An Arnold instead of an Elijah

Christpoint Church


 One of the greatest, yet saddest, accounts in our nation’s history lies in our own American revolution in the early years of conflict. A young colonial officer had longed to fight for his country as a young teen but was bound to have to wait his turn. As he aged from teen to his early 20’s our nation graduated into a full-blown revolution. The years were stretched out in warfare from 1775 throughout the next several years. This one young man became increasingly reliable and passionate.  He led troops into the heart of enemy fire - went with them rather than instruct them. He spoke his mind and fought with his heart. He quickly became revered by the men he led and feared by his contemporaries. He frequently won battles that would have otherwise been lost by another leader. He was quickly becoming this nation’s greatest underground success. He carried a bit of arrogance, a degree of lofted ego, and a passion for American victory. It has been said that he was Gen. Washington’s favored officer, and, without his heroic efforts, our nation could have very likely lost the Revolutionary War. He was passed over for promotions and rank when others with less victories surpassed him. He was blacklisted by the Continental Congress, and, on several occasions, he resigned his position, only to be drawn back in by Gen. Washington himself.

In the early fall of 1777, a crucial battle for the Hudson River, known as the battle of Saratoga, was forming. British troops invading from Canada and from the south meant to cut off New England, isolate the rebellion, and secure a British victory. Ordered to stand down with the American forces retreating, he rode into the war zone unauthorized and led charge after charge to rally the troops. Just before sunset, their last charge was successful, and the enemy was driven back, securing an American victory and leaving our young warrior wounded.

It has been said that if that mortar had hit his heart rather than his leg we would have cities and states named after him, monuments built, and statues erected. The local Indians called him Dark Eagle. We will forever remember him as Benedict Arnold, the traitor. He allowed his insecurities and feelings in possible depression to consume his self worth until he turned his coat and his country. If not for a chance encounter that revealed the sinister plot, our greatest military fortress at West Point would have been turned over to the enemy by Arnold. Whoever controlled West Point would win the war, and both sides knew it.

A young powerful, yet insecure, general with enormous talent allowed his moments of despair and jealousy to create one of the saddest stories in our nation’s history. Jumping backward to1 Kings chapter 18 and 19, we find the prophet Elijah challenging the king, embarrassing false priest, stopping the rain and starting it again at his voice. We find him calling down fire and slaughtering the priest of Baal although he was outnumbered 450 to1. All of this enormous power and anointing only to run, hide, and beg to die when the queen threatened his life. Like Benedict Arnold, Elijah knew how to wield his power in battle but couldn’t have victory over those that had the ability to influence. Unlike Arnold, Elijah fell into the heartbeat of God and listened to God’s still small voice.

You may not have a state named after you or city or even a road or bridge, but you do have the ability to call yourself a child of the King. So what, if someone else gets the promotion? So what, if no one will ever know your name? Sometimes in your emotions and moments of frailty, you want to throw in the towel and quit, join the devil - that would make us an Arnold instead of an Elijah, now wouldn’t it?

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