Christmas Night, Coming as a Servant:
Winter Weather, Sacrificial Service, and George Washington
Dr. James J. S. Johnson
Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season . . .[ Hebrews 11:25]
December, for those living in higher latitudes, means cold, snow, ice, frost, sleet, bone-chilling winds, and freezing rain. Wintry mix weather dominated Christmas night, in A.D.1776, when General George Washington and his boat-ferried troops crossed the Delaware River, to surprise the British and Hessian mercenary forces encamped in Trenton.(1)
It was freezing cold, with “nor’easter” winds blasting the night in what felt like, to one soldier, a “hurricane”. The sneak attack was brazenly bold and stunningly successful—Washington’s troops quickly overran the British garrison, capturing 1000 of 1400 (and much needed supplies), while losing only three Americans.
But Washington did not need to fight this battle, or any of the war’s battles. As a plantation owner with lucrative tidewater fisheries, Washington could have conveniently “stayed home” at his Mount Vernon plantation, growing field crops (wheat, barley, corn, potatoes, oats, lima beans, tobacco, pumpkins, etc.) and netting literally millions of Potomac River-caught tidewater fish (“shad, herring, bass, carp, perch, sturgeon, etc.”).(2)
But Washington cared more for his fellow-colonists’ security and liberty, so he sacrificed convenience for selfless service.
What Washington did, at the finite and fallible level, God Himself did—by His incarnation (in what we call Christmas)—to the infinite and flawless degree, when our Creator came into His own creation, as Redeemer. — fulfilling the Messianic prophecy of Micah 5:2.
He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received him not. But as many as received Him, unto them He gave authority to become the children of God, even to those who believe on His name.[ John 1:10-12 ]
The Lord Jesus could have “stayed home”—as we, His human creatures, self-destructed on Earth. But Christ chose to leave convenience and comfort, and the glories of Heaven, to insert Himself into His own space-time creation, to redeem us from our sin and sorrows.(3)
What Christ did, about 2000 years ago, was incomparably more bold and surprising—and everlastingly impactful—than General Washington’s Christmas-night crossing of the Delaware in A.D.1776. Christ’s incarnation set history’s stage for His substitutionary crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, to provide redemption.(4)
Yet George Washington’s life also reminds us of another life-or-death benefit that Christ has given us, without which none of us could know or enjoy God, ever. Washington’s very life is illustrative proof of God’s earlier providence, centuries before, when Washington’s own family lineage was at risk, in another battle.
But what if there had been no George Washington to “father” America? … His fate was at mortal risk on October 14, A.D.1066, at the Battle of Hastings, where his own forefather the Norman duke William succeeded in conquering England. If the battle had gone the other way and William the Conqueror had died, then [William] would not have been alive to have a son named Henry (England’s Henry I), who was born two years after the Battle of Hastings. Since George Washington is a direct descendant of Henry I, Washington wouldn’t have been born [after 21 generations] roughly 700 years later.(5)[ see JJSJ quote citation below ]
Before we can appreciate Christ’s coming at Christmas, as our personal Redeemer, Christ must first be our personal Creator. That required providential orchestration of many historical events, in prior generations—otherwise we never arrive on planet Earth!
Jesus is the Reason for this season: He came as Savior. Yet also, as Creator, He providentially masters procreation, so we can be born as the exact humans we are.(5)
- Recognizing errors of logic is important in creation apologetics. To illustrate, recently some have committed the logical fallacy of over-simplification, by falsely caricaturing George Washington as something less than an American hero.
- Losing, Benson J. 1870. The Home of Washington; Or, Mount Vernon and its Associations, Historical, Biographical, and Pictorial. Hartford, CN: A. S. Hale & Company, 67-68,82-83,210. The author thanks Kevin Turley ( https://landmarkevents.org/ ) for these American history insights. See also http://www.MountVernon.org .
- Philippians 2:6-11; Hebrews 2:9-10; Micha 5:2 [numbered as 5:1 in Hebrew Bible].
- Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
- James J. S. Johnson, “Christmas, Vikings, and the Providence of God”, Acts & Facts, 41(12):8-10 (December 2012), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/christmas-vikings-providence-god . England’s Dr. Bill Cooper provided helpful scholarship with this biogenetic research.
- Psalm 102:18.