On the Fourth of July, the entire nation, Christian, Jew and Pagan alike, celebrate the righteousness of war. For believers, it is the one time the Prince of Peace is recognized as none other than the God of War, mighty in battle. The strength and glory of a Living God who came to set men free climaxes in an cacophony of explosions and firestorm of color. The destruction of our enemies is exalted and the liberty of the captives is proclaimed throughout the land. Every man’s shoulder is put to the work of liberation and each soul drinks deeply and willingly from the cup of violence.
Why should it be so? What is it that we mutually recognize that causes us to rejoice so proudly over the destruction of other men? What do we see when we look, for one day each year, into the face of war and conclude it is well worth declaring? Perhaps it is the face of evil that we recognize, the truth that bondage is sin’s gift to man, brought with blood and violence, a power which will surrender only to still more blood and violence. Jesus, after all, came bearing a sword. He said, “the Kingdom of God is taken with violence and the violent take it by force.” The wars of nations are only the culmination of the innumerable wars fought within men’s souls every day.
Patrick Henry warned, if we will not go to war, then war will come to us. This is true for each of us. The tyrannical claims of sin forge their chains upon men one link at a time. To put off war is to grow weaker as the enemy grows stronger. It is to bow slowly down while sin’s chains grow steadily heavier. If we will not fight now, today, will we be better able to fight tomorrow? If we will not attack the enemy while we can meet him face to face, will we be more bold when his boot is on our neck?
Paul wrote, “Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart.” Battles are lost and won one moment at a time. Gettysburg was lost to the South because a single officer refused an order to take Little Round Top. Many a man has taken his first step into a lifetime of bondage thinking he might turn around a bit later in the day.
The Jews were to eat Passover with their feet shod, loins gird about, staff in hand. We are given moments when we have the favor and strength to obey. Those moments may never come again. Moses refused to leave even a single hoof of a single cattle behind. So it is we should fight for everything that is ours. While “a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven,” when the enemy comes to pluck it from our hand it is our moment to attack with the ferocity of a lion! Peace in time of war is certain death. If you will not destroy the enemy of your soul, he will certainly destroy you.
All mankind yearns for freedom, yet few find liberty. This is because liberty is where the Spirit of the LORD is. It is a place won a single foot at a time. It is a road that is long, dangerous, and painful. Only those who have abandoned all hope of going anywhere else find it. Only those who are willing to die trying can find the way of Life. It is only those who raise their fist against their oppressors when they arise from their beds in the morning who have hope they will rest free in their beds in the night.