles against the British already being fought in Lexington, Concord, Bunker Hill, and even in his own colony of Virginia at Great Bridge on December 9, 1775, Muhlenberg returned to Woodstock in January to address his churches in the Shenandoah Valley. On a cold Sunday morning before a packed church, Muhlenberg mounted the pulpit in his black clerical robes and read out of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to sow, and a time to reap; a time to kill, and a time to heal….” When Muhlenberg reached verse 8, “A time of war, and a time of peace,” he concluded: “In the language of Holy Writ, there is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away … there is a time to fight and that time has now come!”[1]
 Muhlenberg then walked the congregation through the train of tyrannies perpetrated by the British crown and declared their present need to stand up and defend their liberty or lose it. When Muhlenberg finished the message, he removed his black clerical robe. To the surprise of his congregation, there he stood in the full-dress uniform of a colonel in the Virginia Militia. Muhlenberg then strode down the center aisle to the front door of the log church building and asked for those who would be willing to defend their freedom to meet him outside. He had a young man drum for recruits at the door. Some 300 men ultimately joined him in what would become the 8th Virginia or German Regiment, which was absorbed into the Continental Army. 
 Muhlenberg’s troops distinguished themselves at the first Battle of Charleston, courageously repelling the British invaders, for which action he was breveted as General. The first line of barracks at Valley Forge is that of the Muhlenberg Brigade, built in part by members of Muhlenberg’s church who endured the harsh winter and prevailed. Indeed, General Muhlenberg courageously fought with distinction at Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, and Stony Point. He even saw action in the final charge on Redoubt 10 in the victorious battle of Yorktown, which concluded the war. Muhlenberg retired as one of Washington’s Major-Generals, pictured in a painting of the Victory at Yorktown in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Peter went on to become a U.S. representative alongside his brother Frederick, also a Lutheran pastor. Frederick became the House Speaker in the First Federal Congress under the U.S. Constitution, which framed the Bill of Rights, guaranteeing our religious freedom. Peter served briefly as A U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, and the good people of that state commissioned a statue of him to be placed in the U.S. Capitol, recalling the iconic moment when he removed his pastor’s robe to reveal his military uniform. 
 Peter Muhlenberg saw the threat of tyranny and answered the call to defend liberty. He didn’t simply send men into battle and watch from the rear. He bravely put his life on the line on multiple occasions, leading the attack on the enemy. He did this with a wife and three children at home, praying that he would make it back alive. Yet he did what he did for their freedom and their future. Men, as Defenders, that is our call as well. In America today, we don’t have to look far to see the threats of tyranny and opportunities to stand for liberty. Will you stand courageous?
 As you survey the situation in America in light of Ecclesiastes 3:8, what time is it? A time for war or a time for peace?
 What would make your list of threats to liberty? How can you stand where you are and make a difference?
 Ask the Lord for His help to stand courageous as a Defender.
   [1] Henry A. Muhlenberg, The Life of Major-General Peter Muhlenberg of the Revolutionary Army (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1849), 50-54.