HE FOUGHT THE BATTLES, I ENJOY THE VICTORIES
Isaiah 25:8-9 (NKJV)
8 He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.
9 And it will be said in that day:
“Behold, this is our God;
We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
This is the Lord;
We have waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”
Colin Chapman, in The Case for Christianity, quotes Ugandan bishop Festo Kivengere’s account of the 1973 execution by firing squad of three men from his diocese: February 10, began as a sad day for us in Kabale, Uganda. People were commanded to come to the stadium and witness the execution. Death permeated the atmosphere. A silent crowd of about three thousand was there to watch. I had permission from the authorities to speak to the men before they died, and two of my fellow ministers were with me. They brought the men in a truck and unloaded them. They were handcuffed and their feet were chained. The firing squad stood at attention.
As we walked into the center of the stadium, I was wondering what to say. How do you give the gospel to doomed men who are probably seething with rage? We approached them from behind, and as they turned to look at us, what a sight! Their faces were all alight with an unmistakable glow and radiance.
Before we could say anything, one of them burst out: “Bishop, thank you for coming! I wanted to tell you. The day I was arrested, in my prison cell, I asked the Lord Jesus to come into my heart. He came in and forgave me of all my sins! Heaven is now open, and there is nothing between me and my God! Please tell my wife and children that I am going to be with Jesus. Ask them to accept him into their lives as I did.”
The other two men told similar stories, excitedly raising their hands, which rattled their handcuffs. I felt that what I needed to do was to talk to the soldiers, not to the condemned. So I translated what the men had said into a language the soldiers understood. The military men were standing there with guns cocked and bewilderment on their faces. They were so dumbfounded that they forgot to put the hoods over the men’s faces!
The three faced the firing squad standing close together. They looked toward the people and began to wave, handcuffs and all. The people waved back. Then shots were fired, and the three were with Jesus. We stood in front of them, our own hearts throbbing with joy, mingled with tears. It was a day never to be forgotten. Though dead, the men spoke loudly to all of Kigezi District and beyond, so that there was an upsurge of life in Christ, which challenges death and defeats it. The next Sunday, I was preaching to a huge crowd in the home town of one of the executed men. Again, the feel of death was over the congregation. But when I gave them the testimony of their men, and how they died, there erupted a great song of praise to Jesus! Many turned to the Lord that day.
This is but one example! There are literally thousands of testimonies that could be given about the Lord and how He is able to snatch victory from the very jaws of defeat.
Whether we know it or not, whether we live it or not, whether we accept it or not, God’s people, like those men facing that African firing squad, are a victorious people! And, we do not have to live defeated and discouraged lives!
In fact, quite the opposite is true, God has given us the victory already, Rom. 8:37; 1 Cor. 15:57. When we sing the old hymn Victory in Jesus, we are singing the truth, God has given us the victory through our Lord. I just want to remind you this evening that He Fought The Battles I Enjoy The Victories. Let me point out the victories that are ours as His children this evening.
I. v. 8a WE HAVE VICTORY OVER THE TERROR OF THE GRAVE
A. Ill. The universal impact and fear of death – Heb. 9:27.
B. Jesus has conquered death for His people – (Ill. The resurrection, Matt. 28:6) (Ill. 1 Cor. 15:53-55)
C. God’s people need not fear death – 2 Cor. 5:1-8, Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Thes, 4:13-17
II. v. 8b WE HAVE VICTORY OVER THE TEARS OF A BROKEN HEART
A. Ill. This world is a veil of tears, Ill. The soldiers who left for the Persian Gulf (serving the nation in wars) and the families who will never see their loved ones again!
B. Even in the midst of heartbreak, Jesus goes on giving us the victory! Ill. Paul – 2 Cor. 12:7-9. Don’t despair, do as Job did – Job 1:20-21
C. A day will come when Jesus Himself will wipe away all tears – Rev. 21:4. He will heal all broken hearts – Psa. 30:5.
III. v. 8c WE HAVE VICTORY OVER THE TRAGEDY OF OUR TRIALS
A. Trials are common fare for humans – Job 14:1; John 16:33
B. Even in trials, Jesus gives the victory – James 5:11 (Ill. The joy of the Lord is a powerful thing – Neh. 8:10)
C. Remember these facts when trials do come – Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17; 1 Thes. 3:3
D. Eventually we will go to a place where trials will be unwelcome, and unable to enter, Rom. 8:18.
IV. v. 9 WE HAVE VICTORY OVER THE TIMES OF HIS DELAY
A. A Shout Of Reliance – (Ill. Where our faith should be!) (Ill. David -Psa. 23:1) (Ill. Heb. 13:5-6)
B. A Shout Of Relief – Ill. He will deliver us and we will have all eternity to enjoy Him! (Ill. Stephen – Acts 7:54-60) (I Thes. 4:17 – So shall we ever be with the Lord.)
C. A Shout Of Redemption – (Ill. The progression of salvation) Ultimate deliverance is coming for every believer in Jesus Christ.
D. A Shout Of Rejoicing – Since we have the victory, God’s people ought to be a rejoicing people – Phil. 4:4; Psa. 47:1) We don’t have to wait until we get to Heaven to praise the name of the Lord! After all, we have the victory here and now!
Dwight Eisenhower said, “There are no victories at discount prices!” The US military personnel (believers) is finding that truth out this day on the field of battle.
Victory always demands a very high price! The victory that you and I have in Jesus this afternoon is ours because God paid the price of sending His Own Son to die for us on the cross. He paid the price so that we can have the victory. The victory I have this evening was not cheap, but it is mine for free! He gives me of His victory without asking for anything.
All that is required for you and me to have victory is faith in His Person (Jesus Christ), His Plans, His Purposes and His Power. Are there areas where you need His victory this evening? It’s your’s for the taking, just take it and go on your way rejoicing!