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Victory in Jesus
Exodus 14:19-31 Romans 14:1-12 Matthew 18:21-35
Brad Hall

In his history of World War II, Winston Churchill set out his moral of the work -- the theme that would be carried out over six volumes and thousands of pages: In War -- Resolution. In Defeat -- Defiance. In Victory - - Magnanimity. In Peace -- Goodwill. When he rose to the position of Prime Minister of England in 1940, Churchill told parliament, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. Churchill s situation was not so different from the one faced by Moses thirty-two centuries earlier, when he was called to lead his people into the promised land. In War -- Resolution. The cruel taskmasters of Egypt had oppressed Israel beyond anything they could bear, and they could no longer stand it. The burden Egypt had placed upon them was so great that even their worship of God would ring false and hollow if they did not rise up against their oppressors. In Defeat -- Defiance.

In his speech before parliament, Churchill also made it clear where that defiance and all that blood, toil, tears and sweat would lead: Victory: victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be: for without victory there is no survival. Israel was ready to fight, but this was not the sort of war the world of that day was accustomed to. Pharaoh s army was a few thousand troops with swords, shields and chariots, ready to have it out clashing in the middle of nowhere. But Moses was ready to unleash the sort of warfare the rest of the world would not see until Churchill would join with Stalin and Roosevelt against Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo, when jungles would be cut to ribbons by machine guns, the skies would blacken with bombers, cities would crumble, and the soil would redden with blood of millions.

Moses was prepared for Total War. Moses battle was not a conquest for wealth, or lebensraum or revenge, but for the survival of a nation, a people, a way of life, and a faith. And just as the allies of World War II employed the ultimate weapon of the day against the empire of Japan, Israel employed the ultimate weapon of ALL TIME against Egypt: Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. . . then the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. God granted Israel a series of miltary and political victories that would lead to the rise of Israel and the kingdoms of Saul, David and Solomon. So. How do you get from something as colossal as The Parting of the Red Sea, to something as trivial and seemingly meaningless as, He who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. ? How do you slide from something as terrifying all the host of Pharaoh dead upon the seashore to, One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. ?

Well, let me ask you, how do you go from something as glorious as Eisenhower s Crusade in Europe to something as trivial and seemingly meaningless as rooting out street-gangs in Somalia? How do you slide from something as terrifying as the Cuban Missile Crisis to seeing to it that Bosnians get to vote? How? Simple. You win the war. When you win the war, you get to stop worrying about making the world safe for democracy, and you start worrying about making the marketplace safe for grocery shoppers. You get to stop worrying about how to destroy endless columns of tanks, and you start worrying about how to feed endless lines of children. You get to stop worrying about how to defeat the enemy, and you start worrrying about how to take care of him. In Victory -- Magnanimity. God saved Israel because Israel was God s people. Well, in Christ, the WHOLE WORLD is God s people.

In Christ there is neither male nor female, Egyptian nor Israelite, Victor nor Vanquished, Good Guy nor Bad Guy. Why? Because Christ lived and died and rose from the dead not just for the sons of Israel, not just for the good guys, not just for the winners, but for all the world. Sometimes we still see ourselves as a ragtag band of scrappy, battered-but-unbowed freedom fighters, assailed on all sides by the forces of evil, standing up in resolution and defiance to whatever cruel fate has to throw at us. But if we take the gift of Christ seriously, we will realize that the battle has already been fought and won. In the risen Christ we have our Victory, and in that Victory, we are bound to maganimity -- generosity, kindness and forgiveness -- toward all of God s creation.

Yes, the battle is over. The fall of the Iron Curtain is nothing compared to the victory gained when Jesus rose to His glory. There are no more great battles to be fought, Christ has already won them for us. All that is left for us to do is deliver the care packages, put shoes on the feet of refugees, and take care of the wounded. It may not be exciting, but it is the work of God, just as surely as it was the work of God when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, Paul counseled the Romans to make peace among themselves, or Jesus called upon his followers to forgive up to seventy times seven times. In Peace -- Goodwill.

On the eve of global war, in the midst of early defeat, Churchi ll made a declaration of resolution and defiance -- Victory: victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be: for without victory there is no survival. For England, peace and victory came after four long, bitter years of war in Europe. Our peace, and our Victory was won on a cross by the Son of God. In the midst of HIS triumph, we make our joyful declaration of magananimity and goodwill for all creation -- Christ: Christ at all costs, Christ in spite of all terror, Christ however long and hard the road may be: for without Christ there is no survival.