Heroes of the Mountains

Heroes of the Mountains

Listen Online



The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

What follows is a long list of the abuses, tyranny, and oppression endured by the colonies under the rule of the British crown. The colonists had come to America seeking freedom from tyranny and oppression, and many had come fleeing religious persecution. For many years they had enjoyed a degree of freedom, but now the King of Great Britain was cracking down on the colonies with determined force, and the resistance had reached a breaking point.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.

The document closes with these words:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

And this they did. People can write words on paper all they like, and it may mean little. But these men pledge their lives to defending the liberty they sought. Already the colonies had been at war with Great Britain, but with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the mighty armies of the loyalists and of Great Britain unleashed their fury on the colonies. The war dragged on for months, and the months turned into years. Battle after battle was fought. Sometimes the British would win, and the Patriots would suffer heavy losses. Sometimes the Patriots won and the British suffered heave losses.

By the spring and summer of 1780, it looked like the British were gaining the upper hand in the south. The Patriots had suffered a string of defeats in the Carolina’s, and it appeared that perhaps the southern Colonies would soon fall into the hands of the British.

After the defeat at Charleston, one of Cornwallis’s officers by the name of Patrick Ferguson encountered a band of 400 wild-looking settlers from the west, who’d come too late to help defend Charleston. Ferguson was enraged at these long-haired, buckskin-shirted warriors, and soon afterwards he sent a message to the Tennessee settlers, warning them to stop fighting the British or else he would come over the mountains and burn them out.

Little did Ferguson know what kind of men he had stirred up by his threat. These men who’d immigrated to the frontier of east Tennessee were a new breed of countrymen, it would seem. Unlike some of the gentler society of the eastern colonies, theses frontiersmen had learned what it took to survive in the rugged hills far from the comforts of society. These men had braved cold and heat, hard work and famine in the struggle to subsist in this grand but harsh land of the mountains. The mountain life had isolated them from their fellow countrymen. It had hardened their physical features and sharpened their skills. But it hadn’t dulled their since of duty or national pride. If anything, the rugged life had only increased their fierce patriotism.

The frontiersmen of Kentucky and Tennessee took the threat as a challenge. When Isaac Shelby received the message from Ferguson, he immediately rode to the home of his friend, John Sevier. The two of them quickly began rounding up a militia. There were only about 3000 residents in that part of Tennessee at the time, but the militia soon grew to a small army of nearly 1,500 men. They set out at a rapid march, across the mountains, to meet Ferguson with force.

Ferguson hadn’t expected such a response, and when he heard of this band of men from the western hills streaming over the blue ridge mountains like a swarm of angry hornets, he beat a hasty retreat. He and about 1000 men entrenched themselves at the top of a hill, on the border of North and South Carolina, and so the stage was set for the famous battle of King’s Mountain.

The date was October 7, 1780. The patriots, under the command of Sevier, Shelby, and several other generals whom they had recruited in their march, soon surrounded King’s Mountain. As the battle ensued, Ferguson and his men would drive the patriots back on one side. At the same time, the armies behind him would inch closer up the hill. Then he would turn to drive the men back on the other side, and the first ones would charge back up the hill after them. Soon, Ferguson and his men found themselves trapped at the very top of the hill. Ferguson’s army was decimated, Ferguson himself was killed, his body desecrated and then burred in an oxhide. The remained of the loyalist army was taken captive.

The victory of the Patriots at King’s Mountain turned the tide of the revolutionary war. Cornwallis, who was on the verge of invading Virginia, made a hasty retreat. The war continued, but the battle of King’s Mountain had struck the critical blow. The following year, Cornwallis himself surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, on October 19.

After the battle at King’s Mountain, some of the mountaineers joined with the Patriot forces, but most returned immediately to their mountain homes. Isaac Shelby had settled in what is now the state of Kentucky, and in 1792 would become the first governor of Kentucky. John Sevier would go on to become the first governor of Tennessee in 1796.

I have to wonder, what would the outcome have been, had it not been for the swift action of these two rugged men and their cohorts from the western mountains?

Do you suppose that the battles of the American Revolution, were just the outcome of happenstance? It has been said, and aptly so, that the victor writes the history. Why else do we look with pride at the declaration of independence, and yet perhaps with a bit of disgust at the secession of the southern states from the union in the 1860s? Is it all the outcome of chance—the strongest and the mightiest overcoming the weaker and ill-prepared?

Or do you suppose that God in Heaven had a purpose in the establishment of this nation, at just the right time in history? I’m not saying that the founding fathers were perfect, nor am I trying to justify the many horrible atrocities that have been committed during nearly every war of history. I’m not saying that at all.

But I can’t help but ask the question: Do you see in the turning of events in history, the guiding of a Divine hand, orchestrating events for the good of His people and the accomplishment of His purposes?

Daniel 2:20-21 “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.”

In studying the prophecies of the Bible, and comparing them with the pages of history, we see a period of 1,260 years of persecution, coming to a close in the late 18th century. In Daniel 7, we read the stunning description of a judgment scene in heaven. A time in history comes, when the great persecuting power is destroyed, and the world dominion of the other beasts who support it is taken away, though their lives are prolonged. Right at this time in earth’s history, the heavenly judgment takes place.

Do you suppose that God orchestrated the birth of the United States at just this time in history? Do you suppose that God foresaw, all along, that this nation would provide the peace and freedom that would enable the rapid spread of the message of His soon return? Do you suppose that God orchestrated events, and inspired these heroes of the mountains with strength and courage at just the right time, to change the course of history?

Yes, my friends. I believe, if we could pull back the curtains of heaven, we would see angels, time and again, working behind the scenes to altar the course of History, so that His purposes can be fulfilled. But those angels use men and women—just like you and me—to be His instruments.

I could go on to tell you of the wonderful and tragic history of these mountains of east Kentucky. I could tell you of the generations of strong men and women who immigrated here from Scotland, Ireland, and Germany. Some of my own ancestors were born in Kentucky. I could tell you of the countless heroic soldiers who grew up in these hills and fought in every great war this nations has engaged in. Heroes like Desmond Doss, who was was born in the foothills of the Appalachians in Virginia. Heroes like Wilburn K. Ross was born where I live here in McCreary County, Kentucky.

I could tell you, too, of the men and boys who worked their lives in the coal mines, or of the countless families who eeked out an existence on the rocky soil of these ridges.

My friends, I don’t have to tell you about life in these mountains today. True, it’s not like it used to be. No longer do most of us dig the coal out of these hills with pick and shovel. No longer do we traverse the winding roads on foot or in jolting, horse-drawn carts. No longer do our possessions consist solely of the things a man can grow in this washed-out soil or dig from the rocky hillsides.

But still, many of us have it hard. We’re among the last to see the development that is coming to the rest of the nation. Our schools struggle. The number who graduate from college is among the smallest in the nation. The levels of poverty are staggering. Industries that could provide desperately needed jobs come here, look at the desperate situation and usually choose to locate elsewhere. Those who do come struggle against the odds of having little or no access to basic infrastructure. Many industries here, like the coal and lumber companies of the 20th century, exploit the cheap labor force, strip the land of its resources, and plunge our communities deeper into poverty.

Not only do our communities face an economic and social crises, but we’re also facing one of the worst crises in public health that our nation has seen—largely fueled by the opioid epidemic that has ravaged nearly every family in these mountains of Kentucky. We try to point our fingers—is it the greedy pharmaceutical companies who failed to warn us of the dangers of these pain killers? Is it unethical doctors who have consistently over-prescribed narcotics? Or is the drug epidemic another symptom of the whole web of poverty and lack of opportunity? Friends I don’t have the answer to that question. Perhaps it’s all of the above, and more.

My brothers and sisters—which of you will stand among the heroes of the mountains, today?

My friends, the signers of the declaration of independence didn’t believe in idle talk. Those men were willing to die for that belief that “all men are created equal.” They were willing to die so that you and I could enjoy the liberties we have today.

Must we, like the founding fathers, take up arms against abuses and oppression? Friends, I believe we must stand against abuse and oppression. I do not believe that we must take up arms but I believe we must do everything in our power to relieve the suffering of our fellow man, just as Christ did when He was on this earth. Do we, like the heroes of the revolution, identify ourselves with those who are suffering all around us?

I believe there is an even greater battle we must fight. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

You see friends, what we need most in these mountains are heroes who are preparing to fight in a spiritual battle.

Ephesians 6:10-18:

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

My friends, I can tell you what we need, today, in these mountains and hills of east Kentucky. We need more heroes of the mountains. Not heroes who will carry a gun to foreign battlefields, but heroes who will carry the love of Jesus in their hearts, to a world in need like no one has seen before. Jesus said to his disciples, “ye are the salt of the earth.” You—you are the one God can use to change the world. Put on the armor of God – wrestle against principalities and powers. But just because the battle is spiritual, just because our greatest enemy is invisible—doesn’t mean the battle isn’t real. My friends, you know as well as I do—that this spiritual warfare is without a doubt the most intense battle this world has seen. It requires a bravery greater than the greatest heroes of earth’s battlefields.

My question for you, today, is this: which of you will be among today’s generation of heroes? Heroes who will stand in these mountains like Elijah—standing on Mount Carmal. Heroes who will stand, though they may stand alone—to honor the True God in the face of idolatry and apostasy. Heroes like Caleb, who although he was 85 years old, said to Joshua—“Give me this mountain.” (Joshua 14:10) My friends—where is your mountain? Have you claimed your mountain for the Lord? Have you prayed the prayer of Caleb—Lord, though I am weak and feeble—Lord this is your promised land! Lord—GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN

One of my favorite authors, a woman by the name of Ellen G. White, wrote these words:

The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. {Ed 57}

Friends, this world has plenty of wimps. What we need is more of the heroes. Heroes like Gideon, who those his band of men numbered only 300, was able to conquer the might armies of the Midianites through faith in God’s power. Heroes like Joseph, who stand for purity in the face of a society of lust and licentiousness. Heroes like Daniel, who stand for the right, come what may.

My friends, this world will not continue on forever as it is now. If I read my Bible correctly, then Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is coming again soon, in the clouds of heaven. Not as a babe—not a spiritual coming to our hearts, but a literal, physical coming to this earth as a conquering king, to take His redeemed home with Him, and to mete out terrible judgment against those who reject Him.

The book of Revelation, chapter 14, speaks of Jesus as a Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, with 144,000 of the redeemed, following him wherever he goes. Heroes—if you will—of the mountain. Men and women who stand for the right—who have not defiled themselves with the things of this earth. Who can say in the end, with Paul,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8

My question for you today is this: which of you will stand and say “God—use me today!” Not just when all my friends are going with me and everything is going fine, but help me to stand when the going gets tough—to stand for the right though the heavens fall?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *