See the Battle: The Cautionary Tale of Henry Heth
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11 ESV
There were many signs on June 30th 1863 which could have led Major General Henry Heth to understand that he should be cautious in approaching Gettysburg. As a division commander in Lt. General A.P. Hill’s Third Corp, Heth sent a brigade towards Gettysburg on the 30th – supposedly to procure supplies. Brigadier General Pettigrew and the brigade returned with no supplies and a report that they had observed Union cavalry arriving south of town. Neither Heth, nor his superior A.P Hill, believed that there was a substantial Union force at Gettysburg. They believed that it must have been a contingent of the Pennsylvania militia that Pettigrew had seen. Based on this poor conclusion, Heth proceeded to make an even worse decision. On July 1st Heth and Hill mounted an unconventional reconnaissance in force; instead of deploying calvary, they led with an artillery brigade followed by two infantry brigades. Heth’s men proceeded southeast down the Chambersburg Pike and walked right into Brigadier General John Buford’s cavalry. Buford knew to expect Confederate forces approaching from this direction and had his men dug into fixed positions, watchful for the approaching army. Heth was not prepared for what he was walking into. Later that day, Henry Heth was struck in the head by a bullet and knocked unconscious. The bullet was deflected by wads of paper he stuffed into his hat to make it fit him better and, were it not for the wads of paper, he may have died that day.
Just as Heth had signs that he read incorrectly, we too experience signs on the spiritual battlefield we enter onto every day. Our military members know they are preparing for battle because they wear battle dress uniforms most work days. It’s easy for us to forget that we too must don the Armor of God because we are spiritual warriors (Eph 6:10-17). Remember also that God has declared that there will be signs that herald the final days. Should we consider every disaster a sign of the end times, or every president that we don’t like the antichrist? Of course not! No more than Buford’s troops should have opened fire every time they heard a twig snap. But make no mistake, we are to remain vigilant and watchful for the coming of the enemy (1 Peter 5:8-10) and for the return of the Lord (Acts 2:19-21).
Read Ephesians 6:10-17 and dwell on the fact that you are a man called to the service of spiritual battle for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. No pansy stuff here! You enlisted in His army the day you declared Christ to be your Lord and Savior. The more you understand that you are a warrior and learn the ways of the enemy, the easier it will be to see the battle raging around you every day. Will you answer the call? Will you take up the sword? Or will you wander into chaos with nothing more than your skin and a catchy church tune? Get serious. Lives depend on this, including yours.