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George Washington’s Christmas Miracle: The Battle of Trenton

George Washington’s Christmas Miracle: The Battle of Trenton

Seeing History With New Eyes – Washington’s Christmas Miracle

A helpless baby, born amongst a subjugated people to a powerless young woman, cast out into the humblest of shelters, far from home. At first glance, all of the circumstances of this birth seemed to be either unimpressive, or coldly controlled by heartless humanity. Nothing about this event suggested that it was wholly orchestrated by the providential hand of God, sending His Son into the world to redeem, rescue and reconcile us to Himself. Precious few even noticed that the King of the Universe, our Savior, had entered the world. Yet, Jesus’ advent was no accident. It perfectly fulfilled at least fifteen Biblical prophecies, a likelihood exceeding a statistical probability of…

1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

In truth, every detail of the entire event was ordained and controlled by God to achieve His purposes.

The Bible is replete with stories like this. Not only in the Christmas narrative, but throughout the Scriptures, the curtain separating the supernatural and the natural is ripped back, spotlighting God purposefully in charge of each event, working it according to His will.  And this truth is not limited only to Biblical events. God is always providentially at work throughout history. There is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ does not cry, “Mine!”

Sometimes, God’s presence and purpose remain shrouded in mystery, and we wonder where He was and what He was doing.  But others events so clearly trumpet his power and presence that they almost seem to mirror the angelic proclamation in the skies over Bethlehem.  Our early American history contains many such providential events. So frequent and obvious were these providences in our early history, that George Washington once said, “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States.  Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”

One such event was Washington’s own miracle on Christmas Day.

In the months following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the war had not gone well for the Americans. Washington had suffered many defeats, his men were tired, finances nearly non-existent, and morale and commitment were extremely low. The American cause was on the verge of collapse.

By the end of December, the British had trapped Washington near Trenton, NJ, and the end of the war seemed imminent. Yet, for some unknown reason, they did not finish off the job, choosing to wait to attack until the spring.

Washington decided to risk a surprise attack on the Hessian forces encamped in Trenton.  To do so, he had to lead 2,400 men across the Delaware River, through the night, battling a current strong with ice floes.  He then had to march down snow-covered roads, and do so without the British learning of his movements. So oppressive were the driving rain, snow, hail and sleet that only one of his three units was able to complete its mission. Yet, this same inclement weather also concealed them and aided in their approach. The Hessian commander discontinued his routine scouting patrols because he believed that the stormy weather would preclude any attack from the Americans, whom he called, “country clowns.”

God not only used the weather, but He also used a mysterious attack that remains unexplained to this day. The Hessians had been warned that the Americans were coming, and had been watching for them.  But earlier in the day, a small, mysterious band of Patriots had made a minor strike and then had retreated into the forest, leading the Hessians to believe that the enemy had come and gone. It wasn’t Washington’s troops at all, but it led the Hessians to let down their guard and become inebriated and inattentive in their Christmas revelries.

Washington was then able to mount a surprise attack on a drunk, sleeping and totally unprepared force. The battle was decisive and over in just ninety minutes. Morale was raised so high after the victory that Congress was able to raise troops, money and resources to continue the war that had just days before seemed hopeless and finished. And the Americans credited God’s redeeming providence for the victory.

Christmas Day in Trenton…Christmas Day in Bethlehem – one could say that they are simply the stories of men.  Or, we can take a peep behind the scenes and see God’s providential hand, working the deliverance of the Patriots, working the deliverance of mankind. God is always at work throughout history; we simply need the eyes to see it and the faith to believe it and acknowledge it.

George Washington once said,“The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous through this all…that [one] must be worse than an infidel and more than wicked that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligation.

”Emmanuel…God with us…in Bethlehem, in Trenton, and today…“Praise the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.”